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Comment: Good mathematics is an art (Score 1) 367

by John Allsup (#49381513) Attached to: Why America's Obsession With STEM Education Is Dangerous
It is easy to write logical porridge. It is an art to write mathematics that is not just logical porridge. Beautiful mathematics is the birthright of the subject, but it takes learning. To learn to write beautiful mathematics you must learn what art is, and what artistic language is. It is likewise with computer code. This is why (IMHO) Knuth named his opus The Art of Computer Programming: maths and computer programming are arts. To understand them, you must understand what makes poetry and art beautiful, and understand that feeling that people get when the perceive beauty. If not you will lack the ability to tell the best science, and the only science worth bothering with, from all the rest. Personally I am totally disillusioned with modern education, more so with modern business, and I am wondering when sense will be seen. Right now I see a world of desperate manic cavemen running around using whatever magic toys they can to magic food onto their table, and using whatever clublike things they can find to defend their territory. This isn't going to save the American economy.

Comment: Ditch the name (Score 1) 92

by John Allsup (#49368617) Attached to: Arduino Dispute Reaches Out To Distributors
Arduino was never the best name anyway. Come up with a new one, with an amusing competition of some sort, then form a less greedy body to take charge of the name, transfer all the open source rights etc to this new name, replace the rest, and teach these lousy business heads that the open source world is not a magic tree to be cherry picked. If a business does not act in the best interests of the rest of humanity, that business should be considered broken. Likewise between business and open-source and free-software. At times we must be brutal. My vote goes for Dinopod -- it's got a bit of the duino bit, albeit without the u, and a nice sounding syllable on the end. Then we just have to hope Apple doesn't think it owns the pod suffix like it thinks it owns the i prefix.

Comment: It's only going to get worse. (Score 3, Interesting) 161

by John Allsup (#49368597) Attached to: Europol Chief Warns About Computer Encryption
People haven't figured out the half of it. The Theoretical Computer Scientists are still trying to figure out if P equals NP, when there is both an easy solution (I've tried to submit one version of it, and have written another), and that when conditions of physical plausibility are introduced, it turns out to be the wrong problem anyway. Hard problems arise as soon as you need one more peek at a pile of data than you have. Then you have to guess, and you are at the mercy of the guess. If it is a genuine binary guess and nobody is in a position to force your random number source (and this is totally unrealistic) then you only have a 50% chance of being totally wrong. Things go downhill pretty fast from there.  Trust me, my sanity has survived by playing these games in my head for the last decade or so, and there is only one sensible strategy, and it is built fundamentally on sensibly chooing friends you trust. Things then either turn into a lovely blissful world of total cooperation (and I'm still dreaming here), or else devolve into a downward spiral of ever decreasing trust, ever increasing suspicion, and total failure to justify that distrust given that when one determined person want to screw things up, he or she happens to be the 1/1000 that you didn't decide to label a 'madman' and lock up. The law enforcement systems they are demanding don't work even in dreams. They face too many decision processes, can't improve matters by adding more decision processes (and this is the mess that using computers to aid they really gets them), and they are demanding that their task is made artificially simple. Doesn't bloody work that way in our universe. Sorry. We live according to the laws of mathematics and physics, and if you find yourself on the wrong side of them, complaining to lawmakers won't make the problems go away, but can screw up a large number of lives in the attempt.

Comment: Maths and foundations of reasoning (Score 0) 234

by John Allsup (#49359465) Attached to: Dark Matter Is Even More of a Mystery Than Expected
Physics is built upon mathematical structures which have their origin in the 19th century.  Both Set Theory and Peano Arithmetic effectively grant you the assumption that there is no limit on how high you can effectively count.  This leads to models of these theories essentially asserting that there are countable numbers which are greater than the number of particles in the observable universe.  I fear this is leading to a hidden paradox in the reasoning process that physicists are using, albeit one that is hard to see and communicate.

