Monday, December 21, 2015

Launched my boat today

Today I finally sent "Truisms and the Elements of Narrative" off for review to Cognition Journal. I wrote it very carefully but expect rejection anyway.
Update: And now I am an intellectual "empty nester". Not sure what to think about.
Update: rejected Jan 7 because the references [and hence topic] are too narrow for a general audience.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Why didn't the Greeks figure out narrative structure?

I imagine that if, instead of measuring land, the ancient Egyptians had been challenged to program computers for automated reading, then the Greeks would have figured out "narrative patterns" long ago. Did it really have to wait for the advent of the computer?

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Non Language Behaviors have rules too

When I write I become aware of certain aspects of how paragraphs tie together that follow rules just outside my conscious awareness. But I have managed to snag a couple.

Example 1: I am writing an article for publication and do not want to use the word "I" too many times in adjacent paragraphs. By chance I discover that if I move one occurance of "I" to the end of the first paragraph and the second "I" to the beginning of the second paragraph - then it works better as writing. It feels as if putting the two occurrences close together, makes them behave more like a single unit in terms of the flow of the writing.
Example 2: If you have two paragraphs and the first ends with a phrasing that is paralleled and re-used at the beginning of the second paragraph, then the two paragraphs flow together even if their content does not.

SO: what is this stuff? It is like a form of prosody, like some conventions of music.
Update: Maybe these are aesthetic rules that are slightly different. The search for parallelism is related to Truism 4.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Post it note origami cubes

You can tell I am proud of this cuz I am posting it:

What a pain though!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Wondering about a missing truism

I have found that several truisms resemble well known scientific laws. But I know one form of scientific law that, so far, has not been "resembled" by a known truism. Anyway this form says: "the toe bone is connected to the foot bone, the foot bone is connected to the leg bone, the leg bone is connected to the knee bone, ......". We know this 'law' also as it appears in the definition of narrative continuity. It is certainly a rule of polyphony. So is this a missing truism of some sort?

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Walking in the Woods and Nested Frames of Reference

   I like to head out for a walk on Saturday and Sunday mornings. I get in the car and head west or north of south, as the case may be, and I enjoy my time in the car. I usually have a treat like a donut and coffee and I spend the time thinking about theoretical questions. Often lately I think about proto semantics and truisms but I also think about "best models". These theoretical thoughts stay with me in the woods for a while until the necessity of watching my footing, choosing a direction, and looking around overwhelm the theorizing and force me to contemplate the present moment. But in one case there is an overlap between the theoretical musings and the practical aspects of finding my way through the woods - a shared interest in how do I find my footing and choose my path?
   Put aside the 'larger' aspects of this question: why I am in this place? what direction I am headed? what is the best strategy for searching for rock piles [my basic motivation on weekend walks]? And consider the 'smaller' aspects of this question, as they help make the discussion as concrete as possible. These are the: where will I be in twenty feet? were will I take my next step? how shall my feet behave? I begin to get a sense of how these 'smaller' aspects of the question work.
   Take for example the last two: where is my next step and how shall my feet react? I already know where I am headed in the next twenty feet, so I pick my next step as part of keeping an even stride and avoiding difficult footing. If I see no obstructions my legs go on automatic. If I do and place my next step with some amount of consciousness, I usually defer to my feet to solve the problem of adapting to the specifics of what it encounters under foot. If the foot is "surprised" it calls back to the leg to get a different strategy for its next step. In the same way, if I cannot find a good next step it calls back to the process for choosing the next twenty feet and asks for a 'reset' to a different strategy. If I find my path blocked entirely - say by open water - then I may call back up to a higher process to change strategy.
   What these sorts of behaviors suggest to me is that there is a hierarchy of linked decision/action processes where each process determines a strategy and defers the tactics to a sub process. If the sub process encounters problems it calls back up to the parent and requests a new strategy. A process is a tactic for its parent and sets a strategy for its children. But it is of particular interest that this hierarchy is not simply a cognitive structure. There are specific perceptual aspects to each different level: I see twenty feet into the wood, I see beyond that to the larger "lay of the land", I see within it to where my feet will be placed. I perceive the footing with the same foot that is doing the stepping. The hierarchy is not just of cognition and of perception but of actuation as well.
   Each process has a strategy given to it and sets a tactic by selecting a sub process. Each process has an input perceptual aspect and an output actuation aspect.
   So that is it. This is not good writing but I hope it makes the point: handling the next twenty feet is done based on what I perceive in the next twenty feet and its actuation is to select a direction for the next step. Sub perception and sub actuations are deferred to and handled by the 'tactic' which is its own process. Thus no single process is responsible for the whole hierarchy; rather each part of the hierarchy takes responsibility for part of the perception and actuation needed for the task.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Evidence for Truism 8

Consider the following phrases (the last col say if the phrase is ok, not ok, or awkward.
she cooked
it was good
she cooked
it was bad
faintly awkward
she cooked
it was good
not ok
she cooked
it was bad
she cooked carefully
it was good
she cooked carefully
it was bad
not ok
she cooked carefully
it was good
not ok
she cooked carefully
it was bad
The explanation is that the first 4 rows are about an event. By default we assume the event went well (Truism 8A) but the assumption is implicit. So row 1 is ok and row 2 is awkward. It contradicts something only weakly assumed. But the last 4 rows all are about the quality of the event explicitly. So the "and it was bad" and "but it was good" don't work at all.
Truism 8B applies to the last 4 rows and makes it implicit that the result is good. This aligns perfectly with the last column: you say "and" and expect good, and say "but" and expect bad.
Update: The difference between "awkward" and "not ok" is that row 2 embodies two assumptions (both 8A and 8B) while row 6 embodies only one of the truisms. It makes sense that one implicit assumption generates more expectation than two do.

