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RECENT POSTS IN THIS TOPIC

Héctor Gianni: on 8/10/13 at 19:34pm UTC, wrote Dear Jonathan J Heckman: I am an old physician, and I don’t know nothing...

Paul Borrill: on 8/6/13 at 21:12pm UTC, wrote Jonathan. Outstanding work. My rating should improve your score. Why...

eAmazigh HANNOU: on 8/6/13 at 0:17am UTC, wrote Dear Jonathan, We are at the end of this essay contest. In conclusion, at...

Giacomo Alessiani: on 8/3/13 at 22:44pm UTC, wrote Mr. Heckman, I think to have produced one of the most simple essay in...

Jayakar Joseph: on 8/1/13 at 4:35am UTC, wrote Dear Jonathan, In relavent with your statement, “In particular, we have...

Than Tin: on 7/26/13 at 4:15am UTC, wrote Dear Dr. Heckman Richard Feynman in his Nobel Acceptance Speech ...

Antony Ryan: on 7/19/13 at 10:49am UTC, wrote Dear Jonathan, I enjoyed your interesting essay, and thought it was...

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FQXi FORUM
October 23, 2019

CATEGORY: It From Bit or Bit From It? Essay Contest (2013) [back]
TOPIC: From Collective Inference to Gravity and Strings by Jonathan J Heckman [refresh]
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Author Jonathan J Heckman wrote on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 17:49 GMT
Essay Abstract

This essay is a less technical account of recent results announced by the author. The starting point for our considerations is a collective of agents which has been exposed to ``The It'' of external events. These events are used by the collective to construct a family of statistical models which depend on continuous fitting parameters. From this premise, we show how to recover ``The It'' of classical gravity and a theory of strings from ``The Bits'' of stable inference schemes by the collective.

Author Bio

Jonathan Heckman is a theoretical physicist in the high energy theoretical physics group at Harvard University.

Download Essay PDF File

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John C Maguire wrote on Jun. 20, 2013 @ 12:18 GMT
Jonathan,

As a layman I appreciate your attempt at simplifying a rather complex subject. While I emphasize Information over Substance somewhat in my own essay, I must agree that they are co-creative entities and one w/o the other is somewhat superfluous (as I think Bohm also believed even while emphasizing Information much of the time).

In regards to this statement:

"A major bottleneck in even getting started with the study of quantum gravity

is that there is no sharp definition of a "local observable".

Again I am a layman and not that well-informed, and I'm not disagreeing w/ your statement in the slightest, but hasn't the major stumbling block of quantum gravity (as well as string theory) been in reconciling the theories w/ a dynamical space-time background as postulated by GR?

Regards,

John

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Author Jonathan J Heckman replied on Jun. 23, 2013 @ 19:07 GMT
Dear John,

Thank you for your message.

To clarify the statement about ``stumbling blocks'', I think you are referring to the issue of background independence in a candidate quantum theory of gravity. This is actually closely related to the issue I mention in my essay. Part of this has to due with the fact that in classical gravity, there is a redundancy in our description, which is...

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Lawrence B Crowell wrote on Jun. 20, 2013 @ 13:40 GMT
I read your essay rather quickly last night in a first skim reading. Of course I need to read it in greater depth. I think your approach is very interesting and it is in line with the quantum Bayesian model approach. Further, Wheeler's "It From Bit" idea is that an observer "constructs" reality from a series of measurements that are similar to a process of "20 questions." In that way the...

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Author Jonathan J Heckman replied on Jun. 23, 2013 @ 19:08 GMT
Dear Lawrence,

Yes, I agree that my approach is roughly in line with what Wheeler proposes, though I think the details deviate from his case. Further, I do not see a way to go purely from informatics to physics (as I mention in the Introduction).

Thanks also for your comments on the essay. I look forward to further discussion.

Best Regards,

Jonathan

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Lawrence B Crowell replied on Jul. 1, 2013 @ 17:57 GMT
Jonathan,

I decided to check in on your essay area. I'm sorry to see it lagging a bit. I gave you a 10 when it first showed up, but unfortunately that might not have been enough.

If you read my essay the first part of this is an argument that nature can't be completely mapped into some formal systems, such as an algorithm that processes bits or qubits. My argument is in line with David Hume's argument against the naturalist fallacy. I agree that nature can't be codified completely in an axiomatic-information form.

