Monday, December 18, 2006

Dawkins in Ireland

Whatever your view of religion, of Richard Dawkins, or of Dawkins's recent book The God Delusion, and whichever side of the theist-atheist divide on which you sit, you'll have to agree that these two appearances by Dawkins on Irish television are good intelligent television of the sort that makes NZ television seem like amateur hour.

Think how much is discussed in just twenty-odd minutes in the Late, Late Show with Pat Kenny [hat tip the Lemur], and with such wit in The Panel.

LINKS: Richard Dawkins on The Late Late Show - You Tube
Interview with Richard Dawkins on The Panel, Ireland - You Tube

RELATED: Religion

36 Comments:

Anonymous Sean said...

Great post. Thanks,

Sean.

12/18/2006 06:19:00 pm  
Anonymous Falafulu Fisi said...

Professor Dawkins mentioned at the end in the interview that he wouldn't ruled out the possibility that other advanced civilization exist out there. I agree with his stand on religion but I think that he is jumping a bit too far to speculate about the existence of other alien life forms. The existence of aliens does not break any one single laws of physics at all, so that makes his speculation about the existence of aliens pretty safe from being rebutted from the Physics side.

On his dismissal of the existence of God he is right on there since God is perceived by believers to be some omnipotent entity that exist outside the laws of Physics, this means that somehow this entity can occasionally break the existing known laws (Newton laws of motion, etc,...) and at the same time avoid physical detection at all time. God is therefore physically untestable, because it does not obey or perhaps sit above the laws of Physics that govern the universe. If something is physically untestable, then it must be dismissed completely as bullshit.

12/18/2006 10:57:00 pm  
Blogger Brian S said...

"If something is physically untestable, then it must be dismissed completely as bullshit."

No, that is scientism. To take your approach, we must rule out many things that we care about as bullshit. For example, we can't physically test a work of art to say whether it is good or not. Yet art is not bullshit and there is an objective fact to the matter of whether it is good or bad. The truth of the matter must be established through argument, not through physical experimentation. Similarly for any number of things philosophical.

12/19/2006 12:18:00 am  
Anonymous Falafulu Fisi said...

Brian S said...
[For example, we can't physically test a work of art to say whether it is good or not.]

The context of what I said, did not apply to qualitative testing of how good something is, such as work of art or wine testing. The argument of the existence of God discussed by Professor Dawkins in that video is something to deny believers who accepted God's existence without question. To prove the existence of God, is completely different from proving or ranking the quality of wine or work of art? Good Wine & work of Art are a manifestation of physical objects that exist, where as God, is something that does not physically exist except in the minds of believers. So, if God cannot be physically tested for its existence then it must be dismissed outright.

12/19/2006 12:41:00 am  
Blogger Brian S said...

Some things are purely non-physical, however. For example, the imaginary number i. Nevertheless i is real in the Dr Johnson sense - it kicks back. Saying that God is a physically untestable idea is not an argument against that idea IMO. After all the ultimate explanation of reality probably will be non-physical (though it certainly won't involve any gods). To say that physical reality is caused by something physical is to posit an infinite regress. How can physical reality arise from something non-physical? I don't know for sure, or even to a decent level of certainty, but here is a book that discusses some ideas. These type of theories claim to derive something approaching quantum physics from pure mathematics alone. These ideas are untestable in the same way that the idea of God is untestable - yet the ideas are still worth discussing. Or would you think not?

n.b. The book I cited is not about the MWI. It is about the Plenitude: the set of all logically possible universes.

12/19/2006 01:50:00 am  
Anonymous Falafulu Fisi said...

Brian S said...
[For example, the imaginary number i]

Numbers are abstractions only. The imaginary number is meaningless on its own however when it is transformed into another form such as multiplying by its conjugate to produce power density, the results give a physical meaning. The popular FFT (fast-fourier-transform) in applied science & engineering has no physical interpretation at all, when raw data is run thru the FFT algorithm, because real data comes out in imaginary numbers after FFT transformation. However, when these imaginary numbers produced from FFT(ing) of real numbers are transformed again, such as power spectrum, certain physical characteristics are revealed which were not obvious in the original real dataset or obvious from the imaginary number dataset (after being FFT).

Another obvious application is processing of speech using FFT. Certain band of frequencies are removed from the raw speech signal via:

#1) applying FFT to the real speech signal, which result in imaginary number dataset representation of the speech data.

#2) digital filter is applied (low-pass, band-pass or high-pass, etc...) directly to the imaginary number dataset representation of the speech data to remove the undesired band.

#3) the filtered imaginary number dataset are then inverse fast fourier transform (IFFT) back to the real number domain, where it is then detectable via real means (such as ICs or integrated circuits). This real dataset after IFFT has got the undesired frequency band eliminated from the original raw speech data. There is no way you could do signal filtering without going thru the 'imaginary number' middle step.

