Why programming is hard to automate

A common question in amateur science forums goes like this: how long until we can fully automate computer programming, in the sense of telling the computer what we want it to do in a few English sentences? That’s a wonderful fantasy, but it goes beyond “technically infeasible” and into “doesn’t even make sense”. In this [...]

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100 uses for blank MP3s

In 2010, I posted a collection of Blank MP3s of various lengths. Yep, the same kind of MP3 files you use to listen to music, except minus the music. Sound pointless? Well, since then, grateful users have sent me a lot of messages telling me how they use blank MP3s. The title of this article [...]

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Peer Reviewer’s Oath

I recently completed my second peer reviewing assignment. I enjoy performing peer review. It gives me a finger on the pulse of cutting edge research (at least the cutting edge research that’s trivial enough to entrust its reviewing to lowly old me). It makes me feel good to do my part, however small, in advancement [...]

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Infinitary Species

One of the papers I had the most fun writing, was my paper, “Infinite graphs in systematic biology, with an application to the species problem”. And one of the funnest notions in that paper is the notion of the infinitary species. This notion is fun because of some of the really preposterous properties it has, [...]

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Announcing PORAL: The Patterns of Resemblance Arithmetic Library (in C)

I am in the process of moving various scattered projects onto GitHub. I’ve just moved one of my most technical projects there, PORAL. PORAL stands for “Patterns of Resemblance Arithmetic Library”. Patterns of Resemblance form a large ordinal notation system. They were devised by my advisor, Timothy J. Carlson. For a geometric introduction (note, the [...]

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Dangerous graphs

Is there a worst-possible paradox and if so what is it? In this post I’ll discuss an open question about graphs, whose answer, if we could answer it, might tell us what is the worst-possible paradox. Most people have come across the Liar Paradox at some point or other, whether in an academic journal, or [...]

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Paper: Contours and Tight Clusters

Normally I would not announce a paper while it is still under peer review (which “Contours and Tight Clusters” is), but in this case I may soon be needing to share it with some folks, so I decided I would publish the preprint here. Actually, not here exactly, but over at my new domain, semitrivial.com: [...]

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How to follow lots of academic journals

In a world of constant obligations and responsibilities, it’s hard to keep current on the academic literature. My new program, Undeadline, is the solution. You can try various methods, like RSS feeds or Google Scholar alerts, to notify you when new issues hit the press. This doesn’t work very well, though, in practice. All the [...]

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Announcing: Undeadline

Have you had so much to do that you wished you had your own personal triage nurse? Never again! I am extremely happy to give you Undeadline. Undeadline is panacea for all who suffer from the twenty-first century working paradox: 21st Century Working Paradox: We’re too busy to be ambitious, and too ambitious to relax! [...]

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ARIE (Almost lineaR algorIthm for undirparEnts)

In November 2013 I wrote this little library called ARIE and “published” it via email to select parties; I am now making it available to a wider public audience. ARIE is a C implementation of an almost linear algorithm designed by Arie de Bruin and colleagues to calculate undirparental relations in a topologically sorted DAG. [...]

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