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Re: MOPT-02 - substitution and formal systems

by diotalevi (Canon)
on Dec 16, 2002 at 22:46 UTC ( #220389=note: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??


in reply to MOPT-02 - substitution and formal systems

And past reading of that book (An Eternal Golden Braid) has me immediately objecting to the assignment of meaning to your symbols. I think you may have just shortchanged the audience here by skipping right over the idea that just because a system produces results that have behaviour corresponding to a meaning that the system itself is supposed to mean that. I don't have your experience and wouldn't have been able to write your meditation on my own but I've really benefitted by being able to divorce an ascribed meaning from a system.

In fact, that may be an important skill on it's own for use when reverse engineering an application. Part of the task involves observing a system in operation and attempting to assign meaning. The problem is that frequently your observed meaning is violated if you let the system generate more and more theorems. I had a practical application of that last year when reversing a COINSERV database and then the Xerox Metacode format. I had to continually revise my assumptions regarding the meaning of various things as I ran into more data. Eventually I got things right but it was a long, slow process.

So it's useful to look at a system and have an "aha!" moment and describe it as a binary counter. It's also useful to step back and remember that it may have a different meaning which only partly intersects with a binary counter.


Comment on Re: MOPT-02 - substitution and formal systems
Re2: MOPT-02 - substitution and formal systems
by mstone (Deacon) on Dec 16, 2002 at 23:55 UTC

    think you may have just shortchanged the audience here by skipping right over the idea that just because a system produces results that have behaviour corresponding to a meaning that the system itself is supposed to mean that.

    That's a fair point, and it raises the extremely important mathematical concept of abstraction. One of the great leaps of faith in mathematical thought is to forget that the symbols have any meaning whatsoever, and simply observe them as symbols in their own right. That's the boundary between applied mathematics and pure mathematics.

    In this case, I was trying to emphasize the "hey look, you can make these do something useful" aspect without being too much of a windbag. ;-)

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