A point to note is that all real data filtering must involve this sequence: real-data --> FFT --> imaginary-data --> filtered-out-unwanted-frequency-band --> imaginary-data-with-certain-bands-eliminated --> IFFT --> real-data-with-certain-bands-eliminated

"Wikipedia : Fast Fourier Transform"
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fast_Fourier_transform

The point I am trying to state from the description above is that 'imaginary' numbers has non-physical meaning however when manipulated via different meanings, the result becomes meaningful in physical terms.

Brian S said...
[After all the ultimate explanation of reality probably will be non-physical]

I would like to jump and take refuge in Ayn Rand's comment, where she said that "if no proof is provided for an arbitrary claim, then it must be thrown out immediately, that is out the window". To think that the ultimate explanation of reality probably will be non-physical is an arbitrary claim.

12/19/2006 11:46:00 am  
Anonymous Falafulu Fisi said...

My comment...
[The popular FFT (fast-fourier-transform) in applied science & engineering.]

Today, almost every electronic gadget on the planet contains a DSP (Digital Signal Processor) hardware, from computer, PDAs, cell-phone, microwave oven, dishwasher, video camera, blah, blah,... FFT algorithm is one of the work-horse of modern day DSP. Intel and other chip makers develop FFT directly into the hardware rather than by software implementation.

"http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_signal_processing"
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_signal_processing

I would like to point out that our 'imaginary numbers' are not imaginary after all, since we have real world technology applications of our 'imaginary friends' as described by Professor Dawkins.

12/19/2006 12:01:00 pm  
Blogger Steve said...

"If something is physically untestable, then it must be dismissed completely as bullshit."

I think what falafulu is trying to point at is some criterion of refutability.

And where Dawkins is coming from is in making distinctions between statements - That is declarative statements, God exists, other life in the universe exists, protons exist - or not whatever the case maybe.

That is those statements in view of their form might be regarded by scientists as sound, scientific, empirical in character, irrespective of whether available evidence is sufficient for acceptance or rejection.

...and other kinds of statements (those which attempt to justify existence of God for eg.) (Carnap and Popper called them pseudo-scientific statements) which are untestable, irrefutable, unshakable and in direct contradiction of scientific method.

He started these arguments (they aren't original) in Selfish Gene, actually he provides a rational argument as to why people believe in such shite in SG.

What art has to do with it Brian I have no idea - not sure what point you are trying to make there.

12/19/2006 12:36:00 pm  
Blogger PC said...

"The point I am trying to state from the description above is that 'imaginary' numbers have a non-physical meaning, however when manipulated via different meanings, the result becomes meaningful in physical terms."

That's it. They refer to nothing concrete themselves, but they make possible a whole wealth of concrete possibilities: they're an example of what Rand called a "concept of method."

There's discussions on this very point here and here if you're interested.

12/19/2006 12:48:00 pm  
Blogger Steve said...

Someone with a few more clues than Rand (Quine) wrote a paper called "On What There Is", probably available via Google, otherwise it's in a book called "From a Logical Point of View".

Quine simply argues that we needn't commit ourselves to any ontology of abstract entities in order to argue for their existence, such entities simply exist within our conceptual scheme, the physicalist one shouldn't take any precedence over the phenomenalistic one, they are both just a way of simplfying our account of experience.

Furthermore Quine argues that certain postulated physical entities simplfy our account of the flux of experience, just as irrational numbers (for example) simplfy the laws of arithmetic.

To try to argue that they either exist (or not) physically (if you will) misses a point.

The point: that a bloody-minded platonistic ontology from the point of view of a strictly physicalist conceptual scheme is as much a myth as that physicalistic conceptual scheme is for phenomenalism.

Consider this, most people are quite happy to discuss classes or attributes of physical objects as literal truths - so just the same, mathematics is an integral part of the physical sciences, thus the utility of the myth is evident enough.

12/19/2006 02:06:00 pm  
Blogger PC said...

Well, Steve, that's better in the sense that it's more substantive -- but there's still a drive-by quality to it isn't there.

"...a bloody-minded platonistic ontology from the point of view of a strictly physicalist conceptual scheme is ... a myth..."

I believe this is a complicated way of saying that whether existence exists or not is of neither relevance nor import, nor reality.

Try persuading yourself of that when you drop a "strictly physical" brick on your toe, then see if what exists takes precedence over what doesn't.

Quine, I'm sorry to say, has nothing to say to a scientist, or to anyone wanting to live in this world.

Suggesting that we may simply posit existents as some sort of 'useful fiction' -- which is essentially what Quine is saying -- takes us no further than Kant did with his own useless fiction of the noumenon -- about which Kant allows us to think, but to which he never grants us access.

That whole so-called division between phenomenal and noumenal is just a nonsense. Quine simply adds a further irrational wrinkly.

"To try to argue that [certain postulated physical entities] either exist (or not) physically (if you will) misses a point."

No, it's to begin inquiry at the right point. All relevant inquiry begins with what exists, not with what we simply imagine.

If something purely imaginary does in fact have utility in explaining existents -- have utility in other words as an epistemological tool -- then why dismiss it as just a fleeting phenomenological nothing.

