Sunday, September 30, 2007

Shattered dreams

We used to say as 'American as apple pie' or 'the American dream' (some still do). Ought we rephrase and talk about 'as American as the shattered dream' (or such)?

In 2005, there was an event, alluded to in the Ethics and truth post, that will be the subject of a separate blog (WhoseNoseKnows) plus will be further analyzed from the truth engineering viewpoint (a case study).

The event was the type in which a company split out a local division. There was a weekend at that time during which people waited, in anticipation, for a notice to arrive. Now, the means by which the notice arrived was indicative of the message. Granted, some knew their fate prior to the weekend. Most did not.

By one of the means, many people who worked for a company for many years found themselves out in the street and cut off from not only their job, but from the 'dreams' associated with involvement with a major entity. By another of the means, those who were to be kept with the new company lost in terms of quality of benefits, not to mention having to experience an eventual degradation of the work environment leading to very low morale.

We wish to take a closer look, as far as public record and individual memory will allow, at the events leading up to the split and later consequences thereof, such as the pocket lining of the chief manager and of others (was this the main motivation from the beginning? did the original company actually benefit from the deal? So many other questions.).

If you would like to tell a tale about this event, please use the 'comments' section (describe your experiences of this event or your loss or gains) of the new blog. Comments can be anonymous. Also, supporter comments are welcomed, too. Practice here, if you like.

Related e-mail (if you want to provide details that will be summarized) can be sent to ajswtlk[at]gmail[dot]com. Sources will not be revealed.

Additionally, we would like comments related to other events of this nature, especially when there was significant off-shoring.


06/08/2014 -- Does time tell?

03/15/2013 -- Some controversy in the way SPR fired some people. See Weagle.

12/12/2012 -- Trial awaits?

10/18/2011 -- Hopefully, the OWS will bring this type of thing to public awareness.

03/21/2011 -- Turns out that these events fore told what was to unfold, in many ways. There was an IPO, a little bubble, than a burst (all around). Some feel that the chimera indicates improvement. Is it really that which the politicos wrought (or intend to wrought) portends more for the favored than for the rest?

01/27/2009 -- Now a new day and way to consider these matters.

Modified: 06/08/2014

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Ethics and truth

One might have well have titled this 'Truth and ethics' except that would change the emphasis. The main points of this blog are truth engineering, what it might be, why we might need it, etc. Ethics is something that we expect for a balanced game in the market; what we see with initiatives like Sarbanes-Oxley tells us that we have issues here.

One way to show that ethics is problematic is the 'proprietary' shield. A continuing problem is how to impart any necessary information that is true yet not complete enough to allow reverse engineering and duplication. Patent laws help here by allowing public disclosure with ensured benefits. Otherwise, what does the public need to know? In many cases, the public expects that someone knows enough (implying more than normal) to ensure the public is not being taken.

One might say 'need to know' as we see with classified information. If someone who is not on the 'need to know' list asks about what they don't need to know (current events show how this might not be uncommon) does that person being asked lie (or be rude and say you don't need to know). Actually, in many cases, one may not want to know the messy details. So, we have the lie, the rudeness or just ignore (such as changing the subject).

Of course, there are other actions which we hear about that might be even more problematic.

So, again, let's back up a bit. It is true that truth engineering assumes that there is 'truth' (this will be defined further as we go along) that we can know. Our problem, as folks, is that tying this stuff down is not as an easy task as some would like. So there is no intent in the dialog to pursue things toward the sophist's level nor is there any notion of confounding the issues as we might see more than we like (A. what TEng is not) in this age of disinformation (as enabled by the quickness of our modern media - cannot use 'new' here due to possible mis-construing of the message).

As an example, in a change of a major variety that took place in an organization, there were conflicts in ethics. For instance, for several reasons (one has to ask if that honored the golden rule), people were lied to about the coming changes. Now, 'lie' is meant stating some untruth (which could be characterized as a half-truth twisted). But, to be more truthful, many times the lies were actual fabrications (hogwash, if you would). Yet, this type of thing was taken in stride by management (naturally, there was the lure of massive pocket lining -- there are notions that business needs to be 'darwinian' like nature; hopefully, we'll see more leaders of the likes of Dame Anita Roddick, eventually).

In some cases, code names for projects like this help alleviate the problem in that they acknowledge the project but then delimit who can know what.

