America In Realization [08.12.15]

 

Justice For All

 

Scientific Research

“Science has remade the world, but scientists are not finished yet.

The idea of a Multiverse containing an indefinite, possibly infinite, number of universes, each with its own laws of physics …

The nature of Consciousness …”

 

Solving World’s Problems

“It’s time to step up and fix the world’s problems—Greece, the Middle East.”

Research Problems I Want To Work On

  1. How do you create Advanced Artificial Intelligence that is better than human experts and understands and can reason about everything on the Web and in the real world?
  2. How do you Codify Biology at different levels of abstraction (DNA, Proteins, Metabolic and Signalling Pathways, Cells, Tissues, Organs, Body) so that you can predict and control? (Codification of Biology, Engineering Biology, Systems Biology, Computational Biology, Curing Diseases & Disabilities, Increasing Lifespans.) 
  3. How do you invent better tools, technologies (Imaging, Optogenetics) and Models for Understanding and Engineering the BrainHow do you Cure Neurological and Psychiatric Disorders?
  4. How do you Understand Complex Systems consisting of lots of interacting agents? (Application of Big Data; Inventing better Models, Mathematics, Algorithms to understand complex systems better; finding answers to age old questions in Sociology, Behavioral Science, Political Science, Economics & Business)
  5. How do you Design Materials and Nanostructures with required properties using Computers?
  6. How do you make Software Developers say 100 times more productive?
  7. How do you design an Effective Education and Learning and Research Platform?
  8. How do you create Platforms that empower people – so that the enormous potential in each and everyone of us is materialized?
  9. How do you take Human – Computer (networked) collaboration, intelligence to the next level?
  10. How do you integrate the Information World and the Physical World? (A world where the Physical world is completely aware of everything utilizing information from the Information World; the world of information is embedded in the Physical World.)
  11. How do you design Next Generation Manufacturing Technologies? (Fab-lab, 3D Printing, Automation)
  12. Exploration of new computing architectures – continuation of Moore’s law: exponential increase in processing power; computational power for data processing, intelligence; (Parallel computing architectures (e.g., GPUs); Molecular computing; Quantum computing; Cognitive computing / Neuromorphic computing)
  13. How do you solve Local, Social and Global problems (clean water, cheap energy etc.) utilizing massive collaboration and exponential technologies?
  14. How do you predict and prevent Natural Disasters?
  15. Joining the pieces of puzzle together to get a complete picture of the Ultimate Reality

Evolution of My Dreams and Realizations

My first ‘Aim in life’, as far as I can remember (It was 1988 / 89; I was 2 or 3), was to become a milkman. I mean, it wasn’t about being a milkman. I wanted to become the honest person appreciated by my parents – a milkman by the name Mubarak. (“I want to become Mubarak”, I used to say). So, what I truly wanted to become was a plain, simple, honest person. 

stock-photo-milkman-94006828

Next, I wanted to become a building mechanic. I used to stare at people who built houses in awe. My uncle sent me a toy Mechanical Tool Box.

My next major change in aim occurred when I wanted to join the Military (age: 4-5). Each night, I used to stay awake until the National Anthem with the National Flag was played on BTV and give salute. I watched a Television program depicting Military life. One of my uncles quipped: “The secret: Tahsin wants to become the President!”.

salute-quotes-6
My mom told me of an incident that took place when I was a baby of few months old (1986). One day, General Ershad was delivering a speech (who was then the President). My mom was studying for her exams. I was lying right beside my maternal Grandfather. My Grandfather suddenly started praying loudly: “God, grant my wish and guide my grandson to become the President and lead the Nation.” My Grandmother called my mom, “Come! Quick! Look how your dad is praying for your son!”     

