Sunday, July 29, 2018

Speed of C


I was noting in class the other day that it's somewhat fortuitous, from a mnemonic standpoint (helps us remember), that C as in "the C language" (runs fast when optimized) shares its letter with lowercase 'c', typically used for "the speed of light".

The concept of "frequency" is well-developed with regard to CPUs and GPUs.  Those with faster clocks crunch through more computations per time interval, accomplishing some "least action" (say a bit flip, taking us into teraflops) more often (right, more frequently).

That means more energy spent in a given time interval (E/t) which relates to the Power (P) of the chip in question.

Energy itself, lets remember, is like a wound up toy, or a battery, all prepped to do work if allowed to, like a runner before the starting gun.  The energy is "stored", in the form of chemical stockpiles in the runner's case.  Bullets depend on a reservoir of gunpowder.

E = Mcc might get us saying "c squared" but we're also allowed to view an expanding equilateral triangle in place of an expanding square, if we're from a different subculture.  The mathematics itself is the same.  Cubism is cultural.

E = hf is another statement of how we wind up the toy, by turning the key at some frequency, where a key turn is mass for a distance at some speed (mass times velocity times distance).

In Newtonian units:  f = 1/t; E = (mvd)/t = mvv, which is where our mcc comes from, unit-wise.  The units of mvd are referred to as "action" and we use h for Planck's minimal action, a discrete minimal delta or change.  Those happen over time, and add up in terms of Energy.

When you have a complicated multi-dimensional program to run, just because the CPUs are going at full throttle doesn't mean your program finishes quickly.  Some computations take many epochs, even eons, to finish, even if running at the speed of C.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

B2 Party

Atlantic Monthly not long ago shared an argument that the DC idea of a "president" is broken.  The same magazine likes to share PR for what I call the "B2 Party", which is behind the B2 bomber and its forays.  Atlantic Monthly likes to shill for the B2 Party sometimes.

Am I saying every major weapons system deserves its own party?  Something like that.  The names "Democrat" and "Republican" have outlived their usefulness.  We have Beltway Bandits and... ?  Oh yeah, Wall Street.  Political discourse would make so much more sense if we could get our analysis more in those terms, versus always reading about zombies (DNC and GOP).

A lot of Americans are really into war porn and crave it.  Stroking the weapons, making them shiny, glistening, on camera is a part of it.  We're taught this is an OK perversion, and indeed we're encouraged, as viewer voyeurs, to get sick in the head in this way, between shopping trips.  Shop, then go home and bliss out on B2s, is the reduced instruction set.  Many of us comply.

Lets combine the fact that the presidency is a joke (an undoable job, mostly a scapegoat position, designed for soaking up blame), with the fact that the war porn is a kind of mental illness (DSM anyone?).  No wonder a lot of folks are casting about for a more meaningful discourse.  Intuitively, they understand the political diet they're being fed is pretty hopeless.

However, getting a weak ghost of a government to do the bidding of war profiteers is pretty easy.  Just harness its lingering claims to legitimacy and piggy-back on its PR values, and you have a decent chance of getting a war going.  That's the big payoff and many are working overtime on it, doing their best to build tensions with "America's enemies" (not seeing themselves as the ultimate killers of a once proud sovereign state).

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Back to School

I've been hard at work teaching code school stuff all summer, so it's not "back to school" for me.  I never left.  However, that's part of the summer retail cycle:  back to school stuff appears on the shelves in late July.  Some kids get nervous, as the mortality of their summertime carefree self begins to see shadows.

That documentary about John James Audobon I saw at Glenn's made a lasting impression.  Back in the day I was casting Portland as "Toon Town" where we'd lap up screen content, produce it, critique it.  That happened for me.  The documentaries have been pouring in.  Lindsey used to snag them at Laughing Horse, but even then I was already into them.

