Tuesday, March 3, 2015


An article in the current issue of ACM's Communications really struck me -- In Defense of Soundiness: A Manifesto. For one thing, I had to retreat nine years to reconsider something. I put this comment on the article.
    The use of the "soundiness" resonated with me for several reasons. First of all, Colbert's use of "truthiness" came to mind. He, of course, was talking opinion ruling over fact.

    But, this current usage bears directly on the issue of truthfulness in many ways but on these two, in particular: 1) if a computational system is not sound, when do we know if it is reliable (ignore, please, for the moment, the multitude of issues being raised - but be cognizant that many system developers think that they have no problem in this regard due to the numerical nature of their domain processing) operationally; 2) how do we increase awareness of lurking problems in a climate where hot-dogging via code (encouraged by the companies involved) throws out systems continually, and seemingly on the fly, and how do we try to alter the willy-nilly patterns that seem so prevalent the past decade or so?

    In short, everywhere "älmost" true is our norm? Just as "soundiness" is something to engineer, so too is "truth" itself. Hence, my focus: truth engineering.
"Truthiness" came from Stephen Colbert. I wrote that truth engineering was not such (see image) as it was not a lot of other things. But, as we know, such a list would be unending.

You know what? Trying to enumerate definitions would be as lengthy. So, is that an issue beyond resolution?

Ah, such is the nature of the issues involved here that we will have to say that the answer will depend upon a lot of things, including one's worldview.

Sheesh, is it that hopeless? Well, categorically? No. We will, in time, explain why.

In the meantime, we will write a review of this article on soundness on Wikipedia and link it to the one about Colbert's little joke.

In the meantime, here is the Wikipedia page on Soundness.

Remarks:   Modified: 03/20/2015

03/20/2015 -- "Can you trust your fridge?" is the head-line in the print version.

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