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Packing Algorithms May Save the Planet

glyph42 tell us what is different about it (195 comments)

"Schneider and colleagues' algorithm allows for occasional reverse steps that can unlock better solutions" ... "The algorithm uses backward moves often at the start of a packing process but they become less frequent as it closes in on the final solution"

That could describe just about every packing algorithm ever tried, ever. Can't we get a well-written article that actually says why it's different?

more than 5 years ago

iPhone App Pricing Limits Developers

glyph42 it's called competition (437 comments)

I'm sorry, what? Are they complaining that it's hard to make money because there is competition? Hahahahaha. HAHAHAhahahahaha.

more than 6 years ago

Replacing Metal Detectors With Brain Scans

glyph42 can you say *overfitting*? (327 comments)

These things keep coming up, therefore I must keep repeating myself. Every time any sort of "screening" for terrorists comes up, I point out the problem of overfitting. This comes into play in two ways:

1) It's a simple mathematical fact that if you do not have a suitably large training set (i.e. *actual terrorists*) to study while developing your model, then your model is 100% horse crap, no matter how many anecdotes or pet theories you put behind it.

2) Even if you do have enough *actual terrorists* to study, there is no guarantee that your model actually predicts terrorists when applied to new subjects. It is more likely that your model is latching on to some coincidental pattern in your training data, then actually predicting anything. The problem gets worse as you add more parameters to your model. To reduce overfitting, you need a very large sample, and you need more samples to test your model after the fact. Even then, overfitting can still occur.

Fact: We *do not* have a large sample of actual terrorists that we can freely study for developing a model for predicting terrorist behavior.

Inescapable conclusion: This will result in a *huge number of false positives*.

Additional problem: The *actual terrorists* can learn your (flawed) model by performing their own tests on your system, and by choosing people who routinely get through your system, they can *increase their success rate*. This was proven in a paper a few years ago.

Oh well, here's to tons of wasteful spending that will inconvenience (and sometimes physically harm) honest people and increase the likelihood of successful terrorism!

more than 6 years ago

Startup Seeks To Preempt Patent Trolls

glyph42 patent system overhead (117 comments)

*Any* business based solely on patents is pure overhead for the rest of us. Overhead of the patent system, I mean. The fact that you can have a growth business of just dealing with patents and nothing else means that the overhead of the patent system itself grows over time. At some point the overhead costs more than the benefit that we get from the system! Don't get me started on insurance companies, lawyers, bankers and brokers either. Each system has players that are pure overhead, and increasingly so.

more than 6 years ago

Digital Photos Give Away a Camera's Make and Model

glyph42 shoot raw (260 comments)

Just shoot raw and process the photos in Photoshop. Then their demosaic algorithm detector will just read "Adobe did it".

more than 6 years ago

75 Comics That Are Being Made Into Films

glyph42 original? (256 comments)

Finally we will be treated to live-action adaptations of such classics as Buck Rogers, Sherlock Holmes, Wonder Woman, Red Sonja, Barbarella, The Green Hornet and The Flash! Wait, what? Those were made into live-action years ago? Oh bloody hell. Oh well, I for one am looking forward to the sequels to recent films in that list, such as Iron Man and (maybe sequel) Superman. I guess I will treat the rest as not-really-sequels and / or pseudo-remakes. Lots of movies were better the second time around anyway. Most aren't, but here's hoping.

more than 6 years ago


glyph42 hasn't submitted any stories.



glyph42 glyph42 writes  |  more than 10 years ago

I firmly believe that if some hypothetical country in the future had a perfect system of government, one that maximizes everyone's happiness in some reasonable way and simultaneously does not cause any minorities to suffer (including individuals), that is based on firm mathematical foundations, and even includes an easily understood proof of the system's perfection in its constitution, you could still convince the people of the country to change their system by playing to their greed. I believe that a small group of greedy people living in the country could put together a slick package outlining the benifits of some subtle changes, most likely emphasizing some kind of short term gains, and convince the country as a whole to change their perfect system even if it were strictly prohibited in their constitution. That's how confident I am about humanity as a whole. Also, I want my fast car and my posh house to retire early in.


glyph42 glyph42 writes  |  more than 10 years ago

I simply find it tasteless that every news report about an earthquake or tidal wave or hurricane cites the extent of the damage in dollars. X people died, Y houses were destroyed, totalling Z dollars. Let me be clear: Z dollars will move from one set of people's pockets to some other (probably intersecting) set of people's pockets. These news reports make it sound like the people are going to pay the earthquake / tidal wave / hurricane Z dollars in extortion money that is never going to be seen again.


glyph42 glyph42 writes  |  more than 10 years ago

It sickens me to read about all the different plans for dealing with a potential asteroid strike if one is ever actually found. All the articles, movies, etc. I have seen take the approach of choosing one idea that they think is best, then send it out into space, and then what do they do? THEY WAIT AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS. Why do they wait? Because WAITING "COSTS" LESS "MONEY". Sweet mother of pearl, if I were in the position of deciding what to do if an asteroid were approaching, I would send out one new space probe every other month under the assumption that ALL PREVIOUS PROBES ARE GOING TO FAIL.

Only when one of the probes actually verifiably blows that thing out of our path will I stop sending more probes. If it takes 10 years or so for a single probe to reach the asteroid, this lets me try 200 times to save humanity instead of 4 or 5. Sure, maybe I waste 150 probes, but how much is really wasted? Some relatively small chunks of metal. People who dare to even HINT at assigning a "COST" in "DOLLARS" to such an endeavour should be put in the Hall of Most Idiotic Morons. What is "COST" when it comes to issues of global scale? What we call "COST" is really just us shuffling some bits of paper from one part of our planet to another part. Or these days we're just shifting around some electrons. It's not like we're paying a bunch of space alien contractors to come get rid of the asteroid for us in some kind of inter-planetary commerce.


Or they might be more clever and say there is a cost in the amount of time it takes to perform the task, but this is already bounded by the number of years that it will take the asteroid to reach Earth, and that number is going to be small by historic proportions. Besides, even if we could have been developing other technologies during the time we took, what if we fail? All the new goodies we made would have been for naught. So any new goodies made during that time should be saving-humanity-type goodies anyway.

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