Audobon shot tons of birds (literally) to get them just right in his giant colored etching recordings.  He was reminding us of what was about to go away in many cases.  People ask if the climate has been changed by humans, when it used to feature hours-long migrations of billions of passenger pigeons.  All gone.

I was planning to yak about Emoji, now included within Unicode.  When back in school, will you be learning about ASCII and UTF-8?  Is this a code school?  Or might this be a school about music?  Or both?  Computing and music have an intimate relationship.

I'm thinking of a numpy array of emoji in some Google Colab notebook, or maybe on a Github Jupyter Notebook.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Imperative versus Declarative

A theme in machine learning these days is "imperative versus declarative".  Tensorflow versus Pytorch instantiated this difference.  Do we draw a graph of the computation and then compile it?  Or do we just write the script?  The latter style is "imperative".

She (Sarah Bird) just now said "Just Use It" with respect to the Python ecosystem.  The "ad campaign" is going well, even if I do say so myself.

That's Google versus Facebook in terms of teeth (FANG). However with Tensorflow 1.9 we're seeing more emphasis on imperative.  The differences are less obvious by OSCON 2018, among the AI research labs.

All very geeky, right?

The tools are free so people (social engineers especially) might get in on the ground floor tooling up around those tools.

I know some readers will be concerned regarding my use of "social engineer" as somehow a role, as for many that hearkens back to a much vilified system called "centrally planned" meaning the genius of cybernetics was stifled.

Bureaucrats would try to second guess what could much better be handled by "market forces".  However, given "social media" and "programming" are already neighboring nodes in some word-oriented vector space, I don't see much hope in fighting "social engineers" as a consequent.

Lets just make sure they know about cybernetics.  As in previous ages, we need our engineers to have people skills.  We're simply too dependent on technology, while being people, to overlook this aspect of their training.

Yes, The Time Machine by H.G. Wells does merit a segue here.  Morlocks were anti-social from the Eloi point of view.  The engineering species had gone its own way (underground) on the "not humanities" side of the chasm (C. P. Snow's) and were eating the Eloi for lunch (literally).

That's the dystopian outcome we hope to avoid, and so the Eloi of today are contributing to Morlock sensitivity.

On that note, our current speaker is trans, goes by she, and speaks boldly to the issue of bias, a theme of our show.  She swears and speaks way more frankly than many in polite society (a characteristic of engineers per the movie Titanic), and has a through the roof IQ.  This is all a part of our training.  We're unphased.  Beam, Tensorflow, Spark, Apache Flink...  DL w/ Big Data is our topic.

Helping people around me jack in (to the power strip) meant losing my own link for a short period. This ancient Mac Air has been known to shut down in these circumstances, not because of its battery. Yay for not going down this time.

So Python and Go are developing their ability to talk to Apache Beam.  Beam seems to ship containers around, containing Tensorflow, serving as worker bees against big data.  We're looking at the Chicago Taxi data set.  Python is doing some preprocessing.  We're talking about a demo of parallel stuff happening in the cloud.  A lot of this stuff only works well inside the Google Cloud (she's from Google).

With all these geeks so highly trained in following codes of conduct, and thinking about their biases, a question may arise:  will they help us win wars?  Were you talking cyber-wars then?  Most of us haven't had any time for firearms stuff.

Pyspark talks to Apache Spark... the TensorFlowOnSpark demo runs slowly, given all the pickles and JSON involved.  Lets try it with Apache Arrow instead.  I understand a lot of this stuff given my own meager background in machine learning with little data.  I'm not much a cloud guy at this point.

The Go wordcount demo didn't work, but we were impressed with the command line skills, and the people skills.

Monday, July 16, 2018

OSCON 2018

Name Badge

I'm with my flock (geekonius) having strong coffee in the convention center, badge around my neck, awaiting a tutorial.  Open Source Convention is a no nonsense affair, a well oiled machine, thanks to California showbiz, meaning the event logistics business, Sebastopol a hallmark.  I refer of course to O'Reilly, a former company of employment, though I wasn't working in the home office.  That was some years back, when an experimental code school tested the waters, toe in the pool.  Quite the shark tank, we found out (long story).

