Sunday, September 24, 2006

Health: Optimizing constraints

After you have walked the steps through childhood (don't know pretty much about health), adoloscense (obsessed with certain aspects of health, like looks) in the journey towards better health, time would come to start being more like adults:) Let me explain what it means.

A society invests most power and authority in the age group in which one is considered adult. There is a valid reason for that because that's the best productive stage for most people. Because people want many variety of things in that stage they are forced to try to make optimal decisions if they need to get all those and in the process they fulfill the needs of others as well since humans are very symbiotic in relationships.

So in any journey it makes sense to call you an adult when you are at a stage where you have to optimize several constraints and you will face this stage even in your journey towards better health (ofcourse if you are on the journey for long enough). What are the typical constraints you would have to optimize?

  • Money: Don't spend an outrageous amount on nutritional food, on gym fees, personal trainers, fancy short-cut health plans etc. Try to invest money like try to build a gym of our own.

  • Social life: Don't overfill the buffer of health benefits. Spare time for your other aspects of life as well and that is the key for longer term benefits.

  • Time: Even a 30 min workout (including changing, stretching etc.) will start working for you and hence be smart.

  • Health: Of course never let your effort for balance drag you back into your old habits.

This listing thoughs seem non-algorithmic is nevertheless useful for achieving balance (optimization of several constraints) as it provides cues for verification of balance. Walking on the line of balance is an art and there are several ways of achieving it. It is undeniable that there is nothing arguably right or wrong in art which is nevertheless very important.

A small note about making optimal decisions:
Humans always make optimal decisions but only relatively, based on what they perceive. That is every human being makes a locally optimal decision. Greedy strategy doesnot always work towards global optima but as you start being more like an adult your optimal decisions tend to be like global optimas because of the reason I explained, in second paragraph, about this age group being very influential in society.

Link to previous health post.
Added the link on September 25, 06 11:00AM

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Man, Machine and Math

Scientists and artists are both fascinated by one thing: Nature. Artists are more obsessed with causality while the former are with results. Both scientific and artistic efforts try to use rationality but under different bounds and are important. Working in bounded rationality is something that is hard to be avoided in this finitistic world. The most profound questions in science happen to be those that question causality like the quest for Unified Field Theory by physicists, quest for proof of P?=NP by mathematicians. Artificial Intelligence is one of the most coveted dreams of man that if realized has unparalleled consequences on machines. An artist can dream of a machine pursuing its dreams like in A.I. by Speilberg. A scientist can dream of finding proofs for most intriguing theorems automatically.

What is the main problem in realizing such dream machines or dream theories like unified theory? It's their complexity. Efficient representation of ideas is very essential in making them useful. Math is a popular tool that allows us to make judgements about different representations, to apply the ideas to a large scale avoiding manual errors, to give new insights which are elusive without it. There are many wonderous things in Nature that are not mathematical (or atleast not mathematized yet) like humans, plants, viruses etc. (BTW the P vs. NP question precisely asks whether humans can be completely efficiently mathematized in terms of their mathematical ability).

Most people agree that to understand a phenomenon completely one must be able to look inside the process. But when we start looking inside our own processes we start being spiritual. For example in one way or the other we try to reason out some important events based on karma philosophy. Though there is no consensus mostly because of non-verifiability scientifically, we eventually settle down for it. If someday we can formalize karma using math, which would certainly be extremely sophisticated and need lot more evolution, we could have unified field theory, more predictability of events in life etc. But then again we need room for growth even then. We don't have to worry unless we overturn the existing logical system.