Monthly Archives: June 2011

Abstraction and Simplicism

What is Abstraction

I am talking in terms of Computer Science of course. Abstraction in computer sciences picks out what is relevant. Separating the wheat from the chaff, Occam’s Razor, Bull without the Sh** … etc.

Abstraction has some strong roots in philosophy which must be credited to the question “what is reality?”. Try googling that and you will end up with answers from quantum physicists to psychologists to (probably me, hopefully this page) to philosophers (of course). Reality is a deeper question to answer than for this blog. But even among its discourse, there is a strong agreement that perception of reality is important in the how we know reality. Some say Reality is independent of our perception, others say it is not.

Abstraction is at the heart of practical computer science (and most engineering). As computer scientists or engineers, the important thing is how to abstract the important aspects of reality that will enable us to model problems so that we can solve them.

To give an example; when you buy a drink at a shop that costs 5-bucks, with a 10-buck note. You immediately know that you are expecting the shop owner to return a change of 5-bucks to you; or else hell will break loose. You have successfully done abstraction, even if you don’t know it yet. Here is how: You must have made a calculation like “10 minus 5 equals 5” in your head. Obviously the numbers are representing the money you are about to take out of your bank reserve. The number 10 is not same as your money 10-bucks, but given the circumstance the number 10 can be used to model/represent your money 10-bucks. In reality (plainly speaking), your 10-bucks has properties like the value of 10, a rectangular area, a volume (especially when u roll it), a weight (if you have that much) etc. but for the purpose of getting a drink, only the value 10 is important; that is abstraction.

The idea to take here is that simple abstractions are almost always certainly better. By simple I mean only what is necessary. In the example above, you could decide to remember that your 10-bucks note is rectangular, while calculating what your change will be, but trust me it is just a waste of brain power (which may actually be due to the lack of it). Simple abstractions are better.

What is Simplicism

Check a dictionary… and you may not find it, as I mean it here. For lack of a wider vocabulary, Simplicsim here is in contrast to “Simplistic” as in “neo-conservatives have a simplistic view of good and evil”. Simplicism is the ability to make a seemingly complex issue in to a simple one that solves the problem. I have come across people who do that and it is just impressive. I try to do it as much as I can too.

If you are the type of person who is likely to blame your parents for falling in a pothole (after falling) because they didn’t teach you how to jump, then you need simplicism in your life. If there was a Simplicism Angel or muse nearby, it will scream “JUMP” (may be not a good example).  I think simplicism can solve a lot of your day to day problems because it does not get too much in to details of a situation, just what it thinks is relevant (like u r responsible for jumping potholes). Here are a few everyday situations, what you might do without simplicism, and what the Simplicism Angel will ask you to do:

Situation

Without simplicism

Simplicism Angel says

Alarm goes off in the morning Hit snooze and add just 15 mins (which translates to 45 mins) Wake Up!
Got that paper to start reading The assignment is not due until next week, I can start in two days Get the paper, Start Reading!
I am supposed to call/email Adam May be later,(I hope) I will remember Call Adam!

If the simplicism angel were human, he/she will be considered dumb, shallow, not getting the whole picture, myopic, simplistic (of course, what do you expect) and someone who shouts a lot (all the exclamation marks in his/her statements).

You can come up with many situations where the simple answer is actually the more productive one; that is if you don’t have the Simplicism Angel shouting at you. But of course some situation, especially those that actively involve other people, do not apply; there’s good chance you will come out as plain “simplistic”.

How Abstraction and Simplicsm Relate

If your Situation is Reality, then the wise words of the Simplicism Angel is Abstraction; that is taking only the relevant details of a situation to achieve the immediate goal.

The Big Idea

Learn a lesson from Computer Science. If that is too techy, learn a lesson from the Simplicism Angel. If that is too spacey, do away with all the “crap” in situations that does not help much and get on with it. Now! preferably.

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Computer Science Series

I have been taking computer science courses now for about 8 months. Ups and downs, interesting and boring, there are some pretty interesting concepts in computer sciences. In reference to some of the concepts, I’ll begin a series of posts that will show how they apply in the world outside of computer sciences. All the post will be categorized under the “computer science and the world” category.

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Invisible Hijab

What is Hijab?

In one word, conceal. In three words, conceal from attention.

What Hijab is not? Seeking attention.

Well, the word Hijab means a form of screen, curtain or veil. I am not referring to the more famous manifestations of Hijab which include, but not limited to; Jibab, Jillaba, Niqab, Burqa, Khimar etc. I am more interested in the idea of Hijab; the concept.

There is a debate on what hijaab translates in to (in our lives), even though fundamentally most agree that it has to do with modesty and concealment. Modesty being more associated with state of mind (I believe) than outward appearance. Concealment is more to do with one’s physical appearance.

