[FoRK] FoRK Digest, Vol 134, Issue 7

Dave Long dave.long at bluewin.ch
Fri Nov 14 01:47:49 PST 2014

> we are no further along with computer vision than we were with  
> physics when Isaac Newton sat under his apple tree.

Speaking of Newton, I keep expecting someone like Conor McBride to  
come up with some kind of effective calculus-analogue for  
informatics.  But with seven years of hindsight (in my case, at least  
double that for McBride), it doesn't seem that anyone has yet  
stumbled across a simple model which —like calculus— could replace  
heavy creative analysis with a bit of plug-and-chug on scratch paper.


(don't be put off by the large amount of FP machinery used; the  
underlying ideas are simple enough that one can apply them (and  
people have been, for ages, eg. buffer-gap editors) even in machine- 
sympathetic environments.  The basic "Midas Touch" problem in  
programming is that while code can always take data to any isomorphic  
form (and small amounts of shimmering are harmless, if not actually  
useful), after composing enough of these transformations together one  
is no longer dealing with relatively simple atomic behaviors, but  
instead automata whose intermediate states lead to relative  

>  "big" data is technologically
> enabled by improvements in scale, but there have been relatively few
> changes in the underlying analysis methods. (to be cynical)
> Frankly, I'd love to be wrong about the previous sweeping
> generalization.  Certainly "quantity has a quality all its own."

For what it's worth, von Neumann shared the skepticism of pure  
quantity: (albeit in this case talking about model, not data set, size)
> With four parameters I can fit an elephant, and with five I can  
> make him wiggle his trunk.

cf http://xkcd.com/882/

(It's probably worth mentioning that most biomass doesn't find  
analytic thought, let alone intelligence, very useful.)


:: :: ::

 From the "in those days, we wore onions" department, this just came  
across my browser-top:
> The mailing list interface might be somewhat less convenient, but I  
> bet people in those days used mail readers that were more optimized  
> for using mailing lists

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