Friday, December 31, 2010

Software issues

The year started with this topic in the news. It will continue to be important (as in, 'code as truth' - but, not exactly).

Recent articles in the ACM Communications are of interest.
  • Certified software -- Zhong Shao -- Essentially, some things, including software, that can be proved, hold up through time. One might say that robustness of products, which are realizations (in essence, a physical manifestation), results from clever use of this fact. The trouble? Ah, so many things that we will cover, in time.
  • QIP = PSPACE Breakthrough -- Scott Aaronson -- what is truth and how do we maintain it (computationally)? Well, as we've said before, it's a PTIME issue. Too, looks as if our cleverness will continue to be the main factor. In other words, we can solve the job problem with the proper perspective.
Best wishes for the New Year.


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).

05/28/2011 -- Uses for 'avatar' in our discussion? Ought we count the ways?

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

01/01/2011 -- We have four last posts of December under our belt.

01/01/2011 -- Notice in the QIP article, the use of entanglement. In a sense, we have a whole lot of faith in random processes that are applied against independent objects. Perhaps, too much and applied with wrong stress. We worry about biases and other correlations that might lurk, true. Yet, it's deeper than that. In truth, fat cats would worry about their excessive accumulations were they to know the reality. Could it be that quantum computing may help us find a basis for the proper modeling, even if issues of NP (and trust) are still there?

Modified 01/23/2015

Friday, December 17, 2010

Have you heard?

Or, here's something to think about during the busy holiday travel season. I first saw the youtube link in a comment by Sven (off topic, but of merit) to a flightblogger post.

Why is this under truth engineering? Well, after listening to the video, taking a moment to gulp about the possibilities, then starting to assimilate the information, and beginning to phrase questions about the video and its contents, what is a better example to use for trying to cast illumination on 'truth engineering' and its usefulness?

So, leaving any conclusions until after some analysis, here are a few questions. Mainly, for now, we'll look at what can be known, is thought to be known, and what might not be known (avoiding Scott C's unknown unknowns).
  • -- Firstly, the players are many. We have ex-employees in the video. We have experts, too, such as FAA personnel. We have lawyers. But, too, we have a major player in the military-industrial complex (see Ike's concerns, raised, of late, due to some of his early speech drafts being recently discovered in cabin). On the other side is Al Jazeera which may give some pause. But, People & Power is a nice concept, as opposed to the big stompers (even red-staters ought to understand this).
  • -- For each of the players, there will be further categorization that is possible which would allow some insight, hopefully, to motivation and such. Yet, as shown by the plane graveyard scene, all we have is verbal testimony unless some type of physical evidence (obtained at what cost?) is found. So, from a truth engineering framework, we can look at the interminable fluxes in ungrounded spaces versus the underdetermined states in the physical (one impetus for cyber-physical studies).
  • -- So, how do we de-construct this thing to find the truth? Well, it will be a multi-dimensional task that will take time and ought to continue to intrigue as time unfolds the details. Thankfully, that the sources are on-line will help. Yet, what type of grunt, ground work might be necessary? As in, does not finding the truth go beyond the cyber and virtual (rhetorical, to some)?
  • -- How does this play into the themes of oops (how do we know?) and business (who tells the truth?)? We'll look at that, too.
We might also use this opportunity to discuss more about computer modeling and what it might mean for ourselves and how we process truth. That an airplane requires so much thought, in design, manufacture, and operation, makes it a perfect vehicle for this type of discussion. Too, do we not have some intuitive grasp of flying (natively)?


04/07/2012 -- Flightblogger ends, as least, Jon's watch. Some issues raised five years ago are still apropos. The context may have changed a little, yet, perhaps now is time to re-address the themes.

12/20/2010 -- Not only do we need to ask who tells the truth, we need consider what 'truth' might be. A recent New Yorker article is of essence: The truth wears off. The few sentences of the article says this: "Just because an idea is true doesn't mean it can be proved. And just because an idea can be proved doesn't mean that it's true. When the experiments are done, we still have to choose what to believe". I might add, whom to believe. A similar article appeared earlier in The Atlantic.

12/18/2010 -- On the finance side, Martin Weiss reminds us that Big Ben has grown the money supply by 1.2T the past couple of years. Then, he lowered the cost (interest) while giving bunches of money to the banks. These guys then loaned the money to us at a high rate of interest. And, pulled in the bucks. Of course, Ben had taken 1T of toxic assets off of their hand and put it on our backs. Finally, those jerks are getting paid big bonuses this year. We should have nationalized, yes, indeed.

Modified: 04/07/2012

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Though t-issues are important to the discussion, these are for the most part of little-t type. From time to time, there can be big 'T' issues brought in, such as this one or that one. It is of interest that both deal with things economic.

Are there big-T issues in engineering? Or, are they just easier to avoid?

