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

Laura Creighton lac at openend.se
Wed Jul 22 20:14:50 CEST 2015

In a message of Wed, 22 Jul 2015 10:49:13 -0700, Rustom Mody writes:
>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?

I meant -- depending on your background -- go find a meaning for
reification that makes sense to you.  And then extend this to some
other areas.

>By and large (for me, a CSist) I regard reification as philosophicalese for
>what programmers call first-classness.

Me too.  But there are more people out there who know something about
reification than there are that know about 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?

Embarassment is a function of the ego.  The ego is _another_ one of those nouns
where if you try to stalk it, it falls apart because it was produced by
behaviour, rather than the cause of behaviour.

Descartes:  I think, therefore I am.  (Because there must be an I that is
doing the thinking.)

Modern Day Western Neurologist:  Thinking is going on.  Therefore an I is


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