maradydd: (Default)
Consider an arithmetic over {0,1}+ with three operators: addition, left-shift, and equality.

Is it decidable?
maradydd: (Default)
I just wrote an attribute grammar for the general object-encoding rules. (Not all of BER; that's next. Just section 8.1 of X.690.) Unless sections 8.2 through 8.22 throw me a curveball, which it doesn't look like they will, QED. It's fully left-recursive and uses only synthesized attributes, for all your efficient parsing needs. Boo yah.

If anyone playing along at home wants to have a look, drop me a comment.

FWIW, attribute grammars are absurdly simple in Haskell; Happy supports them natively. (Attribute grammars are somewhat intractable in strictly-evaluated languages because if you have to use strict evaluation, the data dependency graph gets impractically large very quickly. Haskell, which uses lazy evaluation, doesn't have this problem. Every day I come to love this little language more and more. Oh, and I can do a multiple-entry-point approach to support CER and DER. Seriously, how cool is that?)

Don Knuth, Haskell Curry, Simon Peyton-Jones, Simon Marlow and Andy Gill are totally my heroes forever and ever.


Aug. 11th, 2009 02:44 am
maradydd: (Default)
Lobster bisque, amaretto and attribute grammars on a rainy night.
maradydd: (Default)
People. Really. When are you going to learn?

The Illustrators' Partnership is at it again, claiming that they've been sent a draft of the Orphan Works Act of 2008. (No THOMAS link provided, because guess what -- there's not one.) "They haven’t officially released it yet," they claim, "but we’ve been told the Senate will do so this week."

O RLY? Time to do a little digging.

See, the thing to understand about Congress -- indeed, any legislature -- is that it's full of rumors. The entire U.S. legislative branch, from the Speaker of the House down to the lowest congressional page, is as gossipy as a high school lunchroom. Legislators like to know what their fellow legislators are up to, and if you want to substantiate a rumor, the best thing to do is to talk to someone on the right committee.

I picked up my trusty mobile phone and looked up the Senate Subcommittee on Intellectual Property. Why, look at that -- one of my Senators, Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), sits on it. I figured I'd start with her office, since I bug them pretty frequently about issues I care about -- they might even know my voice by now. A cheerful staffer picked up on the second ring, and I introduced myself and explained what I was looking for. She couldn't find anything in their database (not surprising, since neither could I), and just to make sure we were on the same page, I pointed out that I was looking for a bill that hadn't been introduced yet, but which I'd heard was likely to be introduced this week, and asked whether anyone on Sen. Feinstein's staff had heard anything about it. She put me on hold, and came back a few minutes later to apologise; no one in the office knew anything about it. I thanked her for her time, and hung up.

Strike one.

Next step: the head of the Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT). Unfortunately, no one in Sen. Hatch's office was around. (This happens when you call close to 5pm Eastern time.) I tried one of his state offices, but they said I'd need the Washington office to help me. Oh well. I'll try them tomorrow.

Ball one.

Next step: the ranking Democrat on the Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT). (He's also the head of the Committee on the Judiciary, to which the Subcommittee on Intellectual Property belongs, which makes him a good bet for information.) This time, I got a guy who searched through the records, again couldn't find anything, and suggested I talk to somebody in the office of the Committee on the Judiciary. I thanked him and let him route the call.

Strike two.

The staffer for the Committee on the Judiciary searched through everything they had, still couldn't find anything, and said I could talk to their press secretary if I thought that would help. I said sure, it was worth a try, so he tried to raise her on the phone, but only got her voicemail. I left her a message explaining the situation (bill hasn't been introduced yet, heard it was going to be introduced this week, any information on it would be awesome, thanks), left my phone number, and hung up.

Half an hour later, the press secretary for the Senate Judiciary Committee called me back. (Now that's service!) She said that the bill was probably going to be introduced tomorrow, and she'd be happy to send me a press kit about it. I gave her my email address, and inquired as to who will be sponsoring it. As it so happens, the sponsors will be Sen. Leahy and Sen Hatch. I expressed my surprise, since the person I'd talked to at Sen. Leahy's office hadn't known about it, and she said it was probably because the other guy wasn't a Judiciary Committee staffer; she only knew about it because she was. Ok, no big deal then.

Saved by the bell! As I said before, a phone call to someone on the right committee will substantiate (or disprove) any rumor. Your legislators have their phone numbers on the Internet for a reason -- when you have questions, call them.

Still, no points to the Illustrators Partnership for saying "OMG THERE'S A BILL" but failing to disclose the sponsors or how people can get information about it for themselves. As I've said here and elsewhere, my only dog in this fight is making sure that people can get the information to make informed decisions. I'm not a fan of organisations who say "trust us, we have the data, we've interpreted it, no need for you to worry your pretty little heads over what it actually says, just listen to what we say and repeat our take on it to all your friends." A responsible organisation will give you the source material so that you can make your own decisions.

And now I'll do just that. For starters, here's all the contact information for the Senate Committee on the Judiciary. I spoke with Erica Chabot, Judiciary Press Secretary for Sen. Leahy. Give her a call at (202) 224-2154 and she can hook you up with the press materials. (I haven't received them yet; I expect them some time tomorrow.)

