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Undecidability, Uncomputability, and Unpredictability Essay Contest
December 24, 2019 - April 24, 2020
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October 28, 2017 to January 22, 2018
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January 9, 2014 - August 31, 2014
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It From Bit or Bit From It
March 25 - June 28, 2013
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Héctor Gianni: on 8/10/13 at 21:59pm UTC, wrote Dear Kevin H Knuth: I am an old...

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Anonymous: on 8/8/13 at 9:30am UTC, wrote Dear Kevin, As per particle scenario, information is the transfer of...

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FQXi FORUM
December 9, 2022

CATEGORY: It From Bit or Bit From It? Essay Contest (2013) [back]
TOPIC: Information-Based Physics and the Influence Network by Kevin H Knuth [refresh]

Author Kevin H Knuth wrote on Jun. 24, 2013 @ 16:42 GMT
Essay Abstract

This essay considers a simple model of observers that are influenced by the world around them. Consistent quantification of information about such influences results in a great deal of familiar physics. The end result is a new perspective on relativistic quantum mechanics, which includes both a way of conceiving of spacetime as well as particle “properties” that may be amenable to a unification of quantum mechanics and gravity. Rather than thinking about the universe as a computer, perhaps it is more accurate to think about it as a network of influences where the laws of physics derive from both consistent descriptions and optimal information-based inferences made by embedded observers.

Author Bio

Kevin Knuth is an Associate Professor in the Departments of Physics and Informatics at the University at Albany. He is Editor-in-Chief of the journal Entropy, and is the co-founder and President of a robotics company, Autonomous Exploration Inc. He has more than 15 years of experience in applying Bayesian and maximum entropy methods to the design of machine learning algorithms for data analysis applied to the physical sciences. His current research interests include the foundations of physics, autonomous robotics, and searching for extrasolar planets.

Hoang cao Hai wrote on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 02:26 GMT
Welcome to the contest, Kevin

The equations and formulas you are hard to determine in practice, your conclusion is that: the bit was self-generated the information? and the information self-born the bits?

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

report post as inappropriate
Author Kevin H Knuth replied on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 13:57 GMT
Thank you Hoang for your comment.

In this model, two observers make inferences about a particle that influences them. The particle actually does something. That is, there is a physical reality that occurred. This reality is the first fundamental IT. The observers record the labels corresponding to the instances that the particle influenced them. These acts of influence comprise the information that they received about the particle, and the labels are a code summarizing this information. These are the BITs. The goal now is for the observers to reconstruct what the particle did (the fundamental IT), which is a sequence of influences (a BIT sequence). I show how this is impossible by illustrating that there are many possible reconstructions, each corresponding to a separate BIT sequence path, each of which can be interpreted as a distinct path in an emergent spacetime. The observers must take all these BIT sequences (spacetime paths) into account to make inferences about a new set of relevant variables. This is the new, higher level *IT*. This is their picture of a reality that is simply unknowable.

In conclusion, we have IT -> BIT -> *IT*

where events provide information from which inferences are made about a model of those events.

Antony Ryan wrote on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 03:08 GMT
Hello Kevin,

I like your abstract and only had time to scan over and read the conclusion. I'll look more thoroughly later in the week. However, I like very much what I see based on embedded observers and that you seem to decide It from Bit and bit from It.

I look forward to reading in full and would be honoured if you had a chance to read my essay.

Kind regards,

Antony

report post as inappropriate
Author Kevin H Knuth replied on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 13:48 GMT
Thank you Antony! I look forward to reading your essay as well.

Antony Ryan replied on Jul. 23, 2013 @ 15:24 GMT
Hello again Kevin,

Sorry it has taken this long to comment.

Excellent essay! I like the way you utilise networks of influence. The whole idea feels logical and right. I especially like that you have It from Bit AND Bit from It, as I think the examples you cite are very good. Also, I think that each are as fundamental. Moreover one cannot exist fully, as we know them, without the other.

Best wishes for the contest,

Antony

report post as inappropriate

Paul Reed wrote on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 06:28 GMT
Kevin

“Knowledge about any property that does not affect how an electron exerts influence is inaccessible to us”

This focuses on the issue of what constitutes physical existence, although it is not affected by the subsequent processing (eg observation). Put the other way round, the physical circumstance exists whether or not it is sensed, sensing just invokes a perception of...

view entire post

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Author Kevin H Knuth replied on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 13:46 GMT
Thank you Paul for your summary and insights.

If one considers the two hypotheses:

A = "An entity has a proposed property, which exists but are undetectable"

and

B = "An entity does not possess the proposed property"

Then since there is no experiment we could perform to tell these apart, Leibniz's principle of Identity of Indiscernables suggests that for all...

view entire post

Paul Reed replied on Jun. 26, 2013 @ 04:32 GMT
Kevin

“…Since we cannot know what an electron is, perhaps it is best to simply focus on what an electron does”.

Ah now that is a different way of putting it, and is not correct. We can know what something is, if that something is within the ambit of our physical existence, ie is potentially detectable (knowable). So, going back to your example, we can know an electron, but...

view entire post

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Author Kevin H Knuth replied on Jul. 8, 2013 @ 23:18 GMT
Dear Paul,

In your response you contend that we can know an electron.

I am not actually sure what this means. We have been studying electrons since 1897 and we cannot even resolve the various pictures we have of it (eg. particle or wave). You do acknowledge that we would not be able to determine that an electron is pink if its pinkness did not affect how it influences our measurement apparatus. The immediate conclusion is that the only aspects of the electron that we can know about are those that affect or govern how it influences others. The practical result is to then describe an electron in terms of how it influences.