Well, we can re-look at why truth engineering in this context. System thinking is a late attribute of enlightenment quest that we can trace over 100s of years. How all this came about can be avoided, skirting several big-T topics.

Yet, the basic theme is that systems relate to problem solving (oops minimization). Computational efforts then followed, and, for a long while, the computer was the human brain with some artifacts involved. Applied mathematics, and resolving systems of equations, was the focus of a lot of energy by very smart people.

We have to acknowledge their stamina, to boot. Some types of problems, that nowadays take the blink of an eye on a modern computational device, took years for people to work. One just has to marvel at the initiative, work ethic, and management skills in terms of tracking all of the details.

As our prowess increased, that which did the work became more artificially based. We're almost to the point that if the computer is not used in some professional situations things may be bordering on mal-practice.

Yet, just as we have underdetermination at the core of our knowledge, the real core of computing is undecidable. Wait! Yes. If we acknowledge that the basic circuitry is for the most part decidable, we can feel better. However, folks, progress has place real-time switching there that can be very problematic.

In fact, one worry ought to be that malfeasance-motivated mischief is not embedded. The US DOD takes this seriously.

But, we'll get back to that. Even if the switching was very stable, what we build upon the framework, layer by layer, introduces back the problematic issues real quick. Then, when we look at the growing presence (ubiquity), it can become very much troublesome.

Now, recognition of that is the motivation of the proposal that truth engineering is essential. Yes, it is necessary that computation be involved and that the majority of the work is being done by some artifact, but is that not the case and is not that expected to continue to grow?


01/22/2013 -- T-issues will migrate to issues of science and religion.

12/17/2010 -- An interesting topic may have presented itself for further study in this regard.

Modified: 01/22/2013

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Linear logic

Having taken a re-look at linear logic lately, and seeing the extensions as addressed in an ACM Communications' overview, I got the idea that this work could be used to illustrate some of the needed ideas, such as why things are hard.

From a computational sense, this logic has fitted well into the more problematic areas that we try to handle in the modern contexts, especially with growing use of computer systems. It does allow a better handling of proofs without falling into the traps of classical logic.

Yet, its entailment is not decidable. Somehow, we need to get that notion better understood. I've used the fact that we don't have 20-20 vision going further (farther, as in, forward movement from a position or state). Of course, we may not have 20-20 in hindsight, either.

Now, why is linear logic so important? It parallels the progress in advanced linear algebra that has been so important to numeric systems and visualization. That is, even non-linear problems are approximated using linear techniques.

And, we, essentially, have overlaid the world with this type of constraining view, despite that we know the limits of monotonicity and have determined the need for non-monotonicity in complex systems. That is, those with numeracy have superimposed upon us what is very well suspect.

That anyone would argue for some caution raises the ad hominem argument of innumeracy.


Now, having before raised the notion of getting technical, we'll do so (actually, we'll plumb to whatever depth is necessary -- the request of the reader? soar as far as we must, to boot). At first, we'll go top down, trying to establish a sound, coherent viewpoint (notice that this is juxtaposed to that approach which has been developed for the past 200 years and which has been deleterious -- disrespect for that which makes us human -- as well as beneficial - attempts at firming up the plumbing which can still leak - outside of our control).


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

11/21/2010 -- Three years ago, it was said: Computational foci raise miraculous need. Still applies.

11/16/2010 -- It is the fact that there are serious lapses in what we can and do know. Now, our maturity provides the basis for decisioning under the resulting uncertainty. That the computer has become a major player raises a whole bunch of issues. The main one is that the underlying framework is undecidable. Plenty have danced around this subject, but linear logic allows us to look at the problem more realistically.

11/10/2010 -- Jim M. could be a hero if he learned the lesson of undecidability.

Modified: 10/12/2011

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Truth and media

Of course, we mean 'media' in a broad sense which includes the social, such as Facebook (the metaphor).

The Atlantic has a good article related to the fuzzy nature of facts. Of course, they're talking about this: that which could be called 'disinformation' seems to have taken hold of the information flow by using manipulations of computational (including network) technology.

Ah, there is no better way to introduce the need for truth engineering. You see, even with those supposedly solid facts of the past, it was not as solid as people thought - one source for the interminable conflicts. Even the facts of science can undergo slight perturbations. The same issue of The Atlantic tells us that even science runs after recognition and money.

Of course, we can know what is the underlying reality (big-T truth issue - which have been skirted around, to date, here) better than we have allowed, yet it will always be a mystery, for several reasons.

In fact, what we have found (look closely) is that our reality is wrapped in this digitally-framed cloud that has such power as to alter our thinking in order for us to correspond with (as in communication) the models based upon that set of frameworks (thanks a lot, applied mathematics). Yes, we dumb down ourselves in order to make our systems appear smart.

