Thoughts on… The X-mu Library (An Introduction)

OK, so one of the many outputs of my PhD Research and Development is a software library in the python programming language for what we call the “X-mu Approach” to Fuzzy Set Theory. I’ve released this library as free and open source software via github ( danieljohnlewis/xmu-python ), and I’ve started to build an online calculator… but I’m not quite ready to make that public quite yet (although if you’re up for testing it, then please do get in touch!)

Something is fuzzy when it has a graded membership… what I mean by this is that subjectively something can be categorised to a certain degree. So it might be “lightly raining” or “very heavily raining”, they are fuzzy terms, whereas “its either raining or its not” is what we call a binary term.

So, in traditional fuzzy. A membership function takes in a value (e.g. millimetres of rain per hour) and returns a value between 0 and 1, representing how much it is that term/category (e.g. “very heavy rain”). This value between 0 and 1 is called the membership value, or mu (well, the greek letter μ).

The X-mu (or X-μ) approach, does the opposite (or rather the “inverse”). Which gives us some neat things. It highlights what we call the interval nature of a fuzzy membership function, and when we take those intervals as symbolic/algebraic equations and push that through an algorithm we retain the full meaning of a fuzzy membership function all the way through that algorithm. We also see speed gains in comparison to traditional methods, purely because of the symbolic nature.

Anyway, I hope that I have discussed this reasonably – I started off quite simple, and got a little more technical at the end… but my purpose was to highlight that my X-mu library is available for perusal, and the online calculator for the X-mu approach can be tested (for people that contact me anyway).

This will be the first post of, probably, many about this library. I hope to show off the calculator a bit more in future posts. I also hope to give you a tutorial about downloading and using the library for yourselves. Then I hope to discuss the uses of the library – in things like data mining and robotics, etc.

In the meantime, if you have any questions then please do comment, or get in touch directly… its daniel [at] vanirsystems, and has a dot com at the end of it.

 

Thoughts on… belief

I’ve always attempted to make this blog an outlet for very rational thoughts, and I don’t intend to change that. However, I feel drawn to mention about a part of my life which is important to me, but may seem irrational to others.

I am ordained, currently as a deacon, but “in-training” for the priesthood. The ordination was into a small independent Church which has a very interesting history, and has members around the world. It can be classed as a Christian church, in that it follows the philosophies surrounding Christ. However, its theology is a little different from mainstream churches, and radically different from what we might call the fundamental/evangelical churches. The church that I am involved in is very liberal and inclusive, it is very open to ecumenical work and does not attempt to “convert”. However, it does have apostolic succession and does make use of ritual. Its theology could be classed as “gnostic” in that its members attempt to get to know the divine. The divine which is everything that we can perceive, it is not supernatural, but very natural. In this way, we approach theology with both belief and knowledge, and apply the tools of logic and scientific thought. Its members can engage with and build friendships with atheists and theists alike.

This part of me, which could be classed as spiritual beliefs and knowledge, is important to me. I value it greatly, and it permeates and intermingles with my political and ethical thoughts, and enriches my knowledge-base and altruistic tendencies. However, I am always worried about talking about to my friends and contacts in computer science / engineering / mathematics. The reason why I fear talking about it, is simply because I know that many class themselves as atheist, and I worry that they may discredit my work and opinion in other areas simply because I am involved in religious work.

On the one hand, how can I call myself Christian, when (for example) a large amount of loud Christians espouse a creationist viewpoint (whereas I follow a evolutionary perspective firmly found in science)? On the other hand, why do so many atheists seem to denounce all forms of religious belief when (for example) religion provides prayer and meditation to billions of people – which has been proven to improve cognitive function (e.g. here), not to mention the positive impact of societal/communal work that a local religious community can offer?

It is really tough. It also does not help when the big churches “just don’t get it” when it comes to issues such as equality of gender in the episcopate, or equality of differing sexualities. I think this is probably why I ended up in an independent church – it is small and distributed, it doesn’t have the silliness of bizarre traditions (e.g. we’ve had women bishops for many years, and we would be happy to marry same-sex couples), and it approaches theology and life really logically and sympathetically.

So, I am torn. I have a few options. I could either (1) fully integrate my lives as both an applied computational intelligence researcher and an ordained person, getting the most value out of my belief and knowledge network and being happy but being in constant fear that some people may discredit my work. Or, (2) I could keep them separate and have separate lives, and continue to be frustrated at some of the things espoused by both the christian communities and the atheist communities. Or (3) I could carry on “as-is”, sort of having separate lives, but sometimes mentioning it carefully and after much consideration – but then never really being open and also being quite worried that people will misunderstand because I’ve not explained adequately enough.

Perhaps, what is most important is actually living a life of love towards humanity, and doing my best for the future of humanity. Living altruistically and ethically.

I’d be interested in reading your thoughts on this – particularly from those involved in computer science, and particularly from those who class themselves as atheists.

Once again, I’d like to highlight that I in no way wish the reader to convert to my belief system. That is certainly not my intention. From my perspective you can believe what you want, providing it doesn’t hurt yourself, me, or anybody else. Freedom! Equality! Community!

I will continue to think about this issue. However, in the meantime… Your thoughts?

Thoughts on… wearable technology

I haven’t “broadcasted” this widely yet, but I am a participant in the 1st Dress/Sense Competition (2014), which is taking place over three Saturdays (separated by two weeks each). The competition brings together computer scientists, electrical engineers / engineering designers, medics, fashion designers – most are university students (either undergraduate or postgraduate). It also brings in quite a few school children (the youngest being 12 years old). The idea of the competition is to bring these people together, forming small teams, to brain storm and create prototypes of wearable technology for the health reasons, and they have to be comfortable and fashionable. It could be for the purpose of diagnosis, or improving the wellbeing of sufferers of particular diseases, or anything else. It could be physical or psychological health, or both. There is a secondary aim, and that is to ensure costs of the item is minimal, allowing us to provide welfare for sufferers without excessive bills or taxes. We are therefore using things like the LilyPad Arduino.

This is exactly the kind of competition I like, it is co-operative rather than violently competitive, it has a grand vision for the benefit of humanity, and it brings together people of different ages and with different backgrounds to innovate.

We need more of this humanity co-operation in life, not just for healthcare innovation (or tech innovation in general) but for other areas too – politics, education, sustainable energy, urban living, rural living, everything! I want our prime ministers and our presidents to start talking about co-operation, start talking about true community, start publicly talking with those co-operating, and talking with those in communities, and start being part of co-operating communities themselves.

Anyway, I digress. I’m attending this competition to give my knowledge of computer science (particularly artificial intelligence, but probably also a lot of programming knowledge), along with my own personal interests in cardiac health and also future of humanity. We’ve already done one Saturday, and we are due to formulate teams and ideas in the next Saturday. I am enjoying it immensely.