Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Quora com

I am interposing a post between the "Many truths" and the followup. Why? To get back in touch with the world of computing as seen by the younger set and everyone else.

You see, I have mentioned Codecademy, Khan Academy, and others. Yet, none of these pulled me in. Recently, I looked more closely at Quora. I had run across it earlier and liked some of the answers of which many were in a good tone.

In other words, the questions and answers, many times, depicted some bit of awareness and intelligence. You see, I had been working Wikipedia, but there are the constraints (neutral point of view, no original work, etc.). Quora has none of that though there are some rules.

In particular, topics in Quora bear directly to what I am (have been) doing here. In fact, my monologue (ongoing, tedious) can now be beefed up. I'll start by looking at two questions, by category.


Coding - All sorts of questions deal with this subject. For one of them, many answers to what master programmers need to know (best-kept secrets of the great), were too low level. They were from a CS viewpoint, as in from the lowest view that one could take (thinking that CS rests upon computer and electrical engineering, okay?). But, domain, and higher-order, thinking does not slough along in lower-level code. No, we need domain tools, etc. And, those who might want to strut around because they can code might also want to consider that problem solving consists of more than what might be computed. Best answer (to be discussed).

Truth - The breadth of the questions is astounding. And, the answers, again, many times are wonderful within a wide range. Best answer (to be discussed) to "What is truth?"


There are many other questions of note. We will get to those, say intelligence, mathematics, science, and such.

What took the old man so long? I had to follow my own autodidact quest even if it was within my own infinite space as from there I could observe.

As an aside: a dream from 30 years ago is apropos to the theme (running across Quora resolved the quandary).

Remarks:   Modified: 08/04/2015

08/01/2015 -- My Quora Profile.

08/03/2015 -- George as inspiration of computing and existentialism.

08/04/2015 -- Georges M. Autodidact Extraordinaire. [From this am: Had started to add Georges Metanomski as an encourager. Left a post in an incomplete state (reminders: on links, put spaces to keep from activating - as a human could close it if they wanted; too, figure some minimum amount of words to leave - as in, go from the digital world of wannabes, to the real world of being, ...). Quora deleted this which was pointed to from FB; and, sent a warning about spam (stupid bot as a human would see that I loathe the commercialization - there, I said it - of the web/cloud). ... Either, they'll return things to normal, or I'll work another method after recapping my 1 week experience.]

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Many truths

One motivation for this post was seeing this headline for an article (WSJ): 'Smart Cities' Will Know Everything About You. The other motivation has to do with talents that get ignored in the modern age which we must discuss and keep in focus.

First, I must mention my reaction to the article. After seeing the headline, I thought, oh no, we have not even, properly, handled issues that relate to "undecidability" (note, please, usage beyond that associated with Turing). Then, the next thought was that this type of thinking is what is behind the growing, insidiously so, cloud that is falling as a mesh on our future and freedoms (and that of our progeny).

Finally, while reading the article, I saw that the ugly crowd called "marketers" kept coming up; yes, those who buy data in order to manipulate people (in finance, this means the gaming of the ca-pital-sino). The article does touch upon the issues, such as privacy, lack of control, and such.

In the end, the writer says that things would not be Orwellian "if businesses act responsibly" (pigs fly?).


We have grown dependent upon the engineering/technology viewpoint as it has been known to get things done; progress requires this type of applied science. But, how many modern advances have had deleterious results far beyond any benefit that might have ensued (ah, consider why we need to worry about the enmeshing)? As well, we do have people who sell. In fact, some feel that the economy is mostly made up by consumer activity. Too, some of the Beats (below) pushed financial schemes. Too, we have the artists who support marketing and public relations (respectable, of course - if they behave - who defines the rules?). Then, we have the big pockets (I have left out several classes - say, labor, and many more) who pull things together (some like to coin themselves as capitalists, though they are really oligarchs).


Now, let’s get to the other motivation. My cognitive framework is so wrapped around truth engineering's particulars for several reasons. As such, a balanced view is important (we will establish this part of the requirement); balance looks at all sides, even the counterculture (below). And, while reading things like the-above article, the "Beats" come to mind due to the specific time frame of that phenomenon (though, the early American experience had nonconformists, too; actually, the main intent of the emigres was to remove themselves from something to which they could not conform). So, we can use the Beats as the point of origin; post the Beats, we had the Free Speech activities, Civil Rights workings, Hippies lolling about, ..., and, of late, the conglomeration named Occupy Wall Street. In other words, that which has a strong element of iconoclastic-ness and nonconformity has been a continual presence in a not-small part of the population for 60+ years.