O'Reilly was prescient, even when we closed (not for lack of business, let me tell you), in seeing Jupyter Notebooks would be big, which they are.  However I don't think any of us were envisioning the hype around DL / ML would take off the way it did.  That's Deep Learning / Machine Learning. In fact, my upcoming tutorial is on TensorFlow, with which I'm a white belt.  I've been working out over in scikit-learn and feel ready to set foot in this Dojo.

The school was originally established to teach calculus, spinning off from Dr. Jerry Uhl's operation, University of Illinois. However that turned out to be a rather esoteric business in the midwest and the dream of California induced a morphification into the new code school, with calculus still in the picture, and indeed a whole university.  However establishing a new ee-dee-yu (edu) from scratch is way harder than creating a dot com.  Try creating a new dot gov for a sense of what it's like.  Speaking of which, O'Reilly did inspire memes in government.  I went to a GOSCON right here in Portland in fact.  You'll still find Ignite Syllabus and such, based on our Lightning Talk format.

I joined the school after all this change was well under way.  Although I never got to meet Jerry Uhl, I felt initiated into the world of Champaign-Urbana, home office for Wolfram, with which the school had at first been intimately connected (during the calculus chapter, with Mathematica the workout bench).

My registration came with a bus pass.  I live in Portland, so this is one of the conferences I hope to get to, as a way of upgrading / updating my state of the art.  Pycon was here for two years, a blessing as well.  Pycon roves around whereas OSCON moves far less frequently, in terms of venue.  In the meantime, Portland has been changing a lot itself, becoming more a jewel of the Pacific Rim. We have a cable car now, an overhead tram.  Compared to the ones in Switzerland, its trajectory is approximately horizontal.  However that's still a legitimate use of the technology.  We have a hospital complex on the upper end.  Portland is about health care, as well as free software (free as in freedom).

Speaking of Pycon, I shared the headline news in my other blog about the transition in power within the PSF, the intellectual property owner for Python and its trademarks.   Guido announced he was taking a vacation from his role as BDFL (Benevolent Dictator for Life), deliberately creating a power vacuum.  He's feeling pretty confidant about the future of the Python language and wants to spark more creative ferment in governance.  Dictators rarely have an exit strategy.  We're grateful to Guido for having one (part of his being benevolent).  He's not giving up being influential.  He has the juice, or what we Quakers call "weightiness" (a metaphysical attribute not connected to literal poundage).

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Bizmo Sighting

:: on SE Hawthorne, turning north onto Chavez ::

Sunday, July 08, 2018

Parallel Processing


I got some flak on Facebook from one of my friends, wondering why I bother to curate Youtubes like that, using one social medium to access another.  Think of stamp collecting.  The latest series had to do with rebuilding Aleppo, the grand mosque there.

Chalk it up to cyber tourism and wanting to "go there" with my friends.  This blog or journal was designed as the log book for a crew on the road, doing useful stuff like helping rebuild Aleppo.  Crews want to look back and tell their kids what they helped rebuild.

Bizmos have their fans, some of whom channel them funding to catalog order this or that artifact.  We see the transactions in the bright of day a lot of the time (bizmos leave audit trails).  Electrons move from here to there.  The crew will return in a future episode to help the locals install this pump.  Hospitals get stocked this way too.  Schools.

At the other end:  people in coffee shops, but maybe not that into coffee.  I'm borrowing from romanticized Paris, where we posit existentialism was born in meme form, only to percolate through coffee shops to show up on bookshelves, further catalyzing osmosis.

CSN doesn't assume "existentialism" is the philo du jour, yet draws in those scholarly fumes, mixed with Borges, Arabia, Alexandria.  There's a look and feel conducive to study.  In that atmosphere, you also have arcade games (we call them that for a reason) whereby becoming a champion may be of service to one's favorite crews in the field.