Cheers LC

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Joe Fisher wrote on Jun. 20, 2013 @ 14:48 GMT
Doctor Heckman,

I found your essay to be superbly written. You are clearly a man of your word. You promised us a less technically written essay on a subject you are an expert in and you delivered on your promise. I am a creaky old realist, yet I had no trouble reading the essay.

There is one ironic sentence in your essay that caused me to laugh out loud. You wrote: “In statistics, this is commonly referred to as the Fisher score for the statistics. In my essay BITTERS, I maintain that all abstract statistics are unrealistic because only real unique exists, once.

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Author Jonathan J Heckman replied on Jun. 23, 2013 @ 19:09 GMT
Dear Joe,

I am happy to hear that you found the essay readable. I hope you found it enjoyable as well.

With regards to your viewpoint that only ``real unique exists'', I would agree that this is a position which is hard to directly refute.

In my own considerations, however, I found this to be a difficult starting point. Without the use of statistical inference, I do not see how we can conclude anything about an external world. It is indeed an assumption I am making that there is a notion of an external world which we can only access statistically. Without statistics, I find it hard to make progress on questions pertaining to the natural world.

If one foregoes the use of statistical reasoning altogether, then I worry that one would be subject to various potential pitfalls. For example, is there something more to a ``real unique'' other than sensory perception? If not, one can concoct various solipsistic attitudes which make no reference to the external world at all. A classic example is to take the extreme position that one is a brain in a jar, and is being exposed to electrodes which generate appropriate sensory data. A sufficiently contrived set of sensory data could mimic any ``real unique'' from the external world. However, if one allows for statistical inference, then this supposition becomes increasingly contrived

as the experiment is repeated sufficiently often.

Best Regards,

Jonathan

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Hoang cao Hai wrote on Jun. 21, 2013 @ 03:06 GMT
Dear Jonathan

Essay or only regret is that :"The answers to some pressing questions may remain forever shrouded in the murk of statistical noise."

http://fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/1802

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Author Jonathan J Heckman replied on Jun. 23, 2013 @ 19:10 GMT
Dear Hoang cao Hai,

Thank you for your comment.

Best Regards,

Jonathan

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Edwin Eugene Klingman wrote on Jun. 21, 2013 @ 19:26 GMT
Dear Jonathan Heckman,

I enjoy reading an essay that gives me a totally new perspective and yours gave me several! I recently studied ET Jaynes "Probability Theory: the logic of science", but I do not recall seeing the geometric approach to statistics, which I find very interesting.

I also found very interesting the production "out of almost nothing" of the statistical mechanical partition function, with the number of sampled events playing the role of an inverse temperature N-> 1/T. That's food for thought.

The brief perspective on Feynman path integrals and Euclidian space was also a fresh view as was adding prior beliefs as an analog to potential energy. Your analogies reach very far, even to an energy-based analogy of the collective powerful enough to "suppress dissenting opinion", a very relevant topic these days.

In short, your essay provided many fresh insights that I very much savored. I hope you will read my essay and comment. I am still not a fan of string theory, but I'm grateful for the new views you provided. You may not buy all of my conclusions, but I think you will find fresh perspectives.

Good luck in the contest,

Edwin Eugene Klingman

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Author Jonathan J Heckman replied on Jun. 23, 2013 @ 19:11 GMT
Dear Edwin,

Thank you for your positive comments, I am glad you found something to enjoy in my essay. I too was quite struck with the connection to statistical mechanics which Vijay Balasubramanian found. It was one of the starting points for my own thinking on the topic.

When I have time I will read and comment on your essay.

Best Regards,

Jonathan

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basudeba mishra wrote on Jun. 22, 2013 @ 15:53 GMT
Dear Sir,

Your essay not only points to your great intellectual acumen and capacity to think out of box, but also provides a cogent reason for the present maladies of science. Mathematics explains only “how much” one quantity accumulates or reduces in an interaction involving similar or partly similar quantities and not “what”, “why”, “when”, “where”, or “with whom”...

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Author Jonathan J Heckman replied on Jun. 23, 2013 @ 19:12 GMT
Dear Basudeba,

Thank you for your detailed questions and comments. I fear that answering all your questions on strings would consume too much time for both of us, but there are some general points I hope I can address.