Activism, as well, comes to mind; in that case, there are as many variations as there are truths that we need to engineer. Unfortunately, “activism” includes things like hedge funds trying to force businesses to make decisions that maximize the return for their (the hedge fund’s) investors (so much to say there).


One thing that needs immediate attention: truth and what it is. People get puzzled about truth, especially about the need for "truth" engineering. I asked a scientist to define truth, without mentioning whether I meant the big or little one (as in "T" or "t"). He, to my surprise, went to the big side without blinking an eye.

You see, science is not (supposed to be) of that ilk (except, is it that Truth and Science are equivalent? - pun). Science deals with a whole lot of little "t's" (though the cosmologists like to browbeat everyone into accepting their "itty bitty" views about the largeness of Creation (intentional big "C" which is at this point unqualified; people have grappled with these things for eons - the new factor deals with computers, networks, and insidious stuff like the cloud - so, we're starting from scratch here - or, taking a constructive approach, if you would) as that worldview of science is supposed to be provisional (very hard for humans to do). Yet, engineers have to firm things up in order to work, so right there is a quandary (engineering as applied science – which tends toward Scientism in too many cases).


Recently, I got reminded of an old friend, namely Charles Sander Peirce. You see, his work (as well as that of many others) gives us part of our prowess in abductive approaches. We'll get back to that, for sure.


But, to continue on about truth: how many truths are there? Some claim that there are as many as there are people. But, one can bring in situational truths, to boot. Let's just say this, even the big "T" side of things is multiple. Why? For one thing, we have issues of interpretation (which, for the most part, come from free will – yes, how about the neuropeptidergic bag?).


And, as we know, a lot of truth has to do with power (all sorts, even that of politicos). That is, overbearing-ness is a common human trait (oh Lord, deliver us). But, of that power ilk, those who score highly on tests  (yes, the so-called best-and-brightest) are of the worst variety (see below).

That is, so what that they can solve problems with a laser-like focus and do so quickly? Consider: is the sum total of all of the possible laser foci reality (yes, that is not a misstatement - look at topology, please)? Well, some seem to think so. Too, are the sum total of all people's views reality?

Aside1: Humans, please, get over yourselves (and your selfies) - that which is called "Pluto" was there long before we became aware of such. The world was here long before your entrance glorified the realm of existence.

Aside2: Yet, were we not made in the Image (purposefully left dangling)?


Since people are so involved in truth, and what it is, we can look at categories. For starters, we can take two. On the one side are those who excel at STEM. Now, mind you, some of these are the best-and-brightest. But, no, not all of the b-and-b are good at mathematics. STEMers, for a large part, might do well since they can focus and filter without expending much energy. Others might be more like the turtle (however, in some cases, slow and thorough beats quick and dirty). For instance, some types of dyslexia make it hard to handle things like numbers. There are other examples. Engineers, by design of the discipline, do STEM.

Now, what is the other side? Before we look at that, please be aware that some who are of this ilk can do STEM, too (The blogger – he will quote Von Neumann who said that we do not understand mathematics, we get used to it.  True, operationally. But, mathematics is more discovered than created). So, what is it about this non-STEM side that is of essence? Intuition, for the most part (that which is behind creativity and other great talents).

There is much to discuss, here. But, poets, painters, and others demonstrate the facility. In this case, we will use the Beats as the example of a type of truth processing. The reasons for this choice will be apparent when the discussion continues with a later post.

Remarks:   Modified: 07/27/2015

07/19/2015 -- This post was done using a professional editor implying that a new process will be put into place.

07/27/2015 -- Another poster boy popped up the other day.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Khan Academy

Earlier, I touted Codecademy (here and there). There are plenty of places where one can go and learn computer languages on-line. I liked that they were free, that they had an interesting collection of languages to look at, and that they provided the testing desktop in the browser.

Aside: Of course, my case is not the norm. If you search on 10 programming languages that will not die (Lisp, Pascal, PL/1, ...), I have worked in 7 of those (plus many dozens of other languages and environments in situations that could be called production - meaning, post release with real users doing actual work that relied upon the results provided by the computer system - err, app - the modern wannabe).