As a concept of consciousness it does have existence, and as a concept of method it does have utility.

12/19/2006 02:32:00 pm  
Blogger leelion said...

thanks for these Dawkins links

12/19/2006 03:59:00 pm  
Blogger Steve said...

Peter, to quote the youth of today who often have more to say than is credited them - "whatever".

It isn't surprising, your quick jump to "common sense" hard core realism, I remember writing a fun thing arguing against anti-realist positions years ago - something about gravity and dropping babies out of windows...

Nor is it surprising that a Randian would shrug (excuse the pun) off someone like Quine with a simple (identifiable by first year philosophy of science students) conflation of issues.

What we are talking about isn't bricks, or babies or gravity, which (thank you very much) I am quite able to perceive without much trouble, but "posited entities".

Try dropping the square root of 64 on your toe without breaking it.

What I was saying is that you can't rant and rave about so called physical attributes, or classes, or sets of things in a materialistic sense and at the same time dismiss as fictional or merely posited entities (father christmas, unicorns, prime numbers - roll out the usual suspects) as either existing or not.

Not to give this point attention ends you back at Platonism. You wanna posit the ideal unicorn, or ok the ideal Jack Russell, or redness. Show me it.

They refer to nothing concrete themselves, but they make possible a whole wealth of concrete possibilities

What? Unactualised possibles? Is this is supposed to make more sense than me???

So are there attributes, relations, classes, functions, numbers - yes or no? What do you say?

Take attributes as an example, we should be able to agree the there are red houses, red hats, red sunsets and so on, we would agree, these things have something in common, - "redness". So, my ontology is tied to my individual conceptual scheme by which I interpret these things to be red.

The actual thing (the house, the sunset etc) exists, but the attribute doesn't exist, it is a predicate.

The whole fucking project of ontology is about demarcation - if you think you have the answer you should publish it in Erkenntnis.

PS: God knows what Kant has to do with this argument? Quine certainly didn't agree with Kant Cf. Two Dogmas of Empiricism.

12/19/2006 04:03:00 pm  
Anonymous Falafulu Fisi said...

PC said...
[...they're an example of what Rand called a "concept of method." There's discussions on this very point here and here if you're interested.]

Yeah, that's a good discussion on that link about "concept of method". I can see that Stephen Speicher the TEW man (Theory of Elementary Waves) is very active on that 'Objectivist Online Forum'. Some good points were raised in that forum's discussion where people with no philosophy background like myself can learn from.

12/19/2006 04:35:00 pm  
Blogger Steve said...

falafulu, be very careful about "objectivist" forums on philosphy, objectivism is precisely the kind of thing you called bullshit early.

It's proponents claim it to be self-evident, irrefutable truth - blatently obvious, rational and moral. Randian objectivism isn't up for debate, it just simply "is".

Whereas, the rest of philosophy, certainly the analytic tradition from (probably) Hume, including Dawkins, thru Quine, Carnap, Hempel, to Lewis, Putnam, Chalmers, Strawson, Kripke, Tarski, Frege - etc etc etc... is always up for revision, since it rests on naturalism - just as science does - empiricism being the measure of what there is (ontology) and what we know about what it (epistemology).

There are probably better places to learn about philosophy - although I can't think of any outside a formal education.

Please note, this isn't a personal attack on any of the objectivist round here - I'm not one to go slagging peoples belief systems.

12/19/2006 05:51:00 pm  
Blogger Brian S said...

"The point I am trying to state from the description above is that 'imaginary' numbers has non-physical meaning however when manipulated via different meanings, the result becomes meaningful in physical terms."

Well, that is the same point I was making when I said that i is real in the Dr Johnson sense - it kicks back. And the examples you gave are all excellent examples of that.

You mentioned the Fast Fourier Transform. To implement the FFT, we have to instantiate it on a computing device. But the FFT itself is independent from any particular computing device. So with that thought in mind I'm going to wind you up a little :) ...

Given that the FFT is independent from its implementation on any particular device, we could regard it as real, though non-physical. And it just exists, necessarily. Indeed any mathematical algorithm can be thought of this way. Now if you are a computationalist like me, that includes algorithms that instantiate a consciousness. Is it possible that these abstract Platonic algorithms actually contain an observer that *experiences* consciousness? At first this seems absurd: we have to run an algorithm on something physical. But Russell Standish, Max Tegmark, Bruno Marchal, Hal Finney, and a number of others have argued that this may not be as absurd as it first appears. It seems like we can almost derive quantum physics by considered the ensemble of all possible algorithms and asking what an observer implemented by all those algorithms which instantiate that observer (and there are an infinite number of such algorithms) would be expected to observe. So, here, physical reality is emergent out of something non-physical: namely the realm of mathematics.

Anyway, those are just some very speculative thoughts about how physical reality could arise out of something non-physical. Feel free to rip them to pieces!

12/20/2006 02:55:00 am  
Blogger Brian S said...