Oops I meant "cancel" not "flout"... or was it "hedge"???

I guess I got it wrong. Too bad the correct term 'cancel' has such in-appropriate connotation. In fact it means an active reversal, not the removal of redundancy as it means in arithmetic.
You're both wrong! It is hedge.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The 'story' as noun type

I was thinking that 'story', as a noun type, has certain verbs associated to it:

story-listened by->person
story-believed by->person

The persistent forms are:
person_/affect of story
person_/permanent affect of story

Also we have attributes of story that do not arise as persistent states after actions:
[I suppose this can only occur when there in a storyB that is about a storyA.]

And maybe a new operator {} for 'about'. 'Cept I am not sure how to use this. I can see how if a person believes a story then the content, what the story is 'about', becomes part of the person's reaction to circumstances that bring up similar content. Or, in a purely linguistic context, would add to the person's truism repository. Let's think about this a bit.

Not that I plan to write about "truth" but: people who become sufficiently enlightened (I guess like Frege and Ramsay) realize that saying a sentence is "true" does not add to to the meaning of the original expression. But they make a serious logical "type" error when they overlook that "X is true" is a meta statement about X. Its meaning does not "add to" the meaning of X, as it is of a different type. As a meta statement "X is true" does indeed have content. It is just that when this is projected back into the original statement the projection has no content. In other words there is a failure to respect the algebra of 'about'.
One minor note about "truth": as a mathematician I was quite interested in the definition of truth and was well aware of it having multiple varieties. A=A is not true in the same way as "my name is Peter". I guess Kant probably got some of these varieties of truth correct. One variety I found to be most pleasing was this one: a statement is "true" if its consequences are already known. [In a system of propositions, "closed" under some set of operations: a new proposition can be considered "true" when it, together with the operations and the existing propositions can only generate other propositions that are already in the system.]. I never met a serious mathematician who was confident they understood all these possibilities. There are a lot of amateurish approaches that pretend "truth" is a single, well understood concept.

Friday, November 27, 2015

A new truism! Truism 8

Picture of a map with two locations A and B and two routes joining them - a fast route and a slow one. In a narrative about going from A to B it is natural to say something like "I went from A to B but I went the slow way".
The use of "but" signals a truism to the effect that we assume actions taken are taken as efficiently as possible. How do I say this in notation? My best guess is that "good" has to be a sort of keyword; an adjective so general that, like verbs 'in' and 'at', it is allowed in describing a general truisms. So, taking us to the very edges of ethics and aesthetics, I propose:

Truism 8A: Actions are efficient:
(person->X) :: [(person->X)_/GOOD]

Truism 8B: Efficient actions have positive consequences
(person->X)_/GOOD :: [X_/GOOD]

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Does a visitor exist?

I don't believe Google Analytics when it tells me there are visitors to this blog. I never got a comment. Please leave one if you exist.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Implicit action versus implicit target for explicit action

The notation, luckily, is already able to distinguish what is needed. But it helps to clarify the convention (which I got straight during last night's insomnia);

X->Z is an explicit action where specificity is not needed for the action.
X->[Z] is an implicit action where no specificity is possible for the action
X-v->[Z] is an explicit action, specifically 'v', is taken with an implicit target.

"Jane throws the ball"...........Jane-throws->ball or Jane->ball
"Jane is ready"...... (Jane->[Z])*
"Jane throws"....... Jane -throw-> [Z]

So we can track the sub narratives on the way through:
"Jane is ready to throw the ball"
(Jane->[Z])* :: [Jane]-throw->[Z], ball

Friday, November 13, 2015

Deep AI on a chip

I do feel threatened by these announcements: "IBM Deep Blue...", "NVIDIA's deep neural nets on a circuit board", "Google Android announces open source AI".

Because I know those are stupid technologies that in no way represent "intelligence". They are brute force correlation engines which, without guiding "models", are stumbling around trying to find linear regressions in a universe of curved and non-convex categories.

What worries me is that with that much "snake oil" floating around, what would be the incentive to re-think things and get them right? On the one hand it is surprising what you can do with brute force. On the other hand I wonder if perhaps these announcements are more of a "Hail Mary" last-ditch effort to monetize a technology that the parent company knows is a waste of time. Maybe the companies are just dumping this stuff into open source with the thought that "maybe the public at large can find something useful to do with this dog of a technology....we'll focus our proprietary energies looking for something that does work".  - Fat chance.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Speaking of cuttlefish carvings

Some I am more and some less proud of:
And...some lesser carvings, I used to test coloring

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Tuesday is the new Friday

Let me be the first to say it.

Friday, October 23, 2015

"Guidelines for submission" - Computational Linguistics

I am reading their guidance on whether your submission is appropriate:
"A good diagnostic here is whether a significant proportion of the references in your paper are to publications in that area: see the lists of Journals"
So what they are saying is, that their Journal is a club newsletter limited to insiders. I conclude - with a sigh - that this must be how many "subjects" define themselves and come into their own: through sufficient published material to claim as a credential and to use for self definition.
Update (sarcasm): "A good guideline would be that you are reproducing the work of another author whose work already appears in one of our Journal".
Update 2: The real problem is this policy prevents publication of new ideas that are not related to anything in their "field", such as a contribution from a different perspective that is nevertheless relevant.
Update 3: Another way to put it is this: the fact that I have not read the same material as the magazine editors does not mean I have nothing relevant to say.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Refining Truism 7

I was commenting on the story about making abalone shell beads and losing them and trying not to cry. In the end I did make beads and I made a beautiful cuttlefish. In a comment, I wrote:

So I get my revenge: (I-make->cry)* does not resolve to the usual (I-make->cry) but to the (I-make->beauty).