What I have attempted in my work is to postulate a simple model of influence by focusing solely on the idea that things influence one another. The results I have obtained is that you do not actually need to know what electrons are to get the specific laws of physics and the particle properties that I describe in the essay.

I find this quite surprising, yet comforting since I cannot see how we would ever know what an electron truly is. The best we can seem to muster are analogies, and these have limited utility. I can only come up with two truisms:

- Electrons are electrons.

- I can identify an electron because of what it does.

The fact that the latter can give you the Dirac equation (even in 1+1 dimensions) is remarkable and insightful.

Thanks!

Kevin

Manuel S Morales wrote on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 07:18 GMT
Kevin,

Your focus on behavior properties are indeed fundamental, as such, serve to embed a network of influences. You closing statement, "The conceptual difficulties with quantum complementarity are eliminated when we consider these quantities to be descriptions of what a particle does rather than properties possessed by the particle." I find to be in harmony with my findings. Although my approach is vastly different than yours, I have found that quantum complementarity to be primarily an issue of perspective.

I invite you to review my findings and rate my essay when you get the chance:

http://fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/1809

Good luck with your entry of which I have rated highly..

Regards,

Manuel

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Author Kevin H Knuth replied on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 13:47 GMT
Thank you for your kind words Manuel. I will be certain to have a look at your essay. I made some additional statements about complementarity in my response to Paul above if you are interested.

Joe Fisher wrote on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 16:14 GMT
Respectfully Professor Knuth,

Please excuse me, I am a decrepit old self-taut (thinking makes me tense) realist. I do not intend this observation to be taken critically, but like all of the physicists who have submitted essays to this site, you have also omitted a vital piece of information one should know about.

You wrote, “We imagine an observer to possess a precise instrument, which has access to and can count the events along a given particle’s chain²”

As I have soberly explained in my essay BITTERS, the real Universe is unique, once. Everything in the real Universe must be unique, once. Any instrument no matter how precise it is cannot measure Unique. Unique cannot be counted for unique only happens once. Some real observer using unique eyes can observe Unique once.

post approved

Akinbo Ojo wrote on Jun. 26, 2013 @ 08:45 GMT
Dear Kevin,

Yours is a commendable striving to discern fundamental particle behavior. However, since you talk of 'influence others', 'network' I presume you imply interactions in space. Can the true nature of such be well described without first deciphering the nature of space?

I commend the following for your contemplation,

The Pythagoreans say: Space is a composite of monads...

view entire post

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Author Kevin H Knuth replied on Jun. 26, 2013 @ 15:58 GMT
Dear Akinbo,

> However, since you talk of 'influence others', 'network' I presume you imply

> interactions in space. Can the true nature of such be well described without

> first deciphering the nature of space?

Actually, one need not assume that entities influence one another in space. In the essay, I show how the concept of space, and the mathematics of spacetime, arise naturally from such influences.

The result is a relational concept of space as being defined by the interacting entities, much in the spirit of Leibniz (whom you quoted). Space describes the relationships among the interacting entities. Space reflects the fact that not everything happens to you.

George Kirakosyan wrote on Jun. 26, 2013 @ 09:02 GMT
Hi dear Kevin,

I enjoyed read your attractive essay being on the certainly opposite position!

Whatever you are doing it maybe really useful and right from applied point of view. However, you can be agree with me that such approach can not be productively for the cognitively investigation of events. It is the main lack of formal methodology at all, which however looks now as the inevitable reality.

You say ,,Since we cannot know what an electron is, perhaps it is best to simply focus on what an electron does,, Excuse me! - you can not, but maybe somebody will able to say you what itself is presented the electron and how it shows its known attributes/properties? I mean why we must declare something as impossible since we cannot do it? I want simply say you it really is possible, that however demand totally change our imagination about how to need to build the science!

I will put on your essay (8) point because it really written by master!

Hope you can have the patience to check my work (mainly the references) and appreciate it. http://fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/1804

ESSAY

Best wishes to you,

George

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Author Kevin H Knuth replied on Jun. 26, 2013 @ 16:18 GMT
Dear George,

Thank you for your kind words and comments---especially given that you have a "certainly opposite position".

It may help if I clarify my statement on what one can know about an electron. There are four logical steps:

1. We can only know about something if it influences us (directly or indirectly).

2. Therefore, if an entity has properties that do not...

view entire post

George Kirakosyan wrote on Jun. 27, 2013 @ 08:40 GMT
Dear Kevin,

You say:

1. We can only know about something if it influences us (directly or indirectly).

2. Therefore, if an entity has properties that do not affect how it influences others, there is no way for anyone to obtain information about those properties etc.

You have put such points as finitely. Mostly you are right but there is another way that the science...

view entire post

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Author Kevin H Knuth replied on Jul. 9, 2013 @ 02:04 GMT

Perhaps I will be able to comment better then.

Cheers

Kevin

Satyavarapu Naga Parameswara Gupta wrote on Jun. 28, 2013 @ 00:38 GMT
Dear Kevin,

Thank you for presenting your nice essay. I saw the abstract and will post my comments soon. Can we produce material just by thinking about it?

I am requesting you to go through my essay also. And I take this opportunity to say, to come to reality and base your arguments on experimental results.

I failed mainly because I worked against the main stream. The main...

view entire post

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Author Kevin H Knuth replied on Jul. 9, 2013 @ 02:12 GMT
Dear Satyavarapu

My impression is that you are taking a stance that material things cannot come from information. I could not agree more. I view information as that which constrains one's beliefs. And in this sense the laws of physics are no more than rules based on making optimal inferences.

