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Portugal at World Expo 1998 by Vitorino Ramos

Images – Portugal (1A – top left, original input satellite image below), geodesically stretched by one of my Mathematical Morphology algorithms, in order to represent real travel times from each of the 18 regional districts in Portugal, to the rest of the territory.  From the 18, three capital districts are represented here. As departing from Lisbon (1B – top right), from Faro (1C – South of Portugal, bottom left), and from Bragança (1D – North-East region, bottom right). [World Exposition, Lisbon, Territory pavilion, 1998].

Recently one of my colleagues who knows I love maps, pointed me to an old TV show “Câmara Clara“, a cultural TV show by RTP2, at one of the main public Portuguese TV stations. Main reason for my interest was his current theme: Maps. My second reason was their guests: Joaquim Ferreira do Amaral (an ex-Minister with a passion for maps) and Manuel Lima, which wonderful work on information visualization I know for a long time (on one of my past posts I referred to one of his ongoing working sites: visualcomplexity).
 

For my complete and positive surprise, their interview ended with some new examples, being one of my old works referred (from 57m 12s up to 60m 26s on http://camaraclara.rtp.pt/#/arquivo/131 ). It’s a long story on how I ended doing these kind of maps. Part of it, it’s here. During 1998, the World Exposition was in Portugal, and I got invited to present a set of 18 different maps from the Portuguese territory. So I decided to geodesically stretch the travel distances from any of the 18 different capital districts, to the rest of the territory, in order to represent travel Time not Distance, or Distance as time. For that,  I have coded new algorithms based on Mathematical Morphology (MM), taking in account every road (from main roads to regional, check some images below), from which I applied different MM operators.

Unfortunately, many of those maps are now lost. I did tried hard to find them from my old digital archives, but only found those above, which represent the departure from Lisbon (the Capital), Faro and Bragança. So, if by any reason you happen to have some photos from the 1998’s World Exposition in Lisbon, inside the Territory pavilion, I would love to receive them.

Os Portugueses e a Arte dos Mapas - Câmara Clara 131 - Maio 10 2009Video (LINK) – “Câmara Clara” TV show by journalist Paula Moura Pinheiro dedicated to maps (nº 131), at one of the main public Portuguese TV stations (RTP2), broadcasted on May 3 2009, in Portuguese.

A sketchy summary of this TV program went on something like this (the poor translation is mine): At the year Google promises to launch his first and exhaustive world-wide open-access digital cartography of the African continent, Joaquim Ferreira do Amaral, passioned by the Portuguese World Discover History and collector of historical maps, joins as guest with Manuel Lima, the Portuguese information designer that recently Creativity magazine has considered one of the top bright minds along with Google and Amazon founders, debating the importance of “navigating” reality with a map. From the Portuguese cartographic history, know to be the best in the XV and XVI centuries, up to the actual state-of-the-art in this area, from which Manuel Lima is considered to be one of the top researchers at global scale.

Original + Layers Portugal at World Expo 1998 by Vitorino Ramos

Surfaces and Essences - Hofstadter Sander 2013

[...] Analogy is the core of all thinking. – This is the simple but unorthodox premise that Pulitzer Prize-winning author Douglas Hofstadter and French psychologist Emmanuel Sander defend in their new work. Hofstadter has been grappling with the mysteries of human thought for over thirty years. Now, with his trademark wit and special talent for making complex ideas vivid, he has partnered with Sander to put forth a highly novel perspective on cognition. We are constantly faced with a swirling and intermingling multitude of ill-defined situations. Our brain’s job is to try to make sense of this unpredictable, swarming chaos of stimuli. How does it do so? The ceaseless hail of input triggers analogies galore, helping us to pinpoint the essence of what is going on. Often this means the spontaneous evocation of words, sometimes idioms, sometimes the triggering of nameless, long-buried memories.

Why did two-year-old Camille proudly exclaim, “I undressed the banana!”? Why do people who hear a story often blurt out, “Exactly the same thing happened to me!” when it was a completely different event? How do we recognize an aggressive driver from a split-second glance in our rear-view mirror? What in a friend’s remark triggers the offhand reply, “That’s just sour grapes”?  What did Albert Einstein see that made him suspect that light consists of particles when a century of research had driven the final nail in the coffin of that long-dead idea? The answer to all these questions, of course, is analogy-making – the meat and potatoes, the heart and soul, the fuel and fire, the gist and the crux, the lifeblood and the wellsprings of thought. Analogy-making, far from happening at rare intervals, occurs at all moments, defining thinking from top to toe, from the tiniest and most fleeting thoughts to the most creative scientific insights.

Like Gödel, Escher, Bach before it, Surfaces and Essences will profoundly enrich our understanding of our own minds. By plunging the reader into an extraordinary variety of colorful situations involving language, thought, and memory, by revealing bit by bit the constantly churning cognitive mechanisms normally completely hidden from view, and by discovering in them one central, invariant core – the incessant, unconscious quest for strong analogical links to past experiences – this book puts forth a radical and deeply surprising new vision of the act of thinking. [...] intro to “Surfaces and Essences – Analogy as the fuel and fire of thinking” by Douglas Hofstadter and Emmanuel Sander, Basic Books, NY, 2013 [link] (to be released May 1, 2013).

Image – Reese Inman, DIVERGENCE II (2008), acrylic on panel 30 x 30 in Remix (Boston, 2008), a solo exhibition of handmade computer art works by Reese Inman, Gallery NAGA in Boston.

