Occam's razor

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pages: 303 words: 67,891

Advances in Artificial General Intelligence: Concepts, Architectures and Algorithms: Proceedings of the Agi Workshop 2006 by Ben Goertzel, Pei Wang

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AI winter, artificial general intelligence, bioinformatics, brain emulation, combinatorial explosion, complexity theory, computer vision, conceptual framework, correlation coefficient, epigenetics, friendly AI, information retrieval, Isaac Newton, John Conway, Loebner Prize, Menlo Park, natural language processing, Occam's razor, p-value, pattern recognition, performance metric, Ray Kurzweil, Rodney Brooks, semantic web, statistical model, strong AI, theory of mind, traveling salesman, Turing machine, Turing test, Von Neumann architecture, Y2K

Humans can construct powerful mental programs for many domains never seen before. We address the questions of how this occurs, and how it could possibly be accomplished in software. Section one surveys a theory of natural understanding, as follows. One understands a domain when one has mental programs that can be executed to solve problems arising in the domain. Evolution created compact programs understanding domains posed by nature. According to an extrapolation of Occam's razor, a compact enough program solving enough problems drawn from a distribution can only be found if there is simple structure underlying the distribution and the program exploits this structure, in which case the program will generalize by solving most new problems drawn from the distribution. This picture has several important ramifications for attempts to develop Artificial General Intelligence (AGI), suggesting for example, that human intelligence is not in fact general, and that weak methods may not suffice to reproduce human abilities.

Introduction A striking phenomenon of human intelligence is that we understand problems, and can construct powerful solutions for problems we have never seen before. Section one surveys a theory under which one understands a problem when one has mental programs that can solve it and many naturally occurring variations. Such programs are suggested to arise through discovering a sufficiently concise program that works on a sufficiently large sample of naturally presented problems. By a proposed extrapolation of Occam's razor, such a concise effective program would only exist if the world posing the problems had an underlying structure that the program exploits to solve the problems, and in that case it will generalize to solve many new problems generated by the same world. It is further argued that the concise Occam program leading to human and natural understanding is largely embodied in the genome, which programs development of a modular program in the brain.

Turing's thesis gives us a precise language which we can use to discuss and model thought, the language of computer programs. This thesis, however, left us with some puzzles. A first important one is: what about this particular code causes it to understand? A second important one is: given that complexity theory has indicated that many computations are inherently time consuming, how does the mind work so amazingly fast? Computational learning theory has explained generalization as arising from Occam's razor. The most studied context is concept learning, where one sees a series of classified examples, and desires to learn a function that will predict correctly whether new examples are examples of the concept or not. Roughly speaking, one can show that if one presents examples drawn from some process, and finds a simple enough E. Baum / A Working Hypothesis for General Intelligence 57 function classifying most examples in a large data set, it will also correctly classify most new examples drawn from the process on which it hadn't been been specifically trained, it will generalize.

 

pages: 236 words: 50,763

The Golden Ticket: P, NP, and the Search for the Impossible by Lance Fortnow

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Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, Andrew Wiles, Claude Shannon: information theory, cloud computing, complexity theory, Erdős number, four colour theorem, Gerolamo Cardano, Isaac Newton, John von Neumann, linear programming, new economy, NP-complete, Occam's razor, P = NP, Paul Erdős, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, smart grid, Stephen Hawking, traveling salesman, Turing machine, Turing test, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, William of Occam

We know him best for Occam’s razor, the principle that the simplest explanation is usually the best, denoted a “razor” supposedly because it allows us to “shave off” the complicated parts of a theory, leaving the simple explanation behind. This philosophy guided scientific and philosophical thinking throughout the Renaissance and continues to guide us today. René Descartes, a seventeenth-century French philosopher, used the Occam razor principle to argue even for the existence of the world around him. Descartes is, of course, most famous for his philosophical statement “Cogito ergo sum,” or “I think, therefore I am.” In his treatise Discourse of the Method, Descartes from assuming nothing deduces his own existence from the mere fact that he can reason about himself. What about the complex world that Descartes experiences? Could everything exist merely within Descartes’ consciousness?

 

pages: 230 words: 63,891

Forever Free by Joe Haldeman

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Albert Einstein, Magellanic Cloud, Occam's razor

"Wormholes. It's like exchanging one quantum state for another, and then going back." "Like a bungee jump," our fan of the twentieth century added. "With your starship," she continued, "you were actually leaving. You were going into the territory of the nameless." "They told you this?" Marygay asked. "You talk to the nameless?" "No," the man said. "It's just inference." "You would call it Occam's Razor," the woman said. "It's the least complicated explanation." "So we've provoked the wrath of God," I said. "If you want to put it that way," the plain one said. "What we're trying to figure out is how to get God's attention." I wanted to scream, but Sara expressed it more calmly. "If they're omnipotent and everywhere … we have their attention. Too much of it." The priest shook his head. "No.

 

pages: 168 words: 9,044

You're Not Fooling Anyone When You Take Your Laptop to a Coffee Shop: Scalzi on Writing by John Scalzi

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non-fiction novel, Occam's razor, place-making, rent control, Ronald Reagan, Steve Jobs, telemarketer

This is of course begging the question as to why they're so good, but just as American authors can have many reasons for slumping at the moment, these British authors can have myriad reasons for being at the top of their game, possibly some relating to nationality but other factors having little or nothing to do with it at all. It's fun to ascribe an overarching reason for the inclusion of these five particular books, to try to impose some sort of uniform causality. But ultimately these rationales aren't going to pan out. Occam's Razor returns us to the "really good book" theory. It works for me. *** The next piece you can see as a companion piece to "Science Fiction Outreach"— same ideas, many of the same examples, but a slightly different end point.—JS The Myth of the Science Fiction Monoculture (August 2, 2005) A number of people have written to alert me to Robert K.J. Killheffer's review of Old Man's War (among a number of other books) in the September 2005 issue of Fantasy & Science Fiction, with the intimation that the review is something of a slam.