Is this a semantic pattern worth noting? Apparently Truism 7 not only expects the removal of contrast but also other improvements: implicit becomes explicit, negative (crying) becomes positive (beauty). Perhaps there are other such examples. Let's say, Truism 7 "enhanced" can include such improvements and each has its own flavor. I wanna say this bad-to-good replacement might be characteristic of "revenge".
Update: Leave to another generation of to figure out if square brackets and * commute.
Update: Want 6N: N([Z]),Z to be supplemented to 6N* which is N([Z]*)::Z

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Theory of how to organize topic dictionaries

From past code:
// Dictionary.cpp : Defines the entry point for the console application.
The original "vision" wasn't followed too well. Here it is for reference (it is more or less nonsense at this point but mentions important topics):

Dictionary trees are built by linking together generic dictionary "nodes". In addition to properties described below, every dictionary is also a C++ class and is allowed to have other methods and member variables.

Every dictionary will have certain properties, to be explained below. These are:
 - an optional word list “self”
 - a "complete" flag that can be set or cleared. When cleared we say the dictionary is "in a neutral state". When "complete" the dictionary will have a current set of values that can be saved (or "vaulted" or “grasped”).
 - a readText( ) method.
 - a set of child dictionaries. The readToken function is called on them before it is called on the self. 
 - a vault "policy" which determines what information is saved when it is complete. [NAH, it is a way of delaying the saving until a subsequent event.]

The dictionary tree acts like a seive, reading text. The incoming text is tokenized and groups of the tokens [nowadays I pass a token and ALL of the text through ALL dictionaries, once for each for each token] are sent down into the tree via the readToken( ) being called at the root.
The simplest version of this is to pass in three tokens at a time: { previous, current, next }, looping through the text as current is incremented.
This results in various parts of the tree having content modified and, occasionally some part of the tree is in a "complete" state (or "lit up") . 
Whenever that happens, the whole tree gets a "vault" signal, and each dictionary node will implement a "vault policy". Unused tokens are stored in a "dreg" or discard pile for external processing.

Just as tokens are passed down through the tree from parent to child, so also the vault command is sent from above.[I WISH IT WAS SO CLEAN]

Simple- dictionary
A simple dictionary has no children but has a word list with a readText( ) method. It returns true if token was matched to an entry or entries in the dictionary. A simple dictionary is "complete" when this match has occurred.
This flag can be cleared. The vault policy is: no vault but always clear the "complete" flag. Vaulting is considered a parent responsibility.

Product- dictionary
A dictionary composed of an array of dictionaries called its "dimensions". A product- dictionary is "complete" only when all of its dimensions are complete. Like a simple- dictionary the vault policy is: no vault but clear the "complete" flag. (It is temping to say this kind of dictionary is just a parent with all children needing to be complete. But that feels like the wrong ontology.)

State- dictionary
This is a dictionary with an internal state, including a default state. This kind of dictionary is always "complete" and occurs as a dimension of a parent dictionary. It's readText( ) method can change its internal state. Its vault policy is to reset state to the default. When the parent gets a vault command it uses this state's current state to determine what and how the parent vaults its other information. Afterwards, the parent sends the vault command into the state dictionary (resetting it to default).

Parent- dictionary
A dictionary with a list of child dictionaries. It can also contain a "self" word list. The readText( ) is
implemented by calling it on each child. Then it calls readText( ) on its self dicitonary. A parent- dictionary is "complete" if any one of its children is complete and [optionally] if its self dictionary is complete. The parent- implements a vault policy of saving data from its children and variables. Then it invokes the vault policy of its children.
We may distinguish parent "self" dictionaries that must be complete, for the parent to be complete, versus parents with a self dictionary which is not needed for completeness but may be used in the vault policy.
Call the second sort of parent a "lenient".
[In fact this idea was never put into the code.]

Vision of a Cuttlefish - plum wood carving with abalone inlay

A work in progress. Pretty crude but strong. It is an ittobori carving, I am using an exacto knife and sandpaper.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Dining out in Concord MA