Apophenia is the experience of seeing meaningful patterns or connections in random or meaningless data. The term was coined in 1958[1] by Klaus Conrad,[2] who defined it as the “unmotivated seeing of connections” accompanied by a “specific experience of an abnormal meaningfulness”, but it has come to represent the human tendency to seek patterns in random information in general (such as with gambling). In statistics, apophenia is known as a Type I error – the identification of false patterns in data.[7] It may be compared with a so called false positive in other test situations. Two correlated terms are synchronicity and pareidolia (from Wikipedia):

Synchronicity: Carl Jung coined the term synchronicity for the “simultaneous occurrence of two meaningful but not causally connected events” creating a significant realm of philosophical exploration. This attempt at finding patterns within a world where coincidence does not exist possibly involves apophenia if a person’s perspective attributes their own causation to a series of events. “Synchronicity therefore means the simultaneous occurrence of a certain psychic state with one or more external events which appear as meaningful parallels to a momentary subjective state”. (C. Jung, 1960).

Pareidolia: Pareidolia is a type of apophenia involving the perception of images or sounds in random stimuli, for example, hearing a ringing phone while taking a shower. The noise produced by the running water gives a random background from which the patterned sound of a ringing phone might be “produced”. A more common human experience is perceiving faces in inanimate objects; this phenomenon is not surprising in light of how much processing the brain does in order to memorize and recall the faces of hundreds or thousands of different individuals. In one respect, the brain is a facial recognition, storage, and recall machine – and it is very good at it. A by-product of this acumen at recognizing faces is that people see faces even where there is no face: the headlights & grill of an auto-mobile can appear to be “grinning”, individuals around the world can see the “Man in the Moon”, and a drawing consisting of only three circles and a line which even children will identify as a face are everyday examples of this.[15].

No, not the Grand Caynon neither the Epstein & Axtell Sugarscape (link) this time, instead a soundscape. A landscape made of sounds or grooves. Look at this as an ancient form of encapsulating data. Taken by Chris Supranowitz, a researcher at The Insitute of Optics at the University of Rochester (US), the image depicts a single groove on a vinyl record magnified 1000 times, using electron microscopy. Dark bits are the top of the grooves, i.e. the uncut vinyl, while even darker little bumps are dust on the record (e.g. centre right). For more images check SynthGear, and found out (image link) what have they discovered if we keep magnifying that image further still!

Figure – Brain wave patterns (gamma-waves above 40 Hz). Gamma waves – 40 hz above – these are use for higher mental activity such as for problem solving, consciousness, fear. Beta waves – 13-39 Hz – these are for active thinking and active concentration, paranoia, cognition and arousal. Alpha waves – 7-13 Hz – these are for pre-sleep and pre-wake drowsiness and for relaxation. Theta waves – 4-7 Hz – these are for deep meditation, relaxation, dreams and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Delta waves – 4 Hz and below are for loss of body awareness and deep dreamless sleep (source: Medical School, link).

Video – Water has Memory (from Oasis HD, Canada; link): just a liquid or much more? Many researchers are convinced that water is capable of “memory” by storing information and retrieving it. The possible applications are innumerable: limitless retention and storage capacity and the key to discovering the origins of life on our planet. Research into water is just beginning.

Water capable of processing information as well as a huge possible “container” for data media, that is something remarkable. This theory was first proposed by the late French immunologist Jacques Benveniste, in a controversial article published in 1988 in Nature, as a way of explaining how homeopathy works (link). Benveniste’s theory has continued to be championed by some and disputed by others. The video clip above, from the Oasis HD Channel, shows some fascinating recent experiments with water “memory” from the Aerospace Institute of the University of Stuttgart in Germany. The results with the different types of flowers immersed in water are particularly evocative.

This line of research also remembers me back of an old and quite interesting paper by a colleague, Chrisantha Fernando. Together with Sampsa Sojakka, both have proved that waves produced on the surface of water can be used as the medium for a Wolfgang Maass’ “Liquid State Machine” (link) that pre-processes inputs so allowing a simple perceptron to solve the XOR problem and undertake speech recognition. Amazingly, Water achieves this “for free”, and does so without the time-consuming computation required by realistic neural models. What follows is the abstract of their paper entitled “Pattern Recognition in a Bucket“, as well a PDF link onto it:

Figure – Typical wave patterns for the XOR task. Top-Left: [0 1] (right motor on), Top-Right: [1 0] (left motor on), Bottom-Left: [1 1] (both motors on), Bottom-Right: [0 0] (still water). Sobel filtered and thresholded images on right. (from Fig. 3. in in Chrisantha Fernando and Sampsa Sojakka, “Pattern Recognition in a Bucket“, ECAL proc., European Conference on Artificial Life, 2003.

[...] Abstract. This paper demonstrates that the waves produced on the surface of water can be used as the medium for a “Liquid State Machine” that pre-processes inputs so allowing a simple perceptron to solve the XOR problem and undertake speech recognition. Interference between waves allows non-linear parallel computation upon simultaneous sensory inputs. Temporal patterns of stimulation are converted to spatial patterns of water waves upon which a linear discrimination can be made. Whereas Wolfgang Maass’ Liquid State Machine requires fine tuning of the spiking neural network parameters, water has inherent self-organising properties such as strong local interactions, time-dependent spread of activation to distant areas, inherent stability to a wide variety of inputs, and high complexity. Water achieves this “for free”, and does so without the time-consuming computation required by realistic neural models. An analogy is made between water molecules and neurons in a recurrent neural network. [...] in Chrisantha Fernando and Sampsa Sojakka, Pattern Recognition in a Bucket“, ECAL proc., European Conference on Artificial Life, 2003. [PDF link]

Figure – Application of Mathematical Morphology openings and closing operators of increasing size on different digital images (from Fig. 2, page 5).

