Daily Archives: July 23, 2013

Induction

Can you prove these equations? (I did. The link to my solutions is here.)

Though it may seem to be a bit of a jump, the study of algorithms like these ones is actually closely related to the study of artificial intelligence. After all, if you strip down famous AIs like Watson or Cleverbot, all they really are are a lot of algorithms and if-else statements. Powerful algorithms allow these AIs to give the illusion of human-like intelligence by stringing together sentences and analyzing auditory input, among other things.

Traveling Salesman Problem

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“PathFinder” is a program I wrote that deals with a simple case of the Traveling Salesman Problem. The objective is to visit all points with the shortest path possible. My solution was not optimal, but it was not particularly inefficient either. I used Dijkstra’s algorithm, which finds the shortest path from point to point and then connects the last point to the point where you began. This creates a suboptimal path from the last point to the starting one.

Privacy for Security: Fair Trade?

The main idea of government is that the people give up some of their power to the government in exchange for security. But a question has recently come to light as a result of the uncovered PRISM program and the potential for Google Glass to record what its wearer sees: how far can the government go to ensure its people’s security before it goes too far?

I would like to be able to offer a definite line dividing acceptable amounts of surveillance from unacceptable, but in truth there is no such thing. The line is fuzzy and liable to shift. In the end, it all boils down to how much the people trust the government. For instance, one argument in favor of the PRISM program is that the government will only look closely at data that could aid them in finding terrorists and such, and that the correspondence of your every-day Joe would fly under the radar. For a populace that does not trust its government, however, such assurances are not enough to allay their fears that their every secret and illicit affair might be aired to prying eyes.

An article in the New York Times brushed against this topic when it mentioned that cameras in the hands of the people are a far different beast than they are in the hands of the government. As the article quotes from Jay Stanley, senior policy analyst with the American Civil Liberties Union in Washington, “In the hands of an individual, the video camera can be a very empowering thing. When it’s employed by the government to watch over the citizens, it has the opposite effect.”

Link to the article