Khan Academy logoToday, I was searching on a technical topic and ran across Khan Academy (KA). I had seen them before as I was watching mathematics lectures at Stanford, Harvard, and MIT. That is, today, all subjects of note are accessible.

Aside: When I earlier ran across a KA video, it was interesting. But, at the time, I wasn't so much trying to learn something; no, I was watching the classroom situation (2012, Osgood's lectures - note the Remarks during the period) across different milieus (to be discussed) and how it influences delivery/discussion, etc. (2012, Wildberger).

Aside: Before going further, let me tout Wikipedia which is the first place for me as I search. Actually, it's Google, but, for the most part, a Wikipedia article pops up early in the stack. Wikipedia is getting some press. For instance, the Economist showed, recently, a tapestry that had been made from the Wikipedia page on the Magna Carta.

But, after looking at KA today, I am going to go there often. Why? It is a great place to jump to a "101" (not meaning the highway on the West Coast - love it) view. Earlier, I probably bounced back from its K-12 framework. But, there are plenty of new topics that are beyond high school.

Too, I looked at the "Computing" pages. Very nice. Businessweek just did a special issue on code. It was written/edited by one person, Paul Ford. Very unusual tactic. But, it worked. I actually bought the paper copy after seeing the issue on-line.


Okay. What does KA bring that is more than the others? It covers a slew of disciplines. And, we all know that it is not shameful for one to look at 101 material for any discipline that is outside of one's usual work. In fact, going to that view can lead to suggestions about additional material (as we see on Wikipedia).

At the top line, click on Subject, and you will see a fairly good representation of things that ought to be in one's mixture of knowledge. So, the material may seem elementary to the expert, but any, but a node-it-all, ought to find something of interest.

There is another perspective. All of these topics have been studied by those who teach them; the teacher-to-be ran the gamut from 101 to the end of the learning process as defined by the particular discipline. So, you might look at the material to get some notion of what is involved.

If you think of yourself as learning about the basics of a subject, then you will have the right mindset for enjoying KA (that is, if you're older and set in your little knowledge sphere). As well, you will see the general view of the topic; albeit, those who might have evolved and adopted a worldview over a period of time might benefit from going back and seeing the fundamentals, from time to time.

Actually, science, in its proper mode, would require that. Axioms and other assumptions seem to get hidden, almost as a general rule.


Any enthusiasm that one can perceive in this post's message came about from two areas: computing and math. Computing has some examples, with code, that ought to avail one of successful understanding even if one must provide one's own workbench. In the math area, the collection of post-high-school topics is nice (say, multivariate calculus and pick gradient - same subject, at Wikipedia - someone put a link to the KA site - same subject at Wolfram's collection by Eric Weisstein), albeit sparsely, somewhat, covered right now.

One can easily look toward a continued expansion on each subject. And, extending out toward the first couple years of college would be a boon. Of course, it has taken Wikipedia years to collect their material (all entered by volunteer authors). So, KA will be interesting to watch and to review from time to time.

Remarks:   Modified: 06/25/2015

06/25/2015 --

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Node it all

For now, see some motivation (FEDaerated).

We will start to lay out the problems and our means for handling. In general, we can think of what we know and do not know. Let's use a simple chart.
    Know what we know - this is the basis of success and goodness
        Do not know what we [think that we] know -- all sorts of variations
                 (operational idiocy, for one)

    Know (as in, think that we know) what we do not know - again, lots to discuss
                 (fools rush in)
         Do not know (cannot know?) what we do not know - basically,
                 the infamous unknown-unknowns
                 (see 7oops7; to the wise, the largest set - listen up, cosmologists)
All sorts of modern workarounds exist, with statistical reasoning being the most insidious (many times). Think compactification (other analogs can be used) as one culprit (when applied without due concern for ramifications).

We will start from scratch. Charles Sanders Peirce, for one, will figure.

Remarks:  Modified: 07/24/2015

07/24/2015 --

Thursday, June 11, 2015


This blog has been an accumulator of posts since July of 2007. So, that is, now, almost eight years of dribbling "text" bits into the cloud for presentation to browsers on the subject of "truth" (any and all) and the engineering (including our handling) of such (hence, truth engineering - a companion blog dealt with operational aspects - 7'oops7). Along the way, there have been side roads taken, as the world has been through a lot the past decade. Don't you think?