[] Vitorino Ramos, Pedro Pina, Exploiting and Evolving R{n} Mathematical Morphology Feature Spaces, in Ronse Ch., Najman L., Decencière E. (Eds.), Mathematical Morphology: 40 Years On, pp. 465-474, Springer Verlag, Dordrecht, The Netherlands, 2005.

(abstract) A multidisciplinary methodology that goes from the extraction of features till the classification of a set of different Portuguese granites is presented in this paper. The set of tools to extract the features that characterize the polished surfaces of granites is mainly based on mathematical morphology. The classification methodology is based on a genetic algorithm capable of search for the input feature space used by the nearest neighbor rule classifier. Results show that is adequate to perform feature reduction and simultaneous improve the recognition rate. Moreover, the present methodology represents a robust strategy to understand the proper nature of the textures studied and their discriminant features.

(to obtain the respective PDF file follow link above or visit chemoton.org)

No, not a CA (Cellular Automata). Instead, this is actually the Hadamard code matrix which was embedded on the NASA Mariner 9 spacecraft, launch in 1971. Mariner 9 was a NASA space orbiter that helped in the exploration of planet Mars. It was launched toward  planet Mars on May 30, 1971 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and reached the planet on November 13 of the same year, becoming the first spacecraft to orbit another planet — only narrowly beating Soviet Mars 2 and Mars 3, which both arrived within a month. After months of dust-storms it managed to send back the first clear pictures of the surface (for more do check on the Mariner 9 Wikipedia entry).

Hadamard codes (named after Jacques Hadamard) are algorithmic systems used for signal error detection, fault detection and correction, probably one of the first of their kind to follow the idea of an machine Artificial Intelligent self-regulation. Hadamard codes are in fact, just a special case of the more universal ReedMuller codes (here for an intro). In particular, the first order Reed–Muller codes are equivalent to Hadamard codes. Positively, without them, it would be impossible back then for Mariner 9 to arrive Mars taking stunning images like the one below (one of the first, Human eyes ever seen). Beyond the geniality of the Hadamard code as  a primeval approximation for machine self-regulation (details onto which are important for my own work), along with it’s practical utility on different fields of our current daily life, among so many other things, what strikes me, is that the Hadamard code picture above – in some instances – resembles itself one of the first photos from the red planet ever taken…

 

Image – Mariner 9 view of the Noctis Labyrinthus “labyrinth” at the western end of Valles Marineris on Mars. Linear graben, grooves, and crater chains dominate this region, along with a number of flat-topped mesas. The image is roughly 400 km across, centered at 6 S, 105 W, at the edge of the Tharsis bulge. North is up. (from Wikipedia)

p.s. – (disclaimer) I did play a lot over the title on this present blog post. From Hadamard, to Hada-mars, into Ada, you know, Ada Lovelace, Augusta, that terrific lovely English girl born in the 1800’s. Not my fault. In fact, they were all there onto the same space-time voyage.

Work in the invisible world at least as hard as you do in the visible one” ~ Mawlana Jalaladdin Rumi

What if the “invisible” were around you, and you could not see it, … unless you worked hard, really hard. And even if you worked really hard, the only thing you could saw was his shadow. The invisible’s shadow visible. No, by all means, my post is not about religion, believe me. Instead, valid science. For instance, if I gave you 6 matchsticks, and ask you to draw 4 triangles without crossing any two matchsticks, could you do it? The answer is positive. If you really think out of the box, indeed you can.

Carl Sagan (below) starts with a famous passage from Edwin Abbott Abbott‘s “Flatland – A Romance of many dimensions” (which I do vividly recommend – book cover above). A spheric creature from the 3th dimension visits Flatland, where only 2th dimension creatures live. And while a 2-D (a square) creature keeps worrying about his own sanity, the 3rd dimension creature feels highly frustrated with the outcome from their Spielberg-like “Close Encounters of the Third Kind“. In fact, the sphere his unhappy for being considered an psychological aberration.  At his own risk, and without worrying about his hypothetical unfriendly gesture from dimension to dimension, the sphere then, decides to start some ‘bizarre‘ experiences. The story goes…, but suddenly, Carl do moves on, … on what really matters:

[...] Getting into another dimension, provides an instantial benefit, a kind of X-ray vision [...] Well, (says the square), … I was on another mystical dimension, called ‘Up‘ [...] Now, if you look at the shadow, what you see is that not all lines appear equal, not all the angles are right angles [...] The 3-D object has not been perfectly represented in his projection in 2 dimensions, but that is part of the cost of loosing a dimension in the projection [...]  Now, I can not show you a tesseract , because I and you are trapped in 3 dimensions, but what I can show you is the shadow into 3 dimensions [...] The 4-D hypercube, the real tesseract would have all right angles. That’s not what we see here, but that’s the penalty of projection [...]

[...] So you see. While we cannot imagine the world of four dimensions, we can certainly think about it perfectly well [...]


Figure – Web Usage Mining of Monash’s Univ. web site using self-organized ant-based clustering (initial and final classification maps). Web usage Data was collected from the Monash University’s Web site (Australia), with over 7 million hits every week.

[] Vitorino Ramos, Ajith Abraham, Evolving a Stigmergic Self-Organized Data-Mining, in ISDA-04, 4th Int. Conf. on Intelligent Systems, Design and Applications, Budapest, Hungary, ISBN 963-7154-30-2, pp. 725-730, August 26-28, 2004.

