Sunday, May 31, 2015

Uncommon Descent in Numbers - 2nd edition

Three years ago, I put up some pictures showing the number of comments and threads at Uncommon Descent. Now seems to be a good occasion to up-date some of this information.

1. Google Trends

Look for yourself: The phrase Uncommon Descent was most searched for in 2008. After that, everybody had bookmarked the site, so further googling became unnecessary. The same holds true for The Panda's Thumb - both sites are equally popular...

2. Threads per Month

The number of new threads per month peaked in 2011, but is still on a high level - though it seems to be decreasing. What makes all the difference is "News" - a.k.a. Denyse O'Leary - adding her news items. While in 2011/2012, those often were left uncommented, since 2013, they attract the attention of her fellow editors (though I got the impression that some commentators use them for their off-topic-remarks, while others just cannot let the copious factual inaccuracies stand uncommented.)

Monday, May 25, 2015

The Natural Probability on M(Ω)

Two weeks ago, Dr. Winston Ewert announced at Uncommon Descent a kind of open mike. He put up a page at Google Moderator and asked for questions. Unfortunately, not many took advantage of this offer, but I added three questions from the top of my head. The experience made me revisit the paper A General Theory of Information Cost Incurred by Successful Search again, and when I tried - as usual - to construct simple examples, I run into further questions - so, here is another one:

In their paper, the authors W. Dembski, W. Ewert, and R. Marks (DEM) talk about something they call the natural probability:

Processes that exhibit stochastic behavior arise from what may be called a natural probability. The natural probability characterizes the ordinary stochastic behavior of the process in question. Often the natural probability is the uniform probability. Thus, for a perfect cube with distinguishable sides composed of a rigid homogenous material (i.e., an ordinary die), the probability of any one of its six sides landing on a given toss is 1/6. Yet, for a loaded die, those probabilities will be skewed, with one side consuming the lion’s share of probability. For the loaded die, the natural probability is not uniform.
This natural probability on the search space translates through their idea of lifting to the space of measures $\mathbf{M}(\Omega)$:
As the natural probability on $\Omega$, $\mu$ is not confined simply to $\Omega$ lifts to $\mathbf{M}(\Omega)$, so that its lifting, namely $\overline{\mu}$, becomes the natural probability on $\mathbf{M}(\Omega)$ (this parallels how the uniform probability $\mathbf{U}$, when it is the natural probability on $\Omega$, lifts to the uniform probability $\overline{\mathbf{U}}$ on $\mathbf{M}(\Omega)$, which then becomes the natural probability for this higher-order search space).
As usual, I look at an easy example: a loaded coin which always shows head. So $\Omega=\{H,T\}$ and $\mu=\delta_H$ is the natural measure on $\Omega$. What happens on $\mathbf{M}(\Omega)= \{h\cdot\delta_H + t\cdot\delta_T|0 \le h,t \le 1; h+t=1 \}$? Luckily, $$(\mathbf{M}(\{H,T\}),\mathbf{U}) \cong ([0,1],\lambda).$$ Let's jump the hoops:
  1. The Radon-Nikodym derivative of $\delta_H$ with respect to $\mathbf{U}$ is $f(H) = \frac{d\delta_H}{d\mathbf{U}}(H) = 2$, $f(T) = \frac{d\delta_H}{d\mathbf{U}}(T) = 0$
  2. Let $\theta \in \mathbf{M}(\{H,T\})$, i.e., $\theta= h\delta_H + t\delta_T$. Then$$\overline{f}{(\theta)} = \int_{\Omega} f(x)d\theta(x)$$ $$=f(H)\cdot\theta(\{H\}) + f(T) \cdot\theta(\{T\})$$ $$=2 \cdot h$$
Here, I have the density of my natural measure on $\mathbf{M}(\Omega)$ with regard to $\overline{\mathbf{U}}$, $$d\overline{\delta_H}(h\cdot\delta_H + t\cdot\delta_T) = 2 \cdot h \cdot d\overline{\mathbf{U}}(h\cdot\delta_H + t\cdot\delta_T).$$ But what is it good for? For the uniform probability, DEM showed the identity $$\mathbf{U}=\int_{\mathbf{M}(\Omega)}\theta d\overline{\mathbf{U}} .$$ Unfortunately, for $\int_{\mathbf{M}(\Omega)}\theta d\overline{\delta_H}$, I get nothing similar: $$\int_{\mathbf{M}(\Omega)}\theta d\overline{\delta_H} = \frac{2}{3}\delta_H + \frac{1}{3}\delta_T$$

So, again, what does this mean? Wouldn't the Dirac delta function be a more natural measure on $\mathbf{M}(\Omega)$?

I hope that Dr. Winston Ewert reacts to all of the questions before Google Moderator shuts down for good on June 30, 2015...

Monday, May 11, 2015

Five Years of "The Search for a Search"

The Journal of Advanced Computational Intelligence and Intelligent Informatics published the paper The Search for a Search: Measuring the Information Cost of Higher Level Search of William A. Dembski and Robert J. Marks II (DM) in its July edition in 2010. With the five year jubilee of the publication coming, it seems to be appropriate to revisit a pet peeve of mine...

(Shell game performed on Karl-Liebknecht-Straße in Berlin, photograph by E.asphys)

Imagine a shell game. You have observed the con artist for a while, and now you know:

  1. The pea ends up under each of the three shells (left, middle, and right) with the same probability, i.e., $$P(Pea=left)=P(Pea=middle)=P(Pea=right)=1/3$$
  2. If the pea ends up under the left or the middle shell, you are able to track its way. So, in these cases, you will find the pea with probability 1 $$P(Finding\,Pea|Pea=left)=P(Finding\,Pea|Pea=middle)=1$$
  3. However, if the pea ends up under the right shell, in 999 times out 1000, you make a mistake during your tracking and be convinced that it is under the left or the middle shell - the probability of finding this pea is 1/1000$$P(Finding\,Pea|Pea=right)=1/1000$$

You are invited to play the game. Should you use your knowledge (method $M_1$), or should you chose a shell at random (method $M_2)$?