I think what falafulu is trying to point at is some criterion of refutability.

Yes, but we have to be careful here. The logical form of some scientific theories is purely existential. While universal statements can be logically falsified but not verified, existential theories can be logically verified but not falsified.

BTW, I must comment here that I depart sharply from Objectivism on the issue of induction (on which PC's "method of concept" depends). I agree with Karl Popper that induction is not the route by which science produces knowledge. Sadly, I'm dismayed how Popper is distorted almost beyond recognition in much Objectivist writing (and I would recommend a visit to the The Rathouse for any would-be critics of Popper).

12/20/2006 08:43:00 am  
Blogger Steve said...

Brian S. What a lot of nonsense.

Please tell me what existentialism has to do with logic and its relationship with scientific theory?

Either you are drawing a very long bow, or you are unsure what you are really saying.

12/20/2006 09:48:00 am  
Blogger Brian S said...

Steve,

I have a scientific theory that there are planets around other stars. That theory can't be falsified, only verified.

12/20/2006 10:34:00 am  
Anonymous Falafulu Fisi said...

Brian S said...
[I have a scientific theory that there are planets around other stars. That theory can't be falsified, only verified.]

I agree here, because a speculation that does not break any known physical laws can be put forward to be verified in the future. This is exactly what Prof. Dawkins was saying in that interview, that he is not ruling out the existence of other life forms somewhere out there which are perhaps more intelligent than us humans. His speculation can only be verified and not falsified.

I have also noted that Prof. Dawkins is strongly against the so called Alternative Medicine (AM) industry passing itself as genuine science. If we have to take the view of the proponents of AM in claiming that their medicine works because they speculate some unknown & unseen vitality forces are in the work there, then this has to be dismissed. This type of speculation is different from the ones put forward by Dawkins & Brian, since the latter does not violate any known established physical laws. On the other hand, the Alternative Medicine proponents have many claims which violates current established physical laws or science. Again I will quote one Objectivist post on the internet, I am not sure whether it is an Ayn Rand one, is that 'claims that does not integrate well or consistent with other established knowledge and facts must be thrown out'. A clear example of this is the claim that Homeopaths say that their medicine work because water has memory, where a solution can be diluted into a level where no single molecule could be found, still the solution itself remembers the original quantity of active ingredients that was diluted with. Homeopaths put up all sorts of fancy explanation, such that water molecules forms clusters, and this what gives the memory capability. When Homeopaths were told that this violates 'Brownian Motion' of fluid particle diffusions, which disrupt any molecule clustering occuring at room temperature, they then change their explanation to some unknown vitality forces from the external universe that cause this healing capability of water. So, such ridiculous claim does not fit well with established physical laws as Brownian motion, and must be dismissed.

In my opinion, is that the kind of speculations that Prof. Dawkins (existence of aliens) and Brian (planets around other stars) could be allowed to be proposed, since they do not violate any known established physical laws while speculations made by Homeopaths, Faith healers, Astrologers, Psychics, etc, etc, be dismissed outright.

12/20/2006 11:30:00 am  
Blogger Steve said...

Brian S, so what?

I assume your "theory" is based on some observation of phenomena (surely it's not some result of soothsaying or clairvoyance!?) - so, (since you seem so obsessed with Karl Popper) put simply further observation (and experiment) aims to test your theory. This is what science does. Provided your inferred theory is the best explanation of the observable phenomena, it stands until evidence is provided to the contrary.

However,

I would suggest that there are alternative empirically equivalent (but logically incompatible) theories to explain the same phenomena. Your theory is underdetermined!

But - you haven't at all explained what existentialism has to do with it.

12/20/2006 12:00:00 pm  
Blogger Steve said...

Brian S,

I assume your "theory" is based on some observation of phenomena (surely it's not the result of soothsaying or clairvoyance!?) - so, (since you seem so obsessed with Karl Popper) put simply further observation (and experiment) aims to test your theory. This is what science does. Provided your inferred theory is the best explanation of the observable phenomena, it stands until evidence is provided to the contrary.

However,

I would suggest that there are alternative empirically equivalent (but logically incompatible) theories to explain the same phenomena. Your theory is underdetermined!

But - you haven't at all explained what existentialism has to do with it.

12/20/2006 12:04:00 pm  
Blogger Steve said...

Brian S,

I assume your "theory" is based on some observation of phenomena (surely it's not the result of soothsaying or clairvoyance, or just an off the top of the head statement - this wouldn't be science would it) - so, (since you seem so obsessed with Karl Popper) put simply further observation (and experiment) aims to test your theory. This is what science does. Provided your inferred theory is the best explanation of the observable phenomena, it stands until evidence is provided to the contrary.

However,

I would suggest that there are alternative empirically equivalent (but logically incompatible) theories to explain the same phenomena.

But - you haven't at all explained what existentialism has to do with it.

12/20/2006 12:09:00 pm  
Blogger PC said...