A team of three is cruising from Kabul to Istanbul and stops off in Shiraz.  Here we find some drawings by a street kid that lead us to this clutch of artists making some highly interesting models.  This crew specializes in mathy art, ala M. C. Escher and many more.  Think of that conference Bridges, which said "my" A & B modules were for the birds.  And tweeting I did:  let's 3D print these things, Makers!

Actually my art work was called Holding It Together in a Cyrillic language, and features six beveled faces of a cube pulled inward and held by tension on six cables to a smaller tetrahedron inside.  No glue.  If the faces are closed, there's a ship in a bottle feel to it.  Tension compression.


Anyway, that's the science fiction backdrop against which this journal is written.  Then we need Control Rooms to help dispatch and coordinate the bizmos.  This would not be efficient without the caravans and convergences.  Health care teams can't all squeeze in one vehicle.

Control Room is a sister blog, suggesting the role.  I worked for Clackamas County in dispatching driver fleets, an early template for the Uber model.  People bring different experiences to the table.

A lot of Africans are asking for borderless driving.  I was negotiating with some nationalists the other day, suggesting we could have a balance of Berlin Walls and lengthy queues, versus wide open areas in which distance driving was a given, a freedom.  No road blocks with checkers.

The thing about Africans is most were never consulted regarding the map of nations to begin with, so they're freer to start fresh with an unmarked globe, only to mark it up with other markup.  Substance control check points, like freeway weigh stations, need not be barriers across a road.

Picture a cargo container with QR-code and RFID getting off loaded in North Africa and making its way inland.  The sensors it drives by register its progress and GPS is involved.  People know the contents and blockchains know how to move tokens around.

Keeping a cargo container on schedule factors in ample time for the driver to find this a doable lifestyle (citizen diplomats need to compare notes at truck stops, sharing news and views, for the health of the economy and Pareto optimizing).

Remember drivers might hand off trucks.  Sometimes the drivers linger, enjoying coffee shops, taking classes for credit.  Sometimes its the truck that stays behind, on a charging station.  No one said a driver has to drive more than five hours a day.  Maybe some do but the rule books is flexible.

If you wanted to do some substance control, this might be the place, at the stopover, where electric tractor truck A switches its pulled container to electric tractor B.   Batteries may not support the long hauls characteristic of peak oil.  Tractors queue longer as well.  Drivers jump from rig to rig.

Some Bizmo fleets work the same way.  A lot of the customization (e.g. favorite tunes, dashboard instruments) get stored in the cloud.  I tool around town in this mobile office charged near the airport, only to turn it in three days later.  I'll be continuing my work in another city, taking meetings where I need them.

Friday, July 06, 2018

Choreography and Computer Science

In some documentary I'm forgetting the title of at the moment, a solar dish technology, maybe just a solar oven, gets introduced not as a finished good, but as a manufacturing process.  The female choreographers take it on and make up a song with a rhythm that helps govern an efficient concurrent process.  Solar ovens roll off the "assembly line".

Operations research goes back to complicated manufacturing and PERT analysis, finding the critical path.  Shorten this process, and the overall rate of submarine production holds constant, whereas if these two threads join perfectly, as when a body lowers down over a chassis, there's less waiting along an eigen-process and submarines appear more quickly.  Or Teslas.  Or...

Along came concurrency in computer programming, which by now needs attention from the get go. The question is will mathematicians deign to wade into the seas of time and join the engineers in spatial-temporal considerations. Of course they will, or at least the polymaths will. STEAM is STEAM.

However, lets not pretend parallel processing was just invented in the 1900s, as Universe has been running in parallel all along.  The human body is a miracle of process management, replacing blood, skin, muscle and nerve cells from cannibalizing chemistry labs (the body's internals).  I'm not saying humans eat humans (a few do, according to anthropologists), just that chemicals self-harvest along many simultaneous supply chains in the human body.  Octopus bodies do this do.  Life processes embody concurrency, even as they spawn progeny.

