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 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).

... in the works ...

Remarks:  Modified: 06/16/2015

06/16/2015 --

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: 06/14/2015

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.

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).

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Unplanned house?

What was that about the monkeys (thousands, millons)? They could write a book? Of course, I could have google'd the answer; the point is that "monkey" appears in a whole lot of memes.

Now, we are talking "truth" in all of its possible aspects; in computing, we deal with whether things are done as they ought (as in, expected to or specified so as to). The whole of tru'eng deals with these issues, some of which are not of practical interest, at the moment (but will be, in time). Besides, the issues of computability, we have things like goodness of systems (methods to predict (insure) such) or their soundiness.

A key issue is addressed by Leslie Lamport: Who Builds a House without Drawing Blueprints? (ACM, Comm, Vol. 48, No. 4). Leslie describes some of the motivations for his work, namely TLA - Temporal Logic of actions. It is not that doing systems is strictly like construction, after all, we do not see flow charts being used nowadays. However, nothing good comes about, except by extreme luck, from lack of planning. Agile methods (more below) seem to be like that; from where I sit, the users are expected to adapt with whatever the developers come up with, especially in the freebie systems that are so prevalent nowadays.

But, trust your life on some of this software? Earlier, we pointed to some discussion of the bazaar / cathedral theme (yes, juxtaposed, for obvious reasons). Test/code/review does not allow one to lift (to be discussed).

Now, about TLA, in the same issue of the Communications of the ACM, Amazon allowed their workers to present some comments on its use.


Aside: I fell out of my chair; for many reasons, one of which is that I have not dealt (by purpose) with the company ever (except from 10 yards away). So, I'm impressed and will look more closely at this. ... In actuality, the company has done very well in handling technical problems (I just hope that the owner doesn't diddle with the Washington's Post editoral nature - too much) that are not simple. They, like others, are facing problems daily for which there is no known solution (except that we can do types of approximations, adequately enough, so as to be practical - stacking up what karma that will bite us later? - that is, many (of the hapless) get pulled into the troubles without their knowledge and against their wishes - to wit, the idiocy of 2008 til now for which we are still paying and have a ways to go yet - world-class moron-hood, Jamie, et al). Now, I need to look at AWS for another project.


TLA has some add-ons, one of which is mentioned in the Amazon article (actually, other companies are mentioned - including Oracle): PlusCal.

Oh yes, the article: How Amazon Web Services Uses Formal Methods. There were several authors. But, this quote needs attention: A precise, testable description of a system becomes a what-if tool for designs, analogous to how spreadsheets are a what-if tool for financial models.

Of course, there is this, too: Formal methods deal with models of systems, not the systems themselves, so the adage "All models are wrong, some are useful" applies. As in, using our terms: territory-map.

One author, Marc Brooker, has blogged about his experiences (post on TLA+). Notice that the domain is fairly particular. As one travels out the abstraction chain, things get further from the machine (even if everything has to still funnel through the execution stream) into realms of creativity.

Which, then, brings up one issue. The more formal (too, the real sciences bigots who bewail that humans are so unpredictable - wake up, folks) like to think that they can compress being (whatever it is and however we might know it) into a box (actually, enmeshing our glorious selves in a trap that is onerous to the extreme) and, thereby, get risk (and all related ilk) under its thumb (hah). In actuality, we can (not the cathedral, by necessity, but with a bazaar with some bit of decorum) find our ways through to a safe and healthful experience (virtual and otherwise).

Remarks:   Modified: 05/14/2015

05/14/2015 -- If you cannot read the ACM articles, please send a note. I can pull out public links from the references which would be equivalent in concept and close in content.

05/14/2015 -- And so, after the post and content has been digested (does not imply absence of forethought), then epilog bits come to fore. The first half of that letter is what resonates. Then, Ben&Steve talking "incredible returns" in the stock market grates (harshly). For one, the thing, as run now, is a ca-pital-sino and very much can be characterized by near-zero (both terms have links in the text). Too, though, is the whole thing of the magical multiplier (wild expansion of value), of returns mainly for the early birds (connivers), and of enormous grabs (by some) that desires serious analysis (again, foreclosure - not in any way now profiting, nor in the past profited, from the gaming - whose main thing is to impoverish the masses). ... There will be a change in tone, thanks to Canfield (yes, he of the chicken soup thing). --- So, the diatribe series will stand as an example: so-called constructive looks, No. 1No. 2No. 3.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Beats and more

A recent The Atlantic article asked something like this, can bankers behave? Well, no, given that we let them play the game in an unfair way (no wonder old Marx used "fictitious" capital); it was, at one time, the reality that the allowance for bankers was due to power; now, the computer (and applied mathematics) have muddied the waters beyond possible cleaning (not! - why else, truth engineering?).

Actually, research has shown that there are serious moral gaps within the characters of a whole lot of those who fill banker-type roles. That little glitch, plus the largess that they get (from the likes of Ben and Janet), compound the problem.


Recently, though, I ran across a page where some from the Beat generation were shown with Mary Beach that reminded me of a proper viewpoint that is antithetical, somewhat, to that of the rapacious bankers. I need to pay a little more attention to her life.

