Tuesday, September 19, 2017

GNU Math = Math + CS

[first shared on math-teach, Math Forum @ Drexel, with no pictures ]

Factor an Integer
:: factors(84729293) ::

Rhymes with "New Math"...

I think we all know the pun by now: GNU stands for GNU is Not Unix.

However in being recursively defined, it's also an allusion to Lambda Calculus.

GNU came along around Gen 2.0 of the C-STEM Epoch, which Epoch started around PLATO (1960) and rolled through at least two revolutions: PC (personal computer) and Liberation (free / open source).

Liberation was a long fought battle pitting the likes of GNU / Linux against SCO. I'm sure some here remember those years, followed by Browser Wars...

Where C-STEM starts hybridizing with the contemporary public schools math sequence is around the Fundamental Theorem of Arithmetic, that every integer has a unique prime factorization.

I'm going with Conway's suggestion that we throw in -1 as a factor along with 1, go ahead and call the former prime if you like.

A prime has only itself and 1 as a factor, and -1 if negative. 1 itself is not prime.

When we say factors, we may include or omit the 1 (identity element) depending on context.

(1, 2, 3, 7)
(1, 2, 2, 5, 5)
(1, -1, 2, 2, 3)

When students are ready to write code, in whatever language, to deliver these unique prime factorizations, that's when CS starts to meet Algebra. The Sieve of Eratosthenes, Trial By Division, Euclid's Algorithm, start phasing in here, as things to code.

Yes, we're still doing arithmetic, using the four basic operators plus modulo (%), but we're also introducing functions, the composition of which will be our basis for getting work done.

Algebra has much to do with controlling the components of a function, one might say inputs, arguments or parameters. The specifics are often fixed with constants, as in:

A sin (Bx + C) + D

the paradigm oscillator. Only x is considered the dependent variable at the end of the day, as A, B, C, D are used to construct a special case function.

Polynomials are the same way. The coefficients fix the function, and then x or t do the heavy lifting.

A*x**3 + B*x**2 + C*x + ... we have notation for arbitrarily long lists.

CS is good at this: providing an executable language wherein functions have the ability to construct other functions.

CS profs further along in the pipeline will be grateful if we start writing functions that build functions earlier.

C-STEM has a bright future.

The Pumpkin Knows
:: (1, 11, 31, 248473) ::

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Gala Gathering

I tried to explain this event to people by saying we were shooting raw footage for future commercials.  That might not be quite it, certainly not it entirely, however people understand the movie shoot, complete with retakes, and that's what this was, as well as a party.

Sam Lanahan has been planning this event for some time, blending his personal genius with that of the many he's come to collaborate with.  Jeff is the talented engineer.  We carried the four frequency tetrahedron together.  Steffan is the talented magician, working with Hope, the athlete.  Polara brought their considerable abilities to the scene, as did the professional drone camera operator.  No, I'm not forgetting the crane.

Barry Redd and Glenn Stockton have been helping Sam build C6XTY sculptures, which show off a non-cubic lattice, not BCP.  All the examples were CCP, but each colored and "carved" (in the sense of omitted balls) to create a landscape of clearly unique pieces.  One was for stress testing.  Others were for display on a grassy yard.  The biggest was for hoisting by crane so that Hope could dangle and twist therefrom, ushering in the Tension Age.

I should explain the plot a little.  Steffan Soule had it worked out, with a stage magician's brick, symbolizing compression, and a bright pink and black ball of C6XTY, matched in color by Hope's harlequin outfit.  During several takes, Sam both received, and handed over, the plastic ball, the icon symbolizing Tension in this picture.  The receding Age of Compression was about the Cube.

Yes, this all sounds esoteric and to some level indecipherable, the entropy is high, potentially.  However, I'm connecting the themes that go back years in these blogs, so in a way I don't feel I have the burden, in one post, to compress all these years of thinking and running experiments.  That's partly what "tension" means:  not having to re-invent the wheel every day.  I'll be referring back to this HP4E event again, don't you worry.

Many thanks to Derek Bridges for additional photography and a twitter stream, to Tim Hitchcock (bizmo pilot) and Trevor Blake (a Fuller archivist, among other roles).  Thanks to Patrick Barton for helping move pieces from my patio to the rented truck, and to Diane for having some ideas about what all this could be about.  We're still figuring that out.  The Age of Tension is often suspenseful, but perhaps less awkwardly melodramatic?

