Thursday, September 25, 2014

Eric Anderson is Silly, Too!

I really love Uncommon Descent!

Believe it or not, they have a whole thread devoted to how horrible I am.

Here's what silly nonentity Eric Anderson says:

As I pointed out, if Shallit’s bluff were true, he would be sitting on a Nobel Prize right now and would not be revealing the secret in some college computer science class."

My supposed "bluff" is my claim that we know what produces information. But it's not a bluff. Ask any mathematician or computer scientist if they know how to produce information in the normally-understood (Kolgomorov) sense of the word, and the answer is easy.


Any process generating truly random bits will generate strings with high Kolmogorov information with very very high probability.

Don't expect creationists to understand this, however.

Want to know more? Attend my CS 462/662 course starting in Winter 2015.


Tuomo "Squirrel" Hämäläinen said...

Nobel price? Mathematics? That could be OK, little mistake. But in this context. It actually tells the knowledge in this whole topic.

In other hand, Dembski claim he knows the source of information. And it is not laughable. And he does not have any "nobel prices of mathematics" either.

lukebarnes said...

You have to admit that there is something that sounds wrong here: The way to generate information is by randomness.

"We need information on the enemy's defences".

"No worries. I'll get my dice".


"You've scrambled the bits in my computer memory, you idiot".

"Not too worry. There's now more information in there."

Now, I've read a few of the papers you've posted about Kolgomorov information (E.g. The Miraculous Universal Distribution, Kirchherr et al.). Great stuff, and very enlightening. So I understand point about randomness.

The bit I'm objecting to is not Kolmogorov information theory, but the claim that Kolmogorov information is "information in the normally-understood sense". If this sense of the word information implies that randomness produces information, then it has missed a very important part of what is "normally understood" as information.

Not that "is highly complex and conforms to an (independent) specification" captures it, either.

What now? Is "lots of Kolmogorov information" a necessary but not sufficient condition for "lots of normally-understood information"? We seem to be lacking a sense of information's "aboutness". Is this mathematically formalisable? Bayesian confirmation theory? A string represents a proposition that, when added to our knowledge, dramatically changes our probabilities for hypotheses?

Jeffrey Shallit said...

Come on, Luke. In the context of my post, you certainly know what "information in the normally-understood sense" referred to; it refers to the current understanding of the word by mathematicians and computer scientists.

I agree (and I agreed the last time you brought this up) that the average person's understanding of the word doesn't always match this. (But the average person's understanding of the words "group", "field" and many other things discussed in science and mathematics also differs from the way mathematicians and scientists use them.)

If you want to see a really, really cool proposal about an alternate definition for what one might call "meaningful information" (and one that seems to be very much on the right track), read this paper:

Oded Goldreich, Brendan Juba, Madhu Sudan: A theory of goal-oriented communication. J. ACM 59(2): 8 (2012)

Diogenes said...

Jeff, I think you should blog on Arrington's moronic and self-contradictory reply to your rebuttal, here:

Note that in this mind-bogglingly stupid "rebuttal", former abortion ambulance chasing lawyer, Barry Arrington Esquire argues, in reverse chronological order:

2. His string #1 was "designed", and you, Jeff, detected its "design" by gzipping it, and finding it was about as compressible as a snippet of Shakespeare.

Now before we get to Arrington's idiot point 1, which contradicts his point 2, we first must note that Arrington's moronic point 2 actually destroys Intelligent Design "theory." Arrington has now declared that you, Jeff, "detected design" the same way that IDiots like Dembski "detect design."

That notion destroys "intelligent design theory" because of course, natural processes can create design by Arrington's criteria. Natural processes can create strings that are about as compressible as Shakespearean sonnets, thus proving that ID methods yields false positives where the output of natural processes is called "intelligently designed." If the output of natural processes is what IDiots call "design", then when we find "design" in DNA or in biology, we should assume a priori that it is produced by natural processes, until proven otherwise.

The abortion ambulance chaser writes: "The larger point – and here Shallit gives the store away – is his admission that he detected the design of the first string using rigorous statistical methods. Wait a minute! Jeffery Shallit has spent years denying the basic formulation of ID: Some patterns are best explained by the act of an intelligent agent. Yet here he is yelling from the rooftops: "That first string of text only appears to be random; I have demonstrated rigorously that it was in fact designed." Wow!!! That’s the real story here.

That's funny, Jeff, I don't recall your ever writing, "I have demonstrated rigorously that it was in fact designed." This seems produced from Arrington's addled imagination. You proved the string was non-random. Arrington idiotically, in point 2, assumes that "non-random" entails "design", which no sane mathematicain would ever claim.

1. Before Arrington calls his String #1 "designed", he also calls it "random." It's "random" and "designed" at the same time.

Arrington: The issue is whether... it [String #1] is random enough for the purposes for which it is employed.

For what purposes was it employed? I was illustrating the difference between a more or less random string of text and a carefully designed string of English sentences. So to answer the question, yes it was random enough to illustrate that point.

So Arrington says random things are designed, which destroys Intelligent Design "theory."

Oh there is also an enormous number of insults directed at you and Bogart/William Spearshake.

Jeffrey Shallit said...

Thanks, Dio, I did. But I have limited time to continue arguing with gnats.

lukebarnes said...

Cracking. I'll read the reference.

Curt Cameron said...

Luke wrote:
"We need information on the enemy's defences".
"No worries. I'll get my dice".

That's a way to generate information, but in this case what was wanted was the communication of a set of information that already existed (the enemy's defenses). There is information out there, and the commander was asking for it in particular.

Now if the enemy's commander had used dice to position his defenses, there would likely be more information than if he used big, easy patterns. You can tell it would be more information because it would take longer to communicate.

"You've scrambled the bits in my computer memory, you idiot".
"Not too worry. There's now more information in there."

To finish this scenario: "You IDiot! I wanted my old information, not a different set! I don't care if the new set has a higher information content, I want the information in the document that I carefully typed out this morning!"

All this seems to me like it jives with the common, intuitive sense of what information is.