Steve, it would seem you do not have an accurate grasp either of my own position, or of Objectivism, so as far as offering "advice" or criticism of either goes you're something of a busted flush, not to say full of the "bullshit" you claim to inhere in Objectivism. Crikey, at one point you even have me (and presumably Rand) tied as a Platonist! Sheesh!

"[Objectivism]'s proponents claim it to be self-evident..."

No proponent of Objectivism would make any such claim for Objectivismto be self-evident, which suggests the rest of your advice would appear to based upon a very serious misunderstanding.

"It isn't surprising, your quick jump to "common sense" hard core realism..."

Again, you appear to misjudge my position, and that of Objectivism, something in evidence throughout your response. If you do want to slag off Rand and Objectivism, then perhaps you should find out something about it first?

Objectivism is not at all "common sense' hard core realism..." in the sense you would mean by this.

What Objectivism counsels is not attempting to argue to existence -- in other words, the common and philosophically flawed game of trying to "prove" the external world by means of deduction from the contents of one's consciousness -- instead it identifies that existence does exist; that existents exist that each have a particular identity, and that we can (if we make the effort) know it. In other words, Objectivism counsels arguing from existence, not to it.

This obviously rules out such questions as "why is there something rather than nothing" as the gibberish that those questions are; identifying instead that there is something, that it has identity; and seeking then to identify what that something is, and what implications that might have for each of us.

"...you can't rant and rave about so called physical attributes, or classes, or sets of things in a materialistic sense and at the same time dismiss as fictional or merely posited entities (father christmas, unicorns, prime numbers - roll out the usual suspects) as either existing or not.

Well, it is perfectly proper to make distinctions between (for example) physical entities, fictional entities, arbitrarily postulated entities and concepts of consciousness (which includes 'concepts of method,' under which rubric such things as the methods of logic, the method of drilling for oil, and the use of imaginary numbers will fall,) and I see no problem at all in distinguishing between them.

Why do you suggest there should be a problem?

That such things as imaginary numbers are useful does not make them a physical existent, except insofar as they are an attribute of consciousness; just as it's true to say that the methods of logic exist, but not as a physical existent.

Making such distinctions is important, if we are to lay any claim to be taking an interest in existence. If something works, we want to know why, right?

Is this to to talk of an "unactualised possible" as you charge? No, whatever that might be. A "useful fiction"? Not exactly. We have some things that explain and make use of other things. No more huhu than that.

As far as the rest of your discussion goes on attributes and their relation to entities, FWIW I would largely agree with that you seem to be saying, iff what you are saying is that attributes exist only insofar as the entities of which they are attributes exist.

In which case, why didn't you just say that?

And BTW, I'll let you work out for yourself the relationship between Kant's noumenon (and what Kant said about our relationship to it) and Quine's quoted comments. They're cloer than you might think. Whatever modern philosophers say explicitly, their relationship to Kant is usually that they're still working in some part of his project.

12/20/2006 02:50:00 pm  
Anonymous Falafulu Fisi said...

Brian S said...
[I agree with Karl Popper that induction is not the route by which science produces knowledge.]

Now, I won't try to argue philosophy here since it is outside my domain area of knowledge, however I would like to make observational facts. To most scientific knowledge of today I am aware of have been achieved via both :

#1) induction
#2) deduction

So, if my assumptions listed above are wrong then I am happy to be pointed out of why they are wrong or perhaps some additional points are required to be added to the list.

12/20/2006 04:41:00 pm  
Anonymous Falafulu Fisi said...

Brian S said...
[Given that the FFT is independent from its implementation on any particular device, we could regard it as real, though non-physical. And it just exists, necessarily.]

I am not sure if I would look at it that way. Again , I will avoid philosophical description, but prefer to use linguistic expression. It is true that the result of FFT (complex numbers) has no physical meanings, but if those complex numbers are further manipulated, then real physical meanings appeared. I am tending to favour the idea of 'concept of method'.

An Example, suppose I have a set of real data from a quarterly total sales (in the millions) of some items from a company ABC, which we call this data 'x' . Say that:

x = {15 , 4 , 10 , 8}

The data is very short (4 quarters) in this example, but it is enough to demonstrate my point. Usually, FFT requires more data for meaningful analysis. Now, if the marketing department want some useful information about the sales pattern of item 'x', then can use graphs to visualise, then deduce the rises & falls of total sales for 'x' thru each quarter. However, to implement something faster to automatically does this intelligent deductions for the marketing department without them requiring to visualise (graph) the quarterly sales data for 'x', because they don't have time to do that as there are million other items in their inventory, so they can't view a graph of each one. The only way to do this is to go thru a middle step which involve 'complex numbers', by FFT (ing) the sales data 'x', such that : y = FFT(x) , which is shown below, with 'i' as comlex:

y = {37 , 5 + 4*i , 13 , 5 - 4*i}

Now, the sales data contain complex numbers after being FFT (ed), which we call 'y'. Now, this data 'y' is all garbaged, which has no physical meaning at all, because the second number & the last one on the list for 'y' dataset, ie, (5 + 4*i) and (5 - 4*i) are both complex numbers. Now, if we take the power spectrum (spectral density) of the garbage non-physical data , ie, dataset 'y' , then there are the peak frequencies of the original data 'x' being observed or revealed, which is something really physical. The revelation of the peak frequencies was impossible to be observed from the original raw data 'x'. This real physical observation of peak frequencies were only possible if you go thru 'complex numbers' domain via FFT (ing) of the raw data 'x', then further manipulation such as taking the power spectrum of the non-physical complex dataset 'y' to reveal something physical.