Hoang cao Hai wrote on Jun. 28, 2013 @ 04:46 GMT
Send to all of you

THE ADDITIONAL ARTICLES AND A SMALL TEST FOR MUTUAL BENEFIT

To change the atmosphere "abstract" of the competition and to demonstrate for the real preeminent possibility of the Absolute theory as well as to clarify the issues I mentioned in the essay and to avoid duplicate questions after receiving the opinion of you , I will add a reply to you :

1 . THE...

view entire post

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Anton Lorenz Vrba wrote on Jun. 28, 2013 @ 19:38 GMT
Hi Kevin,

I like many others before me pick up with your opening sentence ' I know about the universe because it influences me ' I would rather argue that you observe the universe because of it's influence it has. Knowing and understanding is an abstract process of human thought resulting from the observation. This abstractness allows one to build new models and postulate new method, as you have done in your essay, but is it closer to reality? We will never know for certain.

You relate your Equation-5 to formulations of special relativity. May I ask a simple question assuming you did not know about special relativity would you have come up with the formulations and ideas preceding Equation-5? or was it rather knowing the result and finding an alternate way to it.

We also know about the Michelson-Morley experiment, but do we really understand it? I would argue no. Please read my very short essay I really seek an answer to the paradox.

report post as inappropriate
Anonymous replied on Jul. 9, 2013 @ 03:46 GMT
Dear Anton

I am not so sure that your restatement

'I would rather argue that you observe the universe because of it's influence it has.'

of my opening sentence is so different. Though I do appreciate the fact that you move from one's knowing to observation. However, I would rather stay away from "observation" since it is a term loaded...

view entire post

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Gene H Barbee wrote on Jun. 29, 2013 @ 10:53 GMT
Kevin, I read your essay and liked your discipline of staying within an observation based model. It is interesting that so much familiar physics comes from observed influences alone. The new perspective you mention is the information (bit) that can be inferred about observed physical reality (it) if I understand your essay correctly.

I believe we can and must go further. I share your interest in the foundations of physics and entered the last contest with an essay entitled “A top down approach to fundamental forces”. It shows the informational basis (code or bit) for what an electron is (along with all the other particles) and the informational basis for the influences that are observed. Results of the model give us the cosmology we observe (papers are posted under this years essay “It from Information”). Someday, sometime, someone needs to take the time to interact with me about this work.

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Author Kevin H Knuth replied on Jul. 9, 2013 @ 03:53 GMT

I too think we can go further.

In my model, when a particle is influenced its momentum and energy are affected. This is a basis for force.

Cheers

Kevin

Cristinel Stoica wrote on Jun. 30, 2013 @ 06:08 GMT
Dear Kevin,

I was pleased to read your essay. I am happy to see your networks of influence approach applied here to relativity and quantum mechanics, and how you discuss the "it from bit" question. I particularly liked the conclusion "Rather than thinking about the universe as a computer, perhaps it is more accurate to think about it as a network of influences where the laws of physics derive from both consistent descriptions and optimal information-based inferences made by embedded observers."

Best regards,

Cristi Stoica

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Author Kevin H Knuth replied on Jul. 3, 2013 @ 07:24 GMT
Dear Cristi

Thank you for your kind words.

I very much wanted to talk more about how one derives those quantum mechanical amplitudes and some of the details about this relates to inference. But the essay had to be focused and I thought that focusing on how information leads to this concept of particle "properties" would be most interesting.

Since the essay was finished, I have now come to appreciate that this approach provides some interesting insights into contextuality.

I see that your essay has been posted as well.

fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/1627

I look forward to reading it!

Cheers

Kevin

Conrad Dale Johnson wrote on Jun. 30, 2013 @ 16:23 GMT
Hi Kevin -

This is a very fine essay, and I found a lot to agree with in your approach. I appreciate it that you make your assumptions so clear as you go through your argument, acknowledging that other routes might also be possible. And it's impressive how much you can derive from a very simple model of interaction.

I think your basic argument is important - that is, since...

view entire post

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Author Kevin H Knuth replied on Jul. 9, 2013 @ 04:23 GMT

You present a very interesting perspective and I look forward to reading your essay. I will hold off commenting until then.

Cheers

Kevin

James Lee Hoover wrote on Jul. 3, 2013 @ 18:14 GMT
Kevin,

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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Author Kevin H Knuth replied on Jul. 9, 2013 @ 06:53 GMT
Dear Jim

I look forward to reading it.

Cheers

Kevin

Wesley Wayne Hansen wrote on Jul. 5, 2013 @ 16:15 GMT
Mr. Knuth,

Boy I'm a huge fan of your work! I've pretty much read all of your papers scattered over the web, from the NASA archives to your homepage. I reference a couple of your papers in my own essay here and linked to your "Quantum theory and probability theory: their relationship and origin in symmetry" paper on Phil Gibb's section of the forum. That, in my opinion, is a very elegant piece of work! I haven't read this essay yet but look forward to it.

With regards,

Wes Hansen

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Author Kevin H Knuth replied on Jul. 9, 2013 @ 06:55 GMT
Dear Wes

Thank you for your generous words.

I was not aware that our paper was discussed on the forum. I am rather new here, so I will have to check it out.

Thank you again!

