Sunday, January 20, 2013

Zeno, in the modern context

It's common knowledge that the modern world knows things through computers. This is true from the most recent phenomena, of noses to smart phones parading as intelligent behavior, to the wide expanses of cosmology's modeling of the heavens and exploration of multi-universes as an explanation, of sorts. In between, we have IRS's use plus business computing, such as design, planning, and a number of other things.

So, where does one go to look at issues related to such knowledge? The ACM is a good start. Say, their Communications of the ACM. Then, we have a whole lot of other folks, such as IEEE, IJCAI, and such.


The following is motivated by a viewpoint, expressed by Phillip G. Armour, in the ACM. His article is titled: The Business of Software: How We build Things (in paper, slightly different on-line). There are two things to mention here, though the article ought to be read.

He uses Zeno in talking about what I had called Earned Value. I only used Zeno once (Fedaerated) in several posts on three blogs. Why? I had talked about this with my colleagues on many occasions. It seemed that referencing the guy was more useful in person as then one could get off on the peripatetic issues.
Zeno, Veritas et Falsitas

Why Zeno? He's the guy of the arrow. Or, as the joke goes, the mathematician who doesn't get the girl. So, Phillip asks: why do people guess that they're 95% (or some such number) complete on a task as if they're monotonically approaching, with no end in sight?

Phillip laughs it off. I don't as it was a regular occurrence as we tried to assess completion of a project with lots of people and oodles of modules. Nowadays, it's not an issue (say, with Zuck's stuff) as they can just push out system changes (with a recovery method, hopefully, to use if things go bad) without regard to testing status. This is not true for other parts of the business world, say like the 787 (even a most-specified test plan will still leave room for judgment calls -- we'll get to that).


Phillip's use gets me thinking, again, that I need to bring the topic forward, again.

First, though, a useful exercise would be to gather all of the posts, for each of the blogs, that dealt with the subject of earned value. For each of the blogs, I have a list of posts that include the term. Then, I provide a list of a few of the important posts and the count of posts with the term.

        Fedaerated (18)        7'oops7 (41)        Truth Engineering (20)

Now, for this blog, all were in 2009 and before. That sort of indicates the shift to looking at finance. Engineering worries about things like this. Finance seems to have this short-term view of the content of the current day's pocket. That is idiotic, pure and simple.

So, we'll bring this subject up to date and relate it, as it ought to be, to fair value.

A sampling of posts follows:
  • Minsky anew (Apr 17, 2009) -- There are many types of speculation, including projections of when something might be done. This applies more to fair versus earned, sometimes. 
  • Value and truth (Jan 12, 2009) -- Value and its determination seems to have been given short attention as if it's a resolved issue (like the downplaying of risk management's complications?). 
  • Effort and truth (Oct 10, 2007) -- Moving along a value line takes effort; yet, modern bookkeeping and modeling seems to suggest otherwise. That is, cook the books to get what you want to see. 
  • Measuring progress (Sep 19, 2007) -- The blog started with an engineering focus, but, by the time of this post, there were murmurings of financial idiocy which burst out a little later. So, there is a flavor of both earned and fair in terms of value.  
  • Complicated or difficult (Sep 3, 2007) -- We have issues of depth and breadth. The former can seem boundless as they are more mathematical than not. The latter seem easy as we throw database technology and computational power at them. Both contribute to the problems. 
There are a lot more posts to look. We'll get back to that.


Phillip used some mathematics to show the problems related to knowing where you were with a project (the managers, like kids, say: are we there, yet?). Nice article.


03/03/2014 -- Acknowledgements, including math pedigree, will be expanded. -- 

Modified: 03/03/2014

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Science, religion, or spirituality?

Science and religion is one sentence? There, I said it. Ah, that feels good. For awhile now, I've been punting by referring to something called T-issues as the means to subsume all things related to the controversy under a future topic (TBD, in other words). Some see those two as not being sufficient; bringing in spirituality can change the tone of the argument.


Today, at last (or, finally), I ran into a site that looks appealing from several senses. We'll ignore some of that discussion, for now, but I can talk about how I got to the site. The WSJ had a review of Neil Shubin's book. WSJ actually referred to Blake's little poem. That Neil presents such a grand sweep that is comprehensible is remarkable. Many who have tried this approach have done so to further some argument. Neil seems to be mainly trying to describe how things unfolded, over the eons, through his understanding. One can always, while reading these things, wonder about the author's underlying belief system (yes, a universal trait, even if it is vehemently denied; science can be as much of a religion as any other such system) and its influence.

So, I went to search (isn't that the modern way?) about Neil and to collect things to read about him or by him. One thing that I notices was that he was going to be talking at a Jewish Community Center. Okay. So, I went to look for statements about his beliefs by others or himself. That led me to this site.

From a quick browse, it looks to have a marvelous mixture of topics. So, then, I decided to make it, for now (let's refer to to the subject as S/R), the center of focus for dealing with T-issues (and t-issues) in the contexts related to truth engineering. For instance, S/R can serve as one of the start-off points for browsing on any of the multitude of subjects related to the topic. If the S/R frameworks (such as this one) have not addressed something, then the search (discussion) can go elsewhere. If that occurs, though, one might wonder why the topic has not come up.


Shubin's large view brings up some interesting points about maintaining cohesion under such a task. Surely, throughout the exposition, one would expect to find inconsistencies. Except, that broad views do peanut-butter over things, so that any contradictions would be smoothed. But, then, how to smooth would not be resolved. Yes, in retrospect, we could agree on the harmony within the message; yet, it would be easy to argue, yes, but let's look at it this way.

One cannot find such understanding going the other way. That is, who understands quantum physics? If you say that you do, please be aware of it mathematical basis. von Neumann, himself, said that we cannot get understanding. Rather, we get used to something. Which, by the way, seems like inuring one's mind rather than getting a grasp of the situation.

That little bit there, large/small - sensible/nonsensical - et al, brings up the major topic: to believe or not to believe (albeit, science requires all sorts of beliefs).

So, either/or is the situation'l choice. At some point, perhaps, we'll have an effective way to deal with the subject. Methinks that the computational, our little genie gone awry, will force the issue.


02/09/2013 -- This year, we'll get more into t-issues. Plenty of people are looking at science/religion topics. Too, Dawkins was quoted as saying that the existence of God ought to be subject to a scientific test. This can be arranged, given the right framework. Perhaps, I'm too old to see it, but its day will come. And, with its advent, we would not have an explanation, necessarily. The benefit? Progress of a nature not seen due to the dampening related to not allowing the broader views. Mind you, science getting into religion may help root out all of those accumulated bits of dross which are so problematic (too many to name here, but I would attempt such an enumeration if there were interest).

02/09/2013 -- Since front pages change quite a bit with feeds, here are two posts to start with: What Believers and Atheists can teach each other (a rabbi talks to a science writer), Is Atheism increasing at the expense of Theism? (love the comment from Cornell: I can’t see God, as he doesn’t personally wave hello to me when I ask him to, therefore he must not exist).

01/22/2013 --  Put two comments relating to blind or delusional. Both ignored. Ought to have referenced by dreams of Hitch (in one, he was scrunched in a public place (as if not wanting to recognize the new reality tht flowed around him), as I walked by him, he grabbed my notebook (as in EOJ material), and started to browse it; later, he and my college roommate visited me at my desk talking about a new school that they were involved in -- perhaps Hitch saw the peripatetic need, at the same time, Hitch sized me up, and I showed him the writing on the wall which is there for all to see, after they left, my whole work area went through some type of transformation, I had met several people there after they went to the wider expanse). 

Modified: 02/09/2013