During my First grade, a serial had an enormous influence on me: “The sword of Tipu Sultan”. Tipu Sultan and Hyder Ali were my childhood heroes. The serial drew me to History. I was deeply influenced by another historical novel during 3rd / 4th Grade – “Khun Ranga Path”. Besides History, books on General Knowledge were among my favorites from an early age. My father bought me my first “General Knowledge” book (Encyclopedia) around 5. Then I discovered “General Knowledge” books (Encyclopedia) in my aunt’s house. Later, I started buying Encyclopedia myself. I used to stare at the Globe of the world and fantasize (
Grade 3 / 4). I fantasized first becoming a King of Ancient Bengal, then King of Myanmar (Burma) and later lifetime President of Kazakhstan. 

I remember playing computer games at one of our relative’s house during Fifth grade. Almost everyone around me wanted to become a Computer Engineer at that time. So I thought I should try to become one myself – a Computer Engineer. 

During my middle school years, I was a voracious reader of novels. Reading novels was the most fun activity I could think of. I could understand different writing techniques employed by novelists. Becoming a novelist, writing great novels was my dream during 7th to 10th grade (1999 – 2002). For living, I would become a Physician or Engineer or Architect. That was my plan.

During 9th / 10th grade, I made up my mind to study Medicine (there was huge encouragement from my parents) and become a Physician besides writing novels.

When I read a book on Psychology (my mom’s book on Educational Psychology from her M.Ed. course), I understood that an intense interest in the workings of the human mind was the chief reason I wanted to become a novelist. Moreover, Literature could only depict subjective human experience, but the objective theories of Psychology applied to all humans.

I thought that I could become a Physician and specialize in Psychiatry or Neurology.

Studying Psychology helped me understand the essence of Science: To understand experimentally provable General Rules that govern everything we see around us.

Studying Psychology books gave me the confidence that: I can come up with original ideas, and that I should question what is written in books.

Trying to understand the theories of Psychology in terms of my own experiences and what I see around me, made me aware of the connection between Real World and the world of Books and Theories.

As I later diversified and ventured into different branches of Science, these realizations and understandings proved invaluable.

One day, as I was preparing for my high school (11th grade) Entrance Exam (later it was decided that Entrance would be based on results of matriculation exam), a Chapter on different forms of Energy from my Physics book grabbed my attention. I thought: maybe I could work on both Psychology / Neurology and Physics. I went through my 9-10th grade Physics book. I bought and read other books (Undergraduate level Physics Textbooks, Stephen Hawkin’s A Brief History of Time and others).

I thought and wrote down my understandings and realizations. I tried to come up with new Theories myself.

Physics taught me to understand “everything” in terms of fundamental constituents and few fundamental laws that govern things we see around us.

Physics made me realize the necessity of learning Higher Mathematics.

Mathematical Olympiad was gaining popularity in Bangladesh at that time (it was 2003). I bought Books and started solving problems.

One of the books published at that time was “নিউরনে অনুরণন” (“Resonance in neurons”). The idea for the name: it’s better to create resonance in your brains’ neurons by solving Mathematical problems rather than leaving the neurons idle!

I found out: the more I worked on problems, the better I could think! My Neurons really were resonating!

My interest in Psychology helped me appreciate brain function improvement and Mathematical Problem Solving. I discovered ways of improving brain function myself.

It was an amazing realization – I could become anyone I wanted if I worked in the right way.

Other Sciences started grabbing my attention.

Psychology drew me to Neuroscience – the Biology of what happens in the mind. Physics led me to Cosmology (the study of the evolution of the Universe) and some of the books described evolution of our planet and Biological evolution. Evolutionary Biology was among my favorites.

At that point, I saw my future as a Scientist: trying to understand the truth and decode the Laws of Nature.

I became interested in Computer Science and Engineering as I read an article portraying the field of Artificial Intelligence. The article was written by Dr. Ali Asgar included in one of his popular science books (Grade 11). I bought Undergrad Texts on Artificial Intelligence and started reading.

Psychology and Neuroscience always grabbed my attention. So when I found out that there is a subfield in CS that tries to emulate intelligence on computers, I got hooked instantly. 

Later, I participated in International Mathematical Olympiad, and met people who were serious participants in programming contests and I felt that I really liked contests and competitions. Besides, computation seem to be everywhere – required in almost every branch. I could do Physics and Biology on Computers. I read an inspirational book (“Medhabi Manusher Golpo” – Prof. Dr Kaykobad) which depicted lives of eminent Computer Scientists and students of Computer Science. The choice was either Physics or Computer Science and Engineering, but my parents wouldn’t let me study Physics. Choosing Computer Science and Engineering also made sense when I considered practical aspects. I thought: I could still pursue my multi-disciplinary interests besides studying CSE at college. 

The Majors I considered at that time included: Computer Science and Engineering, Physics, Mathematics, Neuroscience, Nanotechnology / Nanoengineering & Bioengineering / Biomedical Engineering.

[If you find my life and my understandings interesting you might like Looking back and connecting the dots.]

Lets move a few years forward … During March / April 2013, I thought, I should analyze and understand and learn from and codify everything I see around me – just as I did with the sciences and engineering. I started with the political situation in Bangladesh. I wanted to figure out what would happen if I start my own Political Party. Next, I applied my analysis to other domains: Mechanical Engineering, Economics, Computer Science.

I discovered new thinking tools along the way. Previously, if I found something interesting, I used to look it up on the Web or download a book. But now, whatever I try to understand, first I develop ‘a model’ in my mind just by thinking and then fill out the blanks in my model by asking questions and reading and learning.

15349608_1812528449024359_1986192403384969711_n
I come across new understandings and realizations almost on a daily basis. I look forward to share my newer understandings at sometime in not too distant future: “Living to tell the tale”, truly!
16939627_1856497677960769_8334827596973863688_n

On Mathematical Problem Solving

On Mathematical Problem Solving

[Equally Applicable To Scientific & Engineering Problem Solving]

In mathematical and scientific circles, a problem is defined as a situation where there is a difference between the desired or goal state and your current state. 

Usually most of us go about in a disorganized way when trying to solve a problem. 
 
But becoming organized can make you a much better problem solver.
 
There are certain ways of approaching problems which are followed mainly by Mathematicians and Scientists but can be applied to any branch.
 
Here are the Guidelines I usually follow.
 
 

Bright Idea / Intuition / Inspiration 

High level pattern matching: Use working memory + visualization + organization to hold the whole problem + solution (so far) at a time and rapidly move between its different portions. Change the representation if you can’t make progress. Take a break and then come back if you can’t make progress after thinking for a long time.

Zoom out for sketching the solution and zoom in to carry out each part with rigorous arguments. Work on parts of the problem and the problem as a whole.

Understanding the problem

Data? Unknown? Condition?

Organize the whole problem with a diagram: invent your own representations (It might be a mathematical structure: graph, network, lattice, matrix, number line, geometrical figure,…). Visualize it and Draw it. Find a structure that holds the problem and solution at once and completely. 

Get emotionally involved with the problem (Wow! How can this problem be solved? Is it a “to prove” problem? So, this theorem holds true? Wow! Is it a “to find” problem?

Guess the answer. (Good for exercising intuition / high level pattern matching.)

Extract from memory all the relevant information, theorems, problems (mobilization) and organize/connect/plan with them.

Planning

First make high level plans for solving the problem then carry out the plan with rigorous arguments. Make connections between Data, Unknowns and Conditions.

Does it get easier if I work backwards? What could be penultimate step? Related problems? Related Data? Related Unknowns? Related Conditions? Theorem? Structure? Imagine a more accessible related problem and solve it. What makes the given problem hard?

Try different strategies, tactics and tools. Don’t get stuck. Change the problem representation and change your perspective.

Generalization – Specialization: Logical Quantification.

Carrying out the plan

Rigorously prove and convince yourself that the solution / proof is correct. (The way to convince oneself is to visualize / imagine. Remember, “seeing is believing”. If you can see the arguments in your mind’s eyes, you believe it; in other words, you are convinced.)

Once you start to convince yourself, your “Mathematical Intuition” will grow. Otherwise, what is mathematically correct / logically consistent, won’t seem correct at a glance. (This is a problem almost all novices have – they know something is scientifically correct, but they get astonished when they see it in action / nature – their subconscious and conscious mind have different ideas – they have read it but haven’t reprogrammed their subconscious beliefs.)

Checking the result

Is it OK? Can you see the whole problem-solution (solution embedded in the problem) at a glance? Is it reusable in other problems? What have you learned that can be reused in developing solutions to other problems? If it’s a “to prove” problem, then the theorem can be reused.

Thinking harder and going to deeper levels of concentration (and mental performance)

Level 1, Level 2, Level 3 and so on. One might find it hard (feel fatigue, etc.) to cross a level but if once pushed enough and having crossed the mental barrier, your brain power will expand (with a bigger working memory).

Newton used to work on a problem until it was solved [5]. Try other methods to go to deeper level of concentration: try visualizing progressively more vividly; hearing, touching, smelling, tasting progressively more realistically (always visualizing in tandem).

Learning – Generalization & Organization

“Each problem that I solved became a rule, which served afterwards to solve other problems.” – Rene Descartes.

Generalize the problem, generalize your solution, generalize solutions by others and find out applications. Generalize strategies, tactics, tools and make more than one representations so that you can hold the strategies, tactics, tools completely in your head at a time.
Organize the strategy in your mental problem solving toolbox (hierarchically or in a graph-like structure).
Rather than solving a lot of problems without going deeper, concentrate on all the sub-problems, ideas, queries that arise while solving a problem.
Visualization

Visualize every problem solving strategy, tool, technique, algorithm, algorithmic paradigm, design pattern, computational abstraction as structures and processes.

Learning by organizing Mathematics

Organize all the problem solving strategies, techniques, tools, areas of Mathematics, theorems, identities, structures in your ontology.

References:

1. “How to solve it” – Mathematician George Polya.

2. The art and craft of problem solving – Paul Zeitz.

Source of many concepts, for instance, the concept of working backwards and penultimate step.

3. Books on Mathematical Problem Solving.

4. Mind Power – Reader’s Digest

“Think harder and go to deeper levels of concentration” ….. from “How to increase energy” –

“Usually we make a practice of stopping an occupation as we meet the first layer of fatigue…… But if an unusual necessity forces us onward, a surprising thing occurs. The fatigue gets worse up to a certain point, when, gradually or suddenly, it passes away and we are fresher than before!….We have evidently tapped a new level of energy. There may be layer after layer of this experience, a third and a fourth ‘wind’. We find amounts of ease and power that we never dreamed ourselves to own……habitually we never push through the obstruction of fatigue.”

5. “Newton used to work on a problem until it was solved.”

Source: উন্নত জীবন – ডাঃ লুতফর রহমান। “নিউটন বলেছেন, আমার আবিষ্কারের কারণ আমার প্রতিভা নয়। বহু বছরের পরিস্রম ও নিরবিচ্ছিন্ন চিন্তার ফলেই আমি আমাকে সার্থক করেছি, যা যখন আমার মনের সামনে এসেছে, শুধু তারই মীমাংসায় আমি বাস্ত থাকতাম। অস্পষ্টতা থেকে ধীরে ধীরে স্পষ্টতার মধ্যে উপস্থিত হয়েছি।”

6. The concepts of working memory, subconscious mind – from books on Psychology and Cognitive Science.

7. “Each problem that I solved became a rule, which served afterwards to solve other problems.”

– 17th Century Philosopher and Mathematician Rene Descartes.

8. The Emotion Machine & The Society of Mind – Marvin Minsky.

I own hard copies of both the books. I used to look upon Marvin Minsky as one of the “guru”s during my College years. 

9. Books on Artificial Intelligence

Chapters on Problem Solving, Planning, Machine Learning. Inspiration for “hierarchically or in a graph-like structure”.

10. “Get emotionally involved with the problem.” – from “You And Your Research” by Dr Richard Hamming.