Critical Section

Archive: November 22, 2004

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Monday,  11/22/04  11:42 PM

Checking in on the world...

Good news: Space tourism legislation makes comeback.  "After weathering the ups and downs of the lame-duck legislative process, legislation that would open the way for suborbital space tourism was cleared by the House and sent on to the Senate for final congressional approval."  Good news; the prospect of revenue from space tourists would drive a lot of private spaceflight development.

Meanwhile India debates [manned] space flight as lunar project proceeds.

Ray Bradbury writes it is Time to Explore Again.  "In this time when our freeways are frozen in place, space travel suffers the same terrible winter.  How can we thaw this deep-freeze to unlock our vision so that we see the stars once more with the same fever that we knew that fabulous night we took the first Giant Step?"

Bill Whittle of EjectEjectEject has a new book out: Silent America, essays from a democracy at war.  Ordered!  I've always enjoyed his essays; they have that "I say that, but I don't say it that well" quality.

There's a petition out on the 'net to support the U.S.Marine caught on video killing an insurgent in Fallujah.  I signed it, and when I checked a few seconds later about fifty other people had after I did.  Took my breath away.  I was #127281, amazingly as of right now there are 176,973 signatures.  Semper fidelis!

Rathergate non-update: Glenn Reynolds notes it is now two months since CBS President Andrew Heyward promised that the investigation would be over and public in "weeks, not months."  Ha.  More lies from a network which has lost all credibility already.

Mr. IncredibleYesterday I noted how much I enjoyed The Incredibles.  Anita Sharp did too, and notes "The Incredibles is not only a huge box-office hit, it's also reigniting the debate on how society should treat gifted kids: does 'No Child Left Behind' really mean, 'No Child Should Get Too Far Ahead?'"  You have to love it that the villian in the movie was named Syndrome :)  And the NYTimes editorializes When Every Child is Good Enough.  This is a real sore point with me, I can't wait for the political correctness pendulum to swing back a bit.

Clive Thompson ponders How running made us human.  "Did humanity's ability to run long distances turn us into the world's dominant species?  That's what a couple of scientists - Dennis Bramble of the University of Utah and Daniel Lieberman of Harvard - argued last week in Nature."  Cool.

More from Clive; a killer idea for advertisers concerned with Tivo customers fast-forwarding, "why don't they simply embed an advertisment within the normal ad that becomes visible only when you're speeding through the TV spot at high speed."  That would be so cool, I might not use my 30-second skip just so I could see them :)

basketbrawlYou probably saw or heard about the brawl between the Pistons, the Pacers, and Detroit fans?  Yesterday the NBA sent a Stern Message; commissioner David Stern announced nine suspensions including Ron Artest for the entire season.  I have to say after seeing the video, this seems warranted.  Someone could have been seriously hurt.

OFX logoOFX consortium develops new approach to financial data aggregation.  This XML-based spec is used by home banking systems and financial software like Quicken and Money to communciate with banks.  OFX has somewhat of the same function as RSS, for financial data, and predates it considerably.  It also incorporates some refinements which would be useful in RSS, including authentication, encryption, high-water marketing, and multipoint distribution....

Interesting thread on How to encode Bittorrent in podcast feeds?  Seems like the feed should contain a pointer to the torrent; they aren't the same kind of thing.


solving bongard problems

Monday,  11/22/04  11:52 PM

I found a great site from Harry Foundalis about his Research on the Bongard problems.  What's a Bongard problem?  Well, here's one:

Bongard problem #6

These problems were devised by the Russian scientist M.M. Bongard in 1967, as a test for automated pattern recognition systems.  Each of the 100 problems consists of two groups of six patterns.  The boxes on the left each conform to some rule, while the boxes on the right are counter-examples to the rule.  The problem for the automated pattern recognizer is to determine the rule for each problem.  Can you find the rule for the problem above?  Click here for the answer

Okay so that one was pretty easy - for a human - what about this one?

Bongard problem #4

Do you see the rule?  I've worked with these quite a bit so I see it right off, but it might not be obvious.  Click here for the answer.

Okay, now for a pretty hard one.  What's the defining rule for this one:

Bongard problem #20

Pretty tough, eh?  Just when you think you have it, you find one of the patterns on the left doesn't match, or one of the patterns on the right does.  Anyway click here for the answer.

I finally, some of these are maniacal, consider this one:

Bongard problem #72

It would be pretty tough for an automated pattern recognizer to figure this one out!  If you give up, click here for the answer.

Harry Foundalis actually developed software to parse and analyze these figures.  It is a tough problem; first you have to get from pixels to lines, shapes, etc.; just the representation is tough.  Then figuring out the set of all possible rules is really hard - the set is almost infinite - and winnowing down the list to the rules that match on the left and don't on the right is pretty tough.  To date his program can solve about 20 of the hundred, including the top two above.  Pretty impressive.

The rule is "isocoles triangle".  Click to return to problem.

The rule is "convex".  Click to return to problem.

The rule is "dots on same side of neck".  Click to return to problem.

The rule is "ends are parallel". Click to return to problem.


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Correlation vs. Causality
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Aperio's Mission = Automating Pathology
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almost famous design and stochastic debugging
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