Kevin

Wesley Wayne Hansen wrote on Jul. 8, 2013 @ 15:00 GMT
You know, I like your "Cox-Knuth Method" largely because it's very straight forward, elegant, revealing, and because it has such a broad utility; I believe its utility is constrained only by the breadth and depth of one's imagination. So naturally I enjoyed your paper but I was a bit let down; I was hoping to gain a little insight into your metaphysics! Your imagination is readily apparent in a...

view entire post

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Author Kevin H Knuth replied on Jul. 9, 2013 @ 07:44 GMT
Dear Wes

You wrote:

I am sincerely sorry to disappoint you at this level.

While I believe the work summarized in my essay to be well-founded, the technical details are spread over at least four papers, which results in a viewpoint that I thought to be sufficiently radical to risk being simply unbelievable. Adding a layer of metaphysical ponderings to that would risk...

view entire post

Author Kevin H Knuth replied on Jul. 9, 2013 @ 07:46 GMT
Hello Again Wes,

I tried quoting you, but I used double \lt and \gt symbols, which then took my internal text as a comment.

Here is what I meant to quote above:

"So naturally I enjoyed your paper but I was a bit let down; I was hoping to gain a little insight into your metaphysics! Your imagination is readily apparent in a number of your papers but your analysis is always conservative and careful, as it should be. I can't help but wonder if you even allow yourself the luxury of a metaphysics."

Thanks

Kevin

Wesley Wayne Hansen replied on Jul. 11, 2013 @ 21:27 GMT
Kevin,

Thank you kindly for taking the time to flesh out some of your ideas. I certainly appreciate it and look forward to your future work! As you say, "this cannot be the end of the story."

Best regards,

Wes Hansen

report post as inappropriate

Member Ian Durham wrote on Jul. 9, 2013 @ 16:21 GMT
Kevin,

Just read your essay. It clarified a number of aspects of your poset approach in my mind. You should definitely read the Coecke & Martin paper I showed you last week. I think there's possibly a relation here to Rovelli's relational approach (did we discuss this?). Anyway, I love your point about the fact that knowledge about any property that does not affect how a particle exerts its influence is inaccessible to us. This is essentially related to distinguishability, though I think there are some issues to be worked out regarding bosons as of yet (see van Fraassen's work on identical particles and exchange symmetry, for example).

A couple of other quick notes: I have always suspected, despite the fact that the two signatures are mathematically equivalent, that the particle physics metric signature was more physically correct than the signature used in GR. Also, I have long suspected that there is more to spin than meets the eye, but I'll e-mail you about that separately.

Cheers,

Ian

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Author Kevin H Knuth replied on Jul. 24, 2013 @ 01:40 GMT
Hi Ian

Thank you also for showing me the paper by Coecke & Martin. I need to get myself a copy.

I too like that the particle physics signature comes out as being the correct one. The mass-energy relationship is closely related to the Minkowski metric. But one thing that confuses me is why does the mass-energy relationship assumed to hold in curved spacetime when the Minkowski metric has to be modified? There is something funny going on here.

Last, spin and space go hand-in-hand.

I would like to understand this better myself, so I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Cheers

Kevin

Member Ken Wharton wrote on Jul. 13, 2013 @ 12:28 GMT
Hi Kevin,

Interesting stuff! But as promising as this looks for relativity, I would have liked to see a bit more discussion of where you've taken this on the quantum side of things. Of course, I've seen your related talk on that topic, and I know you were space-limited, but for me that's where the question of "what does a particle do?" is far more fascinating and problematic.

Are you really breaking the Newton's-third-law-style symmetry between the "act of influence" and the "response to influence"? Sure, I see why you need a partial order, but is there any deep reason why you can't have such an order and still treat both sides of influence in the same way?

Finally, I suppose I'll take you to task for being overly even-handed on the main question. Your essay clearly supports the "Bit from It" perspective, but then at the very end you turn around and claim that we can use our Bits to build another "It*" (starred here to distinguish It* from the original It.). But in what sense is It* reality at all? Isn't It* merely our best-guess reconstruction based on incomplete knowledge, which means It*'s not really reality? So why is it fair to call It* "it"? Is there any particular reason why you aren't you fully in the "Bit from It" camp?

Cheers!

Ken

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Author Kevin H Knuth replied on Jul. 13, 2013 @ 15:13 GMT
Hi Ken

> I would have liked to see a bit more discussion of where you've taken this on the quantum side of things.

There are so many things to talk about and so few essay contests! ;)

> Are you really breaking the Newton's-third-law-style symmetry between the "act of influence" and the "response to influence"? Sure, I see why you need a partial order, but is there any...

view entire post

ioannis hadjidakis wrote on Jul. 15, 2013 @ 09:56 GMT
Dear Kevin,

my congratulations for your excellent essay. Please have a look at http://vixra.org/abs/1306.0226 where, I think you will find the first steps in developing of a new conception of Nature that leads to your every conclusion following a different (but very similar) route.

" Any existent appears in dual form: Real (IT) - What it is, and Virtual (BIT) - How it works.IT is caused by "past" and causes "future" while BIT is caused by "future" and causes "past" ("past" and "future" are in accordance to real world). Hence, future and past are included in existent' s present."

Finally I think you are right that spacetime is only our way to conceive thinks, a kind of arbitrary dimensions we give in order to interpret and express interactions.

My best wishes

report post as inappropriate
Author Kevin H Knuth replied on Jul. 24, 2013 @ 01:11 GMT
Dear Ioannis

I will be sure to take a look at your website and paper.

Cheers

Kevin

Mikalai Birukou wrote on Jul. 16, 2013 @ 20:08 GMT
Hi, Kevin,

Ever since I saw Sorkin's presentation with his take of how partially ordered sets may lead to emergent spacetime, ever since 2002, it haunted me what should those point events be, so that we get the quantum side of physics. I guess, this is what Ken Wharton asked you about.