First, strings keep intact the structure of quantum theory. However, there can be more generalized types of uncertainty principles in quantum systems, which are straightforward to realize in string-based systems. To give an example, in some regimes of validity, strings in a background flux can lead to a non-commutative geometric structure. This generalizes the Heisenberg uncertainty

relation to relative uncertainty in knowing two positions, or a position and a time to arbitrary accuracy.

With regards to the need for consciousness of the agents to enact a ``jolt'', I do not think consciousness is actually necessary. Consider for example a probabilistic machine which has been trained on a data set. This can receive a ``jolt'' when it receives instructions to flip a coin. Also, I would count a D-instanton as an agent, and this has no semblance of consciousness (as far as I know).

When I have time I will aim to read and comment on your essay.

Best Regards,

Jonathan

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basudeba mishra replied on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 15:36 GMT
Dear Sir,

We have clarified earlier that we are raising these issue only with you because of your independent thinking. Hence kindly bear with us some more.

We raised those points on strings only to highlight how quantum physics is sprawling uncontrollably instead of consolidating itself. But has anyone “seen” a string? We have seen pictures of “foams”. But has it been...

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Akinbo Ojo wrote on Jun. 23, 2013 @ 14:03 GMT
Dear Jonathan,

Edwin Klingman referred me to your essay. Quite interesting. I wonder if Leibniz's "monads" that I dwell on in my essay can serve as one of the possible "agents" you mentioned. If so, can you say a few words why not?

Then, in your paper I didnt quite get what the two alternate states, designated 0 and 1 will be, since 'bit' is just short for binary digit.

Best regards,

Akinbo

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Author Jonathan J Heckman replied on Jun. 23, 2013 @ 19:14 GMT
Dear Akinbo,

Thanks for your question and comments. I am not very familiar with Leibniz's theory of monads, so I will need some time to work through your essay before I can give a full response, and comment on your essay. As far as I understand, there is indeed some overlap between what I call an agent, and your use of monads.

However, I think there are also some distinctions. For example, the notion of an agent allows for it to be itself composed of smaller entities, whereas a monad (as far as I understand it, please correct me if I am incorrect here) is taken to be the smallest component out of which other components can be built. To give an example, if we identify all the agents of the collective itself as another agent, then we might start anew with this collective as our ``basic building block of agents''.

I think the most practical description may be one where we simply demarcate different regimes of validity for what we assign as an agent; as we move to bigger or shorter distance scales, what we identify with a practical definition of an agent may consequently change. Here is an example from physics: In QCD at high energies, a description in terms of free quarks is quite convenient. However, at low energies, the description in terms of quarks becomes rather cumbersome because the couplings between states are now quite strong. Rather, we instead have low energy excitations such as pions which are a more convenient description of some aspects of the low energy physics.

With regards to your question about 0 versus 1, i.e. the ``bits'' of the agent, the assumption I start from is that information by the agent is measured in ``nats'' rather than ``bits'', since the agents make use of continuous fitting parameters. This should be viewed as the analog version of digital information.

Best Regards,

Jonathan

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Lawrence B Crowell wrote on Jun. 24, 2013 @ 14:45 GMT
Dear Dr. Heckman,

I read your paper with great detail yesterday. I think your paper is certainly one of the more interesting ones in the lot. It is too bad that it is a bit far down the community rating list.

The argument for a path integral based on p_t = p_g + δy^I∂p_g/∂_y^I is interesting. This is a form of variational calculus as I see it. The variation is...

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James Lee Hoover wrote on Jul. 3, 2013 @ 18:34 GMT
Jonathan,

If given the time and the wits to evaluate over 120 more entries, I have a month to try. My seemingly whimsical title, “It’s good to be the king,” is serious about our subject.

Jim

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Peter Jackson wrote on Jul. 10, 2013 @ 20:46 GMT
Jonathen,

Excellent job, and interesting subject. Your smooth easy to read style is also something I can only aspire to.

Starting at the finish; Extra point as I'm a Wittgenstein fan. Then a bonus for "...may remain forever shrouded in the murk of statistical noise."

I'd like to suggest that statistics may perhaps be missing a trick, and indeed hiding the solution to the...

