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Comment Re:IMHO (Score 1) 80

Donald Knuth is an elitist. It is not necessary to have a background in mathematics to write software. I taught myself PHP and I certainly don't have any kind of mathematics background whatsoever. It isn't dumbing down as he claims. It's about creating opportunities. If you can code and you can do it well without mathematics, so be it. The math side is for those that want to do research. I work in the real world ....

There's a lot of jobs for coders who don't know math, but there's a ceiling on how good a programmer you can become.

Fundamentally all programming is research, you have a problem and you need to develop a robust solution on how to solve it.

Sometimes those problems don't involve math, but sometimes they do. You might need to implement a specific calculation (and understand how to verify and debug it), if you have a large data base you need some math for your queries to return quickly. And for any non-trivial problem where you need to design your own algorithm you need to have enough of a mathematical mindset to write it efficiently.

Think of it like race car driving. Driving a race car has a lot of special skills useless for 99% of of driving in a city. But someone who trains with race cars is probably going to be better at that 99% because they push past their limits. And the 1% where those special skills do come in handy they'll see a drastic difference.

Comment Re:It's a tax (Score 1) 271

by pissing off people concerned about global warming.

Why shouldn't they? When have "people concerned about global warming" shown them anything but hatred and contempt and enmity?

Simply put the left is yelling at the right because the right is refusing to accept AGW and reduce emissions.

The right is yelling at the left because they got yelled at.

Comment Re:All about the fight (Score 3, Insightful) 271

And the problem with the left is that they can't compromise and won't evolve.

Have you been sleeping the past 8 years? The right refused compromise on principle.

I was just listening to Bill Maher from last night, and all the liberals encouraging the audience to fight, disrupt, oppose, insult(*), and combat everything the right wants to do.

I didn't see the segment in question, but I'm pretty sure he was talking about Trump, a character so dangerous the GOP spent most of the primary desperately trying to stop him.

Nowhere did anyone say "we have to become better". Nothing about making better policies, making more intelligent arguments, doing things voters want, making the country better, or anything that could be considered noble.

The left talks about that constantly, a huge part of the post-election conversation is trying to understand why the left lost touch with the white working class.

But as to "better policies" and "intelligent arguments", a huge part of the criticism of Sanders was that his policies weren't robust. The right has spent the last few year using high deductibles as a major criticism of Obamacare, all the while selling high deductible coverage as their replacement.

Trump's speeches were warm and inclusive, saying essentially "we're in this together, we can win, we can do better".

"Warm and inclusive" is an odd description of mass deportation, immigration bans based on religion, promises to imprison your rival, and the constant demonization of the media.

I don't think anyone on the left has a clue how ineffective their campaign of crying, whining, and insulting is.

It can be very effective, whiny insulting campaign speeches won Trump the election.

Comment Re:Wyoming = big coal country (Score 1) 271

Wind power in particular could also be a great way to ensure that grazing rights on lands are maintained, since there's no reason why a wind farm and ranching would have to be incompatible, and with the land already being several stages away from being pristine, no reason not to continue to leave grazing rights.

Comment Re:It's a tax (Score 4, Insightful) 271

Or more accurately, a backlash against subsidies - $10 per megawatt hour.

It's a middle finger to progressives.

This is the problem with the political right at the moment. They're not trying to correct the market or protect local jobs, they're trying to rile up their base by pissing off people concerned about global warming.

Comment Re:Short-term numbers versus long-term (Score 1) 105

One would expect that. Even a bad computer program with a dozen eyes is likely to be better than a bag of meat with only two.

I'm more concerned about the long-term secondary effects. Do drivers who get used to this technology become dependent on it, and thus have higher accident rates when driving rental cars that lack this technology?

That's a concern, but my bigger worry is the seat belt effect. That in response to the perception of better safety people start to take more risks.

That's also the major reservation with this data set. These are all users relatively new to the auto-pilot, I know if you installed an auto-pilot in my car I'd be pretty damn paranoid for the first few months and my accident rate would plummet too. I'm not certain they're measuring the safety benefit of the auto-pilot or just their own drivers being extra careful while using it. Similarly drivers might start getting really careless as they start to trust the software, ie changing lanes without a shoulder check because they expect the Tesla to catch it.

Additionally, I'm less than convinced by the use of a single number here. To be meaningful, you need at least two numbers: the number of crashes avoided because of software intervention and the number of crashes caused by driver inattention. After all, if the system saves a bunch of lives because of things that a human driver couldn't have predicted, but costs a small number of lives because some humans depended too much on the vehicle to drive for them, then it is great from a statistical perspective, but that's little comfort for the families of people who died because the autopilot lulled them into a false sense of security.

I've been really critical of Tesla so far and their previous "statistical" safety claims have been ridiculous.

But other than sample size and the reservations I mentioned I think this is the proper test. Comparing "crashes avoided because of X" is a really arbitrary and hard to judge standard, plus it avoids secondary effects such as driving conditions and changes in behaviour.

The proper test is the total accident rate for Tesla drivers with the auto-pilot vs without, with proper controls to handle confounders. But this is a data set that needs to be continually monitored since both the auto-pilot software and drivers are moving targets.

Comment Re:Short-term numbers versus long-term (Score 2) 105

I'm not up on state of the art on computer image/object recognition but the experience I have from about 10 years ago leads me to believe that...

Others have already responded to your other points, I just want to point out that experience from 10 years ago tells you basically nothing about the state of the art today. Deep learning methods have enabled dramatic progress on exactly the class of pattern matching problems that includes computer vision.

Personally, I still think that LIDAR is inherently superior to video cameras for this task, but Tesla's numbers are impressive, and prove that while their system may not be all that it should be, it's already better than a typical human driver -- at least than the typical Tesla buyer (note that I have no reason to believe that Tesla buyers would be worse than average drivers, but the possibility shouldn't be ignored).

Comment Re:Whitespace takes the most space (Score 1) 169

But what is the value of an algorithm that you can't actually execute?

In the practical world, language efficiency actually matters and is a reasonable thing to discuss.

Sure, that's true. But it has no bearing on the question of whether a language can accurately be called Turing Complete -- and Turing Completeness also matters, because it defines the class of algorithms that can be implemented in the language. What's the value of an algorithm that you can't implement because the language lacks the necessary expressive power? Except in very limited circumstances, Turing Completeness is a prerequisite. Without it, there's no point in discussing efficiency.

Comment Re:sham victory (Score 1) 110

They will be back at it next week, although it likely will take the FTC 7 years before they make any noise about it again. After all, if they announced that they had shut down these criminals every week and made them promise not to do it any more, people might eventually catch on that nothing was being accomplished.

Comment Re:You need to do a bit of research. (Score 1) 139

Star Trek Continues also violates those same guidelines (high-quality props/sets/uniforms instead of toy-store quality items, professional acting/directing/scriptwriting

Have you seen Star Trek Continues? Cheesy plots, lousy acting, terrible effects and you can't tell me their props, uniforms and sets don't look like toys.

It's like a low-budget 1960s vision of space travel.

Comment Re:Whitespace takes the most space (Score 1) 169

To be considered Turing-complete, a language must be able to simulate a Turing machine - and that's actually impossible, since it can never meet the "infinite tape" requirement.

Languages are not machines. Languages have no memory limitations, and therefore have no trouble simulating a Turing machine.

The fact that we run code written in those languages on finite machines does not change the Turing-complete nature of the languages.

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It appears that PL/I (and its dialects) is, or will be, the most widely used higher level language for systems programming. -- J. Sammet