Now, getting to the market, as it is seen as an important measure by many, one would expect the information available to be meaningful. Yet. some decisions may need more than just a financial snapshot, or rating. That is, there is a mismatch in the ontologies that come into play in information. And, one can't eat a financial report or fly it to India.

Earned-value analysis is a good example of the mismatch. It is true that tasks related to definition and realization of some product are funded, thereby having financial characteristics; in actuality though, the actual accomplishment is of an entirely different, and more difficult, framework. Yet, the prominent feature of reporting progress rests on the 'funds' side. This is problematic since eating up 90% of a budget does not mean that something is 90% complete.

Or, people watch the DOW as some indicator of a product's readiness. If that does map to the quality, it's a fairly weak link (meaning that the chain has many nodes (n-ary) - with a high 'n', not a direct relationship). It mostly would deal with things such as whether the one doing the product development is believable; but, as they say for the market, past performance may be an indicator, of sorts, but does not guarantee future performance.

What measures might we be looking at in order to overcome the problem? This question is worthy of some attention.


06/08/2014 -- Does time tell?

03/21/2011 -- Changed link to Dame Anita Roddick's firm. Also, we have our 4th March.

01/27/2009 -- Now a new day and way to consider these matters.

07/29/2008 -- Both finance and engineering are complicated. The former is more ad hoc than the latter since the latter has nature slapping it around when it fails.

As an indication of information improvement, we can put in links to material that was not available a year ago.
Modified: 06/08/2014

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Market as measure

Some have argued that the market is useful as an indicator, or measure; the amount of focus and reliance put upon the market varies widely; many types of decisions are founded upon market value; evaluation of decisions, concerns about status, and other management assessments somehow relate to the market.

Yet, we have to ask how this all relates to truth (little 't'). As well, the extent of the market has never been across the total of the human population; the forces at play in the market lead toward fixed points for which we can assign clever terms, many of which are not flattering. So, we'll not venture there, at this time.

Adam Smith's work has to be taken in context of the times that he lived; the world has changed phenomenally since his time. The rise of globalization and internationalization, as characterized by the web, for one, has some thinking that the market, in its idealized goal, is better served. Is that true? You see, the same fixed point (for nuances here, consider an interpretation as might be characterized in dynamical systems) phenomena are still problematic.

Perhaps, they are more so. Aspects of this problem relate to funds (hedge or otherwise), 'quant' efforts, and even political influence.

One thing that will be discussed further is how a true democratization might work better than the market. Of course, some may argue that what is defined here is really how the market ought to be. That's not an issue.

Who says that the market has evolved to what it ought to be? The issue is that at each stage of its evolution, some learn how to optimize their take (usually in an unbalanced manner).

Is all this anything other than a zero-sum game at the moment? This we'll look at in depth.


01/20/2013 -- Change link for bet2give.

08/04/2012  -- Over five years, we had a lot of side trips. We'll try to focus more. BTW, Rumsfeld has recently had his say.

10/11/2009 -- Discussion has gone over to FED-aerated. Note the 10/11/2009 Remarks about the Business Week article on India's progress' inhibitors. 'Near zero' recognizes that some always suffer more than others, especially in win-win situations, as the whole notion of characterization minimizes visceral reactions by diminishing the real in favor of the abstracted (ah, the modern world, you say?).

01/27/2009 -- Now a new day and way to consider these matters.

mm/dd/07 (earlier note) -- Market in the above sense is too constrained (gaming the world for profit by the few is not sufficient to knowledge as is needed for the many in future generations though it may be necessary) and does not consider the Collective Intelligence community in areas such as the bet2give example. We can look at these examples in terms of the need for a collective nose and how such might work. Of course, there are little and big 't' (truth or Truth) issues, and we must consider things and tribes, to boot.

Another issue to address might be attempts at obfuscation via abstraction, to wit the collection, labeling, slicing, and marketing of financial instruments that cannot be valued except by 'model' (or is it myth only?) - the sub-prime issue is extremely indicative of the problem. The cloud, supposedly made more palatable via the computational basis (read, the mathematical and related panache), then allows those in the know to exploit and fill their pockets. Do not the financial giants trample the simple little dreams of those who actually bring the 'value' to the table? All this because we've made progress with our control of the virtual via computation where only a few understand what is going on; granted a limited view of reality may have been enhanced thereby (we cannot go back but need to engineer computational truth), yet something is awry and stinks.