So, I would prefer to regard complex numbers which has no physical meaning as 'concept of method' or in my linguistic description as a 'method of convenient' and nothing else apart from that.

As an aside, there are specialized DSP chip (digital signal processor) produced by Intel , Sun Microsystems, AMD and other hardware electronic manufacturerers which are designed to speed-up processing of signal in real-time. Complex number logic-gates for FFT are developed & built-in into the DSP itself rather than software implementation. These type of DSP(s) are common in telecommunication systems such mobile phones. Every signal that is received in a mobile phone has been contaminated on its way by other electrical noise when it left the sender, could be from originated in Wellington and received in Auckland. The digital message which is an encoding of milli-volts (real & physical) are FFT (ed) by the receivers DSP chip, the next step by the chip is to identify the frequency of the noise (contaminated signal) by its power spectrum, and after this identification, this noise frequency is then being removed from the raw signal itself thus restoring the clean signal of the sender. All these operations (FFT, noise-frequency-identification, noise-removal, etc, etc,...) are executed very fast in todays modern DSP(s) technology. If you use your mobile, you don't notice any delay at all when you're having a conversation.

BTW Brian, I have some signal processing routines written in Java, in which I use for analysing financial time-series thus looking for interesting patterns, if you're interested then I can send you the codes, where you can use it at your own risk in your development. That is , I will not be responsible for any damage incurred for any application that the codes was used in.

12/20/2006 09:59:00 pm  
Blogger Brian S said...

FF,

It is astonishing all the places the FFT pops up. Most people have never heard of it, let alone know of its importance in everyday life. Perhaps not surprisingly, FFT's are also important in quantum computing algorithms.

Should we think of FFT's, imaginary numbers, and suchlike as 'concepts of method'? Attributes of consciousness that are just useful? I don't buy this. I would agree that the method of drilling for oil is a concept of method. The method of drilling for oil is useful for one thing: drilling for oil. But, as we have observed, imaginary numbers pop up in the most unexpected places and sometimes it seems like they just force themselves on you. Technologically advanced aliens - if they exist - will no doubt differ from us in many ways, but they will almost certainly have discovered imaginary numbers. Things which are merely useful or convenient do not have this sort of universality.

Imaginary numbers seem to have a life of their own and one in which is independent from our consciousness. Furthermore imaginary numbers are *essential* in our explanations of reality. There they are right at the heart of the Schrodinger wave equation. How do we explain this if imaginary numbers are just useful attributes of consciousness?

I'm not saying that imaginary numbers are physically real, but I am saying that they are real. Imaginary numbers kicked back even before there were observers to deduce that fact.

12/21/2006 05:20:00 am  
Blogger Brian S said...

FF,

According to Popper, scientific knowledge grows like this:

(1) Problem
(2) Proposed solutions
(3) Criticisms
(4) Accepted Solution
(5) New problem

In this schema, observations are used in step (3) to try to refute an argument, not to induce a theory.

12/21/2006 05:39:00 am  
Blogger Steve said...

To address just a couple of points PC - (ie. perhaps we should give this one away - and stick to our knitting)

(Some might argue) Quines biggest contribution to philosophy was to overturn Kants Analytic Synthetic distinction. To say Quine and Kant are similar in their ideology is to seriously misunderstand either of their philosophies.

Kant's philosophy of science is a radical departure from empiricism and naturalism based on some a priori distinctions in kinds of propositions and other stuff I won't go into.

Quine simply rejects any such basis for epistemology - the philosophy of these two old dead geezers couldn't be further apart. However, that said, there are plenty of criticisms of Quine cf. Jaegwon Kims celebrated criticism regarding Quines rejection of the epistemic support (questions of justification, rationality and knowledge) which I'm sure you'd agree with in part.

the common and philosophically flawed game of trying to "prove" the external world by means of deduction from the contents of one's consciousness

Either your knowledge of philosophy is so deficient as to barely fill a rice bubble, or this is just a cheap ad hom shot.

Similarly, to sheet back the entire project of modern philosophy in general to Kant just shows a serious lack of knowledge.

However I do note that most "Objectivists" seem to have a bitch about Kant and this irritation seems to overflow into the entire project of philosophy. That's a shame, because all it does is further alienate Objectivism from "mainstream" (for want of a better term) philosophy.