Self-organizing complex systems typically are comprised of a large number of frequently similar components or events. Through their process, a pattern at the global-level of a system emerges solely from numerous interactions among the lower-level components of the system. Moreover, the rules specifying interactions among the system’s components are executed using only local information, without reference to the global pattern, which, as in many real-world problems is not easily accessible or possible to be found. Stigmergy, a kind of indirect communication and learning by the environment found in social insects is a well know example of self-organization, providing not only vital clues in order to understand how the components can interact to produce a complex pattern, as can pinpoint simple biological non-linear rules and methods to achieve improved artificial intelligent adaptive categorization systems, critical for Data-Mining. On the present work it is our intention to show that a new type of Data-Mining can be designed based on Stigmergic paradigms, taking profit of several natural features of this phenomenon. By hybridizing bio-inspired Swarm Intelligence with Evolutionary Computation we seek for an entire distributed, adaptive, collective and cooperative self-organized Data-Mining. As a real-world / real-time test bed for our proposal, World-Wide-Web Mining will be used. Having that purpose in mind, Web usage Data was collected from the Monash University’s Web site (Australia), with over 7 million hits every week. Results are compared to other recent systems, showing that the system presented is by far promising.

(to obtain the respective PDF file follow link above or visit chemoton.org)

[...] Ao contrário de muitos sistemas tecnológicos actuais como aqueles que são produzidos através da codificação de algoritmos feitos por empresas de software ditas state-of-the-art, ‘algoritmos em receita’, que se organizam através de comandos hierárquicos exteriores e estranhos em grande parte ao seu próprio caractér (incompativeis à simulação e modelização computacional de fenómenos largamente complexos e não-lineares, como a de um bando de aves em vôo, até à da propagação do El Niño pelo planeta, entre outros tantos exemplos necessários à vida em sociedade), está-se agora verdadeiramente a caminhar para a construção de novos sistemas artificiais, que se auto-organizam, tais como os naturais, através dos seus próprios processos internos, e esses desenvolvimentos estão simultâneamente a permitir conhecer mais sobre a própria natureza da Natureza [...],

in V. Ramos, “Dois Caminhos divergiam na Floresta, e eu – eu tomei o menos viajado, e essa fez toda a diferença (*)”, palestra apresentada em “Horizontes da Física“, Univ. de Aveiro, Centro Cultural e de Congressos de Aveiro, Março 2007. (*) Tradução livre de “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less travelled by, And that has made all the difference“, Robert Frost (1874-1963), Mountain Interval, 1920.

___________ § ___________

The other day, I decided to pick 23 books from my own library. These are books which anyone could read. Even those who are not working in Science  could understand them, and that’s probably the second best feature they have in common. So by order of appearance here they are: Ernst Haeckel “Art Forms in Nature”, Dana Ballard “An Intro to Natural Computation”, Brian Goodwin “How the Leopard changed its Spots”, Camazine et al “Self-Organization in Biological Systems”, David Gale “Tracking the Automatic Ant”, Douglas Hofstadter “Godel Escher Bach”, Fortner Meyer “Number by colors”, George Dyson “Darwin among the Machines”, Herbert Simon “Sciences of the Artificial”, Ian Stewart “Nature’s Numbers”, John Barrow “The Constants of Nature”, John Holland “Emergence”, John Holland “Hidden Order”, Kevin Kelly “Out of Control”, Marvin Minsky “The Society of Mind”, Maturana and Varela “El Arbol del Conocimiento”, Peter Bentley “Digital Biology”, Peter Coveney and Roger Highfield “Frontiers of Complexity”, Richard Dawkins “Climbing Mount Improbable”, Steven Johnson “Emergence”, Steven Levy “Artificial Life”, Steven Strogatz “Sync”, Stuart Kauffman “At Home in the Universe”, and William Bartram “The search for Nature’s Design”.

Leave you also with a recent short film piece (above) inspired on numbers, geometry and nature, by Cristóbal Vila (Eterea studios, Zaragoza, Spain). The movie depicts among other concepts, Fibonacci series, Golden Ratio, Delaunay, Voronoi tesselations … (music by Wim Mertens, … of course); if you are really interested on Nature’s Nature and his ‘mysteries‘, forget the horrible Dan Brown’s “Da Vinci Code”. This is it. These are some of the books that really matter:

From the author of “Rock, Paper, Scissors – Game Theory in everyday life” dedicated to evolution of cooperation in nature (published last year – Basic Books), a new book on related areas is now fresh on the stands (released Dec. 7,  2009): “The Perfect Swarm – The Science of Complexity in everyday life“. This time Len Fischer takes us into the realm of our interlinked modern lives, where complexity rules. But complexity also has rules. Understand these, and we are better placed to make sense of the mountain of data that confronts us every day.  Fischer ranges far and wide to discover what tips the science of complexity has for us. Studies of human (one good example is Gum voting) and animal behaviour, management science, statistics and network theory all enter the mix.

One of the greatest discoveries of recent times is that the complex patterns we find in life are often produced when all of the individuals in a group follow similar simple rules. Even if the final pattern is complex, rules are not. This process of “Self-Organization” reveals itself in the inanimate worlds of crystals and seashells, but as Len Fisher shows, it is also evident in living organisms, from fish to ants to human beings, being Stigmergy one among many cases of this type of Self-Organized behaviour, encompassing applications in several Engineering fields like Computer science and Artificial Intelligence, Data-Mining, Pattern Recognition, Image Analysis and Perception, Robotics, Optimization, Learning, Forecasting, etc. Since I do work on these precise areas, you may find several of my previous posts dedicated to these issues, such as Self-Organized Data and Image Retrieval systemsStigmergic Optimization, Computer-based Adaptive Dynamic Perception, Swarm-based Data MiningSelf-regulated Swarms and Memory, Ant based Data Clustering, Generative computer-based photography and painting, Classification, Extreme Dynamic Optimization, Self-Organized Pattern Recognition, among other applications.