However, the world is always thus. As I look back, every decade had its issues. As one ages, some of the older problems are resolved (or go away - like the gnats after a storm), but there is always a crop of new issues coming to fore. Perhaps, one life lesson is better handling of the change brought about by some problems.

By the way, "change" may be many things, including mental adjustments from knowing more, etc. One problem with such, though, is that one can far outdistance those around them (no hubris there; everyone learns at their own pace (whatever that is); standard pushes (yes, like STEM) may turn out to be counterproductive, as there is left little time for exploration - I wrote (and published) an oped on this subject way back as a young man in a college paper).


We're on the cusp, again, just like we were back in the 2007 time frame. I ought to use "cusps" as there are things boiling in several areas. One constant, though, is the growing use of computers, which includes the cloud. We are far beyond what was the state of the art in 2007 in several ways.

In many ways, we are not. We have argued for more recognition of quasi-empircal notions. One subject, of importance, would be undecidability. Yet, many do not appreciate the problem. For one thing, numeric processing sort of steps around the problems.

via the Friesian School
But, to use numbers, you have to number-fy; then, you need to de-number-fy (BTW, yes, this is a kludge based upon the fuzzify/defuzzify inverted scheme of fuzzy logic). It is in those areas where we really get to the problems. "halting" may have a lot to do with how well some result matches up with the expectations.

In my experience, for any bit of numeric processing, a whole lot more time went into setting up the problem and ensuring that things ran correctly. Then, there were the added tasks of making sense (in many cases, this could be a larger problem). ... People of intelligence, let me ask you? That whole sequence is now subsumed within some processes on a computer, and we are to believe such tripe just because the marketing folks think that it's okay (because the money rolls in?, Lord, help us) or because it has the mathematical basis of operational statistics?


Aside - things to look at further: Halting problem not important, ...

In a discussion of the importance, or not, of undecidability, there was the use of "intractible" which implies hard (several definitions). In one of my application foci, we solved the problem by having a human finish the work. That is, computers can chase their tails (much like dogs). Approaching some solution state that is well-defined can allow the expertise/intelligence of humans (yes, expect that we will get into the qualities related to problem solving that are not replicate-able - now (and, perhaps, not ever) to complete the process and check results. Simple statement; all sorts of implications (infer as you wish).

But, we know the other side of the story, namely that computers can run circles around humans (yes, numerically - you see). But, can the computer de-number-fy? Of course, I have to define, better, what that might mean. ... Want a metaphor? Vertigo is not far off the wall. Vertigo? Yes, a better way of saying the above - computer chasing its tail - actually, being lost/unbalanced is quite apropos.


Aside: The most atrocious of all is the modern manner of driving all sorts of human activity by computer (especially, when it tends toward solely). A bifurcation comes about where those with the numeric sense rise to be little gods (ah, the mischief they impart on the hapless - do I really need to start a litany here?) while those with other talents (far too much under-appreciated - you see, the numeric-folk'd minds see robotics as their savior - oh yes, get one to wipe your arse when you soil yourself - err, water-blasting, sand-blasting, etc., is not equivalent to a gentle touch). ... The solution, intelligent people, would be some recognizance of the peripatetic sense's necessity (oh, why do that when the mind (and its computational assistants) can run off on cosmological tangents - again, who will take care of the arses?).


So, even with its little shaky basis (and, intelligent folk, I am not talking GIGO), we allow these mechanisms to play a serious role at the heart of our economy. Oh, can it be any worse? -- perhaps, we could learn from listening to Made-off. How many of his ilk are there right now (milking the system under the guise of creating/applying Adam's little hand - this post is old, but it'll be upgraded)? Gosh, Adam rolls and rolls over in his grave.

Remarks:  Modified: 07/19/2015

06/14/2015 -- In the Feb. 2015 ACM Communications, Landwehr wrote that we need a build code for software. Is it not atrocious that we have allowed these all encompassing software disclaimers (May 2015)? With the proliferation of apps everywhere densely, this issue needs some attention. How? We have mentioned this before. However, given the hard problems, we would have to agree that we cannot ever have a node-it-all (that is, some position that can reach all) without raising the view (oh, yes, the bit of controversy there deals directly with the blind/delusion paradox). Even if we can seek the higher-view, what limits remain (as if, by residue)? Yet, carte blanche, a priori absolution of sins is very much at the heart of a whole lot of mischief.

