Archive for November, 2011 Page 2 of 2



Self-fulfilling prophecies

It has always struck me that Karl Marx’s prediction that capitalism would be eclipsed by socialism and then by communism was a self-denying prophecy: because he made this prediction, and because of the widespread popularity of his (and other socialists’) ideas, politicians and businessmen were moved to act in ways which allowed capitalism to adapt, rather than to die. It seems that the end of communism may have been partly due to similar reflective-system effects.

In her book, Stasiland: True Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall, Anna Funder writes the following about the opposition to the Socialist Unity Party (SED) in the former German Democratic Republic (the DDR):

I once saw a note on a Stasi file from early 1989 that I would never forget. In it a young lieutenant alerted his superiors to the fact that there were so many informers in chuch opposition groups at demonstrations that they were making these groups appear stronger than they really were. In one of the most beautiful ironies I have ever seen, he dutifully noted that it appeared that, by having swelled the ranks of the opposition, the Stasi was giving the people heart to keep demonstrating against them. (pp. 197-198)

 

NOTE:  A comment about the processes which led to the end of communism in the USSR is contained in this post.

Reference:

Anna Funder [2003]: Stasiland: True Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall. (London, UK: Granta Books).




When are agent models or systems appropriate?

In July 2005, inspired by a talk on formation flying by unmanned aircraft by Sandor Veres at the Liverpool Agents in Space Symposium, I wrote down some rules of thumb I have been using informally for determining whether an agent-based modeling (ABM) approach is appropriate for a particular application domain.  Appropriateness is assessed by answering the following questions:

1. Are there multiple entities in the domain, or can the domain be represented as if there are?
2. Do the entities have access to potentially different information sources or do they have potentially different beliefs? For example, differences may be due to geographic, temporal, legal, resource or conceptual constraints on the information available to the entities.
3. Do the entities have potentially different goals or objectives? This will typically be the case if the entities are owned or instructed by different people or organizations.
4. Do the entities have potentially different preferences (or utilities) over their goals or objectives ?
5. Are the relationships between the entities likely to change over time?
6. Does a system representing the domain have multiple threads of control?

If the answers are YES to Question 1 and also YES to any other question, then an agent-based approach is appropriate. If the answer to Question 1 is NO, or if the answers are YES to Question 1 but NO to all other questions, then a traditional object-based approach is more appropriate.

Traditional object-oriented systems involve static relationships between non-autonomous entities sharing the same beliefs, preferences and goals, and in a system with a single thread of control.




Pianists

As with violinists I have heard live, I thought it interesting to list the pianists I have heard perform (modulo the vagaries of memory):

  • Caroline Almonte – Mozart’s Concerto for Two Pianos in Eb K365 (MSO, Melbourne 2009)
  • Ksenia Bashmet – Bach’s D Minor Keyboard Concerto (BWV 1052) (Moscow Soloists Chamber Ensemble, London 2011)
  • Alessio Bax (Liverpool)
  • Alasdair Beatson  – Mendelssohn’s Concerto for Violin, Piano and Strings in D Minor (London 2011)
  • Richard Rodney Bennett (Canberra 1976)
  • Kathryn Eves – Shostakovich’s Second Piano Concerto (Cheshire Sinfonia, Manchester 2008)
  • Nelson Freire – Mozart’s Piano Concerto #20 in D minor and Villa Lobos’ Momoprecoce, Fantasy for Piano and Orchestra (Boston Symphony Orchestra under Marcelo Lehninger at Tanglewood, 2012).
  • Angela Hewitt – The 48:  A truly awesome feat of memory and physical performance, with superb touch and an integrity of interpretation.  I don’t think rubato and the North German Baroque belong together but, so not an interpretation to my taste. (Manchester)
  • Rolf Hind (Birmingham, Liverpool, London 2013).  Hind’s masterful performance of John Coolidge Adams’ sublime Phrygian Gates in Liverpool was entrancing and unforgettable, and helped change my mind about minimalism.   I heard him play this again in London in 2013 – again sublime.
  • Stephen Hough (RLPO Liverpool, Manchester)
  • Elisabeth Klein (1911-2004, Liverpool)
  • Pekka Kuusisto (Britten Sinfonia, London, 2012, playing piano part of Stravinsky’s Suites 1 & 2 for Small Orchestra)
  • John Lill (RLPO, Liverpool)
  • Yvonne Loriod - Messiaen’s From the Canyon to the Stars (Australian Chamber Orchestra, Sydney Opera House, 1988).
  • Joanna MacGregor – Bach’s D Minor Concerto BWV 1052 (Manchester)
  • Stephen McIntyre – Mozart’s Concerto for Two Pianos in Eb K365 (MSO, Melbourne 2009)
  • Brad Mehldau (Manchester)
  • Olli Mustonen – Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto #1 (BBC SO, with Sergei Nakariakov, London 2013)
  • Roberto Prosseda – UK premiere of Mendelssohn’s 3rd Piano Concerto in E minor (ca. 1840-42, unpublished, completed by Marcello Bufalini) (RLPO, Liverpool)
  • Lauma Skride – Mozart and Mendelssohn Violin Sonatas (London 2011)
  • Cedric Tiberghien (RLPO, Liverpool)
  • Simon Trpceski (RLPO, Liverpool).