For instance, the coordinated movements of fish in schools, arise from the simple rule: “Follow the fish in front.” Traffic flow arises from simple rules: “Keep your distance” and “Keep to the right.” Now, in his new book, Fisher shows how we can manage our complex social lives in an ever more chaotic world. His investigation encompasses topics ranging from “swarm intelligence” (check links above) to the science of parties (a beautiful example by ICOSYSTEM inc.) and the best ways to start a fad. Finally, Fisher sheds light on the beauty and utility of complexity theory. For those willing to understand a miriad of some basic examples (Fischer gaves us 33 nice food-for-thought examples in total) and to have a well writen introduction into this thrilling new branch of science, referred by Stephen Hawking as the science for the current century (“I think complexity is the science for the 21st century”), Perfect Swarm will be indeed an excelent companion.

Journalism is dying, they say. I do agree. And while the argue continues, many interested on the issue are now debating what really is the reason. The question is…, there is no reason at all, there are many. Intricate ones. Do ponder on this: while newspapers are facing the immense omnipresent and real-time competition from TV channels, TV on itself is dying also (while unexpectedly, … Radio is surging). On many broadcasted programs, TV anchors are now more important than the invited people who, on that subject (supposedly) worked hardly over years to provide that precise innovative content. As in large supermarkets and great malls, package by these means have turned more important than the content in itself. This related business editorial pressure for news quickness have become so intensive and aggressive, that contents are replaced every second without judge and once in the air hardly described, discussed,  opposed or dessicated. So at large,  TV CEO’s producers think that people are no longer waiting for a new interesting content to appear, they are instead waiting for the anchor which passes them down as they were peanuts. Peanuts are good, but in excess – we all agree – are damn awful. And many do so,  as an old passive addiction. Which means that in the long run, nothing remains (fact for both sides); … And if they give me no opportunity at all to check content carefully, if I happen to be on the mood to, … So, I move on. Buy this precise simple way, media cannibalizes itself.

We all know that attention spam is getting narrower these days, and, e.g., yes… greater literature classics are no longer read. So, Media CEO’s say – “they have no time“. But, really … do mind that gap. Think twice. If the whole environment suddenly recognizes (being this one of the major questions – see below) that they are getting enough of peanuts (and they really are), they will urge for beef-steaks. In fact, eating 1000 void peanuts takes more time to consume than one large good beef! And there is a difference, … the beef remains on our body for several hours, not seconds.

It’s promptly becoming a paradox, since Media CEO’s on their blindness competition refuge on saying that they - us readers - have no time (when in mediocrity no solution is found, easiest way is to repeat a mantra), and we (mostly of us) keep zapping news as never before. However, they never realized that we keep zapping it, because no news – by these means –  are of interest. They really all have become the same. And once they appear all the same, they all soon disappear from our minds. … We all in some aspects all wonder, what  really happened to  research journalism, stories about new complex issues, strong content, explained in detail but still provided in simple eloquent ways? Come on, this long-tailed huge market niche, once yours, is now void!

Newspapers do have this wonderful singularity. They still have journalists (at least some, if they had enough vision to nourish them). They could provide insightful detailed backup stories, open questions, or debating new ones as no one can in public space. Moreover, they have time from their consumers. That, at least, is what I am feed-backing to Guardian every Sunday when I put my money over the news bench in change for this newspaper, along others like The Economist. But in face of these overall great news-without-sense turmoil cascade, probably one of these days, people will instead desire silence… or listening to their grandfathers knowledge, good-sense, and long-lived emotion (which keeps increasing believe me). They will relate to him, as never before.  Not newspapers. At least, he do provides content.

But once the media is set (and in some way, not all the way, medium is the message, as postulated by Marshall McLuhan), the great gold-run will be on, … guess what, … content. And on relationships among content! Journalism will be no longer under atomization. Or crystallized.

Fig. – Spatial distribution of 931 items (words taken from an article at ABC Spanish newspaper) on a 61 x 61 non-parametric toroidal grid, at t=106. 91 ants used type 2 probability response functions, with k1=0.1 and k2=0.3. Some independent clusters examples are: (A) anunció, bilbao, embargo, titulos, entre, hacer, necesídad, tras, vida, lider, cualquier, derechos, medida.(B) dirigentes, prensa, ciu. (C) discos, amigos, grandes. (D) hechos, piloto, miedo, tipo, cd, informes. (E) dificil, gobierno, justicia, crisis, voluntad, creó, elección, horas, frente, técnica, unas, tarde, familia, sargento, necesídad, red, obra … (among other word semantic clusters; check paper article below).

