Tag Archives: opinion

(Yet Another) Theory vs Systems Ramble

Theoretical research is like a mighty battle against a noble King. Your foe is not a ruthless warlord — he, on the other hand, is the master tactician that has seen hundreds of wars. He has a versatile and innumerable army, highly trained, unflinching and ready to make a kill when they have to.

Nevertheless, you can trust the king to not breach the rules of war. His army will take you head on, face to face, and you can count on them to fight a fair battle and not to backstab you. You can fight a fair, disciplined war, and count on your foe to do the same. You can even challenge the King to a game of chess and have the winner take the land.

However, you can’t get a mallet and bash your way through the army. There is no sidestepping and backstabbing the king. Your opponent is too good for that. To win, you have to bring in your best; bring in a clever, disciplined and dedicated fight, and hope to bring the King to your knees in the end.

Systems research is plenty different. It is like battling a ruthless werewolf. It knows no rules, other than to go for your neck. You are up against a mindless beast. Your tactics or strategies won’t help you here—only your instinct, and generous helpings of luck will. You’ll need to move fast and keep an eye behind you to survive.

However, killing the beast might be as simple as one simple, clean thrust of your sword right into it’s heart. The harder part is to survive till you get to make the swing.


The Irony of Logic

The Illusion of Black and White

Mathematical Logic is a queer field. Its ways are abstract yet rigorous, its results incredibly simple yet often surprising. It is also a much under-appreciated field – its concepts and results, besides being so fundamental to the mathematical formalism we are familiar today, is the only reason why we have computers.

Logic also is an ironic field, in fact, quite profoundly so.

Look around, look at the real world, in all it’s complexity and ambiguity; and try to frame a statement about it that is purely binary – a statement that is either True or False entirely, but never in between.

The world is not black and white. It’s really, really gray. — Joshua Topolsky

You’ll probably be surprised that you are unable to do so. The real world is never black-and-white, there is little about the world that fits an absolute “yes” or “no”.
The real world doesn’t afford the luxury of being so flawlessly deterministic. Things are often indeterminate. Physical quantities settle down at intermediate values. Things come in whole or part. It’s a whole mess of “almost”, “somewhat”, “quite” and “fairly”. Mapping this gray, gray world to an abstract, black-and-white model is seemingly a crude abstraction to make – almost shockingly so. In this regard, the entire field of Logic feels so badly grounded.

Yet here we are, with a profoundly developed field of study that frames a large bodies of our scientific studies and technological endeavors; yet is nearly diametrically opposite to what we experience in the real world. If this isn’t irony, what is!

Terra Firma

Windows Logo

After about 5 months of using Ubuntu almost exclusively as my daily OS; I’ve finally made the decision and switched back to windows – why? And how does it feel?

Ubuntu had become surprisingly usable and polished in it’s last two iterations, perhaps the main incentives that made me try it as a primary OS – and it was a good experience, on an overall view – the Ubuntu Software Center were catering to most of my software needs; UMPlayer took good care of my videos; and I didn’t really mind the occasional tinkering that was required to get, for instance, the mic working.

The problem, a non-trivial one, that is – was the bugs. There were simply too many of them, and most of them non-trivial.
The PC will altogether refuse to boot. The Mutter GUI engine will fail for days sometimes. There were constant errors and bugs with the routine operations like file-management. Once, I made a backup of my important documents and program-source-code onto an NTFS drive and formatted my Ubuntu partition – once I reinstalled and checked the backup folder, it was empty – nothing had been copied in the first place.

I’m not denouncing Linux or Ubuntu as a totally unusable platform, in fact, it was fairly superior in many aspects – however, the way I see it, there is a missing, a tangible one. A concern about uncertainty – the feel Linux gave over Windows is exactly like what the “wobbly”, rubbery windows of the former feels against the rigid, matted glass windows of the latter.

In the end, it’s all about preference –
Using Linux, maybe, is like the thrill of riding a motorcycle; while Windows gives you a feeling of comfort like that of a car. Above all, it’s all about choice.

Duty or Dust?

The evolution, of man as a being and humans as a society, has been about one thing more than anything else – a perpetually growing pile of ordeals cumulating upon our selves. As we grow and move, these ordeals; the tidbits of etiquettes, rules, laws, clichés, orders, advises and duties; circle us in a vicious loop, even while we don’t realize it and proclaim ourselves to be free men.

The state assembly elections were here; after a couple of weeks of stampede by trumpeting campaign-bandwagons; and like the past time, I chose not to vote. As for why, I had a clear reason – firstly, it was a cycle-democracy, except for an exception in a blue-moon, the fronts ceaselessly alternated for their shot at the podium. Secondly, the choice was between sand and sawdust. Finally, all candidates had personalities as plain as the attire they were clad in, white, with no distinguishing colours or patterns that set them apart from another. Thus, at least until one of the three factors negates itself (the third being obviously the most likely, the other two bordering on total impossibility), I found no real reason to vote.

Like expected, this decision would garner more rebuke than praise. When I rather proudly told a friend that I skipped this elections, she responded:

I disagree. It’s true that politicians never do their part, but we have certain duties as a part of the democracy, so at least we should do that. (…) Not being a part of democracy is a failure from our side, and we can’t forget our duties towards the nation like that.

Yet again, here we are, where a duty should take precedence over choice or reason. Nobody really disagrees the fact that democracy in India, as it stands, is a total failure. Everyone just wants to play their parts simply as it is their duty towards the nation, because we are all part of a plan, our souls bound down for life to a hundred ordeals written down in ink.

As for me, quite simply, I don’t give a damn, my duty is something that makes sense to me and makes me want to do it; and I don’t believe that choosing sand over sawdust is one of them – it would be my duty to vote, if one day comes a sensible politician that really demands my attention and vote; but until then, no, I’m not buying. And to all the duty-loving crowd, a quick reminder – if voting is your duty, so is keeping your surroundings clean and protecting the public-property like your own – the constitution writes that down too.

What do you think? Do I make sense or am I the complete moron?