[OT] Free software versus software idea patents

harrismh777 harrismh777 at charter.net
Mon Apr 18 08:29:20 CEST 2011

Steven D'Aprano wrote:
>> software*is*  mathematics
> No it isn't.

    Yes, it is.

> (If the machine is particularly
> simple -- you might be able to exactly simulate a lever in pure
> mathematics, but simulating, say, a nuclear bomb or a dialysis machine in
> mathematics is more of a challenge...)

     I do not disagree with your frustration over what may or may not be 
simulated by mathematics, within a computer, but that is to 
misunderstand the thrust of the argument. Essentially what you are 
saying is that because it is difficult to simulate in software what is 
evident in pure mathematics that software is somehow not mathematics... 
  if I have understood what you are saying here, then you are absolutely 
incorrect.  If I have misunderstood you, please clarify.

     We are not talking about what can or can not be simulated--- much 
less how difficult those simulations might be. The argument is much much 
simpler than that... please do not over complicate this.

     What it is that software does is to extend human thought and 
process over symbol across a machine ALU (the von Neumann funnel). The 
machine ALU is the medium *only* for the natural and obvious expression 
of mathematics (relationship over symbol) carried about in the human 
mind yet extended and expressed across the registers and switches of the 
machine, rather than markers and white-boards (or black-boards and 
chalk, if you're as old as I am).

     Software is comprised of nothing more nor less than mathematics; 
the human tools of thought and process, relationship over symbol, 
expressed across the domain of switches and registers in the processor's 

     This is the part of the argument that Geremy will loath and despise 
perhaps even more than you do...  that what software is comprised of 
resides at the very heart of the CPU itself... that which we call the 
von Neumann funnel--- the ALU. It does not matter in the least what is 
being simulated (H bomb, or word-processor, or spread-sheet, or life 
automata) no software ever ever ever ever does anything other than 
logically manipulate registers of bits (ones and zeros) on and off at 
very high speeds (that's it, nothing more and nothing less). All of this 
is mathematics, and nothing more nor less.

     Even addition in the ALU is not computation... it is logical 
manipulation of 1s and 0s with a bitwise exclusive (xor) function across 
the register with carry. Whalla, ADD. All logic operations in the ALU of 
all CPUs are comprised of logical manipulations (algorithms) designed to 
simulate higher and higher types of functions; regardless of what is 
simulated, at the core and heart of the CPU is nothing more nor less 
than logical algorithm(s) expressing relationship over symbol by 
"software". In fact, the software itself is some of the logical 
manipulation --- in other words, the software itself is processed in 
precisely the same ways.


     Mathematics *is not* software.

     Software *is* mathematics.

kind regards,

m harris

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