Although the best places to eat in Concord are in the next town over (Bedford - good sushi at Ginger and decent burritos at Chipotle) sometimes we like to stay close to home. There are some pizza places on Thoreau Str and a place at the depot that changes owners every few years and currently is too expensive for my purposes. Also, West Concord has several places - but that is farther than Bedford and we don't go over there. Let me focus my comments on Main Street.
There are three places on Main Str. we know well and one new place.
 - The new place looks like they serve sandwiches to teenagers with imported mineral water. Split personality? Looks too dark inside and we have not tried it out.
 - The Colonial Inn is a good standbye. Atmosphere: There is lots of genuine atmosphere - the place has several hundred years -worth of food smells, baked into its walls. The crowd is international, non Concordian. Food: The food is pretty good. Great burger, good chowder, and where else can you get Indian Pudding? It has been while since we had a roast beef dinner there - but it is the kind of place where you can expect it to be decent. Service: spotty, usually bad. We sit down and the wait staff stand around talking instead of bringing water and menus.
 - The Main Street Cafe is a good place for a beer or to meet a friend for lunch. Atmosphere: Always busy with the hum of energy that tourists and people out from Boston bring. As a result, the place is a bit chaotic. With an open mic night, this is about the only place in downtown Concord that might be said to have "night life". Food: Only so so. Burgers are not great, salads are a bit heavy. I guess there are a variety of lighter fares and vegetarian items. Service: Spotty. Owner tries to do a good job but wait staff is careless.
 - Helens is as good place for a malted, with the little league team. Usually almost empty by 7:30, no tourists. One wonders, why the tourists are at the Colonial Inn and Main Street Cafe but not here, just across the street. I suspect tourists read the internet and do not hear anything too positive about this place. Atmosphere: Sterile. Don't take credit cards. Food: This used to be some of the best food in town. It was the best burger in town until the Colonial Inn got its act together. Seems like the quality has gone downhill lately. Service: extremely fast but surly - service with a scowl.
Update: So we tried again a few weeks later at the Colonial Inn and the service was non-existent (worse than bad). We were seated and then left alone, with no menus, no water, no nibbles. After five minutes we decided we might do better in one of the other seating areas so we moved. Again: seated promptly then abandoned. After a few minutes we noticed there were more than 10 occupied tables, 1/2 of which had people with menus. One waiter put in a brief appearance. Five minutes later we walked out, commenting to the young man who seated us that: it is a no brainer that the waiters should be in the room with the customers are...not off "somewhere". So that is it for us. No more Colonial Inn. No more Helen's either, their burgers are no longer worth the scowl. Main Street Cafe is still viable but, so crowded, poor food, make it a second choice.
Why is service so miserable in Concord? They all hire high school students and, apparently, minimum wage does not require job training. Good lord! It would be so easy to do it right, why aren't there some decent managers? Advice to Main Street Cafe: get rid of some tables and don't be so greedy - improve your food quality. Advice to Helen's: enjoy your credit-card free zone. Advice to Colonial Inn: hire a decent restaurant manager who knows how to instill vigilance. I would be happy to train them.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

The proto semantics of natural language and formal language cannot be equivalent

...because formal languages do not use implicit terms and implicit terms are the first application of proto semantics. Perhaps the semantics of explicit natural language is equivalent to that of formal language. But then that leaves out most of what is interesting in language.

A Google search for "language" and "mathematics" turns up many links to math being treated as a language but very few about using math to analyze natural language. The one I am looking at right now "The mathematics of Language" by Marcus Kracht assumes natural language and formal languages are equivalent.

May I be snarky in my own blog? When you assume natural language is equivalent to formal language you are really saying natural language is like math. I cannot see how anyone would confuse this with what is natural. You want to do math about math and call that language? Don't!

[What I mean: if you exclude language like "don't", you  miss out on an a great deal of what makes language interesting and makes language work.]

Sunday, October 4, 2015

When Truisms 6N and 7 both apply

It seems there is a bit more in the way these truisms blend, than is in either one by itself.
Truism 6N: N([Z]),Z
Truism 7:   X* :: X

It seems to work something like this:
N([Z])* :: N(Z)
Not sure that is derivable from 6N and 7.

Update: I could break down and make the last a "variant" of T7. I think I am ready to commit myself to the rule:

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Jill is ready

"Jill is ready" is an expression mentioned frequently by D. Belleri. I think it has two forms: "Jill is ready for..." and "Jill is ready to...". These are written, respectively as:
I like it when things turn out to be simple.
But there is a difference between this and "It is raining". For that, the 'place' of the rain may remain implicit and not important. But "Jane is ready" is a statement that is incomplete. That is because rather than relying on T6N, which does not create expectation, here we can rely on T7 to create an expectation. 
The nature of the implicit understanding is different for "Jill is ready" and for "It is raining". The former requires further information and the latter has optional further information. We might say that the former has no default value in the variable whereas the latter has default 'place'.
To restate: 
has an implicit term and so it is subject to Truism 6N allowing optional explicitness. Whereas:
has an implicit term and a contrast and so it is subject to both Truism 6N and Truism 7. The latter requires appearance without contrast and that cannot happen without it becoming explicit. [This still feels a bit strange - like one of the Euclidean deductions that uses ideas outside that aren't in the axioms.]
Update:  We do need something more. How about: do not use of X::[Z]. I will be considered illegal for a explicit sub-narrative to become an implicit sub-narrative.

Friday, October 2, 2015

The ultimate joke?

Update: I heard a good one: "I'll never forget what's his name"
Update 2: It may sound crazy but I still get a chuckle every time I see this. I cannot tell if it is because the expression X*::X* is funny or because the idea that it should be funny is itself is hilarious.

"Best Model Classification" - published

Dig it, after ~30 years of no publications:

Peter Waksman, "Best Model Classification," Journal of Pattern Recognition Research, 
Vol 10, No 1 (2015); doi:10.13176/11.634

Thursday, October 1, 2015

The proto semantic formula for IRONY

(X_/Y)*::X->Z, [Z::X_/Y] , Z::(X_/Y)*
(X_/Y)*::X->Z, [Z::X_/Y] , Z::(X_/Y*)

Simpler version: X* :: X*

X wants Y, which leads to X acting on Z:

This is followed by the implicit assumption that (usually) Z causes X_/Y:

In this case ("but"?) Z causes something contrasting:

It is certainly fun to have a formula for irony. We note that Truism 7 is flouted because the narrative starts with a contrast and ends with the status quo  - the contrast is not relieved. But there is a problem with the relation to Truism 6 which says that the implicit [Z::X_/Y] can be followed by it becoming explicit. When something related (and contrasting) becomes explicit instead, this feels like a flouting of Truism 6 - which does not involve 'becoming' and should not be flout-able. Somehow the implicit 'becoming' creates an opportunity for flouting. 