Last year Giovanni Amelino-Camelia wrote essay, in which he stated an obvious fact that we have...

view entire post

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Author Kevin H Knuth replied on Jul. 24, 2013 @ 01:33 GMT
Dear Mikalai

When I began this work, I simply considered a casually ordered set of events. It wasn't clear to me what an event was either---in Sorkin's approach or even Einstein's for that matter. This is one thing I have tried to clear up.

The way I think about it at present is that entities can influence one another. The act...

view entire post

Paul Borrill replied on Jul. 24, 2013 @ 02:14 GMT
Kevin - do you have a reference for the Feynman / Wheeler program which "was abandoned because they needed interactions that went backward in time"?

John Archibald Wheeler and Richard Phillips Feynman, “Interaction with the absorber as the mechanism of radi- ation”, Reviews of Modern Physics, vol. 17, no. 2-3, pp. 157–181, Apr. 1945

or some other paper? I'm very interested in this reference.

Kind regards, Paul

report post as inappropriate

Author Kevin H Knuth replied on Jul. 25, 2013 @ 02:49 GMT
Hi Paul

You have one of them!

These are the two papers:

Wheeler, J. A.; Feynman, R. P. (1945). "Interaction with the Absorber as the Mechanism of Radiation". Reviews of Modern Physics 17 (2–3): 157–161.

Wheeler, J. A.; Feynman, R. P. (1949). "Classical Electrodynamics in Terms of Direct Interparticle Action". Reviews of Modern Physics 21 (3): 425–433.

This line of investigation was abandoned in favor of QED.

But I still find it very interesting.

Cheers

Kevin

Vladimir F. Tamari wrote on Jul. 17, 2013 @ 01:33 GMT
Dear Kevin

I read your essay with interest. You start with the electron as you might well do since in our computers it is the most familiar example of a particle mediating Its and Bits. Beyond that the discussion gets rather too technical to assimilate completely in one reading, but I think I understood your intention to describe causality in a network. This is excellent, as it shows you have an image of the workings of the Universe at fundamental scale that are linear, local and causal.

Here and there your vision wavers, threatened by the complexities and uncertainties of space-time and of probability. Have no fear, the Universe may well be just a simple network of influences of an ordered lattice of energy, and both spacetime and probability are emergent physicist-invented mathematial concepts with no real physical connection to what is happening at the smallest scales.

This is what I have tried to present in my 2005 Beautiful Universe Theory also found here and defended in my last year's fqxi essay "Fix Physics!". Regretfully my work is qualitative and incomplete and lacks the professional touch with which you have presented your vision of reality.

With best wishes for your success

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Author Kevin H Knuth replied on Jul. 24, 2013 @ 01:51 GMT

The essay really isn't just about electrons. The influence concept gives rise to Fermions in general, which are the particles that make up all of matter.

I would like to know where you think my essay wavers. There are many missing details that one can fill in by looking at the referenced papers, or by going here:

http://knuthlab.rit.albany.edu/index.php/Program/Founda
tions

But it is not a lattice of energy. I attempt to show in the essay that energy is merely one of several descriptions of what a particle is doing. I do believe that spacetime is an emergent description of relationships among entities. Probability is simply a means by which one consistently ranks logical statements.

Thank you again!

Kevin

Hi Kevin,

The main reason for joining this contest was not to win, but to see if I can get any professional physicist with interest in foundational issues, to evaluate my idea. I appreciate any criticism no matter how harsh, although I do prefer constructive ones. I have rated you fairly high ( I follow up on your work regularly in FQXI), but as I said I don’t care for rating mine, but that is your prerogative. I will also ask you some basic questions about your theory a bit later.

Many thanks

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Author Kevin H Knuth replied on Jul. 24, 2013 @ 01:52 GMT

Thanks

Kevin

Sreenath B N wrote on Jul. 21, 2013 @ 08:32 GMT
Dear Kevin,

Regards and good luck in the contest,

Sreenath BN.

http://fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/1827

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Author Kevin H Knuth replied on Jul. 24, 2013 @ 01:54 GMT
Dear Sreenath

I will try to get to your essay soon...

Good luck to you as well!

Cheers

Kevin

Akinbo Ojo wrote on Jul. 22, 2013 @ 13:11 GMT
Hello Kevin,

Just a few encouraging words. Your essay is good but appeared a bit technical for me to follow. Nevertheless, someone referred me to Feynman checkerboard model and I feel yours is very similar and a bit clearer. I don't know whether to call mine a checkerboard model, it appears a bit too simple or what do you think?

Then, if I may ask since Δx appears in your essay, do you envisage a minimum possible value? Or the value has no lower limit?

Lastly, since your essay is information-based and you are a specialist in this area, would you consider existence/non-existence as a binary choice, i.e. information?

Regards,

Akinbo

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Author Kevin H Knuth replied on Jul. 24, 2013 @ 01:58 GMT
Dear Akinbo

Thank you for your kind words, I hope to get to your essay soon...

The dx that appears is discrete and has a minimum value.

Regarding existence/non-existence, there are two mutually exclusive exhaustive choices, so binary would be a good classification. As for "i.e. information", I am not sure what you are asking. I view information as that which constrains my beliefs.

Cheers

Kevin

Paul Borrill wrote on Jul. 24, 2013 @ 02:21 GMT
Kevin - excellent paper. I'm delighted to see someone develop the concept of an embedded observer.

