Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘experiment

I’m lost: 8 characters described and presented in the first chapter…

The most interesting purpose in great novels is the complex description of the interactions among characters.

If even only 4 of the main characters are presented and thoroughly described in the first chapter, I am lost if they are not mentioned and refreshed in the successive chapters.

Just think of the number of interactions among only 4 characters: 6 interactions between 2 characters, 4 among three characters and one among all four characters…

Human brain is not able to keep all these interactions alive and refreshed at any moment: You need to keep written notes and refer to them every time a new interaction is happening… And this not fun and defeats the purpose of enjoying a fiction novel.

Unless a third of the interactions are “refreshed” in every single chapter, it is very difficult to keep track of the story and assimilate what the author is putting forth as controversial ideas, or tacit conspiratorial attitudes

Unless the novel is read in one setting…

Unless each chapter grabs you from the first sentence…

What if 8 characters are set forward in the first chapter? What can you do?

“Reading Lolita in Tehran” by Azar Nafisi is not a novel.  It is a diary and memories of a period in this Islamic Republic of Iran.

Azar decided to set up weekly sessions for 8 of her former students in literature and discuss and keep diaries of the novels they read… The purpose was for the girls in this restrictive and theocratic regime to be affected by the independent minds of characters, particularly the female gender, their outlook to life, how it gelled perception about themselves, independently of external realities of the living…

I discovered the girls in the following chapters, as if their description in first chapter were redundant, since I forgot most of the description…

What saves this highly interesting book:

1. Chapters are self-contained

2. My good background knowledge and interest in Iran makes this book highly important

3. I read with Azar many novels that I didn’t read before, and enjoyed the in-depth characerizations of the heros and heroines

4. Azar studied in the same university in the USA: The univ. of Oklahoma at Norman…

5. I got to be acquainted with literature departments…

Now, you say that my rational premise of 4 main characters are one too many is just a hypothesis. It may be so. For the case of my simple mind, this is a fact.

In any case, I suggest to set up series of experiment to research my hypothesis.

The objectives are:

1. to discover the optimal number of main characters for the retention and emotional effects on a reader.

2. what is the better structure of the novel in order to maximize the personal effect of each character in the fiction story.

Experiment One:

For Group 1,

1. Select three characters and physically describe them accurately before writing a short story for each character.

2. Administer a questionnaire for comprehension and recollection of the characteristics of the person (physically and psychologically)

For Group 2,

1. Tell the stories of three characters first, and end the story with a thorough detailed description of the characters that were not included in the initial story version

2. Administer a questionnaire for comprehension and recollection of the characteristics of the person (physically and psychologically)

Experiment Two:

A month later, administer the same questionnaire to the two groups of people and analyze how well the characters were retained and recollected.

Experiment Three:

Repeat this experiment with 5 characters and then 7 characters

Experiment Four:

Repeat all these experiment using only pictures of the characters, no word physical description.

The experiments are simple. However, the quality of the stories and how the questionnaire is designed and well articulated, and what kinds of “data” are measured and captured… are the main difficulties that need to be ironed out and a lot of time invested in…

These experiments can be altered to extract the kinds of author’ styles that infuse the best impact.

For example, the stories of each character can be taken from different novels of the same author. The results will compare authors styles and additional pieces of information.

Obviously, the subjects in the experiments must be familiar with the connotations and exact meaning of each described attribute

Note: You may read one of my 11 reviews of “Reading Lolita in Tehran” http://adonis49.wordpress.com/2012/10/17/reading-lolita-in-tehran-by-azar-nafisi-part-1/

The rising sun around the globe (July 20, 2009)

 

            I have this urge of witnessing dawn everywhere on earth in 24 hours.  This is very feasible with a versatile landing flying jet.  It does not matter where you start; pick a location on your globe; go there, arrange your visual and sound apparatus and wait for dawn to smile.  Enjoy the scenery, take pictures and video. Then fly quickly to another destination, land, and repeat the procedure for 24 hours.

            You should plan for different variations in sceneries. You may start by landing just in vast plains for 24 hours; then in just deserts, then on chain mountain tops, then in deep valleys, then on water masses such as oceans, seas, and large lakes.  You may repeat this experiment with selecting appropriate man made monuments and then compare what changed in dawn’s glory.