And, that dumbing is sugar-coated since we can lull ourselves into the belief embedded within a set of complicated mathematical expressions whose 'truth' we cannot compute (no, we need our artificial servants - to whom, we'll eternally bow, if we do not grasp the horn - again, truth engineering - with people's intuition as the key factor).

Wait, crowd wisdom? It may be a matter of training: move from lemming-ness to a higher-order (can we do this?) state (yes, ask any of the smartie group or, for that matter, the manic at their upmost part of the cycle).

Oh? Yes, neuropeptidergic will be important. Had a good breakfast? And, fasting-influenced cognition may be of interest, to boot.


10/28/2010 -- As with the ca-pital-sino, many of our rights have been usurped and our domains interloped.

Modified: 10/28/2010

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Truth and law

Well, let's see, Bank of American was first. But, then, they bought Countrywide. So, would they not be first? What took them so long?

Then, we see others following.

Doing what? Admitting that they had robot-signing. Ah! How can there be truth in any situation where corners are being cut?

The question applies in general, as we see cost cutting as the main motivator for things that come back to bite us. In terms of public safety, it's always a battle between the lame-brained view of capitalism and the necessary view of we, the people.

Oh, wait! 'people' are no more than fodder for the capitalists to exploit. Yes, that age-old class oriented view is still around. With new players.

Then, we hear that Goldman Sachs spawned Paulson who then sat on his hands so that they could make a bunch of money. Old GS is trying to stay under the radar, it seems.

Methinks that what we have now is the reincarnated souls of the idiots of the past in perpetuity working out the same problems time and again.

Gosh, even the Dalai Lama thinks that he'll come back for another try.

What really grates is that those inclined toward that position of limited insight, namely the libertarian view - did they wipe their own butts as babies? (oh, wait!, their adulthood consists of expecting all to serve their wishes) -- think that capitalism is a divinely bestowed gift to them. And, the main prophet is Smith (Adam tells me that he never offered himself for that role), supposedly.

Then, they think that there are mechanisms (see Remarks) that'll magically bring their wishes to fore. In many cases, it is the fact that the money'd manipulate the law that is the key.

Oh, may we get started on the Magna Carta update? And, then start to build, construct, a better capitalistic system.

For those who may perceive the notion, yes, we need a constructive view, not that built upon fancy.


04/03/2011 -- Need to look at some background. New robber barons?

10/14/2010 -- Capitalism, as known now, requires an endless supply of suckers.

Modified: 08/24/2011

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

May and Must

We can use these two concepts to discuss the basis for truth engineering and to look at oops related to improper handling.

We use 'must' in the sense of knowing that something is true or false. There is a larger set of unknowns, as in 'may' be true or false. We know that 'may' is much larger than 'must' (ignoring big 'T' issues, for now, and allowing some hierarchy of unbounded sets) just from our experiences.

These sets, must and may, can be subsumed by overlaying with reals, that is we can take 1.0 as true and 0.0 as false. We, then, have that large collection in between.

Of course, this concept applies in a computational context. Not many run around with a world view based upon the reals. Not without some gizmo for handling the numbers. What we see in the modern world is that computation, and abstraction, are overlaying reality.

Such is progress, but we need to get this right, folks.

As we have already mentioned, various issues come to fore with the modern way of doing things, such as map-territory misconstruing and much more. We need to change our ways, somewhat, and do more than just stress critical thinking.

You see, no amount of critical thinking will offset undecidability and the overly complex nature of the world. Now, creativity does help.

For some, there is fear that comes from not knowing. What manager (politician) wants to talk in terms of 'may' when the audience (like the vultures of capitalism) want to hear certainty.

Granted, the problems that will be looked at are related to logic, computing, and applications thereof. That is, the modern mind and its models are the core issue. Some people seem to be beyond the types of limitations that need to be discussed, yet whether they are, or not, is itself an open-ended issue (big T).

Sure, we like to see the confident. Success in the world does point to some type of knowing. That the gaming (chimera) has adapted itself to optimize types of insights (that is, insider views, arbitrage positions that are 'must' (and ought to be a public good/debt) yet have been privatized, and more -- we can enumerate these).

So, what's the issue here? Well, an ACM paper (Intro, Article) discusses static analysis of a program and suggests means to do so successfully. The basic problem is NP-complete so cleverness is in order. Yet, the creative moves have their costs and undesirable effects.

In essence, it's not impossible to do this type of proof, just very hard. And, when done, the results are conditioned upon several things.

That ought to give us pause about planning for the future and for doing large projects. Let's take the discussion over to the FEDaerated context.


09/27/2010 -- Capitalism is for the good of us, let's bring that forward.

Modified: 09/27/2010

Friday, August 13, 2010

Believe whom?

