Posted on Categories Computer Science, Opinion, RantsTags , 1 Comment on Map Reduce: A Good Idea

Map Reduce: A Good Idea

Some time ago I subscribed to The Database Column because it would be fun to see what these incredible people wanted to discuss. We owe much of our current database technology to Professor Stonebraker and Vertica sounds like an incredible product. And I definitely want to continue to subscribe.

However, the reading experience is marred by some flaw in their RSS system that keeps marking the article “MapReduce: A major step backwards” as a new article. This causes the article to appear in my RSS reader every few weeks as “new.” This wouldn’t bother me too much except that the article runs so counter to experience that it is itself offensive.
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Posted on Categories Opinion, RantsTags 1 Comment on Something I don’t get about business and bailouts

Something I don’t get about business and bailouts

I don’t really know what the right answer to the $700 Billion Dollar Bailout Question is (I have not read the bill, and I wonder if the bill really describes what would happen). But the whole situation does remind me of a related question: is it really the end of the world if the “credit markets freeze?” It is a disaster if the equity markets tank for a period of longer than a year or so (prevents people from retiring and so on)- but I am not sure if all of the consequences we are being told really follow. Continue reading Something I don’t get about business and bailouts

Posted on Categories Expository Writing, Mathematics, OpinionTags

What is Mathematics, Really?

I recently had one of those “practitioner’s epiphanies” that I
really feel captures the core of the issue and quickly explains a lot
about mathematics.

My current definition is:

Mathematics is the minimal environment to preserve ideas.

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Posted on Categories Expository Writing, OpinionTags , ,

YAYGDA (Yet Another Yahoo Google Deal Article)

Information week describes the current “Yahoo/Google deal” as being one that would “allow Yahoo to place Google ads on its site and collect the revenue.” But in reality it is a deal that will allow Google to sell Yahoo the rope to hang itself. To the theorist’s eye the deal looks like a doomsday machine designed along the lines of a simple game called a “stag hunt.” Continue reading YAYGDA (Yet Another Yahoo Google Deal Article)

Posted on Categories Finance, OpinionTags , 1 Comment on Is Search Advertising a Market for Lemons?

Is Search Advertising a Market for Lemons?

author: John Mount, 5-13-2008

Anand Rajaraman recently wrote a very thought-provoking entry on his Datawocky blog. He asks “Is Search Advertising a Giffen Good?” As he explains a Giffen Good is a sort of economic doomsday machine that some segment of consumers are forced to buy more of an inferior good as the price of the inferior good goes up. His article is well written are really invites one to think about the issue. Anand’s question made me thing about a number of issues (which I will outline here) and I will leave off with a question of my own.

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Posted on Categories Computer Science, Opinion, RantsTags 4 Comments on I know, I am the one being a jerk

I know, I am the one being a jerk

The other day’s blog post and a recent Andrew Binstock interview of Donald Knuth made me think more about how the ACM is really not serving the interests of computer science. Continue reading I know, I am the one being a jerk

Posted on Categories Computer Science, OpinionTags , 3 Comments on Sorting Used in Anger

Sorting Used in Anger

“Sorting Used in Anger” (A rambling glimpse into the mind of a theorist)
Author: John Mount
4-24-2008

The other day I had a bit of time to kill before an appointment. Luck was with me: there was a nearby bookstore and I was able to pass some of the time skimming through a book called “Beautiful Code.” Everything started out fun and nostalgic. The book title reminded me of “The Art of Computer Programming” (a book that probably did as much through the grace of its title as it did through its incredible contents to attract minds into theoretical computer science). One of the chapters of “Beautiful Code” was by Jon Bentley (a hero of sharp reasoning and clever coding) and as I flipped to the chapter my day was ruined. There it was: Quicksort an algorithm that I have a long love and hate relationship with.

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Posted on Categories OpinionTags , 4 Comments on Do Not Let Your Medical Records Be Used Against You

Do Not Let Your Medical Records Be Used Against You

Author: John Mount

March 1, 2008

www.win-vector.com

“A second goal of 23andMe [is] to collect a large database of genetic information and then come back to you over time with invitations to provide specific health data and participate in research.”

23andMe Board member Esther Dyson

Unregulated companies managing personal medical records is going to be very bad for very many people. You will not be invited to share in research profits, you may be un-invited from your insurance and your job.

We are being asked to believe that shared access to our personal health records is an unambiguous direct benefit to us. Perhaps, if properly regulated this is true. However, huge companies want to implement online medical record platforms without any public policy discussion. And even what little debate is attempted is stilted and irrelevant because the value of medical records is accepted without examination and criticism is limited to identifying a few pet risks.

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