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Héctor Daniel Gianni wrote on Jul. 14, 2013 @ 21:18 GMT
Dear Jonathan J Heckman:

I am an old physician, and I don’t know nothing of mathematics and almost nothing of physics, but after the common people your discipline is the one that uses more the so called “time” than any other.

I am sending you a practical summary, so you can easy...

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Antony Ryan wrote on Jul. 19, 2013 @ 10:49 GMT
Dear Jonathan,

I enjoyed your interesting essay, and thought it was extremely relevant to the contest!

I like that you concluded "that a two-dimensional collective of agents can reach stable inference schemes unavailable to collectives in other dimensions". Anything unique about certain dimensions of geometries strikes a chord with me. Fascinating!

Please take a look at my essay if you get time.

You deserve to do very well in the contest, so I hope my rating helps!

Best wishes

Antony

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Than Tin wrote on Jul. 26, 2013 @ 04:15 GMT
Dear Dr. Heckman

Richard Feynman in his Nobel Acceptance Speech

(http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/laureates/19
65/feynman-lecture.html)

said: “It always seems odd to me that the fundamental laws of physics, when discovered, can appear in so many different forms that are not apparently identical at first, but with a little mathematical fiddling you can show...

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Jayakar Johnson Joseph wrote on Aug. 1, 2013 @ 04:35 GMT
Dear Jonathan,

In relavent with your statement, “In particular, we have seen that a two-dimensional collective of agents can reach stable inference schemes unavailable to collectives in other dimensions” I would like to integrate your assumptions on, “Collective Inference to Gravity”, with a string-matter continuum scenario, that is considered as modifications in string theory predictions.

In this scenario, gravity emerges as a tensor product of an one-dimensional string-segment on eigen-rotational cycle that form, three-dimensional tetrahedral-brane from two-dimensional simplex of membranes representing eigen-rotational phases of that cycle. Thus this two-dimensional simplex of membranes in lattice from multiple sources of tetrahedral-branes, describes collective gravity of macro objects.

With best wishes,

Jayakar

attachments: Collective_gravity.pdf

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Giacomo Alessiani wrote on Aug. 3, 2013 @ 22:44 GMT
Mr. Heckman,

I think to have produced one of the most simple essay in this contest.

The script do not goes over 3 pages and no more than a pair of equations.

http://fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/1903

Mr. Heckman , I would appreciate an opinion.



My Best Regards.

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eAmazigh M. HANNOU wrote on Aug. 6, 2013 @ 00:17 GMT
Dear Jonathan,

We are at the end of this essay contest.

In conclusion, at the question to know if Information is more fundamental than Matter, there is a good reason to answer that Matter is made of an amazing mixture of eInfo and eEnergy, at the same time.

Matter is thus eInfo made with eEnergy rather than answer it is made with eEnergy and eInfo ; because eInfo is eEnergy, and the one does not go without the other one.

eEnergy and eInfo are the two basic Principles of the eUniverse. Nothing can exist if it is not eEnergy, and any object is eInfo, and therefore eEnergy.

And consequently our eReality is eInfo made with eEnergy. And the final verdict is : eReality is virtual, and virtuality is our fundamental eReality.

Good luck to the winners,

And see you soon, with good news on this topic, and the Theory of Everything.

Amazigh H.

I rated your essay.

Please visit My essay.

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Paul Borrill wrote on Aug. 6, 2013 @ 21:12 GMT
Jonathan. Outstanding work. My rating should improve your score.

Why isn’t everyone a Bayesian, to quote one of your references.

Although we might be in different camps when it comes to being satisfied only with the mathematical completeness of a theory. I wonder how you might respond to the question of what are the implicit time assumptions behind your theory. I understand that Bayesian analysis has an implicit order, but how would that map onto a reversible concept of time such as subtime?:

http://fqxi.org/data/forum-attachments/Borrill-Time
One-V1.1a.pdf

(sorry if the fqxi web site splits this url up, I haven’t figured out a way to not make it do that).

Kind regards, Paul

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Héctor Daniel Gianni wrote on Aug. 10, 2013 @ 19:34 GMT
Dear Jonathan J Heckman:

I am an old physician, and I don’t know nothing of mathematics and almost nothing of physics, but after the common people your discipline is the one that uses more the so called “time” than any other.

I am sending you a practical summary, so you can easy decide if you read or not my essay “The deep nature of reality”.

I am convince you would...

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