# 13.0546 recursion

From: Humanist Discussion Group (willard@lists.village.virginia.edu)
Date: Tue Apr 18 2000 - 20:45:11 CUT

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Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 13, No. 546.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
<http://www.princeton.edu/~mccarty/humanist/>
<http://www.kcl.ac.uk/humanities/cch/humanist/>

Date: Tue, 18 Apr 2000 21:33:36 +0100
From: "Osher Doctorow" <osher@ix.netcom.com>
Subject: recursion

From: Osher Doctorow <mailto:osher@ix.netcom.com>osher@ix.netcom.com APril
8, 2000 2:03PM

Dear Colleagues:

Franchois Lachance as usual has posed some fascinating open problems (Vol.
13, No. 535). I will only tackle one here: what type of history can be
derived from observing the effects of machines or their scarcity/abundance
on reading. We have entered the "causal zone" here, which ties in with
logic, because of the words "effects of" (I will not try to explain my
views on this here, but maybe some day). I have recently been presenting
some of my theorems related to this to MCRIT-L (Multiple criteria decision
making ...). It turns out that in logic-based probability (LBP), you can
examine not only what happens when you add more "causing variables"
(independent variables, although the name is confusing) but also what
happens when you add more "caus-ed variables" (dependent variables,
although again the name is unfortunate since statistical
independence/dependence are quite different concepts). You might be
familiar with this from the difference between multiple regression and
multivariate regression (the latter allows you to add more "dependent
variables"), but be careful because these latter two are (Bayesian)
conditional probability models and so fix the "independent" variables
rather than allow them to vary as does LBP. So to summarize a partial
answer to Francois' question, we probably derive a logic-based probability
history. In LBP, rarer events have more influence - for example, genius,
creativity, extremely good fortunate, catastrophes. When either computers
or reading become very abundant, their influence diminishes
probabilistically according to LBP. I suppose that an example would be
that when reading was rare, the few readers included the great creative
writers and scientists. When computers were rare, we saw the greatest
relative contributions from computers. It is somewhat similar to the
recent importance of technology stocks, where according to the
Guilder-Christensen school (the latter from Harvard Business School),
extremely rare technological innovations (and, in fact, with low
probabilities, so in a sense hard to predict) are the crucial
ingredient. We are seeing the limitations starting in computers now, as we
approach the silicon limit and need rare innovations in quantum and
molecular computers.

I will close by adding a new conjecture based partly on my 35 book reviews
recently published electronically by Amazon.com: Creative Genius as opposed
to Follower Genius or Ingenious Followers is characterized by frequent
inspiration of the public as well as oneself, simplification including
frequent translation of complex mathematical or other specialized language
into ordinary English (French, German, etc.), communication in the sense of
the first point, and openness to new ideas instead of steadfast defense of
one's own theories in the face of new ideas. I include these here to keep
the open questions moving "on a roll".

Osher

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