            You may repeat the experiment in various seasons; in various lunar statuses, in various planet realignments.  Does dawn changes? What dawn would you prefer? Would you select a location in your retirement to just watch your preferred dawn? Would that be worth the investment?

            Project dawn is very feasible and anyone with deep pocket could do it and then share the beauty of nature at dawn.  It would be advisable to record also the sounds of birds, wild life, the wind, nature awakening to dawn.  Take measurements of many parameters of the climate: who knows? Maybe dawn is different with a combination of environmental parameters since it is all perception after all.

            Since we started with dawn then how about studying the setting sun for 24 hours around the globe?  What about noon?

Compensation: An Experimental mind

 

I recall my advisor telling me once in frustration “At your age I was professor and had raised a family”.  He had two grown up sons and a daughter who just got married.  I didn’t need this reminder to comprehend my desperate situation: I am just plainly stubborn with no imaginations on earning money.  These long years in a PhD program in the specialty of Human Factors, at the age 35 to 41, should be considered a waste of time for any career-minded student but they were valuable for my mind. My exposure to the methods and vocabulary of five other different fields of study in psychology, business, marketing, economics, and education permit me to think that I acquired an experimental mind, a mind that not many could claim to explicitly have.  I was exposed to various experimental designs, not necessarily cause and effects designs, and inevitably to different statistical results and interpretations.  I witnessed graduates focusing on the technicality of terms and so many “point statistics” that basically means nothing, and a fortiori meant nothing in the minds of the graduates but their experimental minds were lacking in comprehension.  The end result is millions of graduates publishing papers not valid scientifically and unable to interpret results.   

When someone asks “how” (the mechanical process or procedure) it is tacitly understood that he comprehend the why and what of the subject matter or the system; that he knows all the factors and variables that may affect the outcome of a system, including the human element within the system.  Maybe a practicing or a professional knows his particular system, (he should though implicitly most of the times, as engineers learn), but the fundamental question remains “has he acquired the generalized method and rationality to investigating systems outside his discipline?” 

I know what I am talking about but the difficulty is to express and disseminate the problem.  I have taught engineers who had no understanding for discriminating among variables such as dependent, independent, or controlling variables; you think that they implicitly know how to differentiate among the variables; wrong, they don’t. Even after three sessions coupled with examples they were still in the dark and still wondering what is all the fuss about. You think that they can interpret graphs, extract wealth of information and comprehend pages of written materials from one meaningful graph, they generally cannot.  I can testify that 30% of my engineer classes could not read; another 30% could not understand what they read.  It was a pleasure to educate a couple of good minds.  I have written several articles on that subject in my category “Professional articles” for further detailed clarification.

Worst, undergraduates are almost never exposed to research papers.  Most Master’s graduates barely comprehend or interpret correctly research papers.  Graduates join the “work force” of the rational minds practically illiterate; they cannot resume any continuation learning programs for a simple reason: they are illiterate in reading and comprehending research papers.

 

My contention is this.  If you acquired an experimental mind then you should be eligible to comprehend any field of study by reading the research papers in the field.  The major contraption devised my professions to discriminate among one another is a flimsy mask targeted in changing the technical terms and vocabulary; a secret ritual inherited from ancient times to creating castes of literates. Other than that, the experimental methodology is fundamentally the same.  When you acquire an experimental mind then all disciplines are one course away; you need to learn the slang, a new language that sound familiar, but with terms that have different meanings and connotations.  The ultimate goal of teaching is for every university graduating mind to be trained to comprehend research papers of other disciplines.

May I refer the reader to my current article “Rationality Fraud: Can our leading minds pass Socrates’ dialogue test?”

Rationality Fraud: Can our leading minds pass Socrates’ dialogue test? (February 3, 2009)

This is a challenge to all the scientific and research communities. 

My contention is that over 75% of all scientists and researchers (in all natural sciences, all social sciences, all human sciences, and all engineering fields) lack the experimental mind. 

I propose this simple test:

1. Submit to the subjects three peer reviewed research articles from a field different from his research or professional discipline. 

2. Test the subject on his comprehension and interpretation for each research paper.  To be more specific: test his general knowledge on the experimental design, his correct discrimination among the various variables and factors (dependent, independent, control and confounding variables), his interpretations of the graphs and statistical results and what practical design suggestions he can extract from the paper. 

