Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Simpler than possible

A scientific theory should be as simple as possible, but no simpler
- A. Einstein

I'm not sure of the precise context of Einstein's words, but it seemed to do with deflection of criticisms toward one of the relativity theories.

A kid with a magnifying glass intuitively understands the meaning: the focal length of the lens being a theory, too close in or too far away both give rise to fuzzy representations that aren't too bright.

By DrBob via Wikimedia Commons
The question is one of focus. Literally, not figuratively.

Considering that vision originates in the brain and its purpose is to create a predictive theory of the world around us, it is unremarkable that lenses are incorporated into our biology. The lens reduces the scale of the external problem visual field while concentrating signals in the process, and makes a projection onto a concavely curved surface covered with photoreceptors. The lens is an image transfer device. 

The brain then, is a device onto which images are transferred. Into, onto, it is hard to express: the memories modify the fine grained structure of neural dendrites, which incorporate the sensory inputs in analog gradients, and do so more or less as a whole. 

So I propose an idea of Focal Distance and the degree of Focal Alignment when considering how fit a software language, idiom, framework, system, or platform is to a particular purpose set of stakeholder needs. 

This assumes that the needs are in some manner, self-consistent -- they lie along a parallel trajectory. It may be that due to conflicting interests between stakeholders, the solutions deemed acceptable will never, ever, approach Focal Alignment. There could be orthogonal components to the needs, causing the lens -- and by extension the solution-image -- to skew. There could be absolute differences in stakeholder positions along the same trajectory or orientation in opposite directions along the same trajectory, giving a compromised Focal Distance and solutions that are blurry. 

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