Modified: 01/20/2013

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Mission and method

Context: See Tru'eng anewfocus going forwardmathematics.


Insert (12/31/2011):  Funny thing about being a touch-typist: many times there is a slip (which I call Jungian) where the keys thought of in (and expressed through) the nervous system (you know, it includes the brain) differ [from what the fingers type -- yet, many times it's the automated fill-in contributing to the confusion]. Yes. And, watching what is in the head more than what is on the screen allows the word to not be noticed [ah, modern man likes to deal with the map more than with the territory - almost a sickness, folks]. If the secondary, and tertiary, editing steps are by-passed (all sorts of reasons for this), the mangled text will be there until later noticed and corrected. A resolution for 2012 will be to not just alter the text but to insert the correction with square brackets []. After some time to allow a collection of these, an interesting bit of analysis might be in order.

Addition (09/14/2011):

Each blog has a post that details the method. Essentially, no editor is used beyond a mere text editor.

Then, I might spell check. Grammar is as learned. That brings up a recent controversy. Some poor soul put out a shirt that had "lets go" rather than "let's go" which is only an issue out of context. So, I went to look. Yes, I had a few "lets" and have changed them except in the 7oops7 blog which is about 'oops and such.

I was careless, but blogs are evolutionary things. There is no separate editor role involved with a lot of this; rather, the blogger has to go back and eyeball the text. Or, rely on tools.

But, as said before, I prefer to write as if it's going to paper (yes, I can fill, and have filled, in a blue book from cover to cover while both following the rules of writing and expressing some notions about a topic). And so, I beg a slightly forgiving eye on the part of the reader (for glaring errors, I'll eventually see, and correct, it).

Gestalt describes the underlying issues.


Original post:

This is a tardy, but necessary, post (No exhibition planned of hubris, in any of its senses, within the contents of this blog).

The intent is to have useful dialogs about truth in contemporary contexts that build to a solid operational base.

Posts will be done in 3 stages: initial draft, then links to on-line supporting material, finally editing to remove any troublesomeness. All edits, after the initial date, will be marked by a datestamp.

Posts are intentionally non-linear (and serendipitous). Later edits will provide bi-directional links that will tie together posts through time to allow expansions on a theme. A list of links will be used to represent successive discussions (linearity) on a subject.

As an extension to the method, remarks will be added to posts when necessary to provide additional information, and these will be collected by index for easy review. As well, the remarks will be marked with a date stamp.

Comments are encouraged and will not be moderated, however they may be cleaned up via summary if necessary. Comments can be signed or not.

Let's take a moment to consider matters of conduct with regard to comments.

Related e-mail can be sent to ajswtlk[at]gmail[dot]com. Sources will not be revealed.


01/05/2015 -- Renewal, see Context line.

09/14/2011 -- On the method, see Wishlist of the Profile.

08/24/2011 -- On the method, see the Profile.

01/27/2009 -- A new day. As described a year ago, things continue to fall apart. "You see, this scenario dreamt about by Adam Smith has descended into a computationally based mayhem which has lost its mathematical, political, and spiritual basis and upon which there cannot be a sustained economy. The corpses of the system litter the landscape."

Expect more effort in firming up the earned-value (and related) discussions.

Modified: 01/05/2015

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Exuberance unbounded

Just a short note, to be expanded.

This thread, and many posts, will deal with the mathematical advances, as augmented by computational prowess, and how these have no underlying theory except those as may have been defined and depicted in a tribal sense (not pejorative); 'no underlying' pertains to the operational nature of what we know and discover.

Yet, there are many schools of thought related to these issues. One gets 'vertigo' just pondering all the permutations that abound. Attempts at limiting the expansionary trends come from various sides; we will look at this more fully.

No wonder that it is so easy for a management mindset to be overcome by the magic of it all; 'to whom does one assign trust?' is a continual question. That there is this blog shows the need, hopefully, and the means, perhaps, to go forward with the necessary analysis.

The saving grace? That we can be, at least, quasi-empirical; emphasizing the operational is important from the little 't' sense of truth. Any role for big 'T' Truth? Well, we shall see.


04/04/2011 -- Need to look at some background.

09/03/2009 -- Computational foci raise miraculous need. Yes, we need to talk NP and more.

05/27/2009 -- That we have topsy-turvy needs to be addressed more fully in both an epistemologic and an operational sense.

