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Re: [hdm] notes from last wednesday's phone conversation

From: Joe Corneli
Subject: Re: [hdm] notes from last wednesday's phone conversation
Date: Mon, 27 Mar 2006 22:17:47 -0500 (EST)

I'm going to continue to copy the mailing list, since establishing a
google footprint (and in general, a public repository of knowledge)
for HDM can only be a good thing.  I'd encourage ya'll to do the same

I'm thinking about next steps for HDM.  For the last 90 days or so
we seem to have mainly been concerned with organizational matters.

Besides these, there was discussion in January between me & Ray that
elucidated some of his thinking on theoretical matters related to
proofs, and after that, I did more work on Arxana, and things are
somewhat better grounded there.  Aaron got interested in comingling
Arxana and Noosphere, and this is motivating.  Ben got interested in
working on HDM stuff (and just recently posted his notes about MCREEM,
which look to be a promising beginning to some fun things).

However, largely due to the organizational, PM-related, work, I think
HDM has been somewhat stuck in a rut the last two months.  I am
certainly finding it somewhat challenging to get unstuck.  One of the
only solutions that comes to mind would be for me to take a "retreat"
and focus only on Arxana; ideally I'd like to do this before my
meeting with Aaron which will begin on the 2nd.  However, I continue
to find it hard to switch my focus to this work, which perhaps
indicates that there is other unfinished business which needs to get
resolved first.

One item that comes to mind is the fact that the HDM project has been
an almost entirely anarchic and individualistic collaboration.  I
think more communication about what's coming up with the project would
help us come up with more of a sense of teamwork; that is, I think
some setting of doable goals and reasonable timelines would be
desirable.  This would help to facilitate a richer collaboration.  I
seem to find it much more motivating when other people are involved
directly with the things I am working on than when I am stuck working
on those things alone.

On this note, one specific point is that it would be nice to get some
more info from Ray on what we can expect from him and when.  I'm not
saying this to be pressureful or to unfairly single Ray out; rather,
I'd just to get some realistic picture of what's coming up.  I think
it would be nice if all of us could say something about what's coming
up HDM-wise.

My sense is that Ray has done more advance planning than me, and that
it may be somewhat easy for him to make a statement along these lines.
A statement of him seems particularly desirable given that further
work on a number of our projects is fairly clearly contingent on a
version of his work being made available.  I think the MCREEM project
seems like an interesting alternative task for Ben to work on, and
Arxana/Noosphere are likely to be enough to keep Aaron & myself busy
in the mean time; but nevertheless, hcode and the associated provers
and parsers are fairly central items, and ideally we'd all be somewhat
involved with their development.  Indeed, per the above, it would be
great if we could all be interacting as much as possible with all of
the various aspects of the project, since the social energy would help
us move forward.

When considering the organizational aspects of PM, I advanced the idea
of PM as an e-institute; and I consider HDM to be one of several core
projects or themes for this institute, and further, I think the four
of us are well-qualified to be leaders in developing the idea of the
institute, both through organizational work and research work.

These are just general reflections, in part a reiteration to the idea
of the PM strategic plan I was working on, but for HDM.  I.e., I think
it would be advantageous if we could draft an HDM strategic plan, too.

One specific point that occured to me today, as an organizational
principle for HDM, is that rather than (or in parallel with)
concerning ourselves with reproducing theorems and proofs from a
resource like Schuam's, we might consider working through proofs from
works like Polya-Szego, or other problem books.  One book that I
encountered in San Antonio entitled "Write Your Own Proofs (in Set
Theory and Discrete Mathematics)" might be another even better place
to start.  Such books will emphasize proof technique, sometimes
explicitly (instruction in proof technique), sometimes implicitly
(asking the reader to provide a solution independently, providing
hints in the back of the book).

An additional reason I thought it might be nice to work on these sorts
of books is that they seem interesting to me!  In addition, the
reflective mood that problem-solving puts one into may be the closest
thing to an extended "retreat" (per above) that I could reasonably
hope to introduce into my already quite retreat-ful life outside of

I look forward to hearing your reflections on these matters.

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