The Toyota SUA problem is in the news, again (really hasn't left). The USA Today reports that nothing was found by looking at the black box recording to indicate other than user error.

But, then, an export says that this determination was not based upon complete enough analysis to mean much.

I would ask, how can anything of substance be found without thorough shakedown of the systems, including code? Perhaps, we ought to be looking at the limits of behavioral testing taken by itself.


01/22/2013 -- USA Today story on settlements. From three years ago, lest we forget.

02/26/2011 -- Another go

.02/22/2011 -- One expert site says they wouldn't buy these cars for their kid. A few recent incidents.

02/09/2011 -- Brief comment (will keep updates at this post). They did look at code. Some slight theoretical chance of error was mentioned, to boot. Yet, as NASA knows, those 'slight' measurements assume a whole lot that is not as rational (think, Gaussian overlays, etc.) as some would expect. Again, watch this site, too.

02/08/2011 -- There was a report today concerning a study on the SUA problem that has been going on quietly. More news will be coming later when the report is technically analyzed.

Modified: 01/22/2013

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Apps and truth

The rage now is 'apps' which can be used to describe truth engineering further with the hopes of 'app'lying the concepts to firm up computation, as it is presented to the common folks.

Yes, this applies, as well, to the open issue of the rolling labs (autos, ...) upon which, and into which, we put ourselves daily; the idea would be to lessen the experimental aspect (we want existential).


Ah, where is the old DOD where any computation required e-m shielding plus special handling of OS, and resource, issues? Gone with the Internet which is open to mis-'app'lication.


Many talk algorithms when they discuss apps. What? Algorithms are strong; but, they have severe pre-conditions. Even if you had an infinite set of powerful algorithms, there is still the hard problem of matching the algorithm with the problem (assuming that the problem can be defined 'app'ropriately) and then even interpreting results.

Ontology and epistemology are a couple of important issues here.

Now, heuristics (rule of thumb, even if support by Bayesian, and other, methods) can be strong, too, if they are founded on learned frameworks. In fact, we probably have more use for these.

Unfortunately, a lot of the software behind 'apps' is ad hoc. We'll go more into that.


By the way, none of this stuff is as easy as the youngsters try to make it (ah, MS, how many failings are under your paradigmatic responsibility?).

CEO apps? Well, we could have computational voting (at some point - consider the DOD issues that relate to security and stability and truthfulness). People, some, will still need their hands held.

As said before, we have three problems that are not yet resolved: qualification, frame, and ramification. That is, we have to deal with pre-conditions, closure, and then use of any (and in almost all) computational events.

Some pushed data base (static view - behind the numeracy craze (consider: numeracy leads to hubris, hence we need quasi-empiricism; innumeracy is not idiocy (..., as the commercial says -- ..., priceless ... (as in, numberless))) which even if it has operational behavior does not get outside of the 'apps' problems. Then, behavior (which includes those things related to dynamical systems - of which we, of course, are the epitome) analysis comes along with a whole set of age-old problems.

Some modern techniques try to cut to the quick (thanks, Occam - or, are you sorry for all of this modern mis-use?). Such reductions, as these are wont to apply, to the sufficient can throw out the necessary.

That, folks, is probably the most basic cause for a lot of mis-apps and their dire consequences.


Two important concepts, to look at more closely, will that we need to have man-in-the-loop (woman, too), including borgs (yes) and that humans have the uniquely held talent for truth evaluation (computation has an in-laid bit of vertigo that is impossible (yep) to overcome). The latter is trainable; the former is much more than augmented reality.


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).

11/21/2010 -- Three years ago, it was said: Computational foci raise miraculous need. Still applies.

07/25/2010 -- That some have been allowed to misuse the situational uncertainties associated with modern technology, and its use, needs to be discussed. The ca-pital-sino result (the basis that we see for daily gaming a near-zero reality) was, almost, inevitable. How to extricate ourselves reasonably to a more sound foundational framework is of prime importance.

07/02/2010 -- Stunned? Hubris or stupidity (or, are they the same?). Meaning what? Well, this is a simple little thing, of no real consequence. How many problems lurk amongst all of those computational elements that have been spread around the economic world? Who cares?

Modified: 01/23/2015

Friday, May 7, 2010

Truth derivatives

The Newsday of New York had an interesting cartoon which was reproduced in USA Today (4/23/2010).

It struck a chord with the intent of this blog for several reasons. For one, a strict definition for 'truth engineering' has been hard to pin down. The related discourse would involve many topics, as we have seen. Some of the concepts, and reactions, that might come about seem to be motivated from a cynical framework.

But, that is not necessary, as the topic is legit and of concern for several reasons that we expect to address. For one, we need to deal with underdetermined situational dilemmas in a fashion that can be, at best, quasi-empirical. In a perfect world, we would all learn together. Unfortunately, what we find is that 'trust' has lost its value in our world.