01/27/2009 -- A new day. As described a year ago, things continue to fall apart. "You see, this scenario dreamt about by Adam Smith has descended into a computationally based mayhem which has lost its mathematical, political, and spiritual basis and upon which there cannot be a sustained economy. The corpses of the system litter the landscape."

Expect more effort in firming up the earned-value (and related) discussions.

Modified: 04/04/2011

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Measuring progress

Earlier posts, in this and and another context, mentioned the difficulties found with earned-value analysis and management in a project. Essentially, some time line, that itself is a collapsed tree/graph, serves as a basis for a whole bunch of stuff that maps to the time line.

That is, we're talking an abstracted collection which overlays the activity landscape (itself an abstraction) plus provides descriptive information (some of it measurable) about the thing-in-itself that is the purpose for the project.

Model is a good word to use though there are many nuances to consider. Typically, for earned-value we need to track task progress (activity) and product completeness.

Even simple situations can be problematic depending upon several factors. An example is that it is a lot easier looking backward than forward. Yet, we've learned how to look forward in some cases, though we can try to push our extrapolation prowess too far. Also, as the cardinality of the task and product component sets rise, so to do the issues of benchmark and performance.

There are common themes that can be used for this discussion, such as those confounding some financial situations. That is, how does one mark, that is, evaluate for comparative analysis and for supporting decisions (necessary correction)? We've mentioned model; this capability is both boon and bane to the problem (and actually, the motivation for this blog). For some of the more recent financial instruments, this is not an easy task (marking to model).

Myth. That's a large subject dealing with mindsets and other phenomena that need some discussion.

Market. Unlike finance with its limited ontology and its dependence upon the dismal science, in engineering, we can actually build something and then test it. Success may very well revolve around techniques that quickly bring something to fruition which is then improved via an evolutionary scheme. This technique has found some use in software, its development driven by the requirements of the web.

Large products would need an entirely new variation on that theme. But, the notion that something must be seen in action is strongly inherent. A computer simulation versus prototype is still an open issue due to things like quasi-empiricism (will be looked at further).


03/28/2009 -- Mark to myth can be attributed to Buffet. Many claim that mark-to-market has exacerbated the current crunch (see WSJ Letters to the Editor - "Honest Accounting with Reasonable Write-Downs" Robert D. Arnott -- 3/27/2009). As said, the issues of this problem are not dissimilar from the earned-value problem of engineering. We'll revisit this issue shortly.

01/23/2009 -- Expect more effort in firming up the earned-value (and related) discussions.

06/12/2008 -- It's nice that engineering and finance have these parallels, thanks to economics being common between them, allowing more discussions of oops.

01/18/2008 -- See threads Finance as game and Wealth as measure.

Modified: 03/28/2009

Friday, September 14, 2007

These delicate balances

There are several balances that pertain to life. How well we handle these contributes to success. That these balances are difficult to maintain will be part of the on-going discussion.

Much progress has come from better handling of the abstract as well as from improved facilities for both obtaining data and evaluating such as evidence. Medicine is one of many examples where an evidenced-based approach is evolving (notice the criticism section). In the financial realm, much effort has gone to sustain a floor (bail-out, if you would) through various mechanisms that are not unlike balancing (or, perhaps, juggling).

In the present (the now), looking forward can keep things going; looking backward allows analysis. Our growing facilities with the abstract can lead us to think that we can look forward 20-20, even though our experiences might tell us otherwise. So, we can get the mismatch, such as in a major program, between expectations (which differ by role and interest) and the actual status.

Too, because of scope issues and their complications, there is a need to prune possible expansions by level (depth search) and extent (breadth search). In terms of real programs, both the management and operational (including engineering and doing) views must maintain several balances. The latter needs to have a much lower depth in its involvement.

One problem that we face is that the ontology will change both by level and extent; truth engineering has a role that will be described further.


11/04/2010 -- Big Ben is still putting us at risk and trashing the savers.

09/02/2009 -- Let's face it, folks, undecidability needs to be discussed and adopted in any complex situational setting, especially if computers are involved. Only hubris pushes us to make loud exclamations about what we're going to do in the future.

01/27/2009 -- A new day. As described a year ago, things continue to fall apart. "You see, this scenario dreamt about by Adam Smith has descended into a computationally based mayhem which has lost its mathematical, political, and spiritual basis and upon which there cannot be a sustained economy. The corpses of the system litter the landscape."

