Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity. -- Charles Mingus

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Vienna Teng

I was fortunate enough to see singer, songwriter, pianist Vienna Teng in concert last week at Stanford's Bing Concert Hall.  I've long been a fan, and was delighted to get the chance to see her perform.

This was a solo performance, with just her, a grand piano and assorted electronic gizmos -- a sampler and harmonizer, I think.  It was quite an intimate set up, and the concert hall was probably not the best venue to see this kind of show.  Vienna Teng did an excellent job of shrinking the space to feel a lot less impersonal than it might have been (its not that I dislike the space, but I think that it is more suited to a full orchestra, or large scale performance).

Vienna Teng performed most of her "hits" including some songs from her album "Aims" which have a full band in the original.  Audience members wrote requests on slips of paper, which Vienna Teng drew from a bucket and performed.  She has a pretty large repertoire by now, and this was a fun touch.

She invited audience members up to sing along with  "Soon Love Soon" and had quite an impromptu choir to perform with.

I came away impressed by every aspect of the performance.  If you get a chance to see her perform, do so.  But until then go out and buy an album or two.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Visit to Doshisha

I spent the beginning of this month visiting my colleague Atsushi Shimojima at Doshisha University just outside of Kyoto, Japan.

We worked intensively on a journal paper that we are writing together (well, truthfully, Atsushi is doing most of the work).  Atsushi has written extensively about cognitive affordances allowed by many diagrammatic representations, most recently in his book.  In this paper we will describe these affordances -- things like free-rides -- in formal terms using our channel theory framework.  Then we will show conditions under which Single Feature Indicator Systems enjoy these properties.

This work continues in the vein of work in generic approaches to representation which we started in our paper in the upcoming Diagrams 2016 conference.  In that paper, the formal properties we considered were to do with inference and semantic consequence.

It was a productive visit -- my first to Japan -- and very enjoyable.  We're hoping to have a draft of the paper available in a couple of months.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Venn in the Openbox

Jim Burton and Sven Linker of the University of Brighton visited our project last week.
Jim and Sven work with set representations such as Venn, Euler and Spider diagrams.  Their project last week was to use existing implementations of  inference rules for Venn/Euler diagrams to create an Openbox plugin implementing these rules.

With just a couple of days work Jim and Sven were able to achieve this task.  They used an graphical editor component for Venn/Euler diagrams written by Nik Swoboda which allows them to draw and edit diagrams.  The graphical editor produces a model, also designed by Nik.

To implement their logic, Jim and Sven first wrote code that translates from Nik's model to the model required by their existing code.  They then wrapped the code for each of their existing inference rules in a shell which takes the support diagrams (in Nik's model), translates into their model, runs the inference rule, and finally compares the result of their inference with the translation of the purported conclusion of the inference.  Since this shell also implemented the Openbox's inference rule API, they were then able to plug these inference rules into the Openbox.

This work demonstrates that the Openbox can be used to mix-and-match plugins implemented by different authors.  Jim and Sven plan to use the resulting proof environment as a teaching tool at their Winter School on Diagrammatic Reasoning at the end of the year (a second iteration of this event).

Monday, March 14, 2016

Esperanza Spalding and Emily' D+Evolution

Short form: buy it now, see the show.

Esperanza Spalding kills on this album.  Its a departure from her past work.  This is part Joni, part Cream, part Zappa and part Kate Bush.  If Emily is Esperanza Spalding's alter-ego, both of them are going to be on my playlist.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Monday, February 1, 2016

News from the Openproof Project

New developments for instructors using the Language, Proof and Logic or Tarski's World courseware packages.

  1. Instructors can now set their own (proof) exercises for Language, Proof and Logic and have solutions to them submitted and assessed just like exercises in the text book.
  2. We have created a social network for instructors to share information: syllabi, course notes, teaching suggestions, exercises, exams, teaching strategies and the like.  This is available only to confirmed instructors.
  3. New bug-fix release (16.01, Dodgson) of the software.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Upcoming conference deadlines

Visual Languages and Human-Centric Computing 2016 will be in Cambridge, UK, September 5-8, 2016.  Deadlines: March 11 (abstracts), March 18 (papers).
Here's the link to the CFP.

Artificial Intelligence Aspects of Reasoning, Information, and Memory 2016, will be in Gdansk, Poland, September 11-14.  Papers due April 18.  Here's the link.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

#BlackLivesMatter Wins Symbol of the Year in Annual Symbolic Systems Poll

Affiliates of the Symbolic Systems Program at Stanford University have chosen the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter as the Symbol of the Year from 2015, in their fourth annual vote for notable symbols.

Announcement on