Denial of belief systems notwithstanding, something similar is the operational position in any modern realm, especially those involving complex systems. Politicians, and others, exploit the the belief urge.

So, we ought to, for argument, turn around the little phrase and use 'derivation of truth' and discuss how it is one of the most important issues we face. How do we know this, and what can we do? Upon what first principles do we start? ... Ah, a supposedly endless set of questions might abound.

But, the lessons from Russell apply here. Even Grasso caught this. When computers come to the playground, dynamics change. Our noses cannot smell the crap, as easily, though I'll argue that we can have virtual counterparts of all the senses, including the 6th.

We'll be covering, in more depth, the need of a person-in-the-loop for most complicated schemes. Why? Vertigo of systems is one of the perpetual problems that has been ignored; it is, in a sense, one main source of systemic risk.

Thank you, Mr. Handelsman.

By the way, the finance folks use derivatives to denote that something comes from another. One might say that the 'derivative' deals with some abstract property which may be recursively far removed from anything real.

In short, it's a bastardization of mathematical notions, chiefly those which are at the core of differential topology. It would never have seen the light of day without computation. The 'abstract' nature gave it some credence; that there were functional uses allowed the advent to the point that we saw.

Some used these abstractions to build a house of cards. Even if the underlying entities, those things far removed from the derivative, were rock solid, this type of thing would have been problematic, eventually. Why? The underlying games are unstable.

Actually, it was lucky for us that greed, and other human traits, exacerbated the problem. Otherwise, we may have been further down a perdition-laden path with even worse consequences and much more pain. Wait! Some feel that this is exactly the situation that we currently face due to the lack of backbone to handle moral hazards.

Will we learn from this most recent financial debacle? Well, finance (as in the profs who think that financial engineering is something to pursue), you tell me.


01/22/2013 -- T-issues will migrate to issues of science and religion.

11/04/2011 -- The government, and politicians, lie?

04/03/2011 -- Tis tranche and trash.

05/10/2010 -- Makes one wonder if 'beyond reproach' means anything anymore. Those in charge, for the most part, seem to be after their own glory and welfare. Who is really looking out for all of us? Oh? Just who is all of us? You see, those with the aptitude, many times, can be 'John Galts' and entrap and enslave many without any constraint. But, as we know, aptitude is not enough; there has to be ways and means. Trouble is the government, business, and computation provide such.

Ah. This country started a clock anew about 400 years ago (yes, those early comers had many dreams and, in many cases, were fleeing tyranny) but, for reasons worth looking at, we've essentially reproduced the same thing. Yes. We have 'royalty' and 'peerage' except that 'fiat' thing, called money, is the main consistency of power. Hence, all of this gaming and confusion.

Big Ben could help by remembering that anyone who takes a position involving public trust needs put their own financial affairs into some kind of independent trust such that any link between actions and personal gain is reduced. How can we do that? They have families to take care of. Good question. Big Ben talked that money isn't the main ingredient of 'happiness' this weekend. Yet, the 'funny' money is principally his to manipulate.

Something amiss here? Look, Big Ben, get to the real issue: we have to look at the philosophical (mainly, metaphysical) issues related to money. Are you prepared to address that?

Modified: 01/22/2013

Monday, April 19, 2010

Software genies

Note, the title doesn't say 'genius' as some might expect. There is a lot of hubris that has been generated by systems weenies, what with the exhibited prowess, the accumulated monies, and the wizardry aura.

Guess what, folks? Throughout our times, humans have been foil for peddlers and malfeasance. Nothing wrong with that, capitalism comes out of that realm. Too, our materialistic, and scientific, progress has caused us to ignore the fact that there is a whole lot that we don't control.

For the most part, the systems, including control, people have won the day. Certain operating systems just crash with no warning (and on a massive scale). So we grumble, but to whom can there be a complaint? Too, the web user, many times, runs into some interminable process (hey, peoples, the basic notion here is undecidability). In this case, just redoing the action can overcome the problem.

There are many, many examples. And, OS, and system, crashes have been the direct cause of billions of losses. How much is being bled, malfeasance'd, from our economy with web-assisted means?

Anyone take the blame here? With these types of losses?


Well, in some cases, such as medical computing, we've seen cases where culpability was established and enforced. Too, in flight systems, there is a lot of thought and effort put into safe computing. And, finally, there is going to be an effort at beefing up cyber security.

Ever think the WWW as safe? Of course, that question is directed in the context of mature reason and actual experience. The actions of a whole bunch of unawares seem to indicate that the real problems are not understood. Perhaps, training ought to be better (computing, like other important things, ought to be safe).

Now, did you ever think that computer-related failures would show up in your car? Again, 'computer-related' here subsumes a whole lot, including the systems and the mathematics. Did you think that hubris would allow the spawning of potential 'genies' on the populace on such a large scale (thank goodness, for the older technology)?