There is something algebraic going on here, where the implicit term contains 'becoming', and so the word "BUT" makes sense in: We expect Z to cause X_/Y BUT it cause X_/Y*. I am going to close my eyes and go "la, la, la, la" and assume this will all work out. It is something along these lines: when the implicit becomes explicit and it is a 'becoming' statement, English allows us to put the "but" in front of the whole expression to be flouted, rather than in the middle of it.

This positions "IRONY" as the expectation of contrast where, instead, we get the status quo. Most simply: X*::X*. Note the joke version of the Start Spangled Banner:
Or maybe it should be X::X ("anti climax"?). In any case, this is the same general domains as Truism 7 and the use of "but". 
Update: Let me add that irony is another pattern that my mind reacts to (I keep chuckling at X*::X*), although I do not see it as a truism. I wonder if this is a signpost to a world of standardized responses to known narrative patterns or whether it is only for irony and truisms?
Update:  I have to get it straight:  You could develop an irony around any narrative of the form 'Z::X_/Y' whether it is a pure truism or a factoid. The "but" come because that truism, wherever it comes from, contains '::' and admits flouting.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Monday, September 14, 2015

Famous presidential candidates and their lookalikes

I try not to get political but this is sort of funny. Who does this remind you of?
How about this:
Or this?
I don't know why Carly Fiorina takes it sitting down.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Fog hangs low over the fields....or not

I wrote in an email:
In late summer we have warm days, cool nights, moist ground, and the kind of still morning where fog hangs low over the corn fields and cow pastures. This morning all the fields were deep in fog except over plowed soil and over recently mowed grass. Those two surface types did not have fog and I saw several examples while driving to work.

What is different between the green fields and pastures from the plowed fields and cut grass?

Predicting the formation of fog is of great interest to the military, especially the air force. So these questions may be of practical interest.
One reply asked for photos. Here is one from the next day:
 Merriam's Corner, Concord.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Snow is white

I frequently see the idea of meaning explained like this:

The meaning of "snow is white" is that snow is white.

Authors who write that should be ashamed of themselves. 

For one thing they are trying to define meaning as the removal of quotation marks. That does not define any meaning when there are no quotation marks and could lead to the impression that only quoted strings can have a meaning; which is absurd. (Adding further quotation marks doesn't help but you can make some progress if you use a notation for the inverse of quotation marks.)

For another: Just how lazy are you? A more correct answer is that, there is a thing called "snow" with an attribute called "white", so the structure of the meaning is shown as
The content of the meaning consists of  the many contextual specifics associated to "snow" and "white". For example that white is a color or that snow is cold and happens in winter. If you want to try annotating it, there is a huge web of implicit meaning surrounding the expression.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Prosody and Truism

I  assume that different language mechanisms - gesture, prosody, word and expression meanings, all work together in parallel. So for a lot of simple standard expressions, with different meanings, there should be different mechanisms of gesture and prosody that go along with them.

This thought had me wondering if something as simple as a truism would not correspond with something simple in prosody. After all, truisms embody very standard implicit thoughts. Why shouldn't they have tunes to go with them?

So I found one and think it important. Truism 7 says: "what is contrasted with is later allowed" or X*::X. This has the musical counterpart of "breath in - breath out" or G7-C. The first creates tension and the second relieves it. It is important to note that James's version of Hegel has the truism running in either directions as a "double negative". I don't know about Hegel, but think James is incorrect that the formula is bi-directional. It has to start with tension and end with relief. The other way around doesn't work in language or in music, as it leaves one in suspense.

This is an example where a semantic theory could contribute to a philosophical discussion. The main contribution would be in filtering out the non-philosophic "semantics" from the discussion.

Reading William James: Hegel and his Method

I am reading James and he relates Hegel's weirdly phrased notion that: an object completes itself with its own negation. James goes on with several pages of discussion leading to a list of examples:
 "Extreme anarchy and extreme despotism lead to one another. Pride comes before a fall. Too much wit outwits itself. Joy brings tears, melancholy a sardonic smile."

But actually Hegel's notion (or at least Jame's version of Hegel which I do not think is quite right) is not so strange. Those phrases are all versions of Truism 7: X*::X (or flouting this truism).

The neat thing about semantics is that it can be a very concrete empirical science that studies real world words, sentences, paragraphs, etc. To assert that a rule like Truism 7 is assumed implicitly is a concrete observation, easy to demonstrate with simple examples (like James's list).  Its validity as a truism can be analyzed or disputed much more concretely than how one would analyze or dispute Hegel. At the same time, expressing such ideas as language phenomena frees up philosophers either to do other work or else focus more on the connection of their problems to language.

James also complains that Hegel's vagueness leaves his reader always confused as to whether Hegel is writing about physics, psychology, or philosophy. It makes broad sense if Hegel is talking about the mind that studies those subjects. To me it is gratifying to simply say those subjects are semantically constrained, just like Newton Laws of Motion..

For the record I do not think Truism 7 is the equivalent of Hegel's dialectic. My understanding of the latter is that it had to do with the act of becoming meta (going up one level of abstraction) and how when that act turns upon itself and is reabsorbed back into the original perception, is when and how we learn about the object.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Does anyone read this blog?

Google Analytics seems to think someone visits this blog. But I never saw a comment from anyone. I would be shocked to know someone was actually reading this stuff about semantics. I would be even more shocked if someone out there wanted to communicate about it. So: is there anybody out there?
Update: Until I see a comment from someone, I'll assume readers do not exist.
Update: In fact, the first week after I went on Google Analytics (goodbye Sitemeter, you were good to me and more useful than Google Analytics) there was a bulge of 50 or so daily visits. But I think those were just bots.

