Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Some basics

Recently, I stumbled upon a video at Gregory Chaitin's site where he is one of the commentators about four people (BBC) who were ahead of their times. These were Cantor, Boltzmann, Gödel, and Turing. One theme of the presentation was that things are 'topsy-turvy' (Chaitin's characterization) due to uncertainty (and its power, so to speak). Chaitin takes it further to show how the computer exacerbates the problem.

The video is worth the time (which says a lot from someone who would rather read the transcript) if only to allow one to recognize the importance (ignoring, for now, T-issues, though they are alluded to in the video's narrative) of the four views. As we sit here in 2009 (or so), it is very easy to forget the basis underlying what we take for granted. In some senses, the underpinnings are very weak.

Ah, one might say that this is a motivation for truth engineering, in part, as we really ought to keep the principles (their formulation and foundation and failings) in mind. In fact, computational intelligence, which is what we deal with almost ubiquitously, demands such.

I first got interested in Chaitin's work from reading his view on mathematics and its limits. At the time, my day-to-day focus was applied AI and computational mathematics which ought to be sufficient to allow admittance of uncertainty, usually under the name of undecidability (cloaking the issue under a numeric framework does not eliminate the problem). Chaitin made sense as there was a resonance with what I had observed.

Some of this may appear to be too philosophical or academic, yet we can relax, a little, the rhetoric and point to a concept already used multiple times here, namely quasi-empiricism (see Wigner, et al), which was first expressed under an operational framework.

So, expect that there will a few posts that lay out some basics, such as the Incompleteness Theorem, the Decision Problem, and more. There too will be other concepts such as those related to complexity and NP. That last is why brute force cannot work, as we saw with truth maintenance.


04/03/2011 -- Need to look at some background issues.

09/09/09 -- We'll need to look at UUUN, as a framework.

09/02/2009 -- Quants (both financial and engineering) ignore complexity.

07/05/2009 -- As said, couching things numerically does not remove these problems.

06/17/2009 -- Theme of the basics continues.

Modified: 04/04/2011

Friday, May 22, 2009

Truth engines, again

There are various types of these things, such as from natural, social, and other sources. The range is very wide, for instance some claim that there is a "wisdom of crowds" (expect much more (say, like related to finance and manipulations thereof) on this) or that public opinion can be of worth (excluding from this, for now, democratically-focused events and votes).

We'll get into enumeration and description at some point of all these types with the intent that such would allow reasonable extrapolation, perhaps even interpolation, toward testing both type and properties.

Courts of law are a type of truth engine. It's good to have someone like Judge Posner opine about issues as that gives us some idea of a worldview based upon law-influenced thinking. Of course, we must not forget all those natural truth engines that abound.

How the web wisdom (is there really such?) matches up with that which is more mature will be of interest to many.


09/09/09 -- We'll need to look at UUUN, as a framework, for truth engineering.

08/27/2009 -- Madoff exemplifies (albeit somewhat indirectly) systemic risk.

06/18/2009 -- A fresh look will be needed.

Modified: 09/09/2009

Monday, May 18, 2009

People matters

The Grant Study, and similar research, can contribute to discussions related to truth and to how we need to be cognizant of, understand, and know how to use truth engines.

Why? Humans will continue to be an important factor despite progress in our artifacts in terms that have human analogs, such as intelligent automatons. That humans have interesting attributes that have not been, and may not ever be (big T issue), replicated by a machine has to be addressed and not avoided.

A recent Atlantic article (about the work of Dr Vaillant) is a good place to start to get an introduction to this work. One aspect that will be looked at further is the defense mechanism response which is a functional output to input. That is, as our artifacts evolve, some analog of this characteristic may very well come to fore.

But, we don't have to reach that far, as it can be observed that traits of leaders can be understood in this sense. Who doesn't know of a CEO whose personality may border on megalomania, for instance? Too, organizations of humans can exhibit properties that appear as some aggregate of the members.

That humans will be central to truth processing is one given to the endeavor related by the blog. Of course, people matters will involve much more than psychology.

As said elsewhere, the epitome of truth processing may very will be some type of 'borg' arrangement where human intuition is sustained, augmented (yes, augmented reality is definitely one of the many things to look at), traced, and otherwise enabled to be more functional. Of course, the context is not science fiction here, though some tendency to futuristic thinking can be expected.


