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Re^2: Random quotes in the top left corner

by willyyam (Priest)
on Apr 27, 2005 at 12:59 UTC ( #451937=note: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??


in reply to Re: Random quotes in the top left corner
in thread Random quotes in the top left corner

2. Complicated things are generally less robust and break easier.
An interesting counter-example is an ecosystem - more components and interactions equal more robustness.


Comment on Re^2: Random quotes in the top left corner
Re^3: Random quotes in the top left corner
by mr_mischief (Monsignor) on Apr 28, 2005 at 05:37 UTC
    That is a great counterexample. Note two things about that, too:

    The complexity in an ecosystem comes from nature and not from man. The complexity of an ecosystem is such an obstacle to our full understanding of it that only in the last few decades have we started to understand the damage done to the systems via the damage done to their parts.

    So, it's a great counterexample to one rule, and a great reinforcing example to another.



    Christopher E. Stith
      Furthermore from the ecosystem example, the simplest organisms are the ones which survive the longest. Cockroaches, one celled organisms. In nature as well, things break down. Complexity invites this :) Simple things are beautiful, elegant, rare...

        If you are saying cockroaches are rare, I'd like to invite you over to my place. :-)))

      The KISS principle could still be said to hold for biological systems, and for physical systems in a broader sense.

      Inorganic and organic components are in constant flux, --aggregate/grow, break/mutate, fuse/recombine, decompose/die, recompose/create over and over. Over time the stable constellations and processes dominate, and the fragile break and gets recycleced.

      To some degree it is the same with software. One of the most succesful ecosystems was and is Unix, to a large degree because of its clean design principles -- its kernel and shells structure and its proces & IPC model (I/O redirect, pipes, filters). The unix design is KISS, simple building blocks and interfaces. (and that shows in Perl too)

      The periodic system and DNA are relatively simple component toolkits too, when we look at the interfaces. The way to combine these bricks though are virtually endless, and even though the basic processes of (chemical and biological) attraction/repulsion, combination/selection are are simple too, the resulting combinatorial universe and thus complex systems are mind blowing, -- given enough time to evolve. From a cloud of Hydrogen to Mozart.

      We don't build software that way, yet. It will probably require the next generation of massively parallel computers combined with facilities to automatic program mutation (refactoring) and selection. And to master that kind of complexity will require an even stronger KISS focus on interfaces and basic processes than today.
      -- allan

      ===========================================================
      As the eternal tranquility of Truth reveals itself to us, this very place is the Land of Lotuses

      -- Hakuin Ekaku Zenji
Re^3: Random quotes in the top left corner
by Anonymous Monk on May 04, 2005 at 17:36 UTC
    An interesting counter-example is an ecosystem - more components and interactions equal more robustness.

    What's so robust about an "eco-system"? What functional elements of the "eco-system" are you claiming this robustness for?

    If I've very carefully selectively bred, say, an ant colony to create tunnels in patterns that represent the solution set for a given computation, I've got a very fragile system, not a very robust one. I'd need massive amounts of parallelism to match the correctness of even a small microcomputer, in order to statistically correct for all the flaws in the individual ants.

    Ecosystems are only robust in that it's reasonably hard to competely disrupt all biological processes in a given area, due to sheer numbers. But then again, it's even harder to destroy all geological processes, let alone radiation processes, due to an even bigger problem of scale.

    And even when we examine ecosystems, we find that the small,simple organisms: like, bacteria, grass, and insects often tend to outlast the big, complicated ones (dodos, dinosaurs, and sabre tooth tigers).

    K.I.S.S. is a good principle.
    --
    AC

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