OT Re: Math-embarrassment results in CS [was: Should non-security 2.7 bugs be fixed?]

Rustom Mody rustompmody at gmail.com
Wed Jul 22 19:49:13 CEST 2015

Nice Thanks for that Laura!
I am reminded of

| The toughest job Indians ever had was explaining to the whiteman who their 
| noun-god is. Repeat. That's because God isn't a noun in Native America.
| God is a verb!
>From http://hilgart.org/enformy/dma-god.htm

On Wednesday, July 22, 2015 at 10:48:38 PM UTC+5:30, Laura Creighton wrote:
> One way to look at this is to see that arithmetic is _behaviour_.
> Like all behaviours, it is subject to reification:
> see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reification

This is just a pointer to various disciplines/definitions...
Which did you intend?
By and large (for me, a CSist) I regard reification as philosophicalese for
what programmers call first-classness.
As someone brought up on Lisp and FP, was trained to regard reification/firstclassness
as wonderful.  However after seeing the overwhelming stupidity of OOP-treated-as-a-philosophy,
Ive become suspect of this.
If http://steve-yegge.blogspot.in/2006/03/execution-in-kingdom-of-nouns.html
was just a joke it would be a laugh. I believe it is an accurate description
of the brain-pickling it does to its religious adherents.
And so now I am suspect of firstclassness in FP as well:
(last point)

> and especially as it is done in the German language, reification has
> this nasty habit of turning behaviours (i.e. things that are most like
> a verb) into nouns, or things that require nouns.  Even the word
> _behaviour_ is suspect, as it is a noun. 
> This noun-making can be contagious .... if we thought of the world, not
> as a thing, but happening-now (and see how hard it is to not have
> a noun like 'process' there) would we come to the question of 'Who
> made it?'  For there would be no 'it' there to point at.
> It is not too surprising that the mathematicians have run into the
> limits of reification.  There is only so much 'pretend this is a
> thing' you can do under relentless questioning before the 'thing-ness'
> just goes away ...

Yes but one person's threshold where thing-ness can be far away from another's.
Newton used thingness of ∞ (infinitesimals) with impunity and invented calculus.
Gauss found this very improper and re-invented calculus without 'completed infinity'.
Yet mathematicians habitually find that, for example generating functions that
are obviously divergent (∴ semantically meaningless) are perfectly serviceable
to solve recurrences; solutions which can subsequently be verified without the
generating functions.
Which side should be embarrassed?

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