Sunday, January 20, 2013

Zeno, in the modern context

Moral: Wherein we let the 'chimera' slide by, for now.


It's common knowledge that the modern world knows things through computers. This is true from the most recent phenomena, of noses to smart phones parading as intelligent behavior, to the wide expanses of cosmology's modeling of the heavens and exploration of multi-universes as an explanation, of sorts. In between, we have IRS's use plus business computing, such as design, planning, and a number of other things.

So, where does one go to look at issues related to such knowledge? The ACM is a good start. Say, their Communications of the ACM. Then, we have a whole lot of other folks, such as IEEE, IJCAI, and such.


The following is motivated by a viewpoint, expressed by Phillip G. Armour, in the ACM. His article is titled: The Business of Software: How We build Things (in paper, slightly different on-line). There are two things to mention here, though the article ought to be read.

File:Zeno of Elea Tibaldi or Carducci Escorial.jpg
Zeno, Veritas et Falsitas
He uses Zeno in talking about what I had called Earned Value. I only used Zeno once (Fedaerated) in several posts on three blogs. Why? I had talked about this with my colleagues on many occasions. It seemed that referencing the guy was more useful in person as then one could get off on the peripatetic issues.

Why Zeno? He's the guy of the arrow. Or, as the joke goes, the mathematician who doesn't get the girl. So, Phillip asks: why do people guess that they're 95% (or some such number) complete on a task as if they're monotonically approaching, with no end in sight?

Phillip laughs it off. I don't as it was a regular occurrence as we tried to assess completion of a project with lots of people and oodles of modules. Nowadays, it's not an issue (say, with Zuck's stuff) as they can just push out system changes (with a recovery method, hopefully, to use if things go bad) without regard to testing status. This is not true for other parts of the business world, say like the 787 (even a most-specified test plan will still leave room for judgment calls -- we'll get to that).


Phillip's use gets me thinking, again, that I need to bring the topic forward, again.

First, though, a useful exercise would be to gather all of the posts, for each of the blogs, that dealt with the subject of earned value. For each of the blogs, I have a list of posts that include the term. Then, I provide a list of a few of the important posts and the count of posts with the term.

Fedaerated (18)        7'oops7 (41)        Truth Engineering (20)

Now, for this blog, posts didn't start until 2009. The theme has been economic but wide-ranging due to the breadth of Ben's influence.

We'll bring this subject up to date and relate it, as it ought to be, to fair value and to the contexts of the related blogs.

A sampling of posts follows:
  • Jobs, labor, disrespect (Jan 15, 2012) -- Part of the zero sum issue is that running to outhouse allows many important factors to be ignored. That is, until these raise their heads (which is inevitable) under the new situation. 
  • Some background I (Apr 3, 2011) -- Berkeley applies here, despite the protestations otherwise that are based upon modern (all types) analysis. 
  • On the behalf of (Oct 5, 2009) -- Even if an agent wants to do well by his/her client, that is no guarantee. Bringing in lemons makes matters descend to chaos.  
  • Value, fair or earned (Sep 3, 2009) -- Value, of any type, determination can be a hard issue, even if one believes in computational approaches, all manners of glossing over aside.  
There are a lot more posts to look. We'll get back to that.


Phillip used some mathematics to show the problems related to knowing where you were with a project (the managers, like kids, say: are we there, yet?). Nice article.


05/30/2013 -- This theme will play within the cosmology of business. Isn't it interesting that Zeno applies in the modern context.

02/26/2013 -- What? Ben doesn't have any influence with his put?

01/26/2013 -- Of late, more money is pouring into equity buckets. How long before a burst? 

Modified: 05/30/2013

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