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The Perils & Pleasures of Interdisciplinarity
The Perils & Pleasures of Interdisciplinarity
The Perils & Pleasures of Interdisciplinarity
The Perils & Pleasures of Interdisciplinarity
The Perils & Pleasures of Interdisciplinarity
The Perils & Pleasures of Interdisciplinarity
The Perils & Pleasures of Interdisciplinarity
The Perils & Pleasures of Interdisciplinarity
The Perils & Pleasures of Interdisciplinarity
The Perils & Pleasures of Interdisciplinarity
The Perils & Pleasures of Interdisciplinarity
The Perils & Pleasures of Interdisciplinarity
The Perils & Pleasures of Interdisciplinarity
The Perils & Pleasures of Interdisciplinarity
The Perils & Pleasures of Interdisciplinarity
The Perils & Pleasures of Interdisciplinarity
The Perils & Pleasures of Interdisciplinarity
The Perils & Pleasures of Interdisciplinarity
The Perils & Pleasures of Interdisciplinarity
The Perils & Pleasures of Interdisciplinarity
The Perils & Pleasures of Interdisciplinarity
The Perils & Pleasures of Interdisciplinarity
The Perils & Pleasures of Interdisciplinarity
The Perils & Pleasures of Interdisciplinarity
The Perils & Pleasures of Interdisciplinarity
The Perils & Pleasures of Interdisciplinarity
The Perils & Pleasures of Interdisciplinarity
The Perils & Pleasures of Interdisciplinarity
The Perils & Pleasures of Interdisciplinarity
The Perils & Pleasures of Interdisciplinarity
The Perils & Pleasures of Interdisciplinarity
The Perils & Pleasures of Interdisciplinarity
The Perils & Pleasures of Interdisciplinarity
The Perils & Pleasures of Interdisciplinarity
The Perils & Pleasures of Interdisciplinarity
The Perils & Pleasures of Interdisciplinarity
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The Perils & Pleasures of Interdisciplinarity

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David E. Goldberg reflects on living an interdisciplinary life at a talk given at a Workshop on the Challenges in Top-Down, Bottom-Up and Computational Approaches in Synthetic Biology

David E. Goldberg reflects on living an interdisciplinary life at a talk given at a Workshop on the Challenges in Top-Down, Bottom-Up and Computational Approaches in Synthetic Biology

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  • Honor
  • Photo from “wanted” poster in 1986. Of course this meeting changed my life profoundly and I’m so blessed that it did.
  • When I first showed this to John his reaction was characteristic. Concerned that I not limit models in this way.
  • Tie together three things. Story telling, moving from qual to quant, many types of models, and uses models from different fields. May need hybrids of qual-quant models for given problem.
  • Transcript

    • 1. The Perils and Pleasures of Interdisciplinarity:Practical & Philosophical Reflections on an Interdisciplinary Life<br />David E. Goldberg<br />Illinois Genetic Algorithms Laboratory & iFoundry<br />University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign<br />Urbana, IL 61801 USA<br />Email: deg@illinois.edu; Web: http://www.ifoundry.illinois.edu<br />1<br />© David E. Goldberg 2010<br />
    • 2. Reflections on an Interdisciplinary Life<br />30th year in GAs; 27th year since dissertation. 22th year since GASOML. <br />Have been blessed to be part of growth of an interdisciplinary field.<br />Could easily have been otherwise.<br />Almost every central turning point was unlikely event.<br />Want to reflect on those times personally, practically & philosophically. <br />Not a moral exemplar. Just interesting stories.<br />2<br />© David E. Goldberg 2010<br />
    • 3. Roadmap<br /><ul><li>What’s a nice civil engineer doing in a place like this?
    • 4. A cocktail party in Canterbury.
    • 5. One September in Ann Arbor.
    • 6. A professor named Holland.
    • 7. The education of a genetic algorithmist.
    • 8. My philosophical turn & starting a company.
    • 9. Reflections on existