tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3722233.post4831340994670644841..comments2024-06-13T23:23:44.643-05:00Comments on Computational Complexity: Tales of Two TheoriesLance Fortnowhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/06752030912874378610noreply@blogger.comBlogger7125tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3722233.post-4386921729870496012009-07-05T08:58:44.019-05:002009-07-05T08:58:44.019-05:00LOL! Yes, for centuries bow-tie-wearers have been...LOL! Yes, for centuries bow-tie-wearers have been secret secret members of the Cheerful Illuminati ... the bow-tie is a signifier.<br /><br />Another secret is that women of the Cheerful Illuminati wear pony-tails for exactly the same reason ... Jane Goodall is their ring-leader!<br /><br />"http://womensvoicesforchange.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/goodall770.jpg"<br /><br />"http://www.lasplash.com/uploads/1/jane_goodall_sanctuary2.jpg"John Sidleshttp://www.mrfm.orgnoreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3722233.post-60608988483844001262009-07-01T11:27:18.104-05:002009-07-01T11:27:18.104-05:00cheerfullness is the highst human virture... inter...cheerfullness is the highst human virture... interesting John, but are you objective?http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3295/2896226509_81d5d4bce2_b.jpgGilhttp://gilkalai.wordpress.com/noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3722233.post-73099410321441895382009-07-01T09:26:54.673-05:002009-07-01T09:26:54.673-05:00LOL ... Gil, I seldom debate "beauty" .....LOL ... Gil, I seldom debate "beauty" ... because (as feminist thought correctly emphasizes) it is "a truth universally acknowledged" that standards of beauty within a community are intimately bound to that community's practices of social ranking and access to resources.<br /><br />Surely, this is no less true in mathematics than in fashion, art, and politics?<br /><br />For me, the essence of beauty resides in simplicity, utility, and cheerfulness: a beautiful person has a cheerful smile and embraces good works; beautiful mathematics can be put to cheerful purpose and encourages further enterprise.<br /><br />Philosophically, this standard of beauty is Spinozist ... because it was Spinoza who first argued for cheerfulness as the highest human virtue. Good on `ya, Spinoza! :)<br /><br />Thus, as the cheerful simplicity and practical utility of string theory mathematics becomes more apparent, it becomes (to me) more beautiful.John Sidleshttp://www.mrfm.orgnoreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3722233.post-87022070396794212492009-07-01T07:48:18.398-05:002009-07-01T07:48:18.398-05:00John, most of the third part deals with Lee Smolin...John, most of the third part deals with Lee Smolin's book at takes place on "Asymptotia". Among the discussed issues: "how to debate beauty".Gilhttp://gilkalai.wordpress.com/noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3722233.post-13241318725990214262009-06-29T12:49:19.037-05:002009-06-29T12:49:19.037-05:00Gil, what will be the focus of the "third thi...Gil, what will be the focus of the "third third" of the book? Is this third part written yet?John Sidleshttp://www.mrfm.orgnoreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3722233.post-21500920919982272892009-06-29T08:50:25.493-05:002009-06-29T08:50:25.493-05:00Thanks, Lance
Let me just add that I put 1/3 of th...Thanks, Lance<br />Let me just add that I put 1/3 of the book on my blog so there is more to come. The second part takes place on n Category Cafe and has no relations to string theory. I am not sure if "the purpose" of the book will become clearer though.Gil Kalaihttp://gilkalai.wordpress.com/noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3722233.post-73062407364349778882009-06-28T13:51:23.616-05:002009-06-28T13:51:23.616-05:00Gosh ... three days and no comments ... perhaps th...Gosh ... three days and <i>no</i> comments ... perhaps this "dog not barking in the night" is in itself worthy of a comment.<br /><br />Very early on, Gil Kalai's book proposes the following answer to the question "What is string theory?"<br /><br /><i>"String theory is a very ambitious (yet incomplete) answer to the problem, prevalent on the minds of physicists for almost a century, of bringing together quantum theory and Einstein's theory of gravitation."</i><br /><br />Let's regard this statement as Great Truth in the sense that its opposite is a Great Truth too. <br /><br />If string theory is not about unifying quantum theory with gravity, then what is it about? The following three paragraphs will take the point of view that string theory (and more broadly, quantum theory in general) can be viewed (with equal justification) as being all about (1) education, (2) enterprises, and (3) jobs.<br /><br />Here's why: (1) The case for string theory being all about education starts with Patricia Schwarz' fine "graduate mathematics guide" that is hosted on superstringtheory.com (a Google search will find it). Patricia describes her guide as being for "people who want to learn advanced topics in theoretical physics". But isn't this needlessly narrow? Doesn't Patricia's guide serve (equally well) a broader educational base of "people who want to understand complex systems?"<br /><br />(2) The case for string theory being all about enterprise starts from the premise that the class of "people who want to understand complex systems" now includes pretty much every engineering student, including (for example) students in electrical engineering, computer science, bioinformatics, financial engineering, and (my own interest) quantum systems engineering. Nowadays the state-spaces of all these engineering disciplines are regarded as having, not a vector space structure, but a more general <a href="http://qsepack.googlecode.com/svn/branches/QSEPACK_2.0/figures/figures_PDF/QSE_summary.pdf" rel="nofollow">manifold structure</a> (and/or graph structure). For example, Patricia Schwarz' reading list serves our first-year graduate students in quantum system engineering just as well as it serves graduate students in math and physics who intend to study string theory. The point is, that nowadays the mathematics of Schwarz' guide are at the foundations of <i>every</i> large-scale enterprise ... including string theory but by no means limited to it (and this is good news for every mathematics and physics department).<br /><br />(3) The case for string theory being all about job creation starts when we reflect on the sobering reality that our planet is presently in urgent need of one billion jobs (meaning family-supporting jobs). These jobs need to be created not "someday" ... after some diffusely specified future "breakthroughs" ... but jobs created as rapidly as feasible. Job-creation on this planetary scale requires mathematical engagement with complex systems ... and this thoroughly entangles job-creating enterprise with complex systems engineering and with mathematics education. Earlier generations of mathematicians, scientists, and engineers did not shrink from contemplating <a href="http://www.pnas.org/content/106/8/2477.extract" rel="nofollow">planetary-scale enterprises</a>, and our generation should shrink from it either.<br /><br />From this point of view, when we read existing accounts of string theory (like Gilder, Woit, Kalai, Smolin, etc.), we are struck more by the similarity of these authors' writings than by their differences. These writings all embrace the strict-constructionist view that string theory it is "all about" gravity and quantum theory, and in consequence, discussions of "education", "enterprise", "engineering", and "jobs" are absent from all of these works. This restriction makes the story easy to tell ... but isn't it needlessly narrow? <br /><br />Even <i>more</i> fun is to be had (IMHO) by viewing research in gravity and quantum theory as being at the forefront of our century's <i>larger</i> adventure in planetary-scale education, enterprise, and job creation.John Sidleshttp://www.mrfm.orgnoreply@blogger.com