The objective of the investigation is not merely to guarantee valid results and accurate interpretations; it is to guarantee that the leading minds of our communities can pass Socrates’ dialogue test for sound rational societies and policy making. 

If what I said is still not clear then please read my article for new angles and the basis of my challenge.

An Experimental mind

 

I recall my advisor telling me once in frustration “At your age I was professor and had raised a family“. 

I didn’t need this reminder to comprehend my desperate situation: I am just plainly stubborn with no imaginations on earning money. 

These long years in a PhD program, the specialty of Human Factors in industrial engineering, at the age 35 to 41, should be considered a waste of time for any career-minded student, but they were valuable for my mind: I was exposed to the methods and vocabulary of five other disciplines in various departments. I think that I acquired an experimental mind, a mind that not many could claim to explicitly have. 

When someone asks “how” (the mechanical process or procedure),

1. it is usually tacitly understood that he comprehend the why and what of the subject matter or the system;

2. that he knows all the factors and variables that may affect the outcome of a system, including the human element within the system. 

Maybe a practicing or a professional knows his particular system (as engineers learn), but the fundamental question remains “has he acquired the generalized method and rationality to investigate systems outside his discipline?” 

I know what I am talking about, but the difficulty is to express and disseminate the problem. 

I have taught engineers who had no understanding for discriminating among variables such as dependent, independent, or controlling variables.

You think that they implicitly know how to differentiate among the variables; wrong, they don’t. Even after three sessions, coupled with examples they were still in the dark and still wondering what is all the fuss about.

You think that they can interpret graphs, extract wealth of information and comprehend pages of written materials from one meaningful graph, they generally cannot.  

I can testify that 30% of my engineer classes could not read; another 30% could not understand what they read.  It was a pleasure to educate a couple of good minds.  I have written several articles on that subject in my category “Professional articles” for further detailed clarification.

Worst, undergraduate engineers are almost never exposed to research papers.  Most Master’s graduates barely comprehend or interpret correctly research papers. 

Graduates join the “work force” of the rational minds practically illiterate. They cannot resume any continuation learning programs for a simple reason: they are illiterate in reading and comprehending research papers.

My contention is this.  If you acquired an experimental mind, you should be eligible to comprehend any field of study by reading the research papers in the field. 

The major contraption devised my professions to discriminate among one another is a flimsy mask targeted in changing the technical terms and vocabulary; a secret ritual inherited from ancient times to creating castes of literates.

Other than that, the experimental methodology is fundamentally the same.  When you acquire an experimental mind then all disciplines are one course away; you need to learn the slang, a new language that sound familiar, but with terms that have different meanings and connotations. 

The ultimate goal in teaching is for every university graduating mind to be trained to comprehend research papers of other disciplines.

 

The “eminent” minds of Athens needed the stamp of approval of Socrates’ rational mind; they submitted to his dialogue test; an interview on the investigative and coherent experimental methods of the proclaimed leaders of Athens; most failed the test.  Socrates was put to death because Socrates failed Athens’ Gods of ignorance.

Our scientific communities could be failing the dialogue test; our schools and universities are not graduating experimental minds.  No wonder war zones, famine, apartheid, and genocides are still the landmark of our modern times.

 “How to tell long and good stories from human factors graphs?”

Article #33, (Feb. 28, 2006)

If we concentrate on a graph we might generate a long story that span many disciplines and furnish us with a wealth of information and knowledge that pages of words barely can convey. A graph might open the gate for dozen of questions that are the foundation of scientific, experimental, and critical thinking.

Suppose that we are comparing the efficiency in energy consumption between walking bare feet or wearing shoes that weight 1.3 Kg.  Considering the walking speed as the other independent variable, along with the type and weight of shoes, we observe that the curves show that we are consuming less energy at low speed, then both curves decreasing to a minimum consumption of 0.2 KJ/Nm and intersecting at around 80 meter/min and then increasing as walking speed increases.

This graph is telling us that casual walking consumes less energy per unit walking effort than fast walking and that, at a cut off speed of 80 meter/min, the energy consumption is equal for both foot wares.  Some people might jump to the conclusion that this cut-off speed can be generalized to all foot wears, but more experiments are necessarily needed to verify this initial hypothesis.