Consider this assumption as follows:
(you can count) (higher than) (you can count)
and compare this with the statement 'X > X'. There must be a practical physical limit on counting, and by assuming this limit away, you are rendering the resulting reasoning system physically implausible. An effect known in classical logic is that from a single contradiction, using the rules of logic, you can logically derive any statement at all. The problem with the foundations of mathematics as they are is that they are incompatible with physical plausibility, and to naively shoehorrn in physical plausibility leads to logical inconsistency and 'weird stuff' appearing. I fear that this is the beast that theoretical physicists are actually wrestling with, albeit unknowingly.

Comment: Reliability issues (Score 1) 353

Opinions in psychotherapy, psychology and psychiatry seem to change with the seasons, and to depend upon whom it is you ask.  Such opinions should not be used as the basis for sound reasoning.  End of story.  Sure in some cases internet addiction is a problem, but trying to generalise from a few children with problems to all children is stupid.  That said, this is what I posted on facebook a little earlier today (the relevance is stimulus addiction):

Violent video games are like hardcore porn without the sex. They're just as addictive and it is just as important that the mental discipline is learned to know fantasy from reality, and when enough stimulation is enough. It is society's responsibility to teach parents the principles of separation so that patents can teach their children. Else the bad knock on effects of explicit media will simply not go away, and will be rediscovered and reinvented time after time. Management of stimulation must be a parental responsibility and society must be structured so as not to make thus too hard a task. Right now we are having an Adhd epidemic as children get stimulus addicted and in desperation we turn to (charlatan) mind doctors and their magic pills in the hope that they will make this problem go away. Fail to manage stimulation levels, and it won't.

+ - Is P vs NP really all that hard?->

Submitted by John Allsup
John Allsup (987) writes "I have been a /.er since my early undergraduate days (before there were user accounts). I am 987 on /., the highest 3-digit UID with distinct digits!

Anyway, the P vs NP problem fascinated me as a postgraduate when my main area, Peano Arithmetic, was going nowhere. It is a long story, but I happened upon an angle which made the problem easy. Trouble is I got overexcited, as I am prone to, got asked to see a doctor, who referred me (coercion and all that) etc. Short story is I got force medicated by psychiatrists and it took me just over eleven years before I found this easy angle: medication filesystemchecks your
brain that hard sometimes. Anyway, it occurred to me again, I got the filesystemchecking thing written down, and the sketch is at:

(please mirror rather than slashdot please — this is a personal web account)

I wonder if some /.ers interested in theoretical comp. sci. or the fate of the
million dollars could sanity check the logic. I don't give monkeys, and am disillusioned with academic research to the point that a career as a mental health patient seems more appealing.

(Can I have my million dollars please ;-) )"

Link to Original Source

Comment: Re:One thing for sure (Score 0) 531

by John Allsup (#49142847) Attached to: Machine Intelligence and Religion
Put another way, there is, with logical certainty, no qualitative improvement in survival strategy beyond something like the following:

You take Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour.  You trust in God.  When God tells you to fuck, you fucking fuck who God
tells you to fuck when, and only when, God, and God alone, tells you to fuck, and you fuck who, and only who, God tells you
you can fuck.  If you are unsure about who Jesus is, who God is, what Christ and Saviour mean in this context, there is no
better method to find out than reading a decent Bible, and you even have a number of translations to choose from.

Lfe is crazy, there is fuck all we can do about it, but we need a surefire method of stopping us questioning this logically certain fact,
which requires nothing stronger to prove than the fact that, in Lisp, if you have 100 words to play with, you cannot make a 101-element
linked list even if the manual suggest you can, and that real world evidence suggests with at least 99% confidence that the 'can
I have another one' routine always works.  You can do the same argument on any computer with an actually finite number of cells availble.  The
observable universe, by the way, is capable of represenign a computer, but is also finite in extent.