I'm not sure how to think about the poset model. The Hasse diagram seems to have the same problem as Feynman diagrams (time is up). Makes it difficult to represent reversible quantum flow (unless you fold the paper ;-)

This is related to the point you make in the Mass, Energy and Momentum section - "This makes time an excellent parameter for indexing observations" - It seems to me that this is true only for irreversible, monotonically increasing time.

Although I am intrigued by your reference to Feynman's factor of i during helicity traversals. [I don't have a copy of Feynman & Hibbs]

Kind regards, Paul

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Author Kevin H Knuth replied on Jul. 25, 2013 @ 01:29 GMT
Dear Paul

The poset model is very nice in the sense that posets have a duality where one can simply flip the ordering relation (it is arbitrary after all), and this is what results in time-reversal symmetry. Literally just flip the paper upside down!

Time is simply an index. You can count backwards if you wish and you will get the same laws of physics.

Feynman and Hibbs doesn't have much to say as its literally left as a homework exercise. There have been a host of papers on the Feynman checkerboard model showing how one can derive the Dirac equation. However, in those papers one starts by assuming the factor of i in amplitude during the helicity reversals. In my paper on Fermions, (http://arxiv.org/abs/1212.2332) I show how you can derive it, which is quite satisfying.

Kevin

Than Tin wrote on Jul. 24, 2013 @ 22:36 GMT
Dr. Knuth

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 the...

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Author Kevin H Knuth replied on Jul. 25, 2013 @ 01:31 GMT
Dear Than

I especially liked the quotes from Feynman.

I am aiming for simplicity.

How simple can the description be and yet result in the observed physics.

I believe it is far simpler than we have been able to imagine.

Thank you again!

Kevin

Mikalai Birukou wrote on Jul. 25, 2013 @ 17:18 GMT
Dear Kevin,

In continuation to above comment on having fundamental particle events as points (dated Jul. 16, 2013 @ 20:08 GMT).

Influence, or, analogously, force in a framework of Newtonian mechanics, is a useful concept for an abstract level of bigger systems that are maid of some smaller things. And probably, like Newtonian force, which already has a problem with simultaneity in...

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Author Kevin H Knuth replied on Jul. 25, 2013 @ 20:54 GMT
Dear Mikalai

The direct particle-particle interactions approach taken by Feynman and Wheeler was different in that they imagined these influences to be carrying the electromagnetic force. They also assume that this is going on in a pre-existing independent space-time background. There were some very interesting successful features in this model. But it...

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James Lee Hoover wrote on Jul. 25, 2013 @ 23:24 GMT
Kevin,

Simple models can help us to understand what we know and what we don't know about the macro and micro world. I firmly believe that we will discover the paucity of our knowledge of physics when extraterrestrial visitors are discovered -- as surely they will be.

I think your focus on what the electron does than what it is will in itself be a reminder of utilizing what we know rather than what we think we know. I am a non-physicist but no less intrigued by cosmology and physics late in life. I would like to see your views on "It's Great to be the King."

"Rather than thinking about the universe as a computer, perhaps it is more accurate to think about it as a network of influences where the laws of physics

derive from both consistent descriptions and optimal information-based inferences made by embedded observers."

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Author Kevin H Knuth replied on Aug. 6, 2013 @ 03:08 GMT

While I would be very interested in seeing what another independently-developed physics might look like, I don't think that such comparisons are necessary to highlight our paucity of knowledge of physics.

I am glad that you appreciate that I focus on what we know.

I think that this is a significant strength of this approach.

Cheers

Kevin

Yuri Danoyan wrote on Jul. 28, 2013 @ 04:34 GMT
Dear Kevin

"The average human being is a naive realist: i.e., like the animals, he accepts his sense impressions as direct information of reality and he is convinced that all human beings share this information. He is not aware that no way exist of establishing whether one individual impression (e.g. ,of a green tree) and that of another (of this tree) is the same and that even the word “same” has no meaning here.”

Max Born My life & my views p.53

Regards

Yuri

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Author Kevin H Knuth replied on Aug. 6, 2013 @ 03:11 GMT
Thank you Yuri for pointing me to this interesting quote from Max Born.

However, I am not sure how you envision this to be related to my essay.

I would be interested in having further comment from you on this.

Thanks

Kevin

eAmazigh M. HANNOU wrote on Jul. 28, 2013 @ 14:53 GMT
Dear Kevin,

Reality is made both wave and particle.

Why not « Quantum and Wave Mechanics » ?

Accordingly to eDuality, see my essay which is less scholarly.

I rated your essay accordingly to my appreciation.

Respectfully, and good luck.

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Author Kevin H Knuth replied on Aug. 6, 2013 @ 03:13 GMT

Cheers

Kevin

John Brodix Merryman wrote on Jul. 31, 2013 @ 03:04 GMT
Kevin,

This is a very fascinating approach that looks at what we know, rather than what we think. If I may, I would like to offer up the premise of my last year's entry and suggest ways it might bring together various of the points you raise; The dynamic reality we all inhabit, the vectors of influences it is usefully reduced to and the issue of the reality of time and space.

We...

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John Brodix Merryman replied on Jul. 31, 2013 @ 03:10 GMT
subjectivity

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Author Kevin H Knuth replied on Aug. 6, 2013 @ 03:33 GMT
Thank you so much for your kind words and interesting post.

The elimination of spacetime as a physical structure, while difficult conceptually, removes a good number of difficulties.

Nikolai Tesla wrote:

"I hold that space cannot be curved, for the simple reason that it can have no properties."

The moment space itself has properties, one can ask why those properties and not others? along with a host of other questions.

