Thursday, July 24, 2008

Review Forms for CS Systms conferences...

I was involved in a recent workshop on workshops where there were many concerns about the problems associated with quantity and quality of work in the conference/workshop processes (from submissions, through reviewers, to feedback ,and on to publications and presentation)

it occurs to me that some of this might be improved by more careful design of review forms...viz the addition of judiciously chosen (lightening conuctor) sections in the form:

"Why did you hate this paper?"
(to remove vitriol from the technical feedback part of the review elsewhere)
"What paper did you want this person to have written?"
(to avoid feedback that asks an author to submit something different or do additional work which they might have done but not had space for:)
"who do I think I am?"

Plan B: have an exam which people have to pass to be qualified as PC members/reviewers - it will calibrate them.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

learning statistics and computer games - recharging (energy) is same as (negative) randomness (entropy)

This is a well known problem that illustrates a nice area of proability/statistics (recently showed up inthe so so movie with Kevin Spacey, 21):

In a game show, a contestent has to guess which of three doors
the prize lies behind (e.g. a fast car) - the other two doors lead to nothing.
The game show host knows the right answer.

Now, lets say the contentst guesses door A. The game show host
now opens one of the other two doors (obviously showing
nothing), and asks the contestent
if they want to stay with their choice, or change to the door that
they didn't chose and the host didn't open.

What should the contestent do, and why?

So the answer is change (always - since you have 2/3 chance of the prize being behind the two doors you didn't pick, and in the second go, you get to know it is 50/50 between the door you did pick (with 1/3 chance) and the one you didnt that didnt get opened, so either way, you are twice as likely to win by changing as by sticking.

The more interesting problem is:
how do you convey this (teach it) to people?
I asked 4 random kids - 2 got it (using the 1/3 v. 2/3 or the 50/50 v 1/3 argument above) . two refused to believe me after explanation

Soome said: cast the change in information as like recharging in a game, then maybe they'd get it - so information increase is entropy decrease entropy is just negative heat. maybe there is something in this - could we devise a game whch illustrates this idea generally?

derek says: why not do the 100 (or million) door version and in 2nd go, host opens 999,998 doors...

Thursday, July 17, 2008

objective unknowledge

so actually there is a flaw in the Popper classic formulation of
objective knowledge (and even if you extend it to take the community consensus
paridgm model of T. Kuhn, the same problem remains).

The model is that you cannot prove an hypothesis true - merely demonstrate its
use, but you can falsify it.

This means that "truth" is funfible, and based on a shifting sand of hypotheses,
formed by choosing the
i) best fit
ii) with least parameters

(lots of problems here - like why choose parameters and why isooate system from
other "allegedly" non-relevant influences

anyhow the flaw is this: a "proof" of falsity (i.e. falsification of an
hypothsis) is itself merely another piece of objective knowledge.

So while a theory about a truth in the Universe in Popper cannot be proved,
it can only be disproved, is the mantra - the act is that it cannot be disproved
either - all you can do is downrank it in a list of plausible models that have
some pragmatic value.

Hence science is merely the art of the pragmatic. It has no claim to absolute
truth, and even the relative truthes of models are subject to confidence limits

as tom toppard said, int hereal inspector hound,
frankly my dear, you strech my credulity and patience to breaking point.

as houlebque says

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

sex and drugs and rock´n roll and social networks

so i´ve been reading the fine book by ELizabetn Pisani called
THe Wisdom of WHores
about aids which basically says most the money is wasted on targettng the wrong groups for the wrong reason (the words¨target and group are giveaways there).

but anyhow read it yourself to find out why the wrong groups are targetted and why africa is a mess but there are countries in africa that could be models of the right thing to do

meanswhile on a related topic of sex and drugs and rock and roll
it appears to me that there are only two legitimate kinds of sex
1- the kind the US moral majority approve of
2. the kind that people writing cool papers about get to study.

meanwhile, i´ve been thinking (line from a song - can you name it?):
see my fourthcoming talk at Coseners:

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Haggle and Pocket Switched Networks

So I think we are going to have to work on Altruism and economics for opportunistic people based (ferrying) pocket switched networks- I believe I will have to coin yet another new phrase for the tit-for-tat protocol to pay people for carrying your traffic - this will in future be known as Deep Pocket Inspection :-)

or am i just blogging a dead horse?

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Network Science - paradigm shift or just business as usual?

I attended some of the network science 2008 event recently
(see web site in Norwich science park
for more info) - it was an interesting mix of people networking (socially:)

It is clear that there are nearly as many definitions of "network" as there are people in the event. Indeed, in one workshop, someone asked for a definition of the word
"model" as used by several speakers in the room, and got (I think) more definitions than people:-)

on the way back, I noticed a railway that was being "re-furbished"

I wondered who had furbished it in the first place? furbish is a word that I will associate forever with captain James T. Kirk because Wlliam Shatner's brother used to advertise things like refurbished cars on TV in Canada when I lived there.

If you can sell me a furbished web site, I'd give you 1 euro.