Comment: Re:One thing for sure (Score 0) 531

by John Allsup (#49142761) Attached to: Machine Intelligence and Religion
That is equivalent, in the absence of semantics, to counting to 14 and knowing to stop.  If a computer can't do that, it is certainly not worthy of the adjective intelligent.  Likewise, the Apostles creed is a slightly longer counting exercise, requiring you to give appropriate meanings to words as you read them, subject to never reusing a word anywhere.  Any computational capable device that doesn't pass such silly sanity checks should be switched off, taken outside and hacked to death with a chainsaw.  The Bible takes that principle and the question of assigning a sensible meaning reliably to any sensible way of reading verses, and uses the principle of forcing a computer to actually count, well past the point of taking the piss.  From the point of a Christian with a PhD in models of Peano Arithmetic, which is part of that branch of mathematics, mathematical logic, which practically gave birth to the modern notion of computation, that superseding the old school victorian model consising of a human being bored so heavily by rigorous schooling that he'd rather commit suicide than make a mistake.  Turing was such a person, faced with an education system that still hadn't got is point, I had to resort to taking the piss with my degree just to stay sane.  Seriously, the first use of the Bible is as a sanity check.  If you take the English Standard Version of the Bible, try to read it, try to find any semblence of sense, fail, and still consider yourself capable of reading English, you have basically proved yourself insane past the point that any reasonable non-Christian is going to care.  The non-Christian will see you as a worthless piece of shit that should be put out of its misery: the true Christian will take one extra step prior to execution, and that is the step of exhaustively verifying that there is genuinely no plausible chance of redemption.  That's the bit Christianity adds to your life.  It means that when it comes down to the question 'that piece if shit village idiot you fired, who then jumped off a bridge and killed himself, are you absolutely logically certain you needed to'.  Faced with someome who even pauses to consider 'yes' as an acceptable answer, whilst my faith in Christ and the Gospel will have no issue, my faith in the Bible may be marred by the suspicion that 'thou shalt not kill' indeed is missing a bit of small print.  Does this make sense? (That last question does include yes as a safe answer, btw.)

Comment: Why Permission Matters (Score 0) 311

by John Allsup (#49134941) Attached to: Reddit Imposes Ban On Sexual Content Posted Without Permission
If you do a single thing to me without permission, then in a crisis I simply cannot allow myself to trust you. If in that crisis I have to execute someone to save a friend, your life will be in danger.  Thus it is best to always ask permission!  And with regards to permission, if I give you one of my internet passwords, you may consider that permission to use it.  As an example, see and email me to ask what to put at the end of the URL so that the if(test()) { showpage(); } else die(horribly()); line in the PHP script will not commit computational suicide.  Use the address for this purpose, and include a URL that at least points to slashdot, preferably this article, or this comment as proof you
have read and understood this.  You have my permission to try the passwords you find anywhere you like, since I've checked to my satisfaction that they no longer work.

Comment: If I accidently tread on a book (Score 1) 261

by John Allsup (#49124785) Attached to: The Case Against E-readers -- Why Digital Natives Prefer Reading On Paper
Then it will generally still work, will probably be cheap to replace, and in case it is damaged, it will still be at least nearly perfectly usable.  In the case of my android tablet that I used to use for this, I made the mistake of leaving in on the floor next to the power socket whilst on charge (short power cable and all that), was enthusiastically showing a friend round my toy collection (toy=laptop/workstation/synth/etc) and accidently put my chairleg down on my android tablet.  It still boots but touchscreen functionality doesn't work and, being a cheap tablet, usb otg didn't work properly anyway, so its now unusable.  If it were a real book, it wouldn't even have broken!  That's why I do not trust e-readers for books that are even remotely important: they are just too fragile and, even though I'm careful 99% of the time, there is that issue of the remaining 1% where even the most careful human doesn't have his (or her) brain engaged properly and is temporarily a complete klutz. Real paperware books are reasonably robust against issues of accidental clumsiness.  And robustness saves lives!  Seriously, suppose you're on the ISS and the only copy of the maintenance manual is accessible via an e-reader and you break it?

Comment: Pandora PR Department Source Leak (artistimpress.) (Score 1) 305

by John Allsup (#49116899) Attached to: Pandora Pays Artists $0.001 Per Stream, Thinks This Is "Very Fair"
//... Top Secret internal document, do not copy!

#define AND " "

const  char * officialPolicyTowardsArtists = BENDTHEMOVERABARREL AND SHAFTTHEMUPTHEARSE;

//... p.s. be careful not to leak the above onto the internet

Adding features does not necessarily increase functionality -- it just makes the manuals thicker.