Modified: 08/24/2011

Monday, September 10, 2007

Unreasonable effectiveness

The appeal of abstraction may arise from several sources. One of these might be that we have shown modeling to have a lot of benefits where the type of modeling could be of many types, such as CAD/CAE, organizational structure, or process improvements.

With the advance of computing ability, the techniques and accomplishments that can be attributable to modeling have increased rapidly. In many cases, the model might become the focus; actually, in some cases, the model is how we know due to our quasi-empirical limits.

In relation to the title, we might need to look further at modeling. Perhaps, a question similar to that of Wigner and others about the "unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in the natural sciences" might be in order.

Why are these modeling techniques so effective in engineering? A related question might ask why do we allow the model of a thing to stand for the thing, in many cases, to a greater extent than might be warranted. Yet, as we know, sometimes all we have is the model.

Prior to computer assistance, there was a wider disparity between abstraction and what could be reduced through calculation. That gap has been partly filled with advances as we see from a recent example where we see that some modeling can be used in place of physical experiences.

As the definitional issues related to truth engineering are considered, we will need to look at a wide-range of examples and describe a fairly broad range of issues.


06/11/2015 -- There will be a rework here and a rework there.

01/23/2015 -- Software? Well, we are talking more than apps (latest craze). We are dealing with fundamental questions which, then, gives rise to normative issues in mathematics (and, by extension, to the computational).

08/04/2012  -- Over five years, we had a lot of side trips. We'll try to focus more. BTW, Rumsfeld has recently had his say.

09/03/2009 -- Computational foci raise miraculous need. Yes, we need to talk NP and more.

08/20/2009 -- We've railed about modelers using PDEs taking their results to be some equivalent to natural observations. Financial mathematics has even worse of a problem.

03/25/2009 -- Rhetoric can be fun, but we have to get into these issues with depth and technicalities.

01/27/2009 -- Now a new day and way to consider these matters.

09/14/2008 -- Failures and bailouts seem to be the name of the game lately. Oh, yes, that a use of game which is quite acceptable. The railings are against games that allow others to place risk upon those who are not playing or who are not even aware. So, thanks, Ben, and all those (you, too, Alan, who set the stage for the current mess), who are responsible for my tax dollars going to bail out those who are prone to playing to a morally hazardous script. Sheesh!

There are two major factors, not to ignore all the others. These are the computer (systems and users gone amok) and mathematics (ah, it's been spoon-fed to several generations such that now we're seeing serious mis-applications).

07/31/2008 -- It is apparent that finance (and related economics) is far more delusional in this regard than is engineering. Why? The latter has Nature as its lab. The former only has gaming the world.

Modified: 06/11/2015

Monday, September 3, 2007

Complicated or difficult

My old mentor liked to think along these lines, but we can update the use. Essentially, these two are related; and, the usage of either, as they are defined below, can be switched (such the ease that virtual vertigo can come to a major program).
  • complicated - dealing issues related to cardinality either of the sets themselves or their relationships. Anything that is computationally hard (and there is a whole bunch of disciplines dealing with this type of thing) is a good example. We like to use tricks like combinations versus permutations, yet doing so requires extensions that are not a given. How many modern situations cannot resolve down to a static state? An example: to control malicious manipulation of this fact, we have Sarbanes-Oxley.

  • difficult - gnarly types of things, essentially. Mathematics and the hard sciences are full of these. So too are the 'softer' sciences (yet, these we can pass off, perhaps, as unnecessary complications).
Now, what does this mean? Well, we have been successful in throwing computer power at the complicated. That the difficult is more of an issue we can see from advanced computing attempts like artificial intelligence. Yet, we can attempt to manage the difficult through a divide-and-conquer approach.

In the context of problem solving, such as earned-value determinations, both of these come into play. Sometimes the issue of resolving schedule and status is as much of a can of worms as establishing the value of a financial instrument. So, finding similarity of approaches is not unexpected.

What truth engineering will bring to this issue will be something to discuss.


11/21/2010 -- This was first written three years ago and is still apropos. However, we need to get technical to talk how to get ourselves un-twined.

09/03/2009 -- Computational foci raise miraculous need. Yes, we need to talk NP and more, in this context. Hardness, and undecidability, come out of complicated domains; there is no necessity for infinite sets.

01/27/2009 -- Now a new day and way to consider these matters.

Modified: 11/21/2010