The idea of space as representing relationships between objects is quite old, and was held as the main belief on the continent during Leibniz's time. The problem is: what does one do with that? Newton's absolute space was greatly simplifying, which is what was needed at the time.

And there is another problem with space-time.

If space reflects the ability to distinguish, and time represents change, then when one considers space-time where time and space are related to one another, one must ask "what is changing that allows one to distinguish?" As far as I am aware, this has not been explained, and I see it as a big conceptual problem.

I could go on, but it would be better for me to read your essay first.

Cheers

Kevin

Branko L Zivlak wrote on Jul. 31, 2013 @ 12:16 GMT
Dear Physician,

Mass ratio of neutron/proton is fundamental in physics.

Maybe you do not have time to read essay of unknown authors. I encourage you, therefore, allow you to comment on the very essence of following formula:

$\gamma= 2^{(cy+p+3t)/(2+2a^{2}m)}=1.0013784192$

Where mathematical constant are:

$2\pi=6.2831853, t=log(2\pi,2)=2.6514961295, cy=e^{2\pi}= 535.4916555248$

Physical constants:

$a=1/\alpha=137.035999074, \mu=1836.15267245,m=log(\mu,2)=10.8424703056$

$p=cy/2-(\mu/a+1)/(\mu/a+2)-1=265.8107668189$

An important physicist said it was a coincidence, or perhaps just a curiosity. Perhaps you feel the same. My opinion is opposite. I think that in terms of, such a significant relationship physicist should have an attitude.

I find your article really interesting, and I rated you fairly.

Greetings Branko

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Author Kevin H Knuth replied on Aug. 6, 2013 @ 03:41 GMT
Dear Branko

Thank you for your kind words about my essay and for leaving a post.

It is always interesting when a formula is found that makes predictions. However, I think that physicists have become too enamored of mathematics. The great paradigm shifts in physics have been the result of new ideas, concepts or perspectives. Mathematics is the necessary language, and as such, mathematics can inspire ideas. Here, I would be more interested in seeing what ideas your equations inspire.

Thanks again

Kevin

Peter Jackson wrote on Jul. 31, 2013 @ 17:48 GMT
Kevin,

Quite brilliant essay. What a refreshing change to read about the very important matter of real entities and interactions! I commend your postulates and derivations.

I agree entirely; "mass is responsible for emergent spacetime", which I've analysed in further detail in a joint Hadronic Jnl paper on conceptual quantum optics with Jon Minkowski explaining how moving mirrors reflect light at c in the vacuum not mirror frame, so explaining many astronomical anomalies. Of course it appears too outlying for most to be comfortable with at first.

I suspect you may be able to apply the correct algorithms to the heuristic descriptions I use in developing the ontological construction in terms of relative motion in my essay, also apparently resolving other paradoxes, and seemingly entirely consistent with your approach.

But this is rather outside the box and doctrine thinking. Frankly I was just about to sign in to the local institution to sort my wayward thinking out until I read your essay. I own you big time for that! Thank you, and top marks. I'd like id possible for you to look over may last two essays here which are precursers to this years, describing the fundamental inter-particle, or even just inter wave/particle mechanism than seems to have that Midas touch. Of course if you think a big score appropriate this year I won't complain I've been passed over from 7th place twice running now! But far more important are the truths to be revealed.

Very well done and thank you. I hope to see a comment on my blog (there are many nice superlatives there already, but complete understanding by more would be better.

Very best wishes.

Peter

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Author Kevin H Knuth replied on Aug. 6, 2013 @ 04:05 GMT
Dear Peter

Thank you so much for your generous comments. I am glad that you appreciate the postulates and derivations. It has been a great deal of effort to get the postulates to the point where I feel that they are sensible. The detailed derivations can be found in my papers. After over three years of work to polish them, I have come to realize that the spacetime business amounts to counting events. It is surprising to me that it is so simple at the foundation.

I look forward to reading your essays, as well as the JNL paper you note above that deals with light reflecting off of mirrors.

I like your comment about "signing into the local institution" to sort out your "wayward thinking". I am glad that my wayward thinking has compelled you to stay on your present course! I am struck by the fact that much foundations research focuses on concepts such as mass, energy, location, etc. often with little apparent regard or concern that these concepts are not really understood. In several other posts, I have written my favorite quote. I will do it again here:

"Familiarity breeds the illusion of understanding."

It is easy for us to talk about mass and energy, and while we understand their interrelationships, we do not really know what they are. That is something I implicitly tried to get across in my essay by constructing a model that has the potential to explain these *familiar* particle "properties". It is not clear to what degree such a model might explain a sizeable subset of physics, but at present it seems promising to me.

Thank you again for your kind words!

Cheers

Kevin

john stephan selye wrote on Aug. 2, 2013 @ 16:31 GMT
Having read so many insightful essays, I am probably not the only one to find that my views have crystallized, and that I can now move forward with growing confidence. I cannot exactly say who in the course of the competition was most inspiring - probably it was the continuous back and forth between so many of us. In this case, we should all be grateful to each other.

If I may, I'd like to...

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Thomas Howard Ray wrote on Aug. 3, 2013 @ 13:43 GMT
Dear Kevin,

"I know about the universe because it influences me." Marvelous!

I have not heard a better or more compact description of an objective physical world since Einstein's definition of physically real spacetime: " ... independent in its properties, having a physical effect but not itself influenced by physical conditions."

You get my 10 vote, without reservation. More important, I will be studying your essay for some time to come.

If you read my essay I hope you see that we are saying the same thing in different ways. And not really so different, at that. More to say, in due course. I hope we can have a continuing dialogue.

