Four short links: 10 May 2016

Amazonian Formal Methods, Mental States, Surprising Patterns, and Viv's Innards

  1. Formal Methods at Amazon (PDF) — A TLA+ specification describes the set of all possible legal behaviors (execution traces) of a system. We found it helpful that the same language is used to describe both the desired correctness properties of the system (the ‘what’), and the design of the system (the ‘how’). In TLA+, correctness properties and system designs are just steps on a ladder of abstraction, with correctness properties occupying higher levels, systems designs and algorithms in the middle, and executable code and hardware at the lower levels.
  2. The Mind Behind Anthropomorphic Thinking: Attribution of Mental States to Other Species — relevant to AI. Spoiler: great similarities in brains means other species probably have similar mental states to us. Although they worry less about their mortgages.
  3. Finding Surprising Patterns in a Time Series Database in Time and Space (Paper a Day) — hinges on a “surprise measure”, namely how much the actual data deviates from what was expected/predicted. Reminds me of Google’s Causal Impact.
  4. Dynamically Evolving Cognitive Architecture System Based on Third-party Developers — this patent, filed by the Siri and Viv’s creator Dag Kittlaus, describes the tech (in typical opaque patent terms) including flowcharts and high-level architecture blobs.

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