But, it has happened and will continue.


It's interesting that Consumer Report did some testing before the fact. One thing to be concerned about is the completeness of those things tested before a car is released to the public. Of course, 'completeness' is used advisedly (think Godel), as we cannot attain such, to the nth degree that the political types would like to have us believe.

No, there will be tradeoffs which will require us to be smart. And, the tradeoff analysis ought to be done in a visible arena.

So, we'll see failures. Is the forum open? No, and, then they 'hack' a solution and cast it out across the waters! I guess we need to make it more apparent that changes, themselves release new 'genies' in a manner that requires extreme care (like making software an industry problem, for example).


One thing to point out is that hubris leads many to think that some entity that is a collection of systems and sensors is equivalent to a real being. Part of the hubris rests on advances that show that control, and convergence, are partly algorithmic. Yet, that success can hide just how close we come to divergence.

The recent test results point to an area that we need to rethink. And, from this blogger's view, it'll end up requiring what might be specified as 'truth' engineering (of course, there may be a better moniker to use as a handle for the subject).


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).

03/09/2013 -- Zeno can be put forth today in other than a facetious sense.

03/23/2012 -- Renewal of the idea (and related energies) via Cooper and CiE.

11/21/2010 -- Three years ago, it was said: Computational foci raise miraculous need. Still applies.

10/07/2010 -- Several principles need to be explored, such as the ergodic one.

09/28/2010 -- It nice to see the IEEE weigh in. Notice: sensors galore, driver in the loop, ...

05/10/2010 -- Out of control, essentially. Commentary, and cartoon, via USA Today is right on.

Modified: 01/23/2015

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Who knows?

Earlier, there was a question about 'who is to know?' in the financial context. Economics is not called 'dismal' for no reason.

Then, we observed the frenzy created by the media about some car problems. Essentially, there are many assumptions about quality that go unaddressed until after the fact of accidents, it seems. Some of this may be due to a slackening of effort, since business has been driven by costs for some time now (that is, the CEO as king as opposed to making the consumer the king, okay?).

But, some problems arise from the difficulties of the cyber-physical. That is, this topic is now being addressed by the NSF, however there is much more to it than the current views cover.

It was good to see in the case of the car problems that experts who are outside the discipline, namely NASA and NAS, are being brought in as these issues go fairly deep. That action raises the level of talent being devoted to the problem and may become more necessary than not as products become more complicated.

By the way, one set of experts addresses myths vs facts. This is an interesting read as it shows that the manufacturer has to consider failure modes in order to instruct the driver what to do when an incident occurs that needs attention. Actually, problem avoidance requires identifying these modes of possible failure, too, so as to lower their possibility during design or to anticipate corrective actions, as we see here.

This, then, raises, again, the question of who represents the consumer in this case? Who would have thought that the merely rolling (as we all do when at a stop light on a hill while we move our foot from the brake to the gas pedal) would raise the likelihood of such a dire consequence?


02/26/2011 -- Another go.

02/08/2011 -- There was a report today concerning a study on the SUA problem that has been going on quietly. More news will be coming later when the report is technically analyzed.

08/13/2010 -- Recent news that it's user error.

04/19/2010 -- Genies, no not genius, indeed!

Modified: 02/26/2011

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Can of worms

Well, who are we to believe? It's turning out that the answer to this question is less certain through time than we would like, in many situations.

In a recent one, the past couple of days has us seeing Toyota trying to disprove one professor by using another. Nothing new about that; science is supposed work via a type of dialectic. But, gamemanship, and such, as the main focus? (A third professor's view)

That people have experienced, and suffered the consequences of, some type of failure of auto control systems is the one fact not to be forgotten.

And, one would hope that the illustrious car company, whose reputation has always been associated with value and quality, will take the high road and do the right thing. Which is? (Note: 03/12/10 -- ah, they are, here is their web site related to recalls)

Well, Congress' panels ought to take the thing to its full extent, or at least as far as their monied selves will let them (definition of the politico set, of late, is characterized by a salivation response to the stimulus of money under the nose).

The Administration needs to live up to its responsibility. Which is? Act as mediator for disparate views (see below) and be an advocate for us, the wee people.

Now, for some of the other roles and views. Engineers need (and ought to be allowed) to work out the technical issues as they may. However, that we're talking hardware (operational and computational - with software for the latter) means that it's a new game. Perhaps, this dilemma might be an opportunity to learn some necessary lessons.

Lawyers? Well, several things here. But, one of these ought not be suppressing the truth by manipulating fear. That counsel goes for both sides. Whose first principles apply?

