Tuesday, August 12, 2014

FAME

Over the years, we have had many opinions of Finance (see Remarks at this post on how it goes toward non-realistic models - how is it to not get so entrapped, given funny money is our norm?) Now, let's stop and look at FAME. In short, Finance and Accounting MEmos.

                      See, fame-jagazine.com.

Nice, like the business model which expends the effort to condense, summarize academic papers in order to present these little overviews in a coherent form. And, on-line access is free. The printed copy requires one to come up with money.

To date, there have been two publications. These will be the source for coming posts.

We will have to give a nod to editors and supporters. Great idea.

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As an aside, CALPERS seems to want to downplay equities. Perhaps, they're seeing that the aerated property causes things like the Minsky dump.

Remarks:  Modified: 08/12/2014

08/12/2014 -- 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Content vs configuraton

It's natural for the user to think of the former. Actually, running a business demands that. Too, if you spend time and money getting some process going, you would like to keep it running as long as feasible. A couple of years ago, we saw a transition that jumbled some lives as people woke up to the fact of their process being overlaid on something that was disappearing.

This year, we had a similar when ancestry announced that myfamily was going away. Many genealogical sites made use of myfamily as did people who wanted to stay in touch with their wide-spread family and friends. To where ought one go for a replacement? There are several alternatives, but, let's look at what is involved with getting the data out of myfamily.

At first, there was an offer of doing an export. Turns out that the export was not complete and offered cumbersome formats. At that early state, some had access to the database and offered to do extractions in an intelligent manner.

But, of late, the database was turned off disallowing access except for browser mode. Too, those who thought of scraping were told that such activities was a violation of policy. The proverbial catch-22?

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Earlier, we talked about a Magna Charta for computer users. One thing of importance would be some semblance of requirements.

Too, myfamily did allow users until Sept. But, anyone building a process will need to do some risk analysis and consider what to do to maintain the process when things shake up a bit. None of that is easy, but the effort ought to be more than some minimal amount.

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I was surprised to read comments about all of the people who had built their business methods upon the earlier environment that went away. But, then, it made sense to them at the time. Except, buried in all of the legal jargon of the policy agreement would have been something about terminations and other types of end conditions.

Remarks:   Modified: 08/02/2014

08/02/2014 --



Thursday, July 3, 2014

Magna Charta

Recently, Facebook, with some academic cohorts, did an experiment on FB users. As in, manipulating them without their knowing what is going on.

Sound sophomoric? Well, with young guys in charge, I ask, what do you expect? "Lord of the Flies" comes to mind. Some point to Orwell (one of the Georges).

But, we do not have to invoke fiction. We have the reality of the Magna Charta and the times thereof. Starting in 1215, with the first sealing, the King went through cycles of agreeing and then disagreeing (more than 45 times).

About what? The rights of anyone besides himself. You see, Barons of the time wanted constraints on the king (who claimed divine right). But, those Barons were, for the most part, cousins of the king. And, they held, in bonds, oodles of serfs and others.

Yet, many claim that the Constitution was enabled by the machinations of the Barons (who were looking out for their own self-interest).

Was anyone looking out for the rights of the little people? Well, some priests and nuns and others (like Saint Margaret), I would suppose, who took Christ's admonitions to heart.

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Andreessen and sarcasm
So, come to the present and FB. This behavior shows a provider stomping on the rights of users. But, who speaks for users? What are their rights?

Well, we can point back to the Magna Charta. The modern analogs is that the provider role leads people to think like kings/barons (as do corporate bosses). The users are equivalent to the old barons who know that they need to stand up for their rights.

Also, we have the issue of the layers of cognitive ability. The cognitive elites might be (not all, as some of us are wise) considered as the kings/barons. The rest along the cognitive scale are the barons/serfs, of old, who tolerate the "jerkiness."

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What does truth engineering have to do with this? Lots. Firstly, the whole computational framework rests on shaky grounds. Then, when we add in the predilections of humans, we get a messy affair which is not outside of control. But, we do have a lot to learn; some of the issues are age-old (and, our 100+ years of experience pales in terms of the magnitude). Secondly, recognizing that there is a problem is essential. Even then, though, the mind baffles. ... Rich makes smart (Smart and its money)?