Monday, September 11, 2017

Back to School

Patrick has been working out.

I'm expecting my mentor and personal trainer, Patrick, to come over and remind me how it all works through his control panel.  I've only "flown" (piloted) his rig once and remember Mac shortcut combos were translating to surprising combos on the Windows server.  I need to practice which combos to avoid next time.

Patrick and I were co-workers through many of the O'Reilly School of Technology years.  We're both friends with Steve Holden, a former neighbor, and citizen of the UK.  Steve was a major player in getting the early flagship Pycons off the ground, imitating EuroPython which came earlier.  A nonprofit named the Python Software Foundation grew up around Pycons as the organizing entity and eventually became what it is today, with Steve one of the first directors, later chairman.

I've been dividing my attention between hurricanes and quaternions, not as distant-apart concepts as that may sound, though granted hurricanes are energetic phenomena whereas quaternions are metaphysical assets, a tool in the computer graphics library for making things rotate, around any axis, in what in XYZ-talk we call 3-space.

XYZ-talk extends into Coxeter type n-space, wherein real number-lines are imagined to be mutually independent through a common origin, as many as we need.  IVM-talk is different, is what Bucky hatched in Synergetics, with a little help from his friends.  IVM-talk has only a toe-hold, or beach-head or one of those, vis-a-vis contemporary academia.  We're more likely to read that Bucky was crazy (quirky) or Synergetics is pseudo-math here in 2017.  I've got the two talks somewhat mixed together.

OK, Patrick has come and gone.  We sat on the back deck overlooking the C6XTY sculpture garden. The truck will be here tomorrow, to haul most of it away.

I then went upstairs to watch CBS Evening News, to get some overview on Irma.  Today is of course September 11, my wedding anniversary, as well as a day the metaphysical climate changed dramatically.

Friday, September 08, 2017

News Room

Remembering a Friendship

What's amazing is how in a few decades, the personal workspace (PWS) has evolved into a newsroom.  Instead of a few papers having these telex machine feeds, we get this blizzard of news reports, some half baked, others slickly misleading, all ready for editing in the virtual studio.

The CSN CRO and I were checking out the Florida freeway system this morning, using Google to suggest where the worst logjams are, then pulling up stories.  How many freeways have committed all four lanes north?  Any concept of "evacuation bus"?  What's up with the trains?  Why not commit railways to getting people out?  Insufficient rolling stock?

Houston decided to hunker down, more than evacuate, yet more freeways fan out from that hub, going inland, then you get leaving Florida.  The two sides of the peninsula provide the two main arterials.

It'd be easy enough to get all these computers on different channels with several sources per screen.  Then it'd look more like a newsroom or monitoring station.  Like a control room.

I took public transit out to PDX last night for a meetup with a JetBlue pilot's sister (she was flying JetBlue).

He's retiring today, or at least bringing in his final flight, from Fort Lauderdale as it happens.  They're having a gate party at JFK today, a JetBlue tradition.

I used to live full time in Florida, in a mobile home park in Bradenton.  A lot of the news stories are focused on changes to building codes since Hurricane Andrew but what's special about Florida is how much of it is mobile home estates.  Lets not just focus on fancy beach side apartments and condos.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017


I made this joke about "home me-o staying" (having some down time). I'm reading about Proxemics, a discipline founded by Ed Hall (anthropologist), which is the science of how humans and other animals co-organize in space.

For example what's the plan of an ideal house, what are the rooms for, and how close should you stand to someone you're addressing? What level of voice is polite. I just read a chapter comparing Brits to USers, in very broad brush stroke.

He takes Americans for having automatic neighborliness, a " kids will play with your kids" egalitarianism, whereas a British family has no expected obligations, no lending of a cup of sugar, now over the fence camaraderie.

Having lived in many parts of the US, in several states (New Jersey, Florida, North Carolina... Oregon), in many zipcodes, I'd say many neighborhoods, including suburban, are just as isolating and foam-like (Sloterdjik) as the urban.

Not that urban villages don't exist.

We don't all live in Twin Peaks, that's for sure.  It's David Lynch week in Portland, unbeknownst to me when Melody made a pit stop and reminded me of that heritage.

I'm well into Season Two, after seeing the pilot after Season One.  We're talking about a series made over twenty years ago, but recently resurrected.  I'm striving to catch up.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Eclipse Day

Monitoring Eclipse

Oregon has been girding for today for some time.  I didn't have specific plans until my assignment came through to do computer camp in Lake Oswego, not quite in the path of totality (99.4%).