People, and drivers? Wake the heck up to the growing presence of little hidden 'bots' (general use of a term which is meant to imply that the genie has been let out of the bottle) that can play havoc with us if we don't pay attention. But what are we to do?

Evidently, for awhile, there has been a growing computational framework for the driving platform due to our technical progress of the last few decades. Surprise! Of course, this has been obvious, but we've let ourselves trust too much.

Too, some of us seem to have gone to a total zombie state (you know who you are), in this sense: mind warped by, and wrapped around, an abstracted, thereby virtual, cloud via thumb and eye, in the driving mode, to the extent that the vehicle has become a mindless WMD with no one in control.

Such behavior, on the part of the reckless, has allowed the potentials for devastation, for the driver and for those unlucky souls in the presence of the driver, to increase inordinately.

Of course, we might use that last condition as evidence of the influence that the 'gaming' generation's upbringing (computation in their blood, almost) has had some insidious repercussions that seriously need our attention.

That comment is not being negative; it is more this: the issues related to truth engineering need to be at the forefront (more below) of both an analytic and corrective (in the sense of control theory) stance.

Does failsafe mean anything to the people? Well, we could think of several connotations that are general, but that any of these might pertain to some type of increased certainty needs to be lifted to view for some serious scrutiny.

Why? For a computational system to be risk minimal, there are several things that need to happen. For one, all domains need to be decidable. Okay, sub-domains will be decidable. Any arbitrary collection of these will not, by default, be decidable. It (that is, the order and stability that we all desire) has to be imposed.

By the way, for now, just think of decidable as subsuming stability, convergence, and other numerically behaved properties (technical geeks, be patient, we'll get there - quasi-empiricism).

Too, even if we attain the desired, decidable, state, it may have been due to some type of cleverness and accomplished by a man-in-the-loop. Yet, that 'man' is not everyman but is someone who needs to be cognizant of the decisional issues, to be awake (aware, see above, zombie reference (state of mindless flow (apologies to Buddha) which is insensitive to subtle changes in the related sensors)), and to be experienced (one impetus for the growing use of simulation/visualization in the modern world).

What is decidable? Well, it is not something to assume. Some designers will argue that they've accomplished the necessary assumption set for closure. Ah! In an open framework, such as we see with driving, there is no proof of this. Why do you think that new products require so much testing? Even those with mathematical, and modeling, support need some type of empirical workout (an airplane, for example).

You see, there is really no basic mathematical foundation for these types of decisions that alleviates us of the need for caution. Why do you think that managers and lawyers get involved? Too, the required, onerous, aspects are costly both in time and resources (money, people) so we get the bean counters involved.

Engineers know these things, but they are human and can err.

Who to believe? Well, this is solvable, folks, but requires some effort. We'll use the situation to explore some of the issues and propose possible outcomes.

Leaping ahead: how can we get the proper stable computational bases for these operational entities without some serious cooperation across the industry to the extent, even, of having common platforms?

What? Yes, any creative, and competitive advantage, aspect probably ought to be limited to a small region of performance that could easily be tested.

So, let's bring the concepts of failsafe to fore. This will take a few posts, but here is a short list, for starters.
  • Failsafe - acknowledges the possibility of failure and attempts some type of prevention (and lessening) of consequences
  • Failure mode - recognition of these is necessary to know how to manage the failures even if they are to occur with minuscule probability
  • Who to believe? - yes, in the small world of a system, there will be sensors, decisioners (bow to the great GWB), connectors, and more which at any time can be in conflict (computational sense - constraint satisfaction, NP, meaning hard) about what they know and what to do; too, there will be need some type of rectification (we might say, auto programmers, like quants, ignore complexity) even if the situation is undecidable (that's one reason for overrides, folks - yet, a mere brake override is not sufficient)
In terms of the last item, yes, the macro issues very much parallel those of the micro view. Or, we can look at it the other way.

We all learn conflict resolution in kindergarten or earlier. As we know, conflicts are real, some may even say essential (think ca-pital-sino). And, we know that power from the top-down (hammering down the opposition, for the politocos) can suppress the truth, thereby causing easy (or so it seems) resolution (which usually is a partial solution).

That this situation exists can allow a more complete discussion of some important issues (subsequent posts).


01/22/2013 -- USA Today story on settlements. From three years ago, lest we forget.

02/26/2011 -- Another go.

02/08/2011 -- There was a report today concerning a study on the SUA problem that has been going on quietly. More news will be coming later when the report is technically analyzed.

10/07/2010 -- Several principles need to be explored, such as the ergodic one.

09/28/2010 -- It nice to see the IEEE weigh in. Notice: sensors galore, drive in the loop, ...

04/19/2010 -- Genies, no not genius, indeed!

03/15/2010 -- Response to Toyota by Safety Research & Strategies, Inc. Did Toyota really use 'infallible' in describing their systems? One professor seems to think so.