My involvement with the counterculture goes way back, as I was, sort of, forced there by the system (long story). By the time that GEK III was my roomie at KU, I had met a few, knew of some aspects of the life, and, generally, looked at it in my own autodidact sense (extreme state of not having a mentor - long story too). GEK III and I had our moments (I ended up marrying a cousin which we joked about), but he was very much on the list of major characters that I have known.

A few days ago, on FB, George Laughhead, who has the Beats in Kansas (imagine) site, pushed out something that Charles Plymell wrote (a decade or so ago). Gosh, Charles' little thing spoke to me on many levels. The main point, apropos to this blog, is that these levels have to do with truth which is never simple (except under certain circumstances - to be discussed).

When you read Charles, note the mention of his ancestors. Also, recall that one model for the work here deals with the evolution (devolution, many times) of life and kind here (the beacon on a hill and dreams thereof) from those early days in the northeastern region (we have a tabla raza situation with which to ponder the true American citizen - and, where the hell did we go wrong?).

If it is not clear, many of the counterculture are more truth based than those of the major culture (at least, more so than those of the power set); too, though, we find good people everywhere. That is meant to imply that we all have dealt with all types over our years (however many). I mostly have applied the rule: when in Rome, do NOT, by any necessity, do as the Romans ;-). We all are responsible for our own selves (and those who depend upon us).


If you bring Emerson to mind, you are partly right. Reading Charles of late struck me as did running across RWE in my very early days of trying to cope with the solitude of knowing one's own mind and to deal with the reality that we all face up to the music by ourselves.

Truth engineering has a core that is strictly scientific and mathematical; however, in the larger realm, we have to have humans in the loop (all sorts of discussion here); of human kind, we have a whole lot to learn from the Beats and their times (blip on that large evolutionary screen).

Remarks:   Modified: 05/10/2015

04/26/2015 -- What is it that the Beats represent? Lot of stuff has been said about this. Good art? Freedom? One of my interests would be the historical beginnings of the views. Plenty interest abounds nowadays, so no doubt there will be academic views and analysis. But, I'm after more. On this side of the pond, one of the first true-free societies might have been in Cape Ann, prior to Conant's arrival. In a brief moment in time (well, over a year), the people were friendly within their group, peaceful with the natives, well-stocked with supplies and tools, led by a capable male who really needs to have more known about him and his children, no church (they did not have any religious representative within the group - again, not until Conant arrived, dragging along Lyford), no state (England was a long way away; Standish tried to come up and muscle his way - not), they were healthy (did not lose a soul over their winter - that came with Endicott and too many bodies for the available resources), and a whole lot more. ... One of the things that Charles wrote about was of working; that rang a bell since I have been working (chores included) from an early age; did any of the Beats work (well, I did see GEK III with a hammer once)? Oh, perhaps, it's the Maynard character that I'm recalling. ... In short, it may be that the counterculture has a greater impact (we'll have to look at that) through time.

04/29/2015 -- Added a knowledge map for GEK III which links to CP. We can use the Gaslight Tavern which was next to the Abington Book Shop as a analytic loci. ... About older sisters, my family had five girls in a row; then a boy was born, my older brother. I have, then, more male siblings, after that (the proverbial middle, pivot position, ...). But, there are many more (other) simpatico themes.

04/30/2015 -- While writing of his "belief" systematic and adopted position, CP uses belonging and joining as typical human modes in which he does not chose to partake. I can relate to that, several ways. This is not a re-phrase, but the same issue can be discussed in terms of neither a leader or follower be (mis-use of lender or borrower?). The latter? Well, the sheepish people that we see everywhere are indicative of the pervasiveness of the problem (problem or just a human characteristic?). The former? Ah, so many of those Type-A (such big idiots) jerks with which any insightful person has to cope, daily (everywhere dense, again; both uncountable?). ... The slow (well, quick scan) reader, me, just realized that Pam (CP does mention this twice) is Mary's daughter.

05/01/2015 -- Just did a knowledge map for the Maypole work of Hawthorne (cousin-in-law) with this note: the best example of an early representation of what America could be (still is not - no religious, or other, bigotry, peaceful relations, resourceful people, respect for the environment, ...) was the experience at Cape Ann, pre-Conant. But, it, somewhat, continued untll Endicott had the great house moved to Salem. Now, having said that, I went through parts of the 50s section by CP, which motivated the NH reference. Too, though, I want to thread through that whole bit of retrospective by CP by decade (time to call the chillun home?). For instance, CP was at SFS. On that same Hayakawan day, I was working my shift at Zim's (at the time, janitor, busboy, dish washer) just a few blocks away. Too, I was collecting more credits at SFCC, all of which I transferred (with accumulations from UCLA, KU, too) to UA (Tucson) a little later. Of note, though, post the madness, I knuckled under and graduated magna cum laude (Phi Kappa Phi). Yet, CP's view resonates (to be explained; has to do with a lesson that we did not learn from Albert - our wild-haired friend). Later, I worked two blocks from the Capitol (Maryland SW) in a white collar position; I can claim to have seen the American belly from about any angle that is possible (want to know what I think? the childishness of the beats, hippies is much to be preferred to that of the modern CEO - yeah, Jamie - and others of the ilk that think that we ought to love their leadership - see yesterday's Remark).

05/03/2015 -- ... which way does the beard point tonight? ..., AG, of course. ... From this Wiki page, I found a modern (somewhat) link, Cherry Valley.