All the kids had eclipse glasses but I didn't.  One of them kindly shared.  The eerie low light (never completely dark, no stars) was likewise spectacular.

We had three classes going simultaneously today, though with only two instructors.  Jeremy was covering both Little Coders and Minecraft Modding, which I consider a feat.

My stint was longer, 9 - 4, but only one camp at a time.

An added stress factor came after camp was over:  my car decided to throw a fit when I tried to start it, sounding the alarm.  I couldn't think of anything to stop it.  Should I call AAA?  After a brief conversation with mom, the Nissan started with no problems.  Weird.

I headed to a nearby McMenamins (John Barleycorns) to unwind and finish paperwork.  That's where I am now, having a Hammerhead and a Dungeon Burger.  I parked in a far corner of the lot in case the car throws a fit again.

Followup: no Torture Taxi tantrum this time; I swung by PDX Code Guild on the way home to Asylum District, in case Flying Circus was happening, traffic light.

Business Accelerator building (2828 SW Corbett) was a ghost town, however.

I made it home in time for all but the first five minutes of the CBS Evening News with Anthony Mason anchoring from Carbondale, Illinois.

After a Tantrum
:: in the corner ::

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Atomic Blonde (movie review)

Wonder Woman remembers the mission, which is to save humanity from corruption by the devil (aka Mars). But in attempting to save us, she has to join the fray, a Joan of Arc figure, with knights ever eager to serve under her command.

Fast forward to Lorraine, two wars later (really one) and now at a signature apex, the convergence of the two Germanys as symbolized by a wall-divided Berlin overcoming its internal divisiveness.

As the opening narrative makes clear, this story explores a violent underbelly of this convergence chapter, through a favored lens when exploring this era:  that of the spy thriller comic book genre. Le Carré uses a similar backdrop sometimes.

Some will raise their eyebrows at my use of "comic book" and ask what's so funny about all that head bashing, more like Streets of New York.

I think because of the superpowers on display, an ability to play these violent games that shows some purpose and intent, not just people caught up willy-nilly in awkward conditioned-reflexing.

The martial arts make for some bloody ballet, with protagonists appearing somewhat in control of their own destinies, more as predators in the know than as helpless victims. They serve and protect the rest of us, if cast as heroes (heroines).

Both Wonder Woman and Atomic Blonde use similar wartime spy thriller motifs, with their focus on Amazons (female warriors).

Rome, Italy, where I was during early Cold War years, was another hotbed of intrigue and secrets, with all the high fashion and flashy cars to match.

I was too young to pose as an adult of any stature, but I soaked up some of that James Bond culture at the English language movie theaters, the Archimedes especially (near Piazza Euclide).

Berlin over ten years later was more into grunge and proto-punk from the looks of things here recreated.  Disaffected youth didn't want to grow up with some Iron Curtain through their psychology.

The Korean DMZ stands out as another Berlin Wall of today.

These spies did not have the Internet, nor much in the way of social media.  The film takes us back to when people used ordinary landline telephones and didn't have to deal with strong encryption.

I most recently saw John Goodman in 10 Cloverfield Lane and couldn't quite shake the idea that this was a flashback to before his retirement to that bunker, just a passing thought.  American dads can be pretty crazy.

Lorriane smokes and drinks and lives a punishing lifestyle, which will catch up with her later.

I was interested to learn that Charlize Theron, who plays Lorriane, is natively Afrikaans with American English her second language (IMDB). I wonder if she knows Yolandi Visser.

I did make it to Berlin before the wall came down, took the tour.  Our train was actually East German, terminating on the east side in Berlin, starting with a ferry trip from Sweden I believe it was. We were unusual for American tourists, not the first time.  Dad liked to plan interesting trips.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Chain Reaction

At first I didn't like that the timer was running even if I'd not signaled my willingness to begin, by punching the green flag.  I'd have the option to turn that off, given the See Inside powers conferred in a copyleft economy.  I didn't write this game, merely remixed it and value added.

The point is to keep going to the next level, by setting off chain reactions that consume tiny sprites. The surface area of the target area is variable and rises as more sprites are consumed, before falling again. You anchor the target initially and then sit back to see if you've won the round, so it's basically a one click per round game, a feature, a kind of minimalism.

Note the timer resets on each explosion. The sprites are all clones of the main ball, which spawns multiple copies of itself, shrunk to 15% of original size.  The number spawned is three more than the level number.  Notice you have less time as the level number rises.  But then more explosions per time unit would be expected.