03/12/2010 -- Of course, some media may be better than others. Popular Mechanics has a good article about the Toyota issue. Notice the comments: a wide range, some seemingly coherent and well expressed. However, that the overall tone of the article suggests user error as the chief problem is something that ought to be analyzed itself. For instance, if the accelerator and the brake pedals are being confused by the foot and mind of the driver, is that not indicative that someone didn't think to cause sufficient means to differentiate the two? Ah, ought there not to have been some studies to 'optimize' such selection? One problem with the modern world, folks, is that we apply set discriminators (in general, separation algorithms) without regard to some of the nuances that apply. Oh yes. One criticism of Lean (and Toyota's system) is that is cuts to the quick in a very efficient manner; at the same time, these actions leave a state in which it is very hard to recover traces sufficient for analysis, many times. That is one thing the NHTSA ought to look at in terms of what might be necessary to perform ex-post-facto diagnosis.

03/12/2010 -- Forgot to mention one player, namely the media, especially TV. Guys/gals, don't monkey with reports in order to emphasize some viewpoint, such as ABC is accused of doing. Oh, it's just editing, they claim. Wait, aren't media businesses just like the car makers driven by market share and profit? ... The question was asked: doesn't the public know that Toyota, with all its resources, hasn't looked at the underlying issues? Well, we also know that Toyota publicly admitted moving negatively on a quality line in order to put resources toward expansion of the market share. How to attain balance? Good question in that even the best-and-brightest fail regularly.

Modified: 01/22/2013

Friday, February 5, 2010

Cars and quality

We all have some sense of quality when it comes to the auto. Progress has given us safety glass, air bags, crash worthiness concepts, and a whole lot more. What about the growing inclusion of systems which deal with sensors, networks, chips, AND software (hacked out or what?).

Turns out that recent events (or, to put it another way, revelations of the reality that been slipped under our collective noses) point to the necessity of what truth engineering has been trying to define, discuss, and deal with.

We could say that it's probably not a bad thing that Toyota is the focal point. For one, cars have become increasingly dependent upon what could be characterized as 'drive-by-wire' systems. But, a lot of this was put into place under the covers. Who knew, for instance, that the accelerator on some cars is a phony, being essentially a switch that is supposed to feel like the real thing?

As mentioned in many posts here, we have essentially taken our success at layering our abstractions on computers (just look at the computational marvels everywhere - too bad that it's led to zombies texting their inanity across precious virtual space) and let that success breed hubris (ah, how many projects brought down by the lowly computer?).

Guess what? The same thing happened to our finances where we let the (supposed, we're going to be picking on Harvard in this regard - as they, too, need to step up to a leadership position here) best and brightest, and the scoundrels (Made-off), run amok using their, supposedly advanced mathematics and software.

It's time to step back and reconsider, folks. Remember this: there is no easy answer, no silver bullet, or quick fix.

But, the situation is not un-resolvable if we proceed using quasi-empiricism.

That is one of the points here.


01/22/2013 -- USA Today story on settlements. From three years ago, lest we forget.

02/26/2011 -- Another go.

02/08/2011 -- There was a report today concerning a study on the SUA problem that has been going on quietly. More news will be coming later when the report is technically analyzed.

09/28/2010 -- It nice to see the IEEE weigh in. Notice: sensors galore, drive in the loop, ...

03/12/2010 -- Toyota's web site that is related to recalls.

03/09/2010 -- Can of worms is what we've gotten from letting the genie out of the bottle.

02/10/2010 -- We could probably use the auto (and recent events) as a way to characterize the concepts of the blog. Of course, we have the value versus quality mis-think as part of the problem. Business Week reports that Toyota was asking suppliers for a 10% cut. Well, such scrimping would have an effect, even if it was only in looks. However, cutting into the life of a system may appear smart but, actually, relies on the same unstable basis as does a lot of economic thinking.

02/09/2010 -- We need to retrain the driving brain. Where is there an auto user group?

Modified: 01/22/2013

Friday, January 22, 2010

Lordly Prince trap

Context: See Tru'eng anewfocus going forwardmathematics.


Following up on the book that supposedly is for government, we have to announce that any business executive can have as much hubris, or even more, than any little civil servant. And, bankers are top on the list.

So, adding to the Eggers/O'Leary list, we'll start with the Lordly Prince trap which relates to an unbounded sense of entitlement for success. Our problem? As we've seen, this entails, a lot, misuse of other people's money and enfringement on the rights of others.

The best-and-brightest are only a part of this set, and CEOs are just about all infected, as a class, with this little defect. This is one side of the Lord/Serf phenomenon and a large factor in out-housing.


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

11/27/2011 -- Continuation, somewhat.

09/28/2010 -- Capitalism is for the good of us, let's bring that forward.

Modified: 01/05/2015