For long, media decided to do nothing, while new media including social media was coming in to the plateu, stronger as never before. Let me give you one example. In order to understand how relations between item news could enhnace newspaper reading and social awareness, back in 2002 I decided to make an experiment. Together with a colleague, we took one article of the Spanish ABC magazine (photo above). The article was about spanish political parties and corruption. It contained 931words (snapshot above). In order to extract semantic meaning from it as a pre-processing computer analysis, we started by applying Latent Semantic Analysis (LSA). Then, Swarm Intelligent algorithms were developed in order to have a glimpse on the relations among all those words on the newspaper article. Guess what? Some words like “big”, friends” and “music discs” were segmented from the rest of the political related article (segregated it on a remote semantic “island”), that is, not only a whole conceptual semantic atlas of that entire news section was possible, as well as finding unrelated issues (which were uncorrelated semantic “islands”). Now, just imagine if this happens within a newspaper social network, live, 24 hours a day, while people grab for strong co-related content and discuss it as it happens. One strong journal article, could in facto, evolve to social collective knowledge and awareness as never before. That, in reality is something that classic journalism could use as and edge for their (nowadays awful) market approach. Providing not only good content, but along with it, an extra service not available anyware (which is in some way, priceless): The chance to provide co-related real-time meta-content. Not one view, but many aggregated views.  Edited real-world real-time good quality journalism which has the potential of an “endless” price, namely these days. On the other hand, what we now see is that news CEO’s along with some editors still keep their minds on 19th century journalism.  For worse, due to their legitimic panic. However, meanwhile, the world has indeed evolved.

[] Vitorino Ramos, Juan J. Merelo, Self-Organized Stigmergic Document Maps: Environment as a Mechanism for Context Learning, in AEB´2002 – 1st Spanish Conference on Evolutionary and Bio-Inspired Algorithms, E. Alba, F. Herrera, J.J. Merelo et al. (Eds.), pp. 284-293, Centro Univ. de Mérida, Mérida, Spain, 6-8 Feb. 2002.

Social insect societies and more specifically ant colonies, are distributed systems that, in spite of the simplicity of their individuals, present a highly structured social organization. As a result of this organization, ant colonies can accomplish complex tasks that in some cases exceed the individual capabilities of a single ant. The study of ant colonies behavior and of their self-organizing capabilities is of interest to knowledge retrieval/management and decision support systems sciences, because it provides models of distributed adaptive organization which are useful to solve difficult optimization, classification, and distributed control problems, among others. In the present work we overview some models derived from the observation of real ants, emphasizing the role played by stigmergy as distributed communication paradigm, and we present a novel strategy to tackle unsupervised clustering as well as data retrieval problems. The present ant clustering system (ACLUSTER) avoids not only short-term memory based strategies, as well as the use of several artificial ant types (using different speeds), present in some recent approaches. Moreover and according to our knowledge, this is also the first application of ant systems into textual document clustering.

(to obtain the respective PDF file follow link above or visit chemoton.org)


Pranav Mistry and SixthSense technology – Part 1 of 2


Pranav Mistry and SixthSense technology – Part 2 of 2

Video – ABB FlexPicker Robots (Source: http://www.botjunkie.com/ + http://www.abb.com/)

As well as, something at the lower pre-processing engineering level involving also Pattern Recognition, Image Analysis and Classification.  Not for  brownies, cookies or sausages. Since this is summer time, it relates with clams and bivalve in general. From the video, everything appears to be rather easy. But, they are not.

Kitaoka colour illusion

Fig. – Illusion created by Prof. Akiyoshi Kitaoka (Dep. of Psychology, Ritsumeikan Univ., Kyoto, Japan). If you don’t see any illusion at all, don’t worry. That’s exactly why this optical illusion is so great. The illusion is not there, or is it?! Meanwhile over his page, Akiyoshi warns: This page contains some works of “anomalous motion illusion”, which might make sensitive observers dizzy or sick. Should you feel dizzy, you had better leave this page immediately (more).

Where’s the illusion, right? Well,… what if I just tell you that no blue at all is used over this picture! No matter how strongly you want to believe you are seeing blue and green spirals here, there is no blue color in this image. There is only green, red and orange. What you think is blue is actually green. Don’t worry, … you are not daltonic. I mean, I’m a little bit but, you could check this out through Paint Shop Pro or Photoshop, if you need an affirmation. Indeed, these are just “Vain speculation un­deceived by the senses” (1670’s Scilla’s treatise) .

In fact, Relations here, between different colors (green, red and orange), are more important than each color by itself. Relations plus context are the key (more here over Generative Art, and here over Swarm Intelligence based Pattern Recognition). Through these relations, much probably using Gestalt‘s principles (the German word Gestalt could be translated into “configuration or pattern”), here Akiyoshi manages to emerge us the blue color over our perception. This does not cheat a computer of course, however could cheat our own eyes. In other areas the opposite could also be found. For instance, Humans can easily recognize a car over background trees (segment it, in just tiny lapses of a second), while this natural task could be extremely painful for computers over some cases (here is one example).

Born in Prague (inspired by 1890’s works of Christian von Ehrenfels, Austrian philosopher), then later absorbed by a great and tremendous intellectual period occurred from Germany back to Austria (Bauhaus), the Gestalt Laws of Organization have guided the study of how people perceive visual components as organized patterns or wholes, instead of many different parts. I would say that most certainly some Wertheimer’s gestaltic principles were used in here: Figure and Ground, Similarity, Proximity or Contiguity, Continuity, Closure, Area, and Symmetry (check Gestalt Theory of Visual Perception). We could see this happening also in other areas, … in Music for instance:

[...] Gestalt theory first arose in 1890 as a reaction to the prevalent psychological theory of the time – atomism. Atomism examined parts of things with the idea that these parts could then be put back together to make wholes. Atomists believed the nature of things to be absolute and not dependent on context. Gestalt theorists, on the other hand, were intrigued by the way our mind perceives wholes out of incomplete elements [1, 2]. “To the Gestaltists, things are affected by where they are and by what surrounds them…so that things are better described as “more than the sum of their parts.” [1, p. 49]. Gestaltists believed that context was very important in perception. An essay by Christian von Ehrenfels discussed this belief using a musical example. Take a 12 note melody. Play it in one key, say the key of C. Now change to another key, say the key of A flat. There might not be any notes the same in the two songs, yet a person listening to it knows that it is the same tune. It is the relationships between the notes that give us the tune, the whole, not which notes make up the tune. [...], from “Gestalt Principles of Perception“, Bonnie Skaalid, Univ. of Saskatchewan, Canada, 1999.

