The Cognitive Enterprise

Problem Solving: Learning from other disciplines

Richard Feynman Richard Feynman (he doesn’t need an introduction) was a consummate problem solver. When asked about his problem-solving techniques, his colleague Murray Gell-Mann (a Nobel Laureate himself) defined the ‘Feynman Problem Solving Algorithm’: Write down the problemThink very hardWrite down the answer While this was partly in jest, this to me captures why it... Continue Reading →

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Navigating extreme events with small data

Here’s a thought experiment: Fred and Bay want to run a coin toss experiment. They want to make sure that the coin is completely unbiased – so they go to the US Mint and get a quarter that has passed all its tests (i.e. there is no manufacturing defect[1]); toss the coin 100 times. They... Continue Reading →

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Designing a Learning System

In 1651, Thomas Hobbes wrote, “reason … is nothing but reckoning (that is, Adding and Subtracting) of the Consequences of generall names agreed upon.” It is widely accepted that with this, he laid the foundation for the Computational theory of the mind. And as often happens in science, one thing led to the other and... Continue Reading →

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Learning from other disciplines (..continued)

Last week, we looked at how quantum physics can teach us a thing or two about problem solving in small data environments. Some of the most path breaking work in Physics started with a theory, refined by mathematical models and then proved (or disproved) with experiments. This week, let’s take a look at Biology –... Continue Reading →

Solving hard problems

Over the last few posts, I had explored the overall idea of how to approach the problem of decision making in a world of ‘tail events’ and insufficient data. And increasingly, it is clear that most Analytics teams in organizations are not very well equipped to navigate this order of complexity. Over the next couple... Continue Reading →

Bayes: What is the big deal?

It would be no understatement to say that Thomas Bayes was an obscure figure in the much-storied annals of mathematics and logic for a better part of the last 100 years. And then something happening in the last 10 years and now, he is everywhere – and has even entered mainstream culture by the eponymous... Continue Reading →

Of Tail Events

Thales of Miletus was a Greek mathematician and a pre-Socratic philosopher, generally regarded as the first philosopher on the Greek tradition. And here’s an interesting story about him: he predicted the weather and a good olive harvest for a particular year. He went a step further and reserved all the olive presses in advance at... Continue Reading →

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