10/22/2010 -- We need more like Perelman in order to have a fair economy.

10/14/2009 -- People matter, especially the autodidact.

06/20/2009 -- Yes, rent can go to labor (new look at capitalism), and finance can have a higher calling.

05/21/2009 -- Series on class acts started. Unfortunately, the first example is negative.

Modified: 10/22/2010

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Knowns and unknowns

Those things mentioned first are a growing set both for us, as individuals, and for the species as a whole. All around us are the results of our prowess at handling knowns.

However, those same examples that abound of our creativeness and abilities come from smart handling of unknowns. Some may call this decision making under uncertainty. All sorts of progress was enabled by advances in mathematics, science, engineering, and, of the latter times, computation. One key discipline related to this is risk management.

Too, earned value still is problematic for any large program.

And, it's not unkind at this point to note that the recent economic mess is due to failings of smarties involved with risk management. Supposedly, several of their financial instruments (some of which Buffett called weapons of mass destruction - that was in 2003, yet, he did dabble - still is dabbling, some wonder why) were not as risk free as touted; the consequences thereof were abounding as they grew across the set of the hapless; and, those who perpetrated the fraudulent thinking are still free and getting bonuses.

As an aside, this blogger is not against derivatives. How can the concept, that arose out of calculus and as usurped by the financiers for their shenanigans be bad? Consider, though, a hierarchy based upon Minsky - hedge, speculate, then ponzi (or should I say Madoff?) as apropos to these instruments and the underlying regulation that is now being bantered about.

Anyway, where were we? Despite the growing set of knowns, any who have a thoughtful nature may know that the unknowns didn't diminish as the knowns grew. Of course, thinking along those lines may require some acceptance of the hierarchies that emerged out of Cantor's work, yet, we can also say that the remark attributed to Newton could be used, to boot. It had to do with finding pebbles on a beach (small set of pebbles found so far, as opposed to an endless beach, so to speak). But, the pig after the honey of moolah would most likely trample such insights into the sty's mud.

So, this issue is very important to the subject of this blog and, therefore, will recur. Of note will be a focus on how a phase, of a test program, that is just starting will unfold.


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.

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

Modified: 08/04/2012

Friday, May 8, 2009

First principles

Ah, how many of these are there? Too, how many ways can we look at them (let us count the ways)?

What? You see, these vary by discipline, though, some viewpoints seem to think that their's is the utmost (actually, we get this from all sides - balancing these, in a very full sense, is one motivation for truth engineering).

We'll need to look at this very closely. Who are the best-and-brightest is one question?

Take this bit from the Economist (There was a lawyer, an engineer, and ...), as an example. They're talking about different paths to the top. Well, they actually say that lawyers argue from 'first principles' whereas engineers build. Say what? Any good engineer has to resolve serious problems using techniques that consider first principles. It cannot be any other way.

Whose 'first principles' are better? Depends upon to whom you're talking.

Oh, wait! Was that an economist talking? Gosh, how do we rate these: lawyer, engineer, economist, ... (hint, this blog and the other are both inter-disciplinary, in scope)?

Anyway, using Posner (he of the Failure of Capitalism, 4th bullet and Remarks) as an example of a particular viewpoint will allow a full discussion. Hopefully, he'll keep up his side of the discussion.


09/15/2011 -- These will be updated as they are put to use.

04/27/2010 -- Need to add the political set of truths, such as cat and mouse.

09/09/09 -- We'll need to look at UUUN, as a framework.

08/10/2009 -- As promised, FEDaerated is here.

06/17/2009 -- A fresh look will be needed.

05/10/2009 -- In mathematics, the first principles can be axioms. But, we have to look at definitions, too. In any case, that particular discipline doesn't have direct influence on the world, as in, who can eat a theorem? In the history of the planet and the peoples, first principles are varied (by culture and a whole long list of things). A modern view that wants a lawful society (with balances for important factors, such as basic human rights and such) would see first principles coming from several places, such as the US Constitution.

In that case, we would then have laws codified, interpreters in roles such as we see Posner functioning, enforcers, and similar. Yet, that game must not be wonderfully clear, as look at the extent of enforcement monies that is necessary.

And, how this relates to finance is that the bubbles and busts seem to appear, as if each generation re-learns the pitfalls. Yet, what we're seeing now is that computation (as enabled by mathematics) has turned things into a much greater complicated mess. Granted, Merton talks that even simple things can be problematic; basically, then, what we're facing is not an easy task. It'll be fun to watch Posner unfold his opinion and offer his solutions.