Care for an contemporary example? Well, … the first thing that comes to my mind is DUB music genre. In fact, I do have several albums from different musicians over my house. Dub music evolved in Jamaica (1968) from early rastafarian instrumental reggae music and versions that incorporated fairly primitive reverbs and echo sound effects, being found by accident (engineer Byron Smith left the vocal track out by accident). Over decades, it inspired immense groups of musicians from well-known bands such as The Police, The Clash, UB40 up to reputed musicians such as Bill Laswell. Of course !, it was not far from what John Cage have made for the solo piano Music of Changes, to determine which notes should be used and when they should sound. In the fifty’s, Cage start it to use the mechanism of the I Ching (Chinese “Book of Changes”) in the composition of his music in order to provide a framework for his uses of chance.

Other most recent bands include, Leftfield, Massive Attack, Bauhaus, The Beastie Boys, Asian Dub Foundation, Underworld, Thievery Corporation, Gorillaz, Kruder & Dorfmeister, and DJ Spooky. But what is then so special about Dub? Well, one of this genre’s most striking features is the fact that some if not all musical sentences are incomplete. Those special sentences (Gestaltic, let me add), are normally followed by a pause. The most amazing thing however, is that us, Humans could perceive the entire sentence being formed on the back of our minds! So the music is not there, and at the same time, we are listening to two adjacent simultaneous melodies, as we were a composer. By just using relations among a few notes, we soon start to emerge a perception for the whole sentence, as if they were self-organizing! Being it extremely rhythmic, this often could lead us to a sweet soft state of overwhelming emotion, or exalted organic feel to the music .

As you will probably know by now, the same could happen over misplaced letters over an entire phrase. Even if some letters are not at their right proper place, at each word, we could still perceive the whole sentence meaning. Up to your gestaltic neurons to decipher.

Next time you go to a rave party (I never did, neither pretend to), do think about the title of this post, the figure above, as well as on all those great past musicians, along with – unfortunately – awkward current DJ’s, who pass on for hours strident music mixes without knowing at all what Gestalt is all about! Oh, … by the way, should you feel extremely dizzy, do follow Akiyoshi’s advice: If you start feeling unwell when using this website (rave party), immediately cover one eye with your hand and then leave the page (leave the party). Do not close your both eyes because that can make the attack worse!

With the current ongoing dramatic need of Africa to have contemporary maps (currently, Google promises to launch his first and exhaustive world-wide open-access digital cartography of the African continent very soon), back in 1999-2000 we envisioned a very simple idea into a research project (over my previous lab. – CVRM IST). Instead of producing new maps in the regular standard way, which are costly (specially for African continent countries) as well as time consuming (imagine the amount of money and time needed to cover the whole continent with high resolution aerial photos) the idea then was to hybridize trough an automatic procedure (with the help of Artificial Intelligence) new current data coming from satellites with old data coming from the computational analysis of images of old colonial maps. For instance, old roads segmented in old maps will help us finding the new ones coming from the current satellite images, as well as those that were lost. The same goes on for bridges, buildings, numbers, letters at the map, etc. However in order to do this, several preparatory steps were needed. One of those crucial steps was to obtain (segment – know to be one of the hardest procedures in image processing) the old roads, buildings, airports, at the old maps. Back in 1999-2000 while dealing with several tasks at this research project (AUTOCARTIS - Automatic Methods for Updating Cartographic Maps) I started to think of using evolutionary computation in order to tackle and surpass this precise problem, in what then later become one of the first usages of Genetic Algorithms in image analysis. The result could be checked below. Meanwhile, the experience gained with AUTOCARTIS was then later useful not only for digital old books (Visão Magazine, March 2002), as well as for helping us finding water in Mars (at the MARS EXPRESS European project – Expresso newspaper, May 2003) from which CVRM lab. was one of the European partners. Much often in life simple ideas (I owe it to Prof. Fernando Muge and Prof. Pedro Pina) are the best ones. This is particularly true in science.

Figure – One original image (left – Luanda, Angola map) and two segmentation examples, rivers and roads respectively obtained through the Genetic Algorithm proposed (low resolution images). [at the same time this precise Map of Luanda, was used by me along with the face of Einstein to benchmark several dynamic image adaptive perception versus memory experiments via ant-like artificial life systems over what I then entitled Digital Image Habitats]

[] Vitorino Ramos, Fernando Muge, Map Segmentation by Colour Cube Genetic K-Mean Clustering, Proc. of ECDL´2000 – 4th European Conference on Research and Advanced Technology for Digital Libraries, J. Borbinha and T. Baker (Eds.), ISBN 3-540-41023-6, Lecture Notes in Computer Science, Vol. 1923, pp. 319-323, Springer-Verlag -Heidelberg, Lisbon, Portugal, 18-20 Sep. 2000.

