Archive for September 30th, 2011
In this work we studied the relationship between a system’s complexity and its performances in solving a given task. Although complexity is generally assumed to play a key role in an agent’s performance, its inﬂuence has not been deeply investigated in the past. To this aim we analysed a predator–prey scenario where a prey had to develop several strategies to counter an increasingly skilled predator. The predator has several advantages over the prey, thus requiring the prey to develop more and more complex strategies. The prey is driven by a fully recurrent neural network trained using genetic algorithms. We conducted several experiments measuring the prey’s complexity using Kolmogorov algorithmic complexity. Our ﬁnding is that, in accordance to what was believed in literature, complexity is indeed necessary to solve non-trivial tasks. The main contribution of this work lies in having proved the necessity of complexity to solve non-trivial tasks. This has been made possible by blending together a goal oriented system with a complex one. An experiment is provided to distinguish between the complexity of a chaotic system and the complexity of a random one.
The twenty-first century is a world in constant change. In A New Culture of Learning, Doug Thomas and John Seely Brown pursue an understanding of how the forces of change, and emerging waves of interest associated with these forces, inspire and invite us to imagine a future of learning that is as powerful as it is optimistic.
Typically, when we think of culture, we think of an existing, stable entity that changes and evolves over long periods of time. In A New Culture, Thomas and Brown explore a second sense of culture, one that responds to its surroundings organically. It not only adapts, it integrates change into its process as one of its environmental variables. By exploring play, innovation, and the cultivation of the imagination as cornerstones of learning, the authors create a vision of learning for the future that is achievable, scalable and one that grows along with the technology that fosters it and the people who engage with it. The result is a new form of culture in which knowledge is seen as fluid and evolving, the personal is both enhanced and refined in relation to the collective, and the ability to manage, negotiate and participate in the world is governed by the play of the imagination.
Replete with stories, this is a book that looks at the challenges that our education and learning environments face in a fresh way.
The gap between America’s rich and poor is growing wider, and a new IMF study shows why that inequality is hurting our economy.
Nowhere is the divide in America between the haves and have-nots a stark as it is in New York City, where one in five people — and 30 percent of children — have fallen into poverty. Last week, as global dignitaries and local luminaries crisscrossed midtown between UN gatherings, CGI’s soirees, and presidential-hopeful fundraisers, the Census Bureau conferred on Manhattan a less-than-luminous distinction: It is now the income inequality capital of the United States.
In the city’s center, the top fifth of earners makes 38 times as much as the bottom fifth, which means that by Gini coefficient — the ratio economists use to measure economic inequality — Manhattan ranks among some of the world’s most economically unstable and politically unsavory countries.
Opening today, the new documentary “American Teacher” follows the lives of four teachers who struggle to remain in a profession they love, despite the heavy toll exacted on their lives by the grueling hours and low-salaries. The documentary is a rebuttal of sorts to pundits who portray public school educators as cushioned recipients of tax-payer supported benefits, extended summer vacations and low accountability. We speak with the film’s Academy Award-winning director, Vanessa Roth, and with Brooklyn first-grade public school teacher, Jamie Fidler, who is featured in the film.
The increasing complexity of research requires scientists to work at the intersection of multiple fields and to face problems for which their formal education has not prepared them. For example, biologists with no or little background in programming are now often using complex scripts to handle the results from their experiments; vice versa, programmers wishing to enter the world of bioinformatics must know about biochemistry, genetics, and other fields.
In this context, communication tools such as mailing lists, web forums, and online communities acquire increasing importance. These tools permit scientists to quickly contact people skilled in a specialized field. A question posed properly to the right online scientific community can help in solving difficult problems, often faster than screening literature or writing to publication authors. The growth of active online scientific communities, such as those listed in Table S1, demonstrates how these tools are becoming an important source of support for an increasing number of researchers.
Nevertheless, making proper use of these resources is not easy. Adhering to the social norms of World Wide Web communication—loosely termed “netiquette”—is both important and non-trivial.
In this article, we take inspiration from our experience on Internet-shared scientific knowledge, and from similar documents such as “Asking the Questions the Smart Way” and “Getting Answers”, to provide guidelines and suggestions on how to use online communities to solve scientific problems.
From an interview with my dear friend Peggy Holman on enhancing creative leadership:
Q: What is one practice that people could start applying today to bring more creativity into their work or their business organization?
Holman: If I were to pick on practice that is simple to apply and powerful in its affect, I’d say: welcome disturbance by asking questions of possibility. Creativity often shows up in a cloak of disruption. It makes sense when you stop and think about it. If there were no disruption, there’d be no reason forchange. And change opens the door to creativity. Great questions help us to find possibilities in any situation, no matter how challenging.