Likewise, ordinary living requires engaging in many tasks, some of which need to run in parallel.  "A watched pot never boils" was a reminder to kitchen amateurs to not block on a process when there's so much work to be done.  Efficient choreography is a highlight of cooking shows, especially where teams are involved.  The clock is ticking.  Submarine sandwiches head out to the crew.

The all this time pressure, the response being organizational skills (scheduling, prioritizing), we see where schools miss being efficiently parallel themselves, if looking solely at computer science and not understanding the need for practice in team playing.  Links to sports and dance are not just "nice to have" as the skills we're talking about are essential in later life.

"Math is an Outdoor Sport" is one of my old slogans.  The idea was to get outdoors, perhaps with GPS, doing geocaching like activities, exploring a terrain, graphing a topology, making maps of many kinds.  Scoring well on a test might involve exerting oneself physically.  Of course that's nothing like the rows and columns math class of today.  However now that computer science is becoming involved...

Theater and Choreography go together here.  Think of a Broadway musical and all the singers needing to change costumes backstage as the show continues center stage.  The exits and entrances, the meetups, the duets, the solos... the cuckoo clock of computer science, Newtonian and later quantum mechanics.  Life is a turning of gears, even if these be only metaphorical and therefore "softer" (more "nerf") than real gears in some way.  Real gears play too.  Life encompasses mechanical processes, even if we sometimes use dance to rebel against too much predictability.

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Refugee Science in NYT

Refugee Science

The New York Times has been giving column inches to an important branch of planning in our world today. Given mass migration patterns, humans are settling in camps.  Sometimes these camps become the most salient features of a given geographical region.  However, well before then, the signs and trends deserve and require concerted attention.

When does Health and Human Services work with United Nations agencies on various camps?  Asking Mexico to fund a wall was pretty stupid, but having an international community work on camps is not.  Before risking any HR process devised by DC's Beltway defense contractors, sometimes of limited imagination, you might want to find a Rehab Campus on friendlier turf.

I'm no expert on Drug Wars politics, where Drug Wars stretch back in time to Opium Wars and British mercantile enterprises versus Mandarins.

The idea of "customs" implies some shared ethic regarding substance controls, and a lot of the earlier consensus reality has broken down, with a new one yet to emerge.  I've looked to the Thirteen Grandmothers for guidance, and instructed my Coffee Shops Network baristas (a front line) to keep an open mind.

For those just tuning in, CSN is about risk-taking for charity, and channeling cyber-currencies towards worthy causes.  Perhaps conventional currencies will likewise have a role?

Think of Video Poker as sponsored by Oregon State.  Your losings are the State's winnings.  Imagine instead that were you to win, you would have philanthropic powers to channel the winnings.  Psychologically, this model introduces far less cognitive dissonance, which may explain all the "likes" we're getting on Facebook.

Suppose you're really great in video game X, written in Rust, and want to commit your winnings to Refugee Science.  You understand these families need educations and want to see scholarship rewarded with redeemable coupons.

Study microbe biology, get a microscope.  Become skilled in some way, in response to positive reinforcement.  Educators around the world already understand this model, and therefore appreciate the positive role of blockchain technology.  Kids earning high grades have the potential to help their families.  Kids earning low grades still get to eat.

Some of our prototype circuitry, in particular Netdispenser, failed to gain the blessings of EFF.  On the other hand, Freedom Toasters and TuxLabs have already made the grade, at least in an African context.

Game developers who help refugee kids get some traction, through One Laptop per Child or whatever, are in themselves a worthy cause.  CSN supports their valiant efforts.

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

From a Facebook Friend

Monday, July 02, 2018

Approximating a Bizmo

Trending, not quite a Bizmo

Bizmo Diaries (this blog) anticipates more use of vans in help-the-world scenarios. We're not quite there yet.

I've always been well ahead of my time.

Dave Ulmer was another pioneer of this lifestyle.

Getting There