A bit of fun today though one that raises an interesting thought experiment.
Much of my working life is running complicated project plans in P6 or Microsoft project.
Also running compicated spatial models in GIS (Geographical Information Systems)
So a thought experiment arising from this overap – one that empahasis in a interdispinery manner how many problems you run into when your disciplines theories are aspatial, atemporal and on no basis of basic logic.
Heres the fun part, I was running a project model in Microsoft Project, the kind of Gantt model that tracks links between events following each other logically and consequntially (cause and effect) in time. For example build a track, build a station only them can you run passengers services from that station.
Project Management software has the concept of a lag . Imagine you have an evening decision on funding a project, obviously that project is not going to dig dirt the same evening day so their will be a lag till the next successor activity.
So a typed in +5 days, and accidentally typed in – 5 days. The model still worked, no crashes no errors. So I could make the project finish yesterday if I just added enough negative lags. How my boss would be delighted.
Finding out why this is interesting needs an understanding of how such programmes work. They are basically linear planning models based on linear algebra, tield to a logic events, i.e. one activity logically tied to following another.
So an interesting thought occurred to me, if the model ais based on math and the math is logical and right has Bill Gates Proven to tthe world that time can run backwards.
Of course the idea is daft but putting your finger on why is a tought question. Is it due to the nature of passage of information, of space and time and if so is this prior to algebra? Because if algebra can be wrong what math must we use to be right? Indeed more basically is there something theoretically which can show us whther any mathematical model is real, incomplete, illogical? Even more profoundly this raises the question is there something about the logic of the universe which is prior to math? After all Maths can model anything, even impossible things. Being mathematically consistent is no proof anything is real, logically consistent is more important. As we know if there are logical inconsistencies in an argument then any argument can be true (or false), so logic is necessary to make any meaning theory or statement about anything. This is known as the principle of non-contradiction. We also know from Godel that math cannot be reduced to logic.
This is an important area to explore because in physics (and so many other disciplines) trying to reduce everything to math has been a giant dead end which has done endless harms to theoeires of ideas, and to my mind is the main reason why current our deoth of thining is as far divorced from the rationalist age as you can imagine. See also Stephen Wolframs profound thoughts on this issue and the ideas of Eugene Wagner:
“The miracle of the appropriateness of the language of mathematics for the formulation of the laws of physics is a wonderful gift which we neither understand nor deserve.”
The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics, Communications in Pure and Applied Mathematics 13 (1960)
The possibly deceptive idea compelling this is that maths of profound theories are ‘beautiful’ so maths must be prior to logic, physics and truth. Perhaps though it is beautiful because reality is beautiful, it has a beautiful logic which is prior to math and as a consequence we are decived by the beauty maths forming a simpified model of the truth?
This brings me on to my interesting though experiment – what might the prior beauty be?
If we accept that logic is an essentialistic prior to reality and that any untur reality can be desribed in a mathematical model; then the starting point must be the logic of excluding the impossible, and describing the logically possible in space and time
Let me explain about three years ago a did a couple of weeks lecture tour in England whuilst spending a ridicukous time reniewing a visa on my fiorthcoming (still unfinished) book on how to solve impossibly difficult planning problems, known in the jargon as wicked problems. The conventional logic in planning theory was wicked problems (which constitute most of our problems) are impossible to solve because they are complex. I posited the bold claim not only are they solvable but a methodology, with computer models (using a new GIS methodology I prioneered with researchers from South Africa, Lebanon and the Netherlands) to solve them, and has been used to solve previously thought intractibly tough problems in several countries which would otherwise take an army of people centuries to work out options. The basic idea was to make tough problems what I called ‘tangible and tractable’ by applying a suiteo f solutions what I called ‘simplify, simplify, simplify’ so you could model them in space and time. This is an example of what systes theoristcalled making a small world problem (solvable) out of a big world problem (unsolvable).
Only today thinking about that amusing Microsoft Project event did it occur to me you could run that logic of the method (BTW its called the Planagon methodology) in reverse, making a big world model from the kernal of a small world one, like adding layers to an oinion, providing you didnt make certain reality defying mistakes. But then that raises the question what are the rules for defining ruls for avoiding reality defying mistakes?
This led to the concept of a MUST which stands for:
Metrical Universal Systems Truth
A rule of what MUST be to be real and coherent as coherence is reality.
My first idea was Mathematical Univeral System Truth, but it ocurred to me that Bill Gates had shown this to me to be a fallacy, because it all depends on what aribtrary syatem of math you use, and out of that infinate series of maths no clue as to what is the right one. Clearly linear algebra and a simple logic on one event following another had to be prior? Perhaps something relating to passage of information maybe?
I’ve only just started on toying with what the MUST laws might be – ive thought of 5 so far it it might boil down to more or less as one might logically imply another.
Lets start with just two, as ideas on others are still a bit sketchy.
The first MUST is any one thing can only occupy one space at any one time and no other.
Image a palette of bricks, if you pick it up and move it its the same palette but the same paltte cannot occupay two or more spaces at the same time. Its the same logic with intagible assets – the underlying logic of double entry bookeeping and the fundmanetak theory of accounting.
Our maths badly sybolises this. Perhaps we should use the @ symbol to describe the set of location in 3 dimensional space, the inverse of the set of location being where everything else in the universe is located. I use the term metrical in that it doesnt matter what metric we use, such as cartesian (X,Y,Z) or non cartesian vector such as HBD (height bearing distance) or any other as we know from geomatics that ANY metrical system can be mathematically converted to any other metrical system. Many maths one space.
A second potential MUST would be
Any event @ can trigger consequential events that decline in intensity as the series of events @ multiply and reduce in intensity inversely to a limit.
This perhaps is second order as it implies something like energy to be expended through events. This is something very badly explained in so much math and theory, but has been essential to so many discoveries (such as Keynes multiplier effect). It is an essentiaal systems thinking concept as so many mistakes are made through not modelling the seond order and consequential impcts of a sysyem – a good example from my field of urban planning is the theory of filtering in housing markets, how people and houses shift and match through time.
Ill let others speculate in comments about what other MUSTS might be.
Back to the original question what is Project doing wrong? Well clearly its mathematicaal model is modelling an illoginal relaity. But whatis the logical mistake. in a simple algebar based logical consequences model? Ill let you ponder that question.
[Note im playing you here as – sign in a network diagram represents lead of course- so a clue to the solution to what is wrong here logically is when leads are pohysically impossible – such as painting a wall before it is built etc. Another clue to what Bill Gates has not discovered a time machine]