Theorizing about Semantics (it's a waste of time)

I have to imagine that contributions to semantics are themselves a form of language use that is about as abstract as possible. So I am poking around on the internet and wanting to read contributions to semantics and instead I find authors, one after the other, discussing the validity of one form of semantics versus another. No example of language is analyzed; no new approaches are revealed. They found something even more abstract to talk about!

I have long thought the translation of expressions into "propositions" and the analysis of their "truth properties" was a distraction from the qualification of the meaning of an expression. Usually, expressions mean something about the world - in its wonderful diversity. Little is added in saying the meaning is "true", because this auxiliary meta attribute is not a substitute for the thing itself. Also, very few expressions can be considered "true" - for example anything in a novel.

Rather than getting more and more abstract - going from worldly meaning to "truth", to the meta discussion of semantics, to a meta-meta discussion of what is the "very best-est" of semantic theories  - I regard these as digressions taking us further and further from the subject. I want to study the articulation of the world as expressed by people. You cannot do that if you spend your time evaluating the semantic theories of other authors.

Though, ironically, I want to ignore my own advice and say: lots of authors are looking at the same set of topics as I am but organizing their ideas in a way I find awkward. It is not that they are wrong but that they are clumsy. But I want to say I think modern semantics is mostly off in the weeds of "meta discussion", doing the wrong kind of work and not advancing us towards a goal of automated language comprehension.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Vagueness in the Truism Classification

It is a bit confusing to have Truism 6N cover the act of making implicit assumptions into explicit parts of a narrative, while Truism 1 and 5N involve implicit assumptions. Implicit assumptions can either (a) be used in analysis of a sentence; or (b) become part of the explicit narrative.

Truism 1 states implicit assumptions about events.
Truism 5N says that facts are implicit assumptions.
Truism 6N says any implicit assumptions (not just 1 and 5N) can be made explicit.

I remain confused about this because I am not sure what are all the implications for an implicit assumption. It generates an optional narrative fragment that may appear explicitly (6N) or it can remain implicit and only appear in meta discussion.

Or, a truism may make sense of a later part of a sentence, or help anticipate it. Two different uses?

One more clarification (you can tell I am unsure): Truism 6N is N([Z],Z where the connector is a ',' and not a '::'. This is important because there is no automatic use of "but" to reverse polarities. So Trusim 1 is not expected to have a "but"-dependent polarity. And Truism 5N makes no assumptions about what known factual narratives it is referring to. I like the word "flout" which they use to indicate polarity reversal for "implicature" - an idea close to that of "truism" and very much the same as the affect of "but".

Monday, July 27, 2015

Truism 7: What has been contrasted with is now allowed

This takes a very general form.
Truism 7: What has been contrasted with is now allowed.
X* :: X
I had a lot of trouble deciding (a) that this is a truism that is used; (b) that it is used even in the language of the concrete events and persons.

Rationale: At first I noticed this truism being used in literature. For example the Clive Cussler sentence (see here) begins with something like "He almost fell asleep". I noted that, by the end of the paragraph, he does finally get to go to sleep. So the whole paragraph might be summarized by this truism:
(he_/sleep)* :: (he_/sleep)
More recently I noticed the truism "you get what you want" was mis-classified in terms of a "want" verb. I decided that "want" describes an experience of lacking something, hence it is related to the adjectives of "having"/"not-having" and those, in turn, are adjectives modified by the verb pair "get"/"lose". Making those verbs more primary and putting them into my "starter" verb table, meant taking out "want". In the new analysis "want" is contrasted with having. So "X wants Y" is translated as: 
(X_/has Y)*
In that case the "you get what you want" is a simple application of Truism 7 to this particular adjective narrative:
(X_/has Y)* :: (X_/has Y)
Example: John was hungry so he went out to eat."

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Expressing a verb as a change to an attribute

By convention my "verbs" are always between an actor and a target and always leave the target (and sometimes the actor) with changed properties. So it is convenient, when an attribute A is changed by a verb, to use the notation 'dA' as a name for the verb. So we can express various things, for example the basic dynamic relationship:

Kinda fun.

Update: somehow this notation had me thinking harder about Newton's Laws of Motion. They run in parallel with truisms and basic definitions of semantics. For example the above is our form of F=m*dV and the 1st Law about bodies remaining in motion matches the 4th truism that "things remain the same". 

The conclusion I come to is that Newton was semantically constrained and his genius was in finding a vocabulary for the world that fit naturally and exactly into (pre-existing) language conventions.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Abnoxious ads driving me from various websites

Just experienced a video that kept re-setting my volume whenever I muted it. I was trying to read something on a web page and the add was off-screen below. So it kept turning itself back on and I had to leave. Won't be back to that web site as much.
Seems to me these pop-up, pop-under, pop-insert, flashing, un-muteable POSs are killing the internet experience.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Gentner's Early Acquisition of Nouns and Verbs Evidence from Navajo

This is great: Navajo has a verb for "handle round object".
Update: I don't know if this is part of a general pattern in Navajo of expressing persistent attributes of an object in terms only for when they are being interacted with... slicing and dicing the verb/adjective continuum differently. Is the object still considered round when it is not being handled?

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Why cannot we measure language?

