John Baez on the maths of connecting everyone (and everything) on earth
March 2, 2014 9:06 AM   Subscribe

Network Theory Overview - "The idea: nature and the world of human technology are full of networks! People like to draw diagrams of networks. Mathematical physicists know that in principle these diagrams can be understood using category theory. But why should physicists have all the fun? This is the century of understanding living systems and adapting to life on a finite planet. Math isn't the main thing we need, but it's got to be part of the solution... so one thing we should do is develop a unified and powerful theory of networks." (via ;)
posted by kliuless (17 comments total) 42 users marked this as a favorite

Oh JOHN Baez, not Joan.
posted by dobie at 9:20 AM on March 2 [13 favorites]

Oh, MATHS, not myths.
posted by Longtime Listener at 9:26 AM on March 2 [1 favorite]

Oh, NETWORK, not nitwit.
posted by HuronBob at 9:29 AM on March 2

Oh, EARTH, not mirth.
posted by suedehead at 9:41 AM on March 2

[Let's shun the puns and comment on the content?]
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:42 AM on March 2 [4 favorites]

Oh JOHN Baez, not Joan.

Turns out they're related.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:58 AM on March 2

Can anyone help distinguish / relate this to System Dynamics? The theory sounds deeper (from an initial peruse), but the problem domain looks strikingly similar.
posted by dylanjames at 10:14 AM on March 2 [2 favorites]

It's like an old tv show I saw where they showed vehicles moving along the interstate and then faded into red blood cells moving along a capillary.
posted by Renoroc at 10:16 AM on March 2 [2 favorites]

John C. Baez and Mike Stay. Physics, Topology, Logic and Computation: A Rosetta Stone (pdf). As I see it, it's about using category theory to describe networks; the systems in System Dynamics are a kind of network.

It makes me go: Wow. Very Hofstadter. Such Braid.

And also: Barry Mazur. When is one thing equal to some other thing? (pdf).
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 10:49 AM on March 2 [3 favorites]

Favorited... for further research.
posted by PROD_TPSL at 11:54 AM on March 2

I actually only have three friends, I really can’t have any more.
posted by IndigoJones at 12:04 PM on March 2

If you don't have any other reason to get a Google+ account, get one so you can follow John Baez. He's amazing.
posted by Jpfed at 12:12 PM on March 2

The G+ discussion below Baez's "RSA explained" post is packed full of humor, tinfoil hats, and missed jokes. Worth a peruse.
posted by dylanjames at 1:04 PM on March 2 [3 favorites]

If you don't have any other reason to get a Google+ account, get one so you can follow John Baez. He's amazing.

Fortunately you can read it without an account and even with cookies disabled.
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:15 PM on March 2

Can anyone help distinguish / relate this to System Dynamics?

That would be one sub-domain of the broader theory. He's trying to abstract away any specific application and draw whatever conclusions he can based on the forms of the networks alone.

Really fascinating stuff, particularly the connection to quantum mechanics. I think this lecture on probability amplitudes by Scott Aaronson would also be a good companion piece.
posted by empath at 4:43 PM on March 3 [1 favorite]

Unifying the Counterfactual and Graphical Approaches to Causality - "A great division in the field of causal inference in statistics is between those who like to think of everything in terms of 'potential outcomes', and those who like to think of everything in terms graphical models. More exactly, while partisans of potential outcomes tend to denigrate graphical models (*), those of us who like the latter tend to presume that potential outcomes can be read off from graphs, and hope someone will get around to showing some sort of formal equivalence. That somebody appears to have arrived..."
posted by kliuless at 4:56 PM on March 4 [1 favorite]

Network Theory II: Stochastic Petri nets, reaction networks and Feynman diagrams

Markov Models of Social Change (Part 2)
Although it is generally recognized that quality of governance—e.g. control of corruption and the rule of law—affects quality of life [6], many in the climate change research community have focused on technological improvements, such as drought-resistant crops, or economic incentives, such as carbon prices, for mitigation and adaptation. The cross-impact balance results underscored that should global patterns of quality of governance across nations take a turn for the worse, poor governance could stymie these efforts. This is because the influence of quality of governance is pervasive; where corruption is permitted at the highest levels of power, it may be permitted at other levels as well—including levels that are responsible for building schools, teaching literacy, maintaining roads, enforcing public order, and so forth.
posted by kliuless at 10:40 AM on March 9

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