07/19/2015 -- Today, I did a post after a few days of waffling (Many truths).  What took so long? Well, a lot of posts are in a conversational style. That implies some interchange. The epitome of that is twit-ville where the message is limited to 140 characters (or so). What would intellectuals from the past think of such nonsense that ensues? ... So, today, I pulled the content to my article editor; the effect was immediate as I have published six articles last year and have several in the works. It has to do with structure (conversation has none, essentially - too, conversation descends to the bar and barracks - you do not agree? why does Obama use the teleprompter?). As well as firming up the post, it was obvious that the thing had to split. So, a large part was cut out to spawn the next post on the subject. ... Related to this change in technique will be a re-look at posts by categories. These have been collecting over the period of the descent to hell (from which many have not escaped) and the rise of the elite (they did not go to ashes - too bad). ... The intent will be to rephrase, especially those that exhibited sophomoric presentation - mind you, there is nothing lacking in the content - albeit, many times things were left dangling, but, again, that comes from the styles reinforced by the idiotic approaches). ... Besides the 1% inflated set of goodies, the mesh has grown taut (oh, Lord).

Saturday, May 30, 2015

John and his friends

Yes, the 800th anniversary of the first sealing of the Magna Carta (WSJ overview) comes soon. It will be a big deal for a lot of people.

For all? As the bifurcations that we see all around show us, many (most) have had minimal (or no) comfort from that long ago bit of activity and angst.

John and his friends
After all, a few generations later, we found major conflict between bickering cousins (one example of many).

Has that sort of thing become less common (has it been made worse by modernity, through means such as game theory?)? Did we learn from the war to end all wars?

Remarks:  Modified: 05/30/2015

05/30/2015 --

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

JFN, Jr.

John Nash died this past weekend. He and his wife were in a taxi that crashed. Both, unfortunately, were fatally injured.

John is famous for several things. In terms of game theory, one of these is the notion of equilibrium in a multi-person, non-cooperative game. To that end, he proved existence.

For a long while, in this blog, we have mentioned that the modern "game" focus is not good (in many ways) for us. Yet, the whole of the intellectual set has run off in that direction. Now, that turn of fate has taken a long time to come about. John von Neumann did his part; John Nash gave it more of a push.

Along with the interest in applying this type of mathematics, we have seen an increase in computational power which then has kept the movement going. One could say, if there were no computer, it would be no big deal with game theory. But, they go hand in hand (just like bilking the markets are enabled by algorithms and by the general lack of understanding).

The net effect of these changes has been a cutting free of the human mind from the proper tethers. What? Yes. What might these be? Ah, much to discuss there. But, I did say a little earlier that I would be taking a different direction.

John's passing opens the door for me to revisit this whole deal; at the same time, I'll be able to argue more coherently. You see, the fumble-butt mode comes from seeing idiocy all around. How did this come to be?

However, I have seen, too, that there are islands of sanity here and there. Thank God for that. Oops, that type of thing was alluded to earlier.

Somewhere, recently, I mentioned that we need a "sucker" (sucker quoted since the connotationswill be other than used so far) game. Actually, to rephrase, a lot of games are incompletely described, even the prisoner dilemma. Why (just look at the abstract'd accumulation on that one theme)? I don't know why the intellectual bigots have allowed themselves to devolve to such a low level. Say what? Yes.

That mathematics (which is discovered more than not) has been the enabler for the emergence of stupidity is very sad. The big-mind-set, if they were only impacting themselves, would not be such a problem; however, these jerks, collectively, get themselves into the way of power and thereby get, in their minds, carte blanche to spoil the earth and its little chilluns (meaning, of course, all of those who are not of the power set). Gosh, so much to do to get the situation properly described.

So, "sucker" brought in (in other than the so-long sucker idiocy, and such)? Yes, if you would, please, conscience (a reality, from the proper point of consideration) as a part of the puzzle. Where the hell has that virtue (or, any of the other virtues) gone in the flim-flam modernity that we stumble under now?

Remarks:   Modified: 05/28/2015

05/28/2015 -- Again, again. There are a whole (larger?) bit of phenomena (however you want to characterize the wider scope) that is not brought into game theory (that I can see - I'll continue looking). Assuming that I have time, I will attempt to define some (perhaps, using situational means).