Sunday, June 30, 2013


a mathematician with a computational orientation

You can keep counting forever. The answer is infinity. But, quite frankly, I don't think I ever liked it. I always found something repulsive about it. I prefer finite mathematics much more than infinite mathematics. I think that it is much more natural, much more appealing and the theory is much more beautiful. It is very concrete. It is something that you can touch and something you can feel and something to relate to. Infinity mathematics, to me, is something that is meaningless, because it is abstract nonsense.
Doron Zeilberger, "To infinity and Beyond", BBC2 Horizon, 9:00pm GMT Feb. 10, 2010

[Contemporary Pure] Math is far LESS than the Sum of its [Too Numerous] Parts, and Beware of Pure Mathematicians Preaching How Important Math is for Science and Technology. Of Course it is, but NOT their, Soon-To-Be Obsolete and PEDANTIC Style of Doing Math, but Rather the Way Physical Scientists Practice It: Experimentally, Heuristically and Non-Rigorously.

Mathematics is so useful because physical scientists and engineers have the good sense to largely ignore the "religious" fanaticism of professional mathematicians, and their insistence on so-called rigor, that in many cases is misplaced and hypocritical, since it is based on "axioms" that are completely fictional, i.e. those that involve the so-called infinity.

Platonism is unsatisfactory because it violates our instinctive drive to obey Ockham's principle of parsimony.

Intentionalism says that pure mathematics is a description of finite structures consisting of finitely many imagined objects.

The term intentionalism is chosen for its contrast with extensionalism which accepts actually infinite sets and leads naturally to Platonism.

Jan Mycielski, on The Meaning of Pure Mathematics*

Computicians are the class of mathematicians who think the jig is up on infinity and that the (finitary and probabilistic) computational way — computics — is the future of mathematics.

Count me in.

* A theorem by Mycielski proves that every theorem of infinitary mathematics has a finitary counterpart.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Ballad of Edward Snowden

[ à la The Ballad of Johnny Yuma ]

Edward Snowden is a runner
He runs from the West
Did Edward Snowden the runner
He's running alone
He got fighting mad this running lad
He broke his vow in the land of Mao
Where the old-time law was a hammer and plow
The runner, Edward Snowden
Edward Snowden is a runner
He runs from the West
Did Edward Snowden, the runner
He's running alone
He searched the land this IT lad
He was panther quick and a Ron Paul bitch
Then he figured he'd be an NSA snitch
The runner, Edward Snowden

[ adapted from ]

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Chopra needs a shave

From: Deepak Chopra
Subject: Open Letter to Skeptics

Dear Messrs. Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, and Chris Anderson,

On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Chopra Foundation, we are inviting you to be featured speakers at our Sages and Scientists Symposium to be held from August 16-18 at La Costa Resort and Spa.

(I see Deepak Chopra didn't invite William of Ockham.)

Xism = belief in material stuff + (a particular) nonmaterial stuff X ("X" ≠ "Material")
Materialism = belief in material stuff (alone)

∴ Materialism < Xism

e.g. "X" = "The", "Spiritual", "Soul", "Mind", etc.

There is a tendency to want more than what is needed, and so Xs are created in the imagination alone.

Monday, June 24, 2013

What is private data?

There is really no such thing as "private communication". There is nothing that prevents the "private" gmail one has sent a boyfriend of girlfriend from being made public by that very same boyfriend or girlfriend if they choose to do so (for whatever reason, e.g. they might have gotten mad at you). The only truly private data we have is what we keep in our own brains. (For now!) But practical limits should be made on how or so-called private data (whether in the hands of a corporation or a government) could be exposed or abused, and that only the government can do through law.

Re: Privacy and the Threat to the Self

Friday, June 21, 2013


The stronghold of the deterministic sentiment is
the antipathy to the idea of chance.
~ William James

These Three Witches are retardants to progress:
Platonism, Foundationalism, Determinism.
Pop hops 'til it flops and pops again.
Chances are the engine of re-creation.
Andy Warhol stole your bowl.
Nu wurds.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Baudrillard and PRISM

What would Jean Baudrillard say about PRISM?

He observed how we are blending into the digital world. If PRISM, in the most extreme (mis)characterization, were storing all our digital expressions (phone calls, emails, chats, private files stored in the cloud, ...), what would this mean?

Some people fear that a government agency might use PRISM data against them: a criminal investigation or an IRS audit based based on someone in the government's dislike of what's in there. Fines or prison time could await them.

Some see PRISM as a valuable tool in preventing attacks like 9-11 and the Boston Marathon bombing. PRISM saves lives.

Ironically, it is only the government through laws that can protect us from the use of data by private companies to harm us. In the Tea Party, Republican nirvana of limited government, the most powerful corporations (insurance companies, for example) would be the masters of our data and the controllers of our lives.

All good points.

I think Baudrillard would have taken PRISM in stride. A love-hate reaction: We need PRISM, and we need to both trust and mistrust the government at the same time. But keep PRISM in perspective together with what private corporations do with our data. He would see through PRISM clearly and evenly.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Code: The hidden language of the universe

CODE: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software by Charles Petzold is a "must-read" book for every codologist and codifist. (I'm reading it on my NOOK HD Tablet, NOOK Simple Touch, and iPod touch.)

Code is the hidden language of computer hardware and software. I maintain it's the hidden language of the universe — nature and culture — as well.*

* CLUH: The compulinguistic universe hypothesis

Monday, June 17, 2013


There are philosophobes in the world. Many of them are not religious (they are basically atheist or agnostic), but if you mention any philosophy or philosopher to them (really, it could be anyone: Plato, Hume, ..., Dennett, Baudrillard — it doesn't matter), they react as if you were a member of Campus Crusade For Christ trying to share a Four Spiritual Laws tract with them. Philosophy, it turns out, is like theology (or politics) in that way: You can't talk about it without some getting upset at its even being brought up.