I tend to avoid labeling myself any "ist" or "ism", Camus rejected being called an existentialist, Sartre wasn't entirely comfortable with the label,
Quine spent his life aruging he wasn't a holist,
Carnap fell upon the sword of positivism (yet he made an enormous contribution to semantics, linguistics and hence modern computing)
Feyerabend (Against Method)only wanted to be known as an anarchist...

Rejection of overly formalistic approaches began in earnest in the 50s PC - get with the program mate. It was half a century ago!

Contrary to your suggestsions PC philosophy has no foundations.

Neurath argued that philosophy (and science) is like rebuilding a ship whilst at sea, we can change things bit by bit, relying on some parts currently unchanging for stability but we can't rebuild the entire ship at once.

Time for breakie.

12/21/2006 08:12:00 am  
Blogger PC said...

Steve, you said: "...perhaps we should give this one away - and stick to our knitting)"

Well, I must confess that my own brain is in desperate need of a holiday, as is this blog -- perhaps we should give it away until January? You could write 500 words on the topic of Quine, and what a great bloke he was, and his overturning of the Analytic-Synthetic distinction: and all-comers can then come and slug it out, and I can point out how Leonard Peikoff did it better? ;^)

You can also argue your point that "philosophy has no foundations." if you think you can do that in 500 words.

12/21/2006 11:11:00 am  
Blogger PC said...

"In [Popper's] schema, observations are used in step (3) to try to refute an argument, not to induce a theory."

So much the worse for Popper's schema, I would say.

12/21/2006 11:13:00 am  
Blogger PC said...

"Imaginary numbers seem to have a life of their own and one in which is independent from our consciousness. Furthermore imaginary numbers are *essential* in our explanations of reality. There they are right at the heart of the Schrodinger wave equation. How do we explain this if imaginary numbers are just useful attributes of consciousness?"

Perhaps because, to quote Rand (sorry Steve), they represent "an epistemological device to establish certain relationships" between existents, just as logical syllogisms and physical constants do.

Rand again (since my own brain is beginning to go holiday two days early, and she wrote specifically on the epistemological status of imaginary numbers): "When in doubt about the classification or nature of a concept, always refer ultimately to reality. What in reality gives rise to this concept? Does it correspond to anything real? Or is it just somebody's arbitrary theory?"

In answer to the charge that accepting imaginary numbers on the basis that "it works" is simply accepting them on "pragmatic" grounds, Rand had this to say: "If it works [and imaginary numbers do], your job as a scientist is to find out why it works. If something works you want to know the reason why. For instance, there are cases where people used certain things, such as potions in medicine, which worked -- only they didn't know why. That's not science yet, that is a stage of pre-science or of pragmatic observations. But you don't dismiss them. If they work you inquire why. But only after you have established why they work does this kind of inquiry enter the realm of science or of philosophy."

12/21/2006 11:26:00 am  
Anonymous Falafulu Fisi said...

Brian S said...
[Most people have never heard of it, let alone know of its importance in everyday life.]

I agree. Some of FFT's applications in other fields, I was only being aware of those about a couple of years ago. I didn't know that it was a useful tool in Economics/Finance, till I came across some articles on its use in those fields.

Bloody imaginary numbers (complex numbers) have no physical meaning but very useful after all.

[Perhaps not surprisingly, FFT's are also important in quantum computing algorithms.]

Yep, that's true.

Here is a list of publications & abstracts which show where FFT algorithm have been applied to. The list is not exhaustive, such as its application in Physics have no links provided, Electronics , only one, etc,... however the links mainly shows how far FFT has spread to other domain.

Electronics
-----------

"Design of a 16-Point Winograd Fast Fourier Transform Algorithm Integrated Circuit System"
http://www.eda.org/VIUF_proc/Spring94/WAILES94A.PDF


Economics/Finance
-----------------

"INTRODUCTION TO FAST FOURIER TRANSFORM IN FINANCE"
http://www3.imperial.ac.uk/portal/pls/portallive/docs/1/40346.PDF

"Fast Fourier Transform for discrete Asian Options (Market Pricing)"
http://fmg2.lse.ac.uk/~benhamou/documents/PHD_AsianConvol.pdf

"Option Valuation Using the Fast Fourier Transform"
http://www.imub.ub.es/events/sssf/vgfrier7.pdf

"SPREAD OPTION VALUATION AND THE FAST FOURIER TRANSFORM"
http://www.jbs.cam.ac.uk/research/working_papers/2000/wp0026.pdf


"High Performance Computing for a Financial Application Using Fast Fourier Transform"
http://www.springerlink.com/content/7eam0vrax6mt8dw8/

"Fast Fourier Transform for Option Pricing: Improved Mathematical Modeling and Design of Efficient Parallel Algorithm"
http://mspace.lib.umanitoba.ca/bitstream/1993/120/1/thesis.pdf

"Improving Data Locality in Parallel Fast Fourier Transform Algorithm for Pricing Financial Derivatives"
http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/xpl/freeabs_all.jsp?isnumber=28950&arnumber=1303283&count=431&index=360


Earth Science/Climate/Weather Forecasting
-----------------------------------------