We have a grand history of measuring the earth about us. Why can't we measure language? I think it is because we have trouble coming to grips with the analogy between points and words. So I propose the analogy of a numeric coordinate for a point is the native meaning of a word and that the analog of the abstract point is a word's noun/adjective/verb role within a narrative structure.
This may seem awkward since the word meaning is generally qualitative not quantitative. But I think that is the right way to go and you can always turn a qualitative space into a quantitative one - eg a color space. And this way narrative structure built around word roles takes center stage in the abstract "geometric" discussion of semantics.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Lightening formation using organic polymers

Just in case, it should be mentioned that the presence of extracellular organic polymers in clouds is one possible explanation for formation of conductive "tubes" in the formation of lightening. That was David Sands's thought, when I brought up the presence of these polymers. Of course with all those dead and dying bacteria, there are plenty of polymers, like DNA, floating around overhead.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

At least three kinds of intransitive verbs?

I find three different types of content blurred together as "intransitive verbs":

Persistent attributes should be written as adjectives: "It is raining" as

Changes in persistent attributes should be written using the becoming operator. "He fell asleep" as

Implicit transitive verbs should be written explicitly: "Jane coughed" as

Sunday, June 21, 2015

People with racist manifestos should be of interest to the FBI

How many people were killed in the US due to racism this year? From what I read our security apparatus spends plenty of money monitoring environmental activism. Do they pay equal attention to gun wielding manifesto writers? Isn't it time to label racism "terrorism" and start monitoring it more actively? Or is it too deeply rooted among the people doing the monitoring?

Friday, June 12, 2015

Another function of anaphoras

A word like "his" which creates implicit ownership and implicit male gender does not pay the kind of penalty it would pay if it actually introduced those topics explicitly. I got no example.
Update: I can say that a word like "but" creates implicit content that does have to pay a penalty and be followed by something coherent or it violates narrative continuity.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

The difference between "although" and "but"

Still trying to bring home the proto semantic bacon:

"X but Y" is notated as:
X+Y, [X::Y*]*
 (i.e. X did not cause the exclusion of Y).

"X although Y" is notated as
X+Y, [Y::X*]*
(i.e. Y did not cause the exclusion of X).

Update: Hence "although" and "but" are forms of double negative. 
Update2: You might wonder then: "what is the purpose of "but" and "although". They prepare the listener for a contrast.
Update3: In the algebra that sits over proto semantics, we could write [X::Y*]* => [X::Y].

Monday, June 8, 2015

Verbs vs adjectives or discrete event versus persistence in time

I find the "verb"/"adjective" distinction increasingly unworkable. Verbs that represent a state persisting in time become very much like adjectives: "He is sleeping" versus a discrete event "He slept". Since "He sleeps" is persistent it is adjective-like and only in the past tense is it verb-like. So even in the different conjugations of the "same verb", we get ontological differences.

I also have been making a false distinction between transitive verbs (with actor-target) and single-actor verbs; because many single actor verbs describe a persistent state which is, effectively adjective-like: "He runs". But this does not work when it comes to single actor verbs that are discrete events in time: "He ran", "He coughed".

So let us abandon two things: the use of "adjective" and "verb" and the strong reliance on single-actor versus actor-target distinction. So persistence becomes "attribute" and discrete moment becomes "event". Can I pretend that discrete event single-actor verbs have an implicit target? Maybe they do. He slept on the bed. He coughed into the air.

So I am going to try this:
  • Verb-like for actor-target relations that occur at a discrete moment in time (target may be implicit).
  • Adjective-like for everything else, single actor or actor-target, that persists in time.
The convention will be that any discrete moment of time involves an actor-target pair. When the target is always the same and contained in the verb, then it can implicit.

"He slept"  diagrams as (He)slept->[Z] and if Z is not a bed it can become explicit as something else. In other words I am speculating that: single actor and discrete moment are only combined when there is a default target.

We can add some consequences: a persistent state (adjective) has a beginning (verb) and an end (verb) and can exist in the past (a verb). Conversely, a verb that persists is an adjective. Hence
"I love you" either persists as an attribute of 'I' or has a beginning or ending in time and becomes an event or action..... A bit awkward but closer to right than what I had. [I mean the semantic analysis not the love affair :) ]

Saturday, May 23, 2015

A relation between questions and truisms

I am not clear on it but it seems that sentence meaning evolves dynamically while the sentence is being expressed and then takes on a static final topic form when the sentence is over. In the topic form, we are prepared to answer questions. The questions line up neatly with the parts of the topic that could have been set via an expectation within the expression. For example:
(X->Y)at->[place] _/[time] _/[manner]
Each implicit slot related to the event 'X->Y' corresponds to the questions: "Where?", "when?", and  "how?". The truisms with becoming (use of '::') correspond to the questions "Why?" and "how?".

For any variable of a narrative filled in by words from an expression, we can ask afterwards: "What was the value of that variable?" Truisms are narratives where this generic question takes on the standard form of: who, how, when, where, what, why (and also "still?" for truism 4). [Hmm...I don't know a truism for "who?". Maybe there is one I have not discovered....I have a weekend to think about it.]

Friday, May 22, 2015

A restated truism

Truism 6N: What is implicit can become be followed by it being explicit

This is actually a family of truisms, for any narrative N(X) with sub-narrative 'X':

 N( [Z] ) ,  Z

For example, the definition of 'with' includes an implicit location: "Peter was with Bob, at the store"

This gives us a third type of truism. Thus we have
  • The first 4 single truisms listed here
  • Any factoid (a supposition about particulars) - truism 5N
  • Any one of the infinite family 6N
I am afraid I have made a mess of the numbering and the roll out of the ideas.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Analysis of Clive Cussler sentence

Continuing this discussion of the sentence:

He came within an eye blink of [falling asleep] under the soothing splash of the warm water.