Remarks:   Modified: 07/03/2014

07/03/2014 --

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Made w/ code

Much in the news, the past couple of days (example, Huffington), is Made w/ Code which is a Google initiative (project blog) which is trying to encourage, in part, more female participation in technology.

I had commented in another blog (thomasgardnerofsalem) that deals, in part, with technical issues. There, I mentioned that I had female cohorts all along the way. Some of whom were better than their male peers, in my mind.

The post here is motivated by seeing the post at the Computer Science Teacher site. It will be interesting, as Alfred wrote, to watch this unfold. If thrusts, such as this, can get people interested in computing, that will be a great step forward.

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At one time, computer science was generally interesting to the younger folks. Let's say, a couple of decades ago.

Then, finance came to fore (to my puzzlement, at the time). That is, this was true until that last crash (do you remember?) brought reality back to everyone's mind. As things crashed and the dust settled (is still doing so), we all had a chance to look more closely at what went down. For instance, consider the pay differential that we saw between finance and, what might be considered, more critical work.

Aside: Did we really learn from the machinations of those times? The computer proved to be problematic (one of a very huge set of examples) and will continue to be so. For example, the issues raised by Minsky are multiplied when computers are involved.

One thing that turned people off about computing was the tedium which may have been a reaction to the difficulties and complications that one can face. Too, large systems can be very hard to do and to keep running; but, tools have always been the clever adaptation to handling such requirements. There were other things that caused negative reactions.

Aside: A world of a zillion little apps is not any major improvement. Those issues that faced us before are still around.

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Yes, code is (can be) fun especially if you're in the driver's seat (yeah, Zuck). If the requirements are being imposed upon you by others, then it's really a process oriented affair that has a much different flavor. This goes beyond the bazaar/cathedral discussions. What? Yes, discussions about truth are pending.

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Blockly seems interesting. Perhaps, it can lift the discussion, at some point, beyond code (as in, coding at what level?) to where we can start to "truth engineer" as needed and to get peoples' rights, in so far as they deal with computing, to the fore (we're coming up on the 800th of the (first) Magna Charta signing).

Aside: In a sense, everyone ought to code. And, there are many layers of code. Those who deep dive (yeah, wizards, I mean you of the power) have no greater claim to the truth of the computational experience. On the other hand, many of the upper echelons would not dirty their hands (ah, how do we get them out of their sheltered world?) thereby showing their lack of respect for truth (ah, this can be demonstrated).

Remarks:   Modified: 06/22/2014

06/22/2014 -- I would be impressed if I heard that Sheryl would deign (or stoop) to coding. Without a code sense, how does one handle truth (yes, mathematicians, you, too)?

Monday, June 9, 2014

Cognitive elitism

I have been looking at what intelligence is (might be), for a bit. One obvious answer to the question would be, like the Gump quote, intelligence is as it does. However, tests abound (we might say, starting with the military's need when first faced with scores of new entrants - the Army General Classification Test (by the way, look at Ballantyne's work that is quoted in the Wikipedia article) ensued); as well, arguments about what it is seem to be of a non-ending sort.

Then, we have the schools that favor the cognitive elite (see Hsu) and that filter out those not intelligent (in a sense). This whole thing of testing can be troublesome (many smart people do not test well - we will get to that).

Aside: In the meantime, to put Harvard in its place in these discussions (as it is the epitome, somewhat), let me invoke the early years (yes, we'll need to recap, in a deep, broad manner the whole unfolding of the institution, from the beginning while, at the same time, looking at its influence (good, bad, and not) upon the society as a whole).

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Today's post came from seeing that Hsu had a post with this title: If you're so smart, why aren't you rich? Now, his post was dated November 19, 2009. And, just a few hours ago, I had a post (Smart and its money) in which I referred to an earlier post: If you're so smart ... (from when? how about Tuesday, August 14, 2007). Of course, the phrase was used then, two years prior to Hsu's usage.

Aside: I used the phrase, in 2007, while recalling its use from the '60s. It would be interesting to trace down the original use of the smart-arse'd comment. Were the youngsters, of the '60s, quoting from something they had seen earlier?