"FAST FOURIER TRANSFORM (FFT) FOR FORECASTING LONG-TERM DROUGHTS AND FLOODS"
http://www.agnet.org/library/article/rh2002004d.html


"Diurnal Simulation Models of Weather Data for Improved Predictions of Global Climate Changes"
http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1992PhDT.......150L

"Fast Fourier Transform based calibration in remote sensing"
http://taylorandfrancis.metapress.com/index/FDG2MHL9YCKWWKPJ.pdf

"Fourier Transform Spectrometer (FTS) for measurements of atmospheric trace gases"
http://www.awi-potsdam.de/www-pot/atmo/ftir/ftir.html


Imaging & Medicine
------------------

"Fingerprint Classification using Fast Fourier Transform and Nonlinear Discriminant Analysis"
http://cse.cnu.ac.kr/~cheonghee/papers/finger_jrl.pdf

"3-D Image Registration Using Fast Fourier Transform"
http://www.cs.utep.edu/vladik/2006/tr06-11.pdf

"Dermal Organization in Scleroderma: The Fast Fourier Transform and the Laser Scatter Method Objectify Fibrosis in Nonlesional as well as Lesional Skin"
http://www.nature.com/labinvest/journal/v80/n8/full/3780136a.html

"High-contrast fast Fourier transform acousto-optical tomography of phantom tissues with a frequency-chirp modulation of the ultrasound"
http://www.nmr.mgh.harvard.edu/~juliette/AO03_chirp.pdf

"An improved gridding method for spiral MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) using nonuniform fast Fourier transform"
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=12810009&dopt=Abstract

"EEG Waves Classifier using Wavelet Transform and Fourier Transform"
http://www.enformatika.org/ijbs/v1/v1-2-12.pdf

"Chemical analysis and imaging by discrete fourier transform spectroscopy"
http://www.freepatentsonline.com/5440388.html

"Application of Fourier transform and autocorrelation to cluster identification in the three-dimensional atom probe"
http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/links/doi/10.1111/j.0022-2720.2004.01413.x/abs/


Computer Network Security/Telecommunication & Intrusion Detection
-----------------------------------------------------------------

"Mining Frequency Content of Network Traffic for Intrusion Detection"
http://www.actapress.com/PaperInfo.aspx?PaperID=20400

"A Frequency-Based Approach to Intrusion Detection"
http://www.cs.ucf.edu/csdept/faculty/lang/pubs/mzhousci2003final.pdf

"Signal Processing Methods for Network Anomaly Detection"
http://www.cs.unc.edu/~jeffay/courses/nidsS05/slides/8-Signal-Processing2.pdf


Bioinformatics & Gene Analysis
------------------------------

"Fast Fourier Transform based GENE Prediction Server"
http://www.imtech.res.in/raghava/ftg/

"Fast Fourier transform-based correlation of DNA sequences using complex plane encoding"
http://www.citeulike.org/user/mtagaya/article/954784

"Fast Fourier Transform-based Support Vector Machine for Prediction of G-protein Coupled Receptor Subfamilies"
http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1745-7270.2005.00110.x

"A novel approach for clustering proteomics data using Bayesian fast Fourier transform"
http://portal.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=1094112.1094189

"Finding Patterns in Protein Sequence and Structure"
http://ibi.vu.nl/teaching/masters/bi_tools/2006/tools_lec13_2006.ppt


Text Mining / Search Engine
---------------------------

"Internet Document Filtering Using Fourier Domain Scoring"
http://citeseer.ist.psu.edu/park01internet.html

12/21/2006 04:22:00 pm  
Blogger Brian S said...

PC, Science does not produce knowledge by induction; never has done, never will do. There is no principle of induction.

Observation is not independent from theory and it is impossible to have a observation without a theory. Theory tells us what to observe, and if new observations are incompatible with existing theory then you have a problem and are at step (1) of Popper's schema.

New theories arise by applying creativity to the problem situation. You might consider weaknesses and criticisms of the existing theory. You might consider where the predictions of the existing theory fail. You might consider the philosophical context. You will almost certainly try on lots of hats and make many guesses on your way to a solution.

When a candidate theory emerges, it is subject to imaginative criticism, including experimental testing.

What I have described is what real scientists do.

I can see that I am going to have to write a 500 word post on critical rationalism and evolutionary epistemology versus inductivism!

12/22/2006 04:34:00 am  
Blogger PC said...

"There is no principle of induction. "

Well, yes there is.

"...it is impossible to have an observation without a theory."

! I trust you wrote that line in haste?

12/22/2006 08:45:00 am  
Blogger Brian S said...

PC,

Actually, I meant what I wrote.

Since my brain is also about to go on holiday, I'll quote Karl Popper:

"Sense-data, untheoretical items of observation, simply do not exist. A scientific theory is an organ we develop outside our skin, while an organ is a theory we develop inside our skin."

We'll continue the discussion next year. Have a good Christmas and New Year!

12/22/2006 11:25:00 pm  

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