Monthly Archives: September 2005



R-functions are a pretty good idea, if you have a need for them.



Ya know, you could structure your life so that, say, you never have to cross a bridge over water, or you never have to use a Nabisco product, or you never have to buy a car, etc… but is there any way to align your life so that you never have to deal with morons? I have my doubts about that one. Morons have infiltrated every level of society, insinuated themselves into every institution.

Maybe there should be a public service campaign, featuring Dummy the Bear: “Only you can prevent the growing stupidity”.

Of course, we do have the problem that if you asked each person to enumerate the Morons and the Not-Morons, the union of the former sets would be a superset of the union of the latter ones. Ah, what am I saying? That’s no problem for me, because I’m not _asking_ anyone else.

[This post has been rated Useless. Please do not read.]


I’d be surprised

if PDEs were often a topic in a labor-law talk. But hey, what do I know compared to this site. 🙂


Mathematical understanding, and/or lack thereof

Due to the heavy use of the calculus of variations in my image analysis class, I’m having to refresh some of my mathematical knowledge. Frankly, I’ve felt like an idiot at several times during the class, since, ya know, the phrase “as we all know” in the lectures was often followed by something that I, for one, didn’t really know.

Part of it, though, is that my criterion for ‘to know’ has changed over time. Through grade school, high school and my early college years, I think the main thing I was trying to achieve in my mathematical learning was recognition by my teachers and peers. And, that I did accomplish. I was praised by teachers and somewhat respected by peers. But most of what they were seeing was a symbolic show, like the translator in Searle’s Chinese Room.

Not that I had a complete lack of deeper understanding, just that I didn’t particularly care about a deeper understanding and was fine with being able to do the symbolic manipulation efficiently and ‘correctly’. Nor did I really have any basis for connecting the stuff to the real world: I didn’t have any applications in mind when learning a new concept, except for the sham applications that textbooks present (“you can use this to calculate the area under the graph of x^2”. BFD!).

So now, when I remember the ‘rules’ of mathematics, I’m immediately stopped short by the fact that they don’t all really make _sense_ to me. And with my new criteria for an acceptable level of understanding, I now have to put my work in the class on hold for a while while I try to get the next level of understanding of, for example, what ‘dy/dx’ means (hint: it’s not just an indivisible symbol for ‘derivative of y with respect to x’).

Of course, I do know that in order to apply image processing techniques, I can get by without really understanding it very deeply, just like I can drive a car without being able to design an aerodynamically optimal intake manifold. So, I can still get through the applications by symbolic manipulation, but I’m going to be backfilling a lot of understanding of some basic mathematics at the same time.



Front ends for everyone

Interesting: news bit about Alonovo.

This is one of the beauties of the web and the aggregation capabilities that more sites are starting to expose. You can create a specialized front end to someone else’s services, without having to build the whole world yourself, and everybody wins (Amazon gets the sales, Alonovo gets their cut, anyone who wants the service can use it, and anyone who doesn’t can just use Amazon directly).

It seems a bit odd, when I think about it, that I am praising the fact that middlemen can thrive on the web :-), given that I’m usually not a big fan of middlemen. I guess the middlemen I’m not a big fan of are the ones who insinuate themselves inextricably and/or don’t provide very visible value. That’s a dying breed in the webbed world anyway…


Spinnin’ down

My oldest DVD-ROM drive now refuses to open the tray. I might be able to fix it, but I’ll probably just retire it and get a new one. Too bad I don’t have a DVD-burner-burner.


The ubiquity of computer vision

Since I’m taking a course in image analysis and computer vision, I’m becoming more aware of uses of these technologies in daily life. They’re all over. For example, I watched an episode of Modern Marvels (kickin’ show, BTW) about agricultural harvesting, and there were at least four processes in modern agriculture mentioned that make use of image analysis/computer vision (analyzing satellite maps of vegetation density, sorting fruits by ripeness, identifying fruits for robotic picking, and helping drive unmanned tractors).

So I suppose this course will have some nice applications for me; I’m bound to run into projects with an image processing component if I’m watching for them.