You can also contact the offices of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), who are co-sponsoring the Senate bill. Note that I got farther with the Judiciary Committee itself than with Sen. Leahy's office, but once the bill's actually introduced, you'll want to contact its sponsors and the members of the Subcommittee on Intellectual Property to give them your opinion.

If the bill is introduced in the Senate tomorrow, then it should be in THOMAS by Thursday morning. I'll be keeping an eye out for it, and will post at length about it once I've had a chance to read through it. (I also owe the Illustrators' Partnership a response to their response to "Six Misconceptions About Orphaned Works", but I have this thing called a "day job" that keeps me a little busy.)

More later.
maradydd: (Default)
I'm looking for a copy of a paper, "An agar culture medium for lactic acid streptococci and lactobacilli," by P.R. Elliker. It was originally published in the Journal of Dairy Science, vol. 39, pages 1611-1612, in 1956.

While most math and CS journals that old are electronically available these days, I guess dairy science hasn't quite caught up. Sadly, the Stanford library doesn't have the issue I'm looking for. Berkeley apparently has a copy at its storage facility up in Richmond, but that's about an hour and a half drive for me each way. So, I turn to you, Gentle Readers. Is anyone here at a university and willing to look this up and scan it for me? I can't offer anything other than a hearty thank you, the knowledge that you have helped further the interests of science, possible internet fame, and (assuming this project works) some of the fruits (er, well, yogurts) of my labour, but rest assured I'd really really appreciate it.

IOWA FOLKS: The chemistry library apparently has it, but it may be stored someplace weird. I hope that link works.
maradydd: (Default)
Actually, I've been back since the 7th, but I've been travelling with my folks (who, somewhat to my surprise, actually showed up for my commissioning; Dad and [ profile] turgon76 pinned on my bars, and Mom took pictures) and am heading back to Houston later today. I didn't bring my laptop to Ft. Lewis, so I'm limited to the lone Dell that's in the hotel's business centre, and have only just surfaced from the barrage of email that accumulated over the last month.

Said barrage mostly consisted of some 400 emails from Google's Summer of Code mailing list, which I hadn't signed myself onto. I thought they'd passed me over, since I'd mentioned in my application that I'd be incommunicado for all of June and gave them my dad's email address as an alternate, and Dad never heard from them. Turns out they just replied to the address I'd sent the proposal from, and luckily I happened to check my mail around 10pm on the very last day that I could accept their acceptance. Thus, I am now being paid $4500 to write the bulk of the code for my thesis. Twist my arm, please.

(What does that involve, you ask? Briefly, I'm going to write [or, more likely, extend] an SVM implementation which avoids the sucktacularity of the existing implementations I've found, to wit, shitty code or shitty licensing terms, and then embed it into PostgreSQL so that you, the end user, can write ORDER BY clauses which will order a result table in terms of "elements that are most like the elements in group Foo and least like the elements in group Bar," where Foo and Bar are groups that you, the user, define. I'll have to put together a short article on why this is useful Real Soon Now.)

Another bit of workish news that I did hear about while I was away (from multiple sources, even) is that [ profile] cipherpunk and I will be speaking at the BlackHat Briefings about Dejector. We go on at 9am on 28 July, under the title "Stopping Injection Attacks with Computational Theory". I've been talking this up for a while now, but I'm still very, very stoked about the whole thing. Alas, we will not be presenting the same talk at Defcon -- we're not as cool as Phil Zimmermann yet -- but the presentation notes will be available shortly after the conference, and the first release of the actual production code should be available sometime before the conference. TODO for tomorrow's flight home: transfer the working notes in my head onto paper so that poor beleaguered Rob can write up the tree-comparison routines himself, because thanks to Google, now I don't have time to do that myself. Dammit. Where are my clones again?

(Incidentally, [ profile] enochsmiles, I did read Kiln People while I was away. I liked it.)

Some of you are probably wondering about camp itself. I won't say I had a great time, though it was pretty good despite a higher-than-average number of stupid accidents and annoying coincidences. The cadre were excellent, though a lot of the other cadets were immature little bastards who, had they managed to piss me off just a whisker more, would have probably gotten railroaded off post with a series of EO complaints chasing them all the way back to their home universities. (I content myself now with the fact that I outrank them and will likely continue to do so as time goes on, and have no qualms about pulling said rank now that I actually have rank to pull.) I also spent an inordinately large amount of time falling into and from things, including a bush which gave me a scratched cornea, a bus, and a pulley-and-handlebars arrangement about 50' above a lake. (Well, technically I rolled into the bush, away from the simulated EPW who had a simulated grenade under him. In the real world, a stick in the eye beats shrapnel. But next time I'm keeping my eyes closed.)

Right now I'm mostly just tired: tired of being around anywhere from ten to three hundred people at all hours of the day and night, tired of having the situational-awareness radar going 24/7, tired from sleep-dep. But I did what I came to do, and I'm proud of that. And now I'm going home to do even more things to be proud of -- and, more importantly, to see the people I love.

I'll be back in Houston on the 9th, out in SF on the 20th, and back in Iowa by the first week of August. I can't wait to see everybody again.


maradydd: (Default)

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