Hijab for Him and Her

There is little debate about what Hijab means for a man, many will respond “what do you mean Hijab for men?!”. Many don’t even consider it, so I will also focus where the juice is; that is Hijab for women. On the extremes, one side argues that Hijab for a woman means covering her entire body with loose,  non-thin, non-bright colored material, except may be her face (or her eyes). Hijab is also a tool to avoid “men’s gaze” (attraction). On the other extreme, Hijab means the concept of modesty. I am more aligned with the latter group.

Here are links if you want to have an idea of what two people that are close to the two extremes think. Leila Ahmad and the other side.

Suppression or Liberation

Due to the recent “interactions” between the west and cultures that are pre-dominantly Muslim, you here the echo of “… blah blah Suppression or Liberation”. You know it is a talk about women in Islam, almost with full certainty. It is talking about one of the manifestations of Hijab. I keep mentioning “Manifestation” of Hijab because it is central to this post.

Up until I started writing this, I thought both supporters for Suppression and Liberation were just two opposite forces of action and reaction (or more appropriately reaction and reaction). Here is a post that talks about the Liberation point of view. While having a discussion recently about the topic, it dawned on me that may be Hijab is Liberation. Before I give my reasons, how about another detour to the world of Marvel Comics?

Invisible Woman

If you have watched any of the Fantastic Four Movies some five years ago, then you probably don’t need to read this section. Invisible Woman is the character played by Jessica Alba. Of course, since we are talking about Marvel Comics, she has super powers. Obviously she can be invisible. She can also create an energy field around her to protect her from harm (you can remember if you watched the film).

Although it may not be obvious to non-sciency people, her actual power is the ability to manipulate light waves (light energy). Remember this.

Invisible Hijab

I want to argue that Hijab is Liberation, but not as commonly advocated. In order to do that I will like to argue that Invisible Woman has the best Hijab (even though she wears tights); when she chooses to wear her Hijab.

I will like to clear this first, in case the more feminist-inclined have noticed it; by using “Invisible Woman” it is not meant to imply insignificant woman, it means a woman who can be invisible when she wants to.

Back to my reasons. The first reason is that Invisible Woman can be wearing a bikini and still be in Hijaab; if the purpose of the Hijab is to conceal. If you argue that Hijab’s purpose is also to gain the woman respect, then it only takes for Invisible Woman should flash in to their view for a second and then disappear in people’s eyes. Yes, she’ll scare people crazy but she’ll get more than respect, she’ll get props!

The second reason is that Invisible Woman decides when to become invisible, she doesn’t have Mr Fantastic (her husband) imposing on her when to be invisible. How about that for Liberation?

Third reason is possibly the coolest. Like the force field that she uses to defend herself against attacks, the Hijab can be used as a force field to divert or protect from “attacks” of “men’s gaze”. I am aware that many women/girls will prefer to command men’s gaze to validate themselves but I am sitting from the ideal Muslim woman’s perspective here, and the effect of Hijab on her.

Fourth reason is that she can get away from unnecessary conversations people tend to do a lot. All she has to do is to make sure she has her phone silent coz I’m sure someone is bound to sms, ping or call her. This reason may seem out of point but I bet there are women/girls who don’t get dragged in to conversations that end in “give me your BB pin”, because they wear some form of Hijab. I think it’s a guy repellant in some places (Of course northern Nigeria excluded).

The Big Idea

The best Hijab is indeed liberation. As far as physical appearance goes, there is nothing to be modest about when you don’t even appear physically. There is no seeking for attention when you are in the best Hijab. I will like to provoke the idea of Hijab for men, I’m sure there’s a few discussions going on. Is there a Fictional Character that can capture a man in hijab?

The final Idea I will like to leave you with is that Invisible Woman Rocks! especially in her Hijab.

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Hello world!

This was an automatically created first-post. I decided to edit the content and leave the title “Hello World!”. If you are reading this, then you are part of the “World”.

Finally starting a blog! I know its 2011, I was just late OK? Until recently, I have had a cynical look on blogging.  I thought it should have the more appropriate name “ME ME ME” or “My Egocentric Self and I”. Then I also thought blogs were a crap pool, just a self created (wiki) tabloid magazine; and like those lousy tablets, just attention seeking to no meaningful end.

I still feel the same on some of the blogs out there but I have widened my view so that I see the other part of the blogging world that is neither of the descriptions above. I have seen some really good stuff. In fact, it makes me wonder how I got attached to the cynical view I had, I will find that out someday.

Like the average human in this age and time I get a my share of chatter in my head. I have decided I will write them (the ones I think readers can handle) and let it free. Therapeutic? Yes. I will let my thoughts free. Where better to do that than on the internet and on Word Press (which is a “free” Open Source Project).

Blogging Begins!

 

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