Modified: 09/15/2011

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Setting the stage

There is much to be done in bringing truth engines (big issue to handle, ontological uncertainty) to the fore as the attempt will be truly multi-disciplinary in scope.

Surveying the landscape of ideas is always apropos in this context. The WSJ (weekly reflection, book reviews, opeds) seems to be a continual source for nuggets.

-- Putting spooky science to work (a WSJ reflection) -- about quantum entanglement, its possible uses, and some interpretations (science cannot explain being - but engineering can manipulate it).

-- Defying Doom (WSJ book review) -- temporal milestones, easily forgotten in the speed, and shallow depths, of the modern age are nice for allowing us to look at the longer term (ah, has the finance business heard that it's possible? - nope, for them it's bonuses and getting their mansions built). That 'large' and 'small' can be seen as more than just involving 'macro' and 'micro' issues ought to be discussed more. It's interesting that some of the 'big' institutions in 1000 were not that universal. Now, we have this globalized machine that pulls money from the pockets of the hapless to that of the few (the fatter cats, by their definition smarter).

-- If I don't see it, It's not there (WSJ book review) -- one has to love the use of "sheer delusional cheek" in describing some efforts at helping people to improve their situation that tout "Create your own reality ...". One has to consider that though 'truth' may be cognitively contrived, with computationally confounded issues, yet something does persist through time and across generations that is more than fat cats acquiring, and eating, more than they ought.

-- Easy Credit and the Depression (WSJ oped) -- about the book by Posner (he of the joint blog) putting the blame on the government and not the capitalists (see blog at Atlantic Monthly). Oh yes, like the fat cats are without any culpability due to some notion that the economy is purely darwinistic and that the regulators know (can know) what they are doing. If the guy wasn't a judge (and old enough to know better), I'd question his grasp on reality.

Ah, spooky science can come to the rescue. A related concept to discuss will be undecidability.


10/17/2011 -- If we're to challenge Harvard on its duty, then we'll need to beef this up. For one, is education only operationally important, measured in bucks? Ah, so much to discuss.

05/08/2009 -- Looks like Posner will continue his discussion which is great. He takes economists to task in this op-ed (WSJ) describing where things went awry in his view. It's not a bad overview, but some details could be picked on. Like his non-mention of the fact that financial instrumentations (ill conceived by the supposedly best-and-brightest) were applied in a cacaphony meant mainly to lure folks into allowing their monies to be give to the fat cats. But, Posner is taking the 30K view. Don't worry we'll get to the real details here (and through them eventually).

It's nice, though, to hear from a judge whose purpose is to support law and order. Ah, but he allows those in finance too much laxity. Gosh Judge Posner, it's like you wouldn't mind the convicts running the jail. Oh, wait, he's recognizing that we have an institution; he hasn't yet awakened to the fact that those in it are idiots and crazy (perhaps, too strong, but they don't exhibit much adult awareness of humanity and other common themes, in my mind). Sorry, Judge, dwarinism is not what needs to be argued when law and order are at stake.

05/07/2009 -- Why the remark about Posner? Well, he's a judge. He ought to see some parallels here. Like this: would he allow a parent to seriously abuse a child? would he allow a bully to wreck havoc in a playground? would he allow a misfit to harm innocent people in a deadly manner (or even less than deadly)? I could go on. That capitalism is supposed to be about sharks is pure idiocy and of an extreme ideological stance. We are to be adults and act thusly if peaceful coexistence is to become a reality.

By the way, many of the arguments that I see the bonus takes and CEOs making seem not unlike a toddler wailing to get its way in the case where the parents are quite adept at taking care of the needs.

I like that Posner is so talented in his expressions, yet he has to know that having English as an initial discipline left many questions from being asked by himself let alone his trying to get an answer. On the other hand, science and engineering education can unbalance a view, to boot.

Those types of issues, related to views as they are influenced by various disciplines, are very much apropos to truth engineering. Of course, the judge might tell me that law is the truly balanced viewpoint. Oh yes, we can eat lawyerly output? The Economist magazine recently said that lawyers argue from first principles; funny, I thought that engineers did that too, Ah, are we talking the same first principles? Interesting.

Modified: 10/17/2011