I am afraid I need a "-" sign to indicate hedging and exclusion. So the ',' connector of sub narratives can take the form of '+' or of '-'. I continue to think hedging and negation are not true "proto" semantic concepts. But so many sentences in English use them that there is more value to allowing it in the discussion. I introduce it reluctantly. Anyway, the Cussler sentence takes a form something like this:
- (X::X_/sleep)+ ((SPLASH->[X])::([X]_/sooth)) + [X_/sooth::X_/sleep]
Or you might write it using an asterisk '*':
(X::X_/sleep)*, ((SPLASH->[X])::([X]_/sooth)) , [X_/sooth::X_/sleep]
The last term is an implicit, on-the-fly truism or factoid.

Next step is to understand the algebra which leaves us at the end of a sentence knowing a story took place where the character was splashed and soothed and, now, is not asleep. The splashed/soothed part of the story is over and the lack of sleep remains.

Frankly I am on the fence about formalizing "diagramming" as a set of operations on proto semantic narrative fragments. The diagramming would include substitutions ({A , B}), hedging (*), and a form of syllogism along the lines that A::B, B::C  produces A::C because the 'B' is fully absorbed by the end of the narrative fragment. This diagramming is explained as a "meta" operation that is embedded back into common usage. Meaning the diagramming operations mirror true semantic operations that are not "meta" in the end because they are used in actual communication. Thus we might regard diagramming as the manipulation of narrative,  whether functional within a communication or "meta" within an analysis. 
Update: when I say the "splashed/soothed part of the story is over and the lack of sleep remains", a fairer description is that: the lack of sleep remains but with an attribute "has causal explanation".

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Barbara Waksman

Barb in ~2013:
Seems like she should have a picture online. My wife and son Joe around 2005:
Here they are in ~2001:
And here she is in 1995:

The Internet of Words

The phrase "Internet of Things" is popular right now. I wait for language processing to get off the ground on the internet so all things can become language aware. Shopping, dating, browsing,  expressing yourself. The Internet of Words is far more important than the Internet of Things.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Cribbing quotes from Clive Cussler

Clive Cussler is a good source of sentences like this:
He came within an eye blink of [falling asleep] under the soothing splash of the warm water.
So I am busy for an hour or so analyzing this as an example of truisms and facts and eventually I conclude that we are left at the end of the sentence with a character that did not go sleep. So what does happen to him? I just went to look and am relieved to see he gets to go to sleep by the end of the paragraph. Nice job Cussler! 
It is like naming your mice in a biology experiment (or maybe naming your cows) when you go from analyzing the sentence back to reading the book.
Joking aside, it is reassuring that the paragraph restores a kind of algebraic equilibrium (more on this later).

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Truisms in Semantics

I find these sorts of structures underlying how sentences achieve narrative continuity. They are called Truisms. Many of them are equated with so-called logical fallacies and it is unfortunate that logicians bypass them since they are so integral to how we communicate. The truisms that  use the operation '::' (of becoming) can be detected when the word "but" can be used.

Truism 1: Events occur at a place, at a time, in a manner:
(X->Y)at->[place] _/[time] _/[manner]
"It was raining hard outside this morning".
Truism 2: Affects can change a person’s feelings:
(X->person) :: [person_/feeling]
"I got hit on the head but it did not hurt"
"I got hit on the head and it hurt"
Truism 3: Feelings can motivate actions:
(person_/feeling) :: [person->Y]
"I was angry with the dog so I kicked him"
"I was angry at the dog but I did not kick him"

Truism 4A: Attributes remain the same:
X_/A :: X_/[A]
"I saw a pretty girl at the mall yesterday but she was not there today"
"I saw a pretty girl at the mall yesterday. I saw her again today"

Truism 4B: Relationships remain the same:
Xa->Y :: Xa->[Y]
"I put the desert in the fridge to cool and took it out that evening"
"I put the desert in the fridge to cool but it was gone that evening"

The difference between 4A and 4B does not need to be significant. Role conversions allow expression in either form, with the ultimate meaning determined by what is described.

Truism 5: What is potential becomes actual:
X->[Y] :: X->Y

[I have trouble with this one. (Adding) "He almost made it but then the raft collapsed"]

"I took the desert out of the fridge"
This differs from Truism 4 because implicit becomes explicit rather than the reverse. Perhaps  all combinations occur in some form of Truism.

These generalize to:
Truism N: All things we know in the universe are connected as we know them to be connected and behave as we expect them to behave.

Barb’s truism: If a person has an attractive personality we tend to judge them more physically attractive. This is 4A but it is not obvious how – where person’s personality is substituted for ‘X’ on the left and by person’s appearance is substituted for ‘X’ on the right.
Also it involves applying a value scale, something we have not discussed. We could imagine a ‘HI’ and a ‘LO’ attributes of a thing.
(Xvalue->Y)_/HI :: (Xvalue->Y)_/[HI]
(Xvalue->Y)_/LO :: (Xvalue->Y)_/[LO]
"He was nicely dressed but a real jerk"

[The interesting question is: do we use meanings with deeper and deeper nested compexity, or is vagueness employed after a certain point, or does meaningful thought remain limited to a low level of narrative complexity?]

Update: I later conclude that Trusim N and Truism 5 are mixed up due to my not recognizing factoids which are on-the-fly truisms based on facts. So rather than being a truism, for example, "Being relaxed leads to sleeping" expressed as '[X]_/ relaxed :: [X]_/sleeping', is a factoid because it expresses a truism with particulars. My current thinking is that "what is potential becomes actual" is not a truism but general statement of many different particular factoids. So truism N simply allows factoids. Truism 5 becomes unnecessary.
Update 2: And that is not the end of it. There is some form of syllogism floating around of the form A::B,B::C leads to A::C