Analogy at the core of the financial meltdown

Posted October 26, 2008 by Alex Linhares
Categories: Author: Alexandre Linhares, General, News

People in my research group are tired of hearing the phrases that either meaning is constructed out of experience, or it is constructed out of analogies.  Over and over they have heard the phrase: “consider DNA: DNA is like a zipper, computer code, etc…” (I think I can safely assume readers of this blog know the drill.).  Right after the DNA thing:  I ask, now, what’s this thing called a collateralized debt obligation that’s just bringing the whole financial meltdown?  And we get astonished faces as nobody has any good analogy (or anchors in semantic space–a rather technical name for it).

But now the fun has been spoiled.  Check this out:

Crisis explainer: Uncorking CDOs from Marketplace on Vimeo.

Here are more: The credit crisis as Antartic expedition, & untangling credit default swaps. These are very worth of your time, unless you happen to be the George Soros amongst our readers.

Finally, here’s a link Anna’s just pointed out: The Metaphor Observatory.


Posted August 6, 2008 by Alex Linhares
Categories: Author: Alexandre Linhares, General, Uncategorized

é belissimo.

Capyblanca is now GPL’d

Posted July 9, 2008 by Alex Linhares
Categories: Architecture, Author: Alexandre Linhares, General, News

In 1995, Douglas Hofstadter wrote:

“A visit to our Computer Science Department by Dave Slate, one of the programmers of Chess 4.6, at that time one of the world’s top chess programs, helped to confirm some of these fledgling intuitions of mine. In his colloquium, Slate described the strict full width, depth-first search strategy employed by his enormously successful program, but after doing so, confided that his true feelings were totally against this type of brute-force approach. His description of how his ideal chess program would work resonated with my feelings about how an ideal sequence-perception program should work. It involved lots of small but intense depth-first forays, but with a far greater flexibility than he knew how to implement. Each little episode would tend to be focused on some specific region of the board (although of course implications would flow all over the board), and lots of knowledge of specific local configurations would be brought to bear for those brief periods.”

That was, of course, many years before I would meet Doug.

How do chess players make decisions? How do they avoid the combinatorial explosion? How do we go from rooks and knights to abstract thought? What is abstract thought like? These are some of the questions involving the Capyblanca project. The name, of course, is a blend between José Raoul Capablanca, and Hofstadter’s original Copycat Project implemented by Melanie Mitchell, which brought us so many ideas. Well, after almost 5 years, we have a proof-of-concept in the form of a running program, and we are GPL’ing the code, so interested readers might take it to new directions which we cannot foresee. Some instructions are in the paper, and feel free to contact me as you wish.

The manuscript is under review in a journal, and a copy of the working paper follows below. Interested readers might also want to take a look at some of my previous publications in AI and Cognitive Science:

(i) Linhares, A. & P. Brum (2007), “Understanding our understanding of strategic scenarios: what role do chunks play?”, Cognitive Science, 31, pp. 989-1007.

(ii) Linhares, A. (2005), “An active symbols theory of chess intuition”, Minds and machines, 15, pp. 131-181.

(iii) Linhares, A. (2000), “A glimpse at the metaphysics of Bongard Problems”, Artificial Intelligence, 121 (1-2), pp. 251-270.

Any feedback will be highly appreciated!


Capyblanca paper under reviewUpload a Document to Scribd
Read this document on Scribd: Capyblanca paper under review

I, for one, welcome our new übergeek overlords!

Posted June 23, 2008 by Alex Linhares
Categories: Author: Alexandre Linhares, General, News

Slashdot, my favorite L337 geek hangout, is discussing an interview with DugHof.  The discussion is actually pretty cool, the long mentions of “the singularity that is Kurzweil” notwithstanding.

Though Doug usually dismisses hacker culture, I don’t, and I think we should really welcome our new slashdot overlords.  Two basic reasons here, beyond the whole power to the people cliché:  first, some /. discussions are really worthwhile, and some participants really bring very insightful analysis in their comments–actually, a great way for learning about all things technical is, right after the obvious wikipedia lookup, by googling “ whatever you’re after, dude” and catching up with the discussions.  And who knows?  Maybe one day this blog will even be slashdotted.  That would be nice for our pagerank and world domination plans–which bring me to the second reason.

Now the second reason is a serious one.  As progress in FARG architectures evolves, we will need more and more lookups in the most cutting edge stuff, such as GPGPU or reflection.  A general FARG framework is essentially an operating system, from the inside and from the outside.  From the inside it packs application and problem loaders, various types of memory management (external, working memory, semantic memory, episodic memory, etc), task allocation and scheduling, and parallel multiprocessing.  From the outside, it is also like an operating system, enabling new kinds and types of “FARG apps”.  This is, in fact, the coolest operating system to be working with, and I am astonished that companies like Microsoft or Sun or IBM just plainly do not know what this is all about.  We could have some serious long-term contributions to computer science, yet, sometimes, it feels that even with all geekdom love that Doug eventually gets, the word in FCCA and later works is yet to be spread.

Or, to put it in /. terms, I feel that FARG==new (PARC).  If you don’t agree, then; seriously, You must be new here.

2007 Los Angeles Times Book Prize

Posted April 29, 2008 by Eric N.
Categories: Author: Eric Nichols, News

Douglas Hofstadter wins the 2007 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for I Am a Strange Loop.

On April 25, 2008, the Los Angeles Times honored 2007’s most accomplished authors at the 28th Annual Presentation of Los Angeles Times Book Prizes, held at UCLA’s Royce Hall on the eve of the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. Douglas Hofstadter, Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Computer Science at Indiana University, won the award for best science & technology book.

The rather difficult font game

Posted April 27, 2008 by Michael
Categories: Author: Michael Roberts, General, Uncategorized


For you font mavens out there, the rather difficult font game. It can’t be that difficult, because even I scored 6 and I know almost nothing about specific fonts that aren’t embarrassingly widespread.

Alphabet “K” deemed dangerous

Posted April 27, 2008 by Michael
Categories: Author: Michael Roberts, General

This just in: “The impact for using the wrong shape “K” does not only symbolise tragedy for humans but also God. Take part in coming up with the new “K” alphabet that is non-suicidal shape!” This has been a Public Service Announcement.