Last edited - March / 99
Some of the things bouncing around in my head, when it's not dreaming of donuts...hmmm...
[February - 99]
Funny, reading how naive and innocent I used to be. Now I'm too jaded. But at least I got motivated enough to revamp the website - no more frames. The idea being that my projects pages will be much more informative.
No new interests...sigh. Well, one thing has touched me recently. The Model-View-Controller pattern - I'd say that this and my compilers class were the two most life changing events in my programming career. Patterns in general are cool, but I'm finding them slow to piece together and apply. I think one really needs to code up a couple of the patterns in order to get an insiders feel for how they work and where their strengths lie. Or write low-brow patterns pages. However, the MVC pattern, well, that falls in naturally into any interactive program, and has given back to me much more than I have given it. I'll start recommending books once I get my amazon associate account set up...
[April - 95]
Over the weekend, I found a book, Turtles, Termites, and Traffic Jams that shows me that MIT really has the people on the ball. Mitchel Resnick happens to be doing something I have been quite interested in - teaching students about complex systems via relatively simple programs. I think that's great because he is not only introducing younger students to computers, but at the same time, he's giving them the opportunity to see the complexity that evolves from these small programs. My long term goals here at Indiana run up basically the same alley - I am not sure what my simulations or small robots will tell me - but I hope that I can keep them simple enough so that children can tell me about them. Resnick's book also introduced me to Papert's constructionist approach to education. I've felt that students have been too often playing the role of consumer instead of producer and the constructionist approach seems like the right tool.
[January - 95]
Why am I in a Computer Science dept? What makes automata theory, analysis of algorithms, and all those other classes I've had to take worthwhile?
Emergent properties - Hofstadter's "Prelude..." and "...Ant Fugue" have stuck in my mind since I read them some time in high school (a fact I decided to externalize with tattoo #1). The analogy seemed so simple and obvious - the ant, with no great intellectual power bestowed upon it - the neuron, "simply" ruled by a threshold function. But create a large community of ants and you get a society that survives, indeed, thrives. Likewise, that flesh we call a brain is merely a society of neurons. The synergistic qualities of the anthill are too alluring for me to resist chasing after them...
Complexity from the environment - again, using ants - this time using Herb Simon's ant on the beach...plot the path of the ant as it walks along the beach - turns out a bit complex huh? Where did this path come from? There isn't any space in an ant's head to put the mathematical equivalent of the path in...why does a lot of AI try and put it there?
The natural extension/deviation from Artificial Intelligence in my eyes is Artificial Life (with a fine definition of it at the other end of that link...there is also some related info in the FAQ for comp.ai.genetic) The evolutionary approach that is intrinsic to Artificial Life fits much better with my psuedo romantic view towards life and self and all of the other fuzzy concepts that are attached to the complicated organisms that surround us. I'd like to start with something along the lines of Braitenberg's Vehicles...but more on this later...
...cause I just found out that some of Charles Bukowski's work will soon be on line - his stuff should be included here soon...For now, you'll have to settle for this little graphic of his that I picked up...I became aquainted with him standing in line at Brentano's, looking at the books near the register. My eyes fall on a book, simply titled Women. Who could write a book with such a brash title? Who was this Charles Bukowski guy? Could it solve my own women troubles? I flipped through the book, chuckled a couple of times while waiting in line, bought the book, and became a fan. I remember one day, before heading out to betting on the horses, I was day dreaming about meeting Bukowski at the track - what would I say? About 2 or 3 minutes later - I couldn't help but feel pathetic - I should have better things to dream about no? Still - when I saw a Team Bukowski shirt on sale...