Re: JOINING posts

From: Fred Chen <>
Date: Sun, 16 Jun 2002 23:59:22 -0700


Here is my brief introduction to the list. I received my PhD in applied
physics in 1996. Started working in the beleaguered semiconductor industry
right after graduation. Reading material that got me interested in
everything discussions: the New Scientist article on Tegmark's all-universes
with self-aware structures, Mind of God by Paul Davies, and Anthropic
Cosmological Principle, by Barrow and Tipler. Related interests since
college and perhaps earlier have been cosmology, dark matter. In addition, I
currently work on computer simulations of diffraction of electromagnetic
waves and optical lithography (these are related to my career but are
actually outside my official job scope).


----- Original Message -----
From: "Wei Dai" <>
To: <>
Sent: Thursday, May 23, 2002 10:47 AM
Subject: JOINING posts

> I find that I often have trouble understanding posts on this mailing list,
> given the wide range of intellectual ground that it covers. It seems that
> people sometimes assume a background in an academic field, and I'm not
> even sure what the field is, or how to get up to date or at least familiar
> with it. On the other hand, sometimes a poster is just a crank and isn't
> making any sense at all. It can be hard to tell the difference.
> Perhaps it would help if list members each posts a short biography of
> themselves, and tell us their intellectual backgrounds. What fields are
> you familiar with, what relevant books/papers have you read, etc.? This
> way, if you don't understand someone's post, you can look up his JOINING
> post in the archive and figure out what background he is assuming. I got
> this idea from the SL4 mailing list; maybe it will work here as well.
> To begin with myself, I work as a cryptographic engineer, which means I
> design and implement computer security mechanisms, with a focus on the
> cryptographic parts. I have a BA in computer science, and have taken
> courses in linguistics, theory of computation, number theory, algebra,
> probability theory, and game theory.
> I think I first encountered the idea that all possible universes exist in
> the novel _Permutation City_ by Greg Egan, and then in Tegmark and
> Schmidhuber's papers. I started this mailing list after reading both of
> those papers.
> I've scanned through _An Introduction to Kolmogorov Complexity and Its
> Applications_, Ming Li and Paul Vitanyi, and read parts of it in enough
> detail to have found several previously unreported errors. It's about
> algorithmic information theory, and I personally think it is the single
> most important book for list members to read.
> Here are some other books that I've read outside of formal education that
> seem relevant.
> _The Selfish Gene_, Richard Dawkins. Theory of evolution.
> _Gödel, Escher, Bach - an Eternal Golden Braid_, Douglas Hofstadter. On
> self-reference.
> _Maxwell's Demon: Entropy, Information, Computation_. Entropy and the
> physics of computation.
> _Philosophy of Mathematics: Structure and Ontology_, Stewart Shapiro.
> I'm finding that I don't have enough knowledge about foundations of
> mathematics, foundations of decision theory, and quantum mechanics. I'm
> currently reading the following books to rectify the situation:
> _The Foundations of Causal Decision Theory_, James Joyce
> _A Modern Approach to Quantum Mechanics_, John S. Townsend
> _Foundations Without Foundationalism : A Case for Second-Order Logic_,
> Stewart Shapiro
> Ok, who wants to go next?
Received on Mon Jun 17 2002 - 00:05:50 PDT

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