Aside: During that whole period (2007 - onward), I was castigating the financial idiots (having awakened, like old Rip, and having found that they had screwed up the world - requiring, first, Ben and, then, Janet to coddle their little systems -- the result? inflationary state of those markets, Janet). Still am as we have not learned the proper lessons (I know them?, yes, indeed).

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Cognitive elite? Ah, so many ways to characterize the group, but I'll desist for now. This post is just to mark the discovery, today, of the growing use (Google search).

Why g Matters: The Complexity ofEveryday Life
Linda S. Gottfredson
University of Delaware
Wait! I can say one thing: a society of only the cognitive elite or that only respects that class (ilk) would be a hopeless bunch unable to feed themselves (and a whole lot of other things would be beyond their grasp).

Here's another: my version of a proper elite would have post-doc educational attainments but, at the same time, would be able to tear down an engine and assemble it back to a workable state (or any number of real, existential events, of a very large variety, that I am prepared to itemize and discuss).

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The discussion, of supreme interest to truth engineering, could start with the paper by Linda S. Gottfredson. But, there is much, much more to look at.

Remarks:   Modified: 07/03/2014

06/09/2014 -- In this whole context, consider pre-Harvard times, namely Dorchester Company. In the post, see the third bullet about a book: Farmers and Fishermen (The Making of an American Thinking Class). Ah, so much to discuss in this regard, to boot; those of the church ilk were not only querulous, they were a clamorous bunch (causing God to turn a deaf ear?). ... Where is there the proper appreciation of those who can think, work, and praise (even doing so simultaneously)? And, social media'd distraction, even if abetted by robotic'd assistance, is not it (to be discussed; hint: get a grip on being).

06/12/2014 -- Intelligence, value and truth. Also, examples: 50 smartest teenagers. And, links for further reading: Nice thoughts on a dissertation about race and IQ, Controversy, ...

06/24/2014 -- Howard Gardner on Multiple Intelligences: The First Thirty Years and How Apps are shaping a generation.

07/03/2014 -- The Magna Charta is a wonderful example for us to apply to provider (king)/user (baron) issues.


Sunday, June 8, 2014

Smart and its money

Or some such, as we asked the question a long time ago: If you're so smart, why aren't you rich?

We will have to get back to this subject. Notice the time frame: 2007. What has changed since then? Well, a whole lot; yet, there ain't nothing new under the sun.

Social media has abounded, but so what? Zombies are more prominent (as in, idiots who drive while having their attention diverted from their responsibilities to something social, gameful, or whatever - texting is the most used concept, applied).

Many are dreaming, again. Things were touch and go, it seemed. Many lost their jobs and their futures. Ben, on the other hand, kept his largess going (way beyond what was necessary - and, Janet follows the same path).

So, that has created a large bifurcation with gigantic accumulations (or, Richer as smarter? being the theme to explore) for a relatively small set.

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So, let's take rich. Does giving away your riches remove all of the negative impacts that the accumulation thereof created? No, of course, not. We have to consider this subject, time and again (it's age-old and not of this recent time). But, can using your riches, at least, help some? Of course.

What can we look at on the other side? Well, Tolstoy (how much does one man need?) comes to mind. How much does one need? Well, enough, one would think, to be able to take care of yourself and your significant others. And, perhaps, a little breathing room beyond that.

But, can one be happy with less (as in, austerity, as many in Europe were recently forced to face)? That is a point to discuss. Again, the answer can be yes, unless you're in hock to some unreasonable person (and, pulling/pushing people into debt has become a big thing - to be discussed, again and again).

And, there is some minimum required to have a decent, respectful life (whence this is a big issue to address).

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What has happened with Ben's/Janet's largess is that a bubble has come about. Yes. It is there. And, the cheshire multiple makes the thing even more troublesome (we'll get to this, again and again). Yet, there seems to be a blindness (something to study, too).

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So, we'll have to consider types of smart. As well, how can unbalanced, unjust states be considered smart (except for those licking their chops)?

Remarks:   Modified: 07/03/2014

06/09/2014 -- Ray Dalio and his views. 

06/12/2014 -- One way to look at this: cognitive elitism.

07/03/2014 -- The Magna Charta is a wonderful example for us to apply to provider (king)/user (baron) issues.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Formally truthful

Ah, what a mouthful. Meaning what?