 

pages: 412 words: 122,952

Day We Found the Universe by Marcia Bartusiak

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Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, Arthur Eddington, California gold rush, Cepheid variable, Copley Medal, cosmic microwave background, cosmological constant, Edmond Halley, Edward Charles Pickering, Fellow of the Royal Society, fudge factor, Harlow Shapley and Heber Curtis, Harvard Computers: women astronomers, horn antenna, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, Louis Pasteur, Magellanic Cloud, Occam's razor, Pluto: dwarf planet, Solar eclipse in 1919, William of Occam

(With 1 light-year equaling about six trillion miles, that's more than a hundred million trillion miles.) For Curtis the faint novae were bona fide proof that the nebulae resided far beyond the borders of the Milky Way. But Curtis was championing this idea too early, before the physics could explain it. Many of his fellow astronomers were still fairly skeptical, unwilling to conjure up new celestial creatures willy-nilly. For them “Occam's Razor” prevailed, the long-standing rule of thumb established by the English philosopher William of Occam in the fourteenth century. “Pluralitas non est ponenda sine necessitate,” declared Occam, which can be translated as “plurality must not be posited without necessity.” Best to choose the simplest interpretation over an unnecessarily complex one—unless forced to do otherwise. One type of nova was far more preferable than two.

 

pages: 553 words: 151,139

The Teeth of the Tiger by Tom Clancy

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airport security, book scanning, centralized clearinghouse, complexity theory, forensic accounting, illegal immigration, Occam's razor, sensible shoes

"Civilized place like Rome, why bother?" Granger observed. But they would now, for a while at least. "How did we find out?" "Made the local papers that an official at the Israeli Embassy got whacked while taking a leak. The Agency Chief of Station fingered him for a spook. Some people at Langley are running around in circles trying to figure what it all means, but they'll probably fall back on Occam's razor and buy what the local cops think. Dead man. No wallet. Robbery where the crook got a little carried away." "You think the Israelis will buy that?" Granger wondered. "About as soon as they serve roast pork at an embassy dinner. He was knifed between the first and second vertebrae. A street hood is more likely to slash the throat, but a pro knows that's messy and noisy. The Carabinieri are working the case-but it sounds as though they don't have dick to work with, unless somebody at the restaurant has a hell of a good memory.

 

pages: 607 words: 185,228

Antarctica by Kim Stanley Robinson

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Exxon Valdez, Fermat's Last Theorem, gravity well, hiring and firing, late capitalism, Occam's razor, Turing test, Zeno's paradox

Because what it demonstrates very clearly is that what we think of as neutral objective science is actually a Utopian politics and worldview already. There is a big historical section describing the rise of science, showing that science is self-organizing and self-actualizing, and always trying to get better, to be more scientific, as one of its rules. And there is a big middle section showing how various features of normal scientific practice, the methodology and so on, are in fact ethical positions. Things like reproducibility, or Occam's razor, or peer review-almost everything in science that makes it specifically scientific, the authors show, is Utopian. Then the final section tells what the ramifications of this fact are, how scientists should behave now, once they realize this truth. And the book is a kind of underground bestseller! It goes from lab to lab, the graduate students are all reading it, the senior scientists who are still thinking- everyone!

 

Data Mining: Concepts and Techniques: Concepts and Techniques by Jiawei Han, Micheline Kamber, Jian Pei

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bioinformatics, business intelligence, business process, Claude Shannon: information theory, cloud computing, computer vision, correlation coefficient, cyber-physical system, database schema, discrete time, distributed generation, finite state, information retrieval, iterative process, knowledge worker, linked data, natural language processing, Netflix Prize, Occam's razor, pattern recognition, performance metric, phenotype, random walk, recommendation engine, RFID, semantic web, sentiment analysis, speech recognition, statistical model, stochastic process, supply-chain management, text mining, thinkpad, web application

[Dob90] Dobson, A.J., An Introduction to Generalized Linear Models. (1990) Chapman & Hall . [Dob01] Dobson, A.J., An Introduction to Generalized Linear Models. 2nd ed. (2001) Chapman & Hall . [Dom94] Domingos, P., The RISE system: Conquering without separating, In: Proc. 1994 IEEE Int. Conf. Tools with Artificial Intelligence (TAI’94) New Orleans, LA. (1994), pp. 704–707. [Dom99] Domingos, P., The role of Occam's razor in knowledge discovery, Data Mining and Knowledge Discovery 3 (1999) 409–425. [DP96] Domingos, P.; Pazzani, M., Beyond independence: Conditions for the optimality of the simple Bayesian classifier, In: Proc. 1996 Int. Conf. Machine Learning (ML’96) Bari, Italy. (July 1996), pp. 105–112. [DP97] Devore, J.; Peck, R., Statistics: The Exploration and Analysis of Data. (1997) Duxbury Press . [DP07] Dong, G.; Pei, J., Sequence Data Mining. (2007) Springer, New York .