All in all, I consider this a handsome little game, elegantly implemented.  I'll plan to show and tell about in at summer camp today.  I actually found it in the official handbook, so it's not like I'm straying far from my ken.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Banning Nukes

Portland has joined a lot of cities, as cities stand to lose the most.

The uber-cowards plan to head for spacious luxury apartments in various gated mountain suburbs, there to send out hapless journalists at the point of a gun to see whether Planet of the Apes or 12 Monkeys has come true or not.  In the meantime, they'll eat nachos and swill Bud.

Portlanders don't savor that genre of science fiction as a their real future and so push back, joining a broad alliance of city mayors and others, signalling in the history books we were never on board with the selfish oligarchs.

The oligarchs have various pretenses or ploys they float as trial balloons, trying to gauge the public mood. Recent results have been disappointing from their point of view.  A nuclear conflagration is harder to get started even if the UN Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty is just something on paper.  So are a lot of things "just paper" (like money for example, other entitlements?).

This year, our memorial event (remembrance ceremony) featured a Buddhist invocation, several speeches, and a second indoor event in nearby NW 70 Couch Street.  We were permitted to take pictures, and indeed spreading visualization memes was part of the intent.

I fought rush hour coming home from the day job, where mom was waiting.  My mistake to think the Hawthorne Bridge could be any better, now that Morrison is one way each way, but no way from the east side, short of joining I-5 somewhere north, which is crazy.  But then traffic-wise Portland has succumbed to North America's chief ailment:  addiction to one-driver commute lifestyles (leads to opium addiction, heart disease...).

Usually, with no evening events pending, I don't have to fight rush hour.  I know a friend with a swimming pool just off Boones Ferry, plus have Lake Oswego friends scattered around I can visit.  The game around rush hour is to avoid it completely.  Fortunately the day job starts around noon, and the drive is then typical, at posted speed limits.

Cross references:
2016: Hiroshima Day 
2015: Disarm Day 2015
2013: A-Bomb Day
2010: Hiroshima Day
2007: Remembering... 

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Visiting Vancouver

Vancouver, Washington is an important port and way station, a gateway to Oregon. People complain the I-5 draw-bridge is a choke point, however Oregon State Senator Lew Frederick says the studies he's seen point to replacing the rail bridge instead, re-routing trucks to their own deck.

In some simulations, this redesign would do much more to alleviate the problem than replacing the I-5 bridge, especially if people enjoy reading and social media enough to prefer taking mass transit, even high speed rail in some possible futures.

Sam Lanahan has view property overlooking the Willamette-Columbia confluence, though from a safe distance away, which explains the telescope. Freight traffic is fun to watch.  Glenn and I got to see the hexagonal flextegrity table, which Glenn had helped build in my garage, amidst other marvels, on our car trip there today.

For those of you into intellectual history, when Alexander Graham Bell had the command of vast resources, post inventing the telephone, he plowed time and energy into what he called "kites", and which today we might call an "isotropic vector matrix" if into Fuller, or perhaps an "octet-truss" if aware of the patent literature.

Sam's matrix is no mere knock off of Bell's solution as the tension and compression forces get distributed by a different strategy.  However it helps to see it in the lineage of space frame solutions, in this particular family of lattice structures.

In the latest incarnation the basic "brick" is a soccer ball of hard plastic made of six base parts, hence the name C6XTY, all identical, with eight screw-in disks to secure each assembly.

Armature members with their own smaller screws then fix these spherical components in place, creating the Bell-like lattice with the ball centers in CCP or FCC positions, for those of you schooled in crystallography, or willing to watch a few Youtubes.

Standing in the courtyard at his house, Sam had a prime example of the kind of sculpture one might create from C6XTY, given the liberty to explore the IVM "in vitro" so to speak, as an organic pattern.

He's working on and/or commissioning several more examples for an upcoming photo shoot.  My backyard is one of the construction sites.  We returned with a portable gazeebo on the roof of my car. I excavated and removed the brick fire pit to make room for the new work area.

I need to study Quantum Mind again tonight, a book by Arnold Mindell.  You'll find Jungian psychology a recurring theme in these blogs.  I'm thinking Bell, Bucky, Lanahan and others were attuned to resonant frequencies in a collective unconsciousness that surfaces in their cases.  Something deep within us wants to get it out there.  The zeitgeist is making waves.