Scientism is a term that has been applied to some prominent scientists who bad-mouth philosophy. Stephen Hawking has said philosophy is dead, yet his book The Grand Design (written with Leonard Mlodinow) turns into a philosophy of science essay on model-dependent realism. (He should realize he is doing philosophy.) I think philosophobia — the fear, revulsion, or dismissal of philosophy — could be at the core of scientism.

There could be a reason for that. Scientistic scientists are foundationalists (foundationalism says "there are 'basic beliefs' which serve as foundations to anchor the rest of our beliefs"), much like religious fundamentalists. Philosophy (the best kind) is anti-foundationalist.

Philosophy is not anti-science, just anti-scientism. The analytical side is a formal science on its own using tools like symbolic logic. The poetical side ("continental") is generally pro-science as well. (The good parts anyway!)
Unlike the use of the scientific method as only one mode of reaching knowledge, scientism claims that science alone can render truth about the world and reality. Scientism's single-minded adherence to only the empirical, or testable, makes it a strictly scientifc worldview, in much the same way that a Protestant fundamentalism that rejects science can be seen as a strictly religious worldview. Scientism sees it necessary to do away with most, if not all, metaphysical, philosophical, and religious claims, as the truths they proclaim cannot be apprehended by the scientific method. In essence, scientism sees science as the absolute and only justifiable access to the truth.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Big Data

We shall all be blended into the digital world:
Jean Baudrillard.
Big Data is not (just) a gay android movie.
There's a compulinguistic multiverse out there:
Quantum random numbers make it zing.
One TOE may not be all that's afoot.
This is the Code Age:
Code is all that exists.
There's an NSA base in Bluffdale.
Data miners are the new 49ers:
There's gold in them thar clouds.
The pre-Code Agers cling to old gods.
The digerati make new ones.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Snowden is no Manning

Edward Snowden (L), Bradley Manning (R)

Manning exposed real atrocities:
     civilians dying in a war.
Snowden exposed just his own pomposity
     only because he was sore:
         It's after he became a Ron Paul bitch
         that he decided to be an NSA snitch.
Manning's a hero from a war in murk.
Snowden is just a lying jerk.

And people freak out more thinking their email was read
than are bothered that foreign civilians are dead.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Why coders — and codologists — should love postmodernists

Jean Baudrillard (1929-2007) and Jacques Derrida (1930-2004)

"The analytic vs. continental divide" topic still seems to matter to some philosophers, and some analytic philosophers still take pot shots at what is grouped under the "postmodernism" tent (and at Derrida in particular). I think for coders (and codologists), this is peculiar. Now there is a logical style that analytic philosophers follow (for the most part), and a poetical style that continental philosophers follow, but one could go right or go wrong in either style.

When I think of those who attack the continentals, the first who come to my mind are the right-wing Christian activists who continuously bring up the "postmodernists" for being at the core of who are destroying society (e.g., Deconstructionism and the Left, by David Barton). A leader in the promotion of intelligent design, the Discovery Institute, is also a leader in the attack on postmodernism. Also, some of those on the analytic side are Ayn Rand libertarians (those who proclaim the supremacy of Aristotelian logic and who also attack the "postmodernists"), or Christian analytic philosophers (e.g., Alvin Plantinga).

I like the analytic approach when it can be coded in symbolic logic (like "A logic for 'because'": - which gives a formal logic for 'because' that is missed in previous "Euthyphro" analyses).

Some continentals may have some screwed up ideas. But so do some analytics. (That continentals are antifoundationalists, though, puts them at an advantage over analytics to some degree in formulating good philosophy. In that, they are more clear-thinking than many analytics.)

Derrida does have meaning (no pun intended) for some theoretical computer scientists who delve into the semantics of programming languages. Of course, that the same code can produce different results in different (e.g., compile-time vs. run-time, or lexical vs. dynamic) contexts is well known to coders: A piece of code has a not-necessarily fixed meaning.

Simulacra, deconstruction, différance, and other "postmodern evils" may be confusing for some analytic philosphers, but they are not for coders.

Should Computer Scientists Read Derrida?
Derrida - defining deconstruction:
How Radical is Derrida's Deconstructive Reading?érance
"Tossing Algebraic Flowers Down the Great Divide":
"Derrida's Machines":
Which philosophy is dead?, by Santiago Zabala

Monday, June 3, 2013

SKIP: Probabilistic SKI combinator calculus

Add to the S, K, and I combinators of the SKI combinator calculus the P combinator:

Sxyz = xz(yz)
Kxy = x
Ix = x
P = K or KI with equal probability (0.5)

It follows that Pxy evaluates to Kxy or KIxy, then to x or Iy = y with equal probability.

see also Evolutionary code and the probabilistic lambda calculus
and a SKI fixed-point combinator

Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Haskell codologists

Curry or Eddie,
combinatory logic or combed instant-story comic?
One a surveyor of codes,
one a purveyor of bluff.
Haskellite codologists* of both modes
attend to their stuff.

* codology can mean either the science or study of codes or the art or practice of bluffing.
(Reversed, the image would be the before-and-after "Eddie Haskell Curry".)

The Haskell Platform
Glasgow Haskell Compiler
Learn You a Haskell for Great Good!
Real World Haskell
Parallel and Concurrent Programming in Haskell
Haskell/Category theory
Typeclassopedia (category-theoretic underpinnings of Haskell)