Segmentation of a colour image composed of different kinds of texture regions can be a hard problem, namely to compute for an exact texture fields and a decision of the optimum number of segmentation areas in an image when it contains similar and/or non-stationary texture fields. In this work, a method is described for evolving adaptive procedures for these problems. In many real world applications data clustering constitutes a fundamental issue whenever behavioural or feature domains can be mapped into topological domains. We formulate the segmentation problem upon such images as an optimisation problem and adopt evolutionary strategy of Genetic Algorithms for the clustering of small regions in colour feature space. The present approach uses k-Means unsupervised clustering methods into Genetic Algorithms, namely for guiding this last Evolutionary Algorithm in his search for finding the optimal or sub-optimal data partition, task that as we know, requires a non-trivial search because of its NP-complete nature. To solve this task, the appropriate genetic coding is also discussed, since this is a key aspect in the implementation. Our purpose is to demonstrate the efficiency of Genetic Algorithms to automatic and unsupervised texture segmentation. Some examples in Colour Maps are presented and overall results discussed.

(to obtain the respective PDF file follow link above or visit chemoton.org)

Vitorino Ramos at Bairro Alto taken by Joao Bracourt (9/2003)

Back in 2003 I was photographed by João Bracourt, a friend and professional photograph which among other things (web design + painting) travels around the world within big professional surf events (he is right now on it’s way to Indonesia), covering it for main surf magazines. Back then (Sept. 2003) we were enjoying ourselves with a big group late nigth at Bairro Alto, the main bar and restaurant district in Lisbon.

The t-shirt I’m wearing here is from COSI – Complexity in Social Sciences Summer School. One month earlier have been invited among other people to give a lecture in Spain about my work, there at COSI (Baeza, Andaluzia). After all these years the PPT file (Stigmergy as a possible exploratory walk up to collective life-like complexity and behaviour) is still available. As well as those from Gerard Weisbuch (Research Director of the Complex Networks and Cognitive Systems Team within the Statistical Physics Laboratory of the l’Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris, France) and Rosaria Conte (head of the Division of Artificial Intelligence, Cognitive Modelling & Interaction at the Institute of Psychology of the Italian National Research Council), among others. Many other research materials concerning complexity and social sciences are still available at COSI’s 2003 main site.

Vitorino Ramos at Bairro Alto taken by Joao Bracourt (9/2003)

(at Bairro Alto, Lisbon, Sept. 2003 – taken by João Bracourt)

Vitorino Ramos at Bairro Alto taken by Joao Bracourt (9/2003)

(at Bairro Alto, Lisbon, Sept. 2003 – taken by João Bracourt)

 

[] Crina Grosan, Ajith Abraham, Sang Yong Han, Vitorino Ramos, Stock Market Prediction using Multi Expression Programming, in ALEA´05, Workshop on Artificial Life and Evolutionary Algorithms at EPIA´05 – Proc. of the 12th Portuguese Conference on Artificial Intelligence, C. Bento, A. Cardoso and G. Dias (Eds.), IEEE Press, pp. 73-78, 2005.

The use of intelligent systems for stock market predictions has been widely established. In this paper we introduce a genetic programming technique (called Multi-Expression programming) for the prediction of two stock indices. The performance is then compared with an artifcial neural network trained using Levenberg-Marquardt algorithm, support vector machine, Takagi-Sugeno neuro-fuzzy model, a difference boosting neural network. We considered Nasdaq-100 index of Nasdaq Stock MarketSM and the S&P CNX NIFTY stock index as test data.

(to obtain the respective PDF file follow link above or visit chemoton.org)

Figure – A sequential clustering task of corpses performed by a real ant colony. In here 1500 corpses are randomly located in a circular arena with radius = 25 cm, where Messor Sancta workers are present. The figure shows the initial state (above), 2 hours, 6 hours and 26 hours (below) after the beginning of the experiment (from: Bonabeau E., M. Dorigo, G. Théraulaz. Swarm Intelligence: From Natural to Artificial Systems. Santa Fe Institute in the Sciences of the Complexity, Oxford University Press, New York, Oxford, 1999).

The following research paper exploits precisely this phenomena into digital data.

[] Vitorino Ramos, Fernando Muge, Pedro Pina, Self-Organized Data and Image Retrieval as a Consequence of Inter-Dynamic Synergistic Relationships in Artificial Ant Colonies, in Javier Ruiz-del-Solar, Ajith Abraham and Mario Köppen (Eds.), Frontiers in Artificial Intelligence and Applications, Soft Computing Systems – Design, Management and Applications, 2nd Int. Conf. on Hybrid Intelligent Systems, IOS Press, Vol. 87, ISBN 1 5860 32976, pp. 500-509, Santiago, Chile, Dec. 2002.

Social insects provide us with a powerful metaphor to create decentralized systems of simple interacting, and often mobile, agents. The emergent collective intelligence of social insects “swarm intelligence” resides not in complex individual abilities but rather in networks of interactions that exist among individuals and between individuals and their environment. The study of ant colonies behavior and of their self-organizing capabilities is of interest to knowledge retrieval/ management and decision support systems sciences, because it provides models of distributed adaptive organization which are useful to solve difficult optimization, classification, and distributed control problems, among others. In the present work we overview some models derived from the observation of real ants, emphasizing the role played by stigmergy as distributed communication paradigm, and we present a novel strategy (ACLUSTER) to tackle unsupervised data exploratory analysis as well as data retrieval problems. Moreover and according to our knowledge, this is also the first application of ant systems into digital image retrieval problems. Nevertheless, the present algorithm could be applied to any type of numeric data.

(to obtain the respective PDF file follow link above or visit chemoton.org)

[...] People should learn how to play Lego with their minds. Concepts are building bricks [...] V. Ramos, 2002.

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