[OT] Free software versus software idea patents

harrismh777 harrismh777 at charter.net
Thu Apr 14 01:35:26 EDT 2011

geremy condra wrote:
> I'm familiar with the case, and agree with Knuth (and you) that math
> should not be patentable. I'd also agree that algorithms are
> mathematics. Critically, algorithms*are not*  software.

>  it isn't clear to me that software and
>  computation are synonymous. Lambda calculus only models computation,
>  and software has real properties in implementation that are strictly
>  dependent on the physical world

> In your rush to misunderstand this you haven't addressed it yet.

     I am sorry, I was not clear and you rightly misunderstood my 
indirection. I am not claiming that software describes hardware. Please 
allow me to restate.
     Mathematics describes hardware, yet hardware is patentable and 
mathematics is not. The hardware is patentable, but the mathematics used 
in the hardware production is not. ( I think we are in agreement so 
far). Again, patent the chip, but not the symbol.
     All software (and yes, I mean all of it) is nothing more nor less 
than mathematics... relationship over symbol--- but not limited to 
algorithms, and certainly not limited to computation. Software is not 
*just* described by mathematics (as hardware is) software is itself 
mathematics--- the description. (not the description of hardware, the 
living and breathing description of relationship over symbol).  Software 
is mathematics, and it is therefore not patentable. Please don't confuse 
hardware with this... I never meant to go there--- my fault.   The 
mathematics of software is no more physical than the mathematics of 
(chalk on a blackboard) is physical. The chalk dust and board are not 
the issue; neither are the circuits and switches. Relationship over 
symbol is the issue; and algorithms and computation are the very least 
of it, if at all. Think "thought" and "process".

     When I am speaking of mathematics I am NOT even speaking about 
computation, nor am I speaking about *just* algorithms; although, 
mathematical 'process' is certainly at the heart of the discussion.

     Richard Feynman has said, "Nature talks to us in the language of 
mathematics," and it behooves all educated people to grapple with the 
understanding of this powerful aphorism. When authors of software are 
composing software, they are "doing" mathematics. The craft is ever 
present. Some, like myself more theoretical and philosophical, others 
more practical and applied. Yet both kinds of person are doing 
mathematics (generating mathematics) with every manipulated symbol. The 
beautiful symbols of software development are the very symbols of 
harmonious mathematical relationship from every pure functional 
construct (or even OOP Class) right down to each and every 1 & 0 (on and 
off). This artistry is pure and applied science (the stuff of every 
human thought in logic and reasoning).Jan Gullberg has said, 
"Mathematics grows and develops in many ways unrelated to science, and 
thus plays a crucial role in the history of human thought". This is the 
art and science of software engineering of which I am speaking. Software 
is the very stuff of human thought and expression. In so many ways 
software reflects the very nature of what it means to be human; how we 
reflect, organize, structure, and relate cognitively over symbol. I love 
mathematics, as I love software, and I have abused neither.

     If you agree with my politics (with broad strokes) why would you 
not like to try to understand what my politics are based in? Are you 
apposed to software patents out of frustration and emotion only? Or, is 
there another in-born reason why you detest them? I suspect that the 
mathematician in you is screaming to be let out...

kind regards,
m harris

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