Thank you for a great essay -- all best in your research and in the contest!

Tom

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Author Kevin H Knuth replied on Aug. 6, 2013 @ 03:45 GMT
Dear Tom

Thank you so much for your very generous words and vote!

I look forward to reading your essay, and would very much like to strike up a dialogue. Since you have seen similarities, I am keen to see things from your perspective.

Cheers

Kevin

eAmazigh M. HANNOU wrote on Aug. 5, 2013 @ 22:31 GMT
Dear Kevin,

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.

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Author Kevin H Knuth replied on Aug. 6, 2013 @ 03:00 GMT

I like to keep in mind the following quote:

"Familiarity breeds the illusion of understanding"

You write:

"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."

I find that such conclusions are extremely difficult to arrive at since in reality no one knows what matter is, no one knows what energy is, and there is some debate as to what information is. This is basically why I am working to understand these important concepts at a more fundamental level.

Charles Raldo Card wrote on Aug. 6, 2013 @ 03:58 GMT

I am sending to you the following thoughts because I found your essay particularly well stated, insightful, and helpful, even though in certain respects we may significantly diverge in our viewpoints. Thank you! Lumping and sorting is a dangerous adventure; let me apologize in advance if I have significantly misread or misrepresented...

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M. V. Vasilyeva wrote on Aug. 6, 2013 @ 11:18 GMT
Esteemed Prof. Knuth,

I found your essay fascinating. I also read the comments in your blog, especially your discussions with Mikalai Birukou. I find it strange that I wrote about a similar sort of events/processes and their interweaving threads of causality in the end of my own essay. But that part was not premeditated at all. Now I suspect that I was influenced by your essay -? I probably read it late at night while writing my last-moment entry.

I learned a lot reading your replies to Mikalai Birukou and am amazed at your depth of knowledge and originality of your view on things. Because of this, I would value very much your opinion of another essay that speaks of emergence, in an entirely different context: it is by Carolyn Devereux, PhD IT from BIT considering fluctuations in a quantised space Unfortunately she is not around to answer the questions, but I found her essay very interesting and would like your opinion on it. Please.

And could you please also elucidate how your idea of emergence differs from cellular automata (CA) proposed by Prof. D'Ariano (and also Maria Carrillo-Ruiz, whose is a very short essay).

Thank you very much for all your feedback and your great ideas,

-Marina

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William C. McHarris wrote on Aug. 7, 2013 @ 14:49 GMT
Dear Prof. Knuth,

What a lovely essay — both beautifully written and to the point. It's great to see a new, straightforward perspective used to obtain relativistic symmetries. It demonstrates that the underlying symmetries in nature are ubiquitous and quite often unexpected. (It reminds me of why spectroscopists can get into trouble when they try to use sums and differences to assemble energy levels — those are not random numbers, and intricate, unanticipated relationships can easily crop up.)

I was wondering about your example of an electron having two attributes, one that it displays and one that we can't see. Could anything be done along this line with the Uncertainty Principle? (I realize that you deal with the Uncertainty Principle later on in your essay.) Maybe get time involved in a sequential uncovering of the properties?

Congratulations and keep up the great (and from your bio, varied) work.

Bill McHarris

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Paul Borrill wrote on Aug. 7, 2013 @ 17:10 GMT
Kevin - I just noticed, I hadn’t rated your essay yet. This is a gem, and I rated it highly.

The issue with being unable to tell different (pink?) electrons are exhibiting a different behavior from its repertoire is at the heart of physics. Boltzmann indistinguishability and Liebniz’s indiscernability have given us great insights. I loved the way you have developed your theory of coordinated chains as Hasse diagrams.

I anticipate some resonance here and would appreciate your comments on my essay, particularly regarding the way I have extended Boltzman’s indistinguishability of particles in phase space from the indistinguishability of states in an evolution of an entangled system. If I am correct, the principle of retroactive indiscernability brings a fresh perspective to the subject.

My conclusion: the photon is the carrier of time and the universe is a network automaton.

I have tried using both Feynman diagrams and Hasse diagrams (Lattices) but without success, because I need a way to describe a dynamic reordering of the nodes on the graph.

What I enjoyed most about your essay was the notion of an embedded observer. Clearly, there is a relationship here with decoherence theory and the measurement problem.

http://fqxi.org/data/forum-attachments/Borrill-TimeOne-
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).

Lets connect when the contest is over.

Kind regards, Paul

paul at borrill dot com

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Anonymous wrote on Aug. 8, 2013 @ 09:30 GMT
Dear Kevin,

As per particle scenario, information is the transfer of energy with photons or ions. Electron as a matter has mass, but as described as point like zero-dimensional particle, it unlikely evolves three-dimensional structures.

Thus by string-matter continuum scenario, we ascribe all particles that have mass as coupled tetrahedral-branes of eigen-rotational string-matter segments as building blocks. Thus lattice of simplexes of eigen-rotational string-segments have collective gravitational influence in that gravity emerges as a tensor product on eigen-rotations of string-matter segments.

With best wishes,

Jayakar

attachments: 2_Spin_simplex.pdf, Collective_gravity.pdf

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Jayakar Johnson Joseph replied on Aug. 8, 2013 @ 09:35 GMT
Cont…

Posted by me. – Jayakar

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Héctor Daniel Gianni wrote on Aug. 10, 2013 @ 21:59 GMT
Dear Kevin H Knuth:

I am an old physician and I don’t know nothing of mathematics and almost nothing of physics. maybe you would be interested in my essay over a subject which after the common people, physic discipline is the one that uses more than any other, the so called “time”.

I am sending you a...

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