From CACM article,
Formally Verified Mathematics
The CACM, April 2014, had an article about formal approaches to mathematical proofs. It was titled Formally Verified Mathematics and is readable on-line (image is from the article). Now, this article struck me, for several reasons, motivating this post.

The context? The proliferation of apps (see thoughts on algorithms) ought to be a concern. The auto industry seems to live more with recalls than not (many times, "computer" and "software" appear in the explanation). We just had a bad financial failing from which only the manipulators recovered (and they're at it still, yes HFTers - riggers by any other name, are riggers). The litany is depressing to behold.

Now, the authors (Jeremy Avigad and John Harrison) provide a nice overview of the issues. They actually mention the work of many (who's who) who have looked at the issues. To be brief, we have several things leading to the fact that proofs are difficult and not possible computationally without human assistance (we really need to discuss man-in-the-loop imperatives, in this case).

But, how does one get such human assistance? As, with the growing awareness of singularity (big S - actually, there are many singularities - Remarks, 05/19/2013), we get to where the computer does things that are not understandable by humans. In short, take code, do you know what it does without running it through some parse/execution device? If you do, it would have to be some trivial stuff (let me generate something very effective using rewites, etc., and then look at the code - all sorts of other methods can be proposed).

So, yes, mathematicians have interactive approaches, with supporting tools. This means that we get to a state where the computer is essential (we actually got there a long while ago - how could such an important thing devolve into a game'd affair?). In one example, they talk of a proof that was 255 pages (journal style) in the '60s for a theorem. Of course, such proving took a lot of time to state; too, it took much effort to verify.

Now, the computer can help in the verify step being faster than us in lots of way. Smarter? No way. We'll get to that (again and again). It's a "being" issue, folks.

Now, that 255 pages can be done with 150K lines of code (talking fairly terse stuff here). But, even then, a lot of stuff is not expressed but it implied with rules. Definitions, and such, would be mostly explicit.  

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Where are we going with this? You see, mathematics does involve rigor. Formal systems are a part of mathematics, in certain senses. Computational systems are formal (yes, they are, even if it's ignored at the level of the user). Yet, we have people spawing off system willy-nilly; even the big folks do this (tsk, tsk) as the end user can be the tester.

Now, this whole thing is not to argue for being more formal and slow. Rather, we really need to get a handle on the operational aspects (beyond agility, young ones, okay?) such that we have a better handle on risks. Anyone care? Yes, those who get hurt by these types of failures. Those who are dependent upon such or who care for such.

How ought this be done? Very good question. But, my put is to propose that such techniques would very much intersect with the issues of truth engineering. So, there is one little bit about motivation for all of this stuff in this blog.

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In that same issue of the CACM were some interesting (and related) articles. I've listed some of them by title (some may not be publicly readable on-line - requiring an account).
  • Unifying Functional and Object-Oriented Programming with Scala - the surprise was use by several web vendors (those who provide something cloud-wise). For example, LinkedIn switched to the approach. 
  • Security and Privacy for Augmented Reality Systems - timely, yes, and, of note, especially in regard to looking forward to issues rather than trying to cope after the fact. Perhaps, as the web user mature, and get away from the frills and titillation, we can get to more looking at more reliable types of things. 
  • Re:Search - Here are two blogs by Ken MacLeod (The Early Days of a Better Nation, Ken MacLeod Writing). The former resonates, as, in another context, I'm looking at the early days of this nation (that in which I sit writing). 
Remarks:   Modified: 05/30/2014

05/30/2014 -- The May CACM (Vol. 57, No. 5) had an interesting article title "Understanding the Empirical Hardness of NP-Complete Problems" in which the authors talk about helping resolve hardness, somewhat (taming the beast), via statistical means (in terms of things, like SAT-solvers). Makes one almost thing that these issues are of no concern going forward (throw computational power at the problem). But, it cannot be as easy as that (to wit, at the end of the 18th century, the Illuminati was claiming that everything was known about physics - so everyone go home and twiddle your thumbs). As the authors say, has to do with whether you can get solutions and whether you can do so in a reasonable time. Yet, there is more (still to be characterized). If the spaces quake, solutions become more difficult. Say what? Yes, we'll be getting back to this.