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Questions about Reading Assignment:

Name the two most important things/concepts which you learned from the reading the chapter “The Architecture of Complexity”

Two ideas that were new to me and that I think are important are:

The description of complex systems with heirarchical organization as “nearly” decomposable. ###

The idea that processes within subsystems operate at a higher “frequency” than processes within higher-level systems.

1. give a one paragraph explanation why you consider these concepts important

These concepts are important because they will help to give science purchase in areas where it has so far been unable to gain a foothold. The physical sciences have changed the world drastically. How did you get here today? Probably in a car. Why was that possible? Because we have the science that tells us exactly what will happen when we combust a certain amount of gasoline vapor inside a piston. Before we apply the spark, we can already predict the rate of expansion to the nth decimal place.

The limitations of science in certain areas are also apparent. The biological sciences have only recently begun to affect the landscape, and the social sciences are still mostly descriptive. I think the reason for this is the complexity, that is, the degree of heirarchic structure, is different for each object of scientific interest. The ideas in this chapter will help to make more complex subjects amenable to science. They are important because they will enable people to affect (alter, design, construct, damage?) the living world and the social world as dramatically as we have affected the physical world.

2. are the concepts relevant to your work, to your interest, …. – if yes, why?

To my interests, yes. They extend and refine ideas I’ve encountered elsewhere. I’m thinking particularly of two books: The Web of Life, by Fritjof Capra, and What is Life, by Lynn Margulis and Dorian Sagan. I think the idea of near decomposability is useful and would have made Capra’s somewhat awkward and confusing division of structure/organization unneccessary. Also, Simon’s wachmaker metaphor holds for biological evolution better than he thinks. Simon says “However convincing a model the metaphor may provide for the evolution of atomic and molecular systems, and even uni-cellular organisms, it does not appear to fit the history of multi-cellular organisms…[which] have evolved through multiplication and specialization of the cells of a single system, rather than through the merging of previously independent subsystems.” That is not true. In fact, the “merging” of separate species probably plays a greater role than random mutation in evolution (see anything by Margulis (but I especially recommend the mostly-pictures version of What is Life.)).

Questions about The Importance of Representations in Design — The Mutilated “8x8” Matrix

Question: Can one cover the mutilated “8x8” matrix with 31 domino blocks?

1. try to find an answer to this problem! ‡ document briefly your thinking — including all the important intermediate steps and failing attempts (i.e., create a “think-aloud protocol”)

I only spent a few minutes “solving” this problem today because I have seen it before. I think it was in Algorithms or maybe Theory of Computation, the professor led us through a proof that it cannot be done. I have tried to remember or reproduce the steps of the proof but it’s beyond me. I do remember that it was inductive and that it had something to do with numbering the squares and noticing that dominoes must cover an even and an odd, but that’s as far as I’m going.

2. which resources did you use to solve the problem?

Originally, an instructor, probably a textbook too. This time, my memory.

3. which process did you use?

Inductive reasoning.

4. which practice (of you or others) did you use?

?? what?

5. could computers be useful to solve this problem?

Of course. You could just search all possible configurations.

6. what have you learned solving the problem: in general and for our course?

7. what have you learned not being able to solve the problem: in general and for our course?

I’m sorry, I'm not sure what, if anything, I’ve learned something from this. Maybe I came to it in the wrong mindset.

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