Another piece of information is that after the cut-off speed, it is more economical in energy to walk barefoot. Basically, this graph is saying that the more weight you add to your lower limbs the more energy you should expect to spend, a fact that is not an earth shattering observation.

Biomechanics tells us that the structure of our body is not geared toward saving on our muscular effort, but to increasing our range and speed of movements.  Most of our muscles are connected to the bones of our limbs and their respective joints in manners they have to exert great effort and many fold the weight of our body members to overcome any of our limb’s mass.

Usually, the tendons of our muscles are inserted to the limb bones, close to the joints, and thus the muscles have to exert a huge effort to overcome the moment of the bone and flesh weight in order to effect a movement. Any extra mass to our limbs will tax our muscles to produce many folds the additional weight.

There is a caveat however; if you wrapped a weight of 1.3 kg around your ankles and walked bare feet you would consume more energy than without the added weight, but the curve would be parallel to the previous curve and not increasing more steepily than walking with shoes weighting 1.3 Kg.  Consequently, the variation in the behavior of the graphs result from a combination of added weight and lesser static coefficient of friction exerted by the shoes on the walking surface than the bare foot..

Thus, what this graph does not mention is the static coefficient of friction between the footwear and the ground, and which is the most important variable and in this case, can concatenate many independent and control variables such as the materials of the footwear and the type of ground into a unique independent variable of coefficient of friction.

The higher the coefficient of friction the easier it is to move and progress and thus walking faster for the same amount of effort invested.  It is not that important to generate muscle force if the reaction force on the surface cannot be produced to move a person in the right direction.  For example, it is extremely difficult to move on slippery surfaces no matter how much muscular effort we generate.  Apparently, the shape and skin texture of our foot provide a better and more efficient coefficient of friction than most foot wears.

However, the most important fact of this simple experiment is showing us the behavior of the curves and offering additional hypotheses for other studies.

What this graph is not telling us is the best story of all, and which can excite the mind into further investigation. For example, what kind of earth materials are we walking on; sands, asphalt, rough terrains, slippery roads or grassy fields?  Does the sample of bare feet walkers include aboriginals used in walking bare feet, city dwellers, and people from the province?  Does the sample includes groups of  people according to the softness of their feet skins or the size of feet?

May be the shape of the curves are the same for females as well, but it would be curious to find out the magnitude of variations compared to males.  It is clear that a simple and lousy graph delved us into the problems of experimentation and raised enough questions to attend to various fields of knowledge.

In the final analysis, the question is how relevant is this experiment practically?  How far can a modern man walk bare feet?  Does any economy in energy compensate for the ache, pain and injuries suffered by walking bare feet?  Would athletes be allowed to compete bare feet if it is proven to increase performance and break new records?  Does anyone care of walking barefoot in order to save a few kilo Joules?

The theme of this article is that you can venture into many fields of knowledge, just by focusing your attention on graphs and tables and permitting your mind to navigate into uncharted waters through queries and critical thinking.

 

“Human Factors versus Artificial Intelligence”

Article #49 in Human Factors in Engineering category, written in June 12, 2006

In her book “Choices” the actress Liv Ullman asks her scientist lover: “What do you believe will be the main preoccupation of science in the future?” and he replies: “I have no doubt that it will be the search for the correct definition of error.”

The scientist goes on to state that a living organism has the capacity to be able to make mistakes, to get in touch with chance or hazard, which is absolutely a necessary part in survival. (kind of trial and error)

The meaning of error here is broad and related to the chance of surviving a cataclysm, where the survivors are probably the errors or the monsters in the tail of the “normal group”.

It is the monsters that scientists would be interested in studying in the future because they fail to belong in the logic process of our automated life.

Taxonomy of Artificial Intelligence AI is the duplication of human faculties of creativity, self-improvement, and language usage that might be necessary to illustrate the progress attained in this field.

There are four basic systems of AI mainly: 1) Thinking like human, 2) thinking rationally, 3) acting like human, or 4) acting rationally.

The purpose of the first system is to create computer machines with complex human minds or to automate the activities that are associated with human thinking.

In order to satisfy that goal adequate answers need to be provided accurately to the following questions:

1. Where does knowledge come from?

2. How to decide when payoff may be far in the future?

3. How do brains process information?

4. How do human think and act, and how do animals think and act?

The preferred approaches by scientists in that system were either to model our cognitive processes or to get inside the actual workings of minds.

In 1957, Simon claimed that “There are now machines that think, learn, and create.  In a visible future the range of problems they can handle will be coextensive with the range of the human mind.”

This claim was backed by practical programs such as the reasoning ‘Logic Theory’ that can think non-numerically and prove the theorems in the mathematical book ‘Principia Mathematica‘.

‘Logic Theory’ was followed by the program ‘General Problem Solver‘ that imitates human protocols in manipulating data structures composed of symbols.

The second system of thinking rationally has for purpose to create computational models of mental faculties or alternatively to compute the faculties of perceiving, reasoning, and acting.  The typical questions to resolve are:

1. How does mind arise from a physical brain?

2. What can be computed?

3. How do we reason with uncertain information?

4. How does language relate to thought?

The approaches undertaken were to codify the ‘laws of thought’ and using syllogism for the ‘right thinking‘ as in Aristotle.

McCulloch & Pitts claimed in 1943 that “Any computable function can be derived from some network of connected neurons, with logical switches such as (AND, OR, NOT, etc)”.

This line of thinking was supported by an updated learning rule for modifying the connection strengths and the manufacture of the first neural network computer, the SNARC by Minsky & Edmonds (1951).

The third system of acting like human had for purpose to create machines that perform functions requiring similar human intelligence or alternatively, to create computers doing what people are better at doing now.  The relevant questions to resolve are:

1. How does knowledge lead to action?

2. How to decide so as to maximize payoff?

3. How can we build an efficient computer?

The main approach was to emulating the Turing test, which is based on the inability of a person to distinguish that a program has undeniably human entities when people are to decide whether the responses are generated from a machine or a human.

This system was successful when programs for playing checkers or chess learned to play better than their creators and when Gelernter (1959) constructed the ‘Geometry Theorem Prove’ program.

To that end, Minsky (1963) initiated a series of anti-logical programs called ‘microworlds’ within limited domains such as: SAINT, ANALOGY, STUDENT, and the famous solid block world.

The fourth system to act rationally had for purpose to define the domain of AI as computational intelligence for designing intelligent agents (Poole, 1998) or artifact agents behaving intelligently.  The relevant questions are:

1. Can formal rules draw valid conclusions?

2. What are these formal rules?

3. How can artifacts operate under their own control?

The approaches were to create rational agents and programs that operate under autonomous control.

This line of thinking generated the LISP computer language, then the ‘Advice Taker’ (McCarthy, 1958) where new axioms could be added to the central principles of knowledge representation and reasoning without reprogramming.

An advisory committee reported in 1966 that “There has been no machine translation of general scientific text, and none is in immediate prospect.”

Since then, most of the works on AI research were concentrated within the fourth system in developing AI programs.

The fourth view of AI is within the capability of human to make progress in AI but there is a caveat.

If human rely exclusively on the fourth system, which is in the realm of the learned and educated people in mathematics and engineering, the danger is that autonomous systems will be developed by normal and learned people as if human will behave logically.

Thus, we might end up with systems that do not coincide with the basic uncertain behavior of human.

The concept of error as defined in the beginning of the article will not be accounted for and some major calamities might befall human kind.

Note 1: On error taxonomy https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2009/05/26/error-taxonomies-in-human-factors/

Note 2: Artificial Intelligence started its application around 1988 by trying to cope with retiring “experts” who have been decades in the job and knows what works and what  doesn’t. The program was tailored made to a specific job with a series of “What if” questions followed by answers from the expert. I tried my hand on these kinds of programs.

Note 3: Currently, AI is relying on megadata sources gathered from all kinds of fields.  My impression is that the products are evaluated through testing and Not according to time consuming experiments. It would be more efficient to collect the Facts from real peer-reviewed research papers, but this will require full-time professionals in selecting what paper is scientific and what is pseudo-scientific or just funded by biased interested companies

“What do Human Factors measure?”

Article #41, started on April 5, 2006

This article is an ongoing project.  The dependent variables or performance measurements adopted by Human Factors/Ergonomics are varied and should be judiciously selected to correspond to the tasks, systems, methods, and purposes.

The professionals in the field of human factors, depending on their primary discipline and interest, consider appropriate performance measurements for the types of controlled experiments, evaluation, or testing methods… They want to either answer practical problems, which cannot be resolved by the traditional methods,  analyze systems’ feasibility and performance or oriented toward basic research.

These dependent variables should be necessarily directly related with the essential human factors performance criteria, of mainly reducing errors in the operations, safe usage of products/systems, and health concerns of workers and end users.

Many of these measurements and their corresponding techniques and procedures were initially developed by psychologists who were attuned to the practical facets of their discipline, and how their research can be applied to engineer design of interfaces, between target users and systems, as man-made systems are growing increasingly in complexity and becoming essential in running the functioning of our daily lives.

For example, I posed a problem to class for participation.  We were to evaluate two warning alarms used in factories and to decide which product to select.

I asked them what could be the potential, valid, and effective dependent variables for this evaluation.  Obviously, the first answer was to measure how loud the alarm is. This variable would not do: alarms are designed to be loud to alert workers and employees, but the data on how many of them heard the alarm going off will certainly not provide a decisive choice.

The next step was to make the students think about the real purpose of having a warning alarm.  Obviously, warning alarms are produced to warn against the existence of fumes, the starting of fire, a serious danger, or a drill.  Suppose you were conducting a drill, then what you might be interested to observe and record?

At this junction ideas started to fuse from every corner; the noise of the alarm should be jarring and very uncomfortable to the ears, visual stimuli should be designed in the product such as in police cars, automatic connections to fire brigades should be contemplated when installing warning alarms, more than one exit door should be opened, emergency exit doors should not be blocked by inventory materials.

Now, where the warning alarm should be installed?  Should it be next to the emergency door because this is the normal direction where heads turn to, or in the opposite direction because the reaction of people is to move in a direction away from the warning noise?

I meant to explain the fundamentals of evaluation methodology and ended up with practical answers, which is fine and encouraging, but we had to get back to methodology and what could be the most appropriate safety measure.

Most probably, how many workers actually vacated the premises on hearing the alarm could be a good starting decision variable.  Better, how many vacated within a standard duration in accordance with safety regulations might be an improved measuring stick.

At this stage, there was confusion in discriminating among, controlled experimentation, evaluation, and testing methods as well as the differences among dependent, independent and control variables.

Obviously, what we were discussing was testing the effectiveness of warning devices since evaluation is targeted for the packaged deal that includes after sales services, maintenance, repair, instructions manuals, extra commendable features, and so forth.

In addition to rating each specification, evaluation methods might consider comparing end-users behaviors such as like/dislike, acceptance, or rejection depending on psychological preference judgments.

That in testing the warning devices the main factor is the products was not straightforward to the students because we were considering among other factors. For example, the frequency range of the alarm, whether it is in the lower or upper frequency scale, the timber of the alarm, the loudness range and levels to manipulate, the characteristics of the background noise, the layout of the facility, the type of noises emanating from the machinery and equipment  the outdoor noise level, the characteristics of the workers and their hearing deficiencies, and how the workers were initiated with drills, safety warnings and instructions.

What could be the performance measures for warning products in controlled experimentation?  In this case the investigator needs:

First, to select objective, accurate, and reliable measurements such as the increase in heart beats above individual baselines, or the duration needed before the heart beat return to its resting level, or the reaction time for any changes in the dilation of the pupil of the eyes, or other physiological characteristics that are not highly correlated among themselves if more than one dependent variables are used.

Second, the purpose in controlled experimentation is to select the characteristic of sound or noise that best affect the outcome of the study in order to design a performing warning alarm with the purpose of eventually reaching design guidelines for products/systems, and

Third that the conditions and location of the experiment have to allow the repeatability of the experiment.

More than one session is necessary to sort out the difficulties and distortions in the untrained experimental mind.

However, we agreed that in testing the warning alarms we need to control important factors that might affect the results such that we need to test all the selected warning alarms in each one of the facilities, in every location that they might be installed, during the day and night shifts, in the morning, after lunch, and at the end of a shift if necessary and funding is available.


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