Monday, December 19, 2011

Romney vs. Aaronson

How are Mitt Romney and Scott Aaronson similar? Different?

  1. Both live in Massachusetts. Actually, Scott lives there but its not clear where Mitt lives since he's been running for president for the last four years.
  2. Both, deep in their heart and soul, believe that Global Warming is a real problem.
  3. Both use money to make a point:
    1. Mitt tried to to bet Rick Perry $10,000 that Mitt was never in favor of the individual mandate here.
    2. Scott blogged that if Deolalikar's proof of P ≠ NP is correct, Scott would give Deolalikar $200,000 here.
  4. Both were somewhat misinterpreted: Some thought that Scott was insulting Deolalikar. He was not. He was just expressing his certainly the proof was not correct. Some thought Mitt showed he was out of touch with Middle Class American (who normally can't afford to casually bet $10,000 on anything). While Mitt might be out of touch, I think this was more of a way to forcibly express that there is no evidence that he was in favor of the individual mandate.
  5. Both Mitt and Scott seem to be right. Deolalikar's proof is no longer believed to be correct, and fact check says that Mitt never supported the individual mandate.
  6. There exists people who say Scott is smart. There exists people who say Mitt is smart. I don't know if this means anything since there exists people who say Newt is smart.
  7. They both seem smarter than Michelle Bachmann, Herman Cain, and uh,uh, I can't think of the third candidate they both seem smarter than. Oops.

  1. Scott believes his belief that Deolalikar didn't prove P ≠ NP. Mitt has no beliefs.
  2. Mitt can easily afford $10,000. Scott would have to struggle to raise $200,000.
  3. Mitt's bet made him look bad. Scott's offer made him look good. He put-his-money-where-his-mouth-is unlike other bloggers who just asserted the proof was likely not correct.
  4. Mitt made a bet partially in jest- it is unlikely to really involve an exchange of money. Scott made a real offer- if Deolalikar's proof had been correct he really would have paid out.
  5. There is one of them that I would vote for. The other was once Governor of Massachusetts.
  6. Scott knows a bit more about Quantum Computing than Mitt.
I emailed the Romney Campaign this post (without this paragraph), and the information that I would post it on Monday Dec 19, in case they had a comment. They did not respond. Perhaps Mitt is miffed about my saying Scott knows a bit more about Quantum Computing.


  1. I was surprised to learn that Herman Cain has a master's degree in computer science, awarded by Purdue in 1971. He got a math degree at Morehouse and then worked as a civilian for the Navy in ballistics, earning his MS while doing so.

    By comparison, Romney has both an MBA and a JD from Harvard, Gingrich has a Ph.D. in history from Tulane, Perry has a BS in animal science from Texas A&M (which apparently did not convince him of the truth of evolution), Paul has an MD from Duke, Bachmann has a very sketchy law degree, Santorum has an MBA from Pitt and a law degree from Dickinson School of Law, and Huntsman has a BA from Penn (obtained after dropping out of high school to play keyboards in a rock band). All these facts are from Wikipedia and are thus definitely true.

  2. You really think Scott would have paid out the $200,000? Wow.

  3. I guess this is how write-in campaigns start. I'm not sure how Scott would feel about the nomination, though.

  4. This is hilarious. Best post so far in this blog!

  5. I don't think Scott's bet made him look good. The bet said he was contemptuous of Deolalikar's proof, treating it as a curiosity rather than as a serious mathematical challenge.

  6. You emailed this to the Mitt Romney Campaign? That's ridiculous, as they probably had never heard of Scott, Computational complexity, or even P vs NP. You probably wasted a half hour of some poor intern's time so he could figure out whether computational complexity was important and whether this post is worth responding to. The lack of response indicates that their conclusion was "No".

  7. (^{\infty}

  8. So I vote to Scot Aaronson !

  9. Better watch out. Soon as Romney becomes president, William Gasarch is getting v&. NDAA style. Tell Bradley Manning I said hi!

  10. "There is one of them that I would vote for. The other was once Governor of Massachusetts."

    Does this imply that the author of this post will vote for Obama, or rather that they will not vote at all?

  11. wasting an intern's time - is that statement redundant or self-contradictory?

  12. I was the one who encouraged Gasarch to send the blog to the Romney campaign for comment. At the time, perhaps naively, I thought that there was a fair chance that they would respond. It did include a cover note with a short introduction. To understand the post it is not necessary to understand complexity theory. It is more about the contrast between Scott's reward and Romney's bet. They could have taken the column in the humorous spirit that I think it was intended, and responded accordingly. These people are good at that sort of thing. Also, this blog has a fairly wide audience. It was a chance to reach the public and some voters. Notice that the candidates are now spending a lot of time meeting with even very small groups of voters in Iowa and New Hampshire. On election day, huge efforts are made to get out small numbers of voters, such as driving them to the polling locations.

    It is still not too late for Romney to respond on the blog. I can stay forever optimistic.

    Also, to Anonymous I: I am not an expert, but I believe that reward offers are binding. I expect that the offer was sincere and Scott would have paid (even without the legal issue).

  13. "Scott's offer made him look good. "

    [citation needed]

  14. If Gasarch's email wasted even 1 minute of anyone working on Romney's campaign, I'd say that its a resounding success.

  15. Which is stronger: the Romney/Republican community's faith in free-market efficiency, or the Aaronson/QIT community's faith in a linear Hilbert state-space?

    Both faiths are held tenaciously, beautiful theorems follow from them, and global-scale economic and technological roadmaps are based upon them.

    But are these marvelous faiths true? That is a key question for the 21st century, in which math, science, engineering, philosophy, and the limits of human cognition are intimately blended.

  16. Romney believes that P = NP, but only at the state level.

  17. You forgot the rugged good looks and impeccable haircut. Of course, Romney's not so bad either.

  18. 1) I actually thought I would get a response, possibly
    computer generated, along the lines of:

    Thanks for your interest in our campaign.

    2) Romney/Rep are have MUCH more faith in the free market
    then Scott/QIT has in a linear Hilbert Statespace.
    Why? IF there were EVIDENCE that the Linear Hilbert
    Statespace was FALSE, Scott/QIT would seriously look into
    it and (over time) change their minds.
    IF (some what say- what do you mean `if') there were
    EVIDENCE that the free market did not work then
    Romney/Rep would not (have not?) change their mind.

    3) Another similarity: Neither has a good chance of being president.

  19. John Sidles and Anonymous 9:25: Actually, it's literally true that my "faith in linearity" holds only at the "state level"---that is, the quantum state level! At the level of observables (particle positions and momenta, etc.), nonlinearity clearly abounds.

    (And yes, as GASARCH pointed out, my "faith" in quantum-mechanical linearity is not "faith" at all, but something I'd be absolutely thrilled to change if there were a scientific reason to change it. Or, of course, if it would help me in the polls.)

  20. When my wife was a little girl, she had a cherished "record" — as these discs of vinyl were quaintly called — of the musical Fiddler on the Roof that included Teyve singing the following song:

    When Messiah Comes

    When Messiah comes/ He will say to us / ‘I apologize that I took so long / But I had a little trouble finding you / Over here a few, and over there a few. You were hard to reunite - but everything is going to be all right.’

    This song very aptly reflects (what I take to be) the Romney/Republican attitude toward the free market, the Aaronson/QIT attitude toward quantum computing, the CT community's attitude toward the separation of P from NP, and more generally, pretty much everyone's attitude toward the "coming of the Messiah" (in one-or-the-other of that personage's preferred embodiments).

    Of course, in the meantime we all have to get by somehow, in a world of irrational markets, lumpy product spaces, inseparable complexity classes, and whatever elements of virtue we can discern in ourselves and others.

    It is very remarkable how well this all works! If I could ask the Messiah any one question, it would be "How is it that we all get along so well with life, apparently without your help?" :)

  21. This post is very weird.

  22. Just to be more plain, anonymous, with regard to the above remark:

    "It is very remarkable how well this all works! If I could ask the Messiah any one question, it would be "How is it that we all get along so well with life, apparently without your help?" :)

    In asking this question, it was envisioned that the Messiah's most interesting reply would not take the form of any oracular dogma — after all, we mortals have scarcely any need for more dogma! — but rather would consist of concrete, verifiable theorems illuminating the great 21st century mysteries of why we humans are so remarkably successful at trading within irrational and/or chaotic markets, simulating within small-dimension and/or nonlinear state-spaces, and creatively solving problems within complexity classes that naively are NP-hard.

    Surely these "postmessianic" theorems would be illuminating to the conservative, QIT, and CT communities, and useful for practical engineering too! And perhaps we can even conceive these theorems ourselves, without waiting for a messiah to communicate them to us.

    It should be added, that this cheerfully postmessianic mathematical point-of-view owes much to the wonderful weblog Gödel's Lost Letter and P=NP by Dick Lipton and Ken Regan, without any imputation that Dick and Ken would endorse it.

  23. This view that Romney will not change his mind seems misplaced. Either his statements can be taken at face value, in which case he has changed his mind often, even on fundamental ideas. Or he simply states what is convenient at the time, in which case it is hard to know what his true views are, and how often he changes is mind.

  24. Why contrast Scott with Romney? It favours Romney as a leading candidate PLUS there are candidates that make Scott look bad in comparison, so it is pro-TCS biased.

    Why not compare him with Ron Paul. Contrast is striking:

    1. Ron Paul is against bombing of other countries, and sincirely favours USA retreating from its bully ways, that had brought it into disrepute. Scott Aaronson is trigger happy, he supports bombing of other countries of some of his fellow bloggers, which is extremely uncool and uncosmopolitan. There were cases in recent history when talented young math/cs high school students have been viciously and cynically killed by US bombs (in the marketplace in the middle of the day along with other civilians). There are talents in "rogue" states too (an everchanging category), for instance, Iran has a very strong math IMO team, Vietnam is also good etc. - a fact which his ethnocentric approach is too happy to neglect.

    2. Ron Paul is humble and down to earth. He always responds to dissenting views with respect, a rare quality in US politics. Unlike Romney, he would most likely respond to your e-mail. Scott is arrogant. He often responds to dissenting views with contempt and derision, of rare intensity in academic circles.

    3. Scott's political views can be summed up as "might is right". He is a nationalist/schauvinist who lacks tolerance. Paul is an US patriot, but his brand of patriotism does not involve agressive imperialism, it rather consists in minding one's own business.

    4. Ron Paul is not afraid to stand alone, his views (that proved right in the economic crisis etc.) were independent of mainstream (and mainstream is increasingly taking some of his long held positions). In contrast, Scott goes with the mainstream and helps supress anyone who is not in the privileged minority (the amateurish Deolalikar's attempt just proved Scott's hostility and devotion to mainstream).

  25. 1) I was inspired to compare Mitt to Scott because
    of the contrast of the Bet Mitt tried to make with
    Rick Perry and the offer Scott made to Deo.

    2) Scott does not believe `might is right'- he even
    had an issue with `was it right to kill Bin Laden'

    3) If I had compared Ron Paul to some theorist
    would Ron Paul have commented? Good question.
    If I can think of a person to compare Ron Paul to for a reason that makes sense for this blog
    we will find out. (I find this unlikely- the
    BET really made this post work for me. Unlikely that something like that will happen again.)

  26. Ron Paul gets ignored as a candidate by everyone. If he wins in Iowa, I fully expect that he will be asked "With this win it puts you in a place of power going forward to Super Tuesday - which candidate will you throw that weight behind with your endorsement when you pull out of the race?"

    Is there a CS and/or TCS person who has been treated in a similar way?

  27. Speaking as someone who doesn't always agree with Scott, I think most folks agree that the academic community would be *far* poorer without his generosity, curiosity, and creativity.

    Moreover, Scott has a lively sense of humor and irony that plenty of folks lack … like me and Mitt and Ron, to name three. :)

  28. Anonymous 2:21: Would it disturb your preconceptions to know that I, too, have friends and colleagues from "rogue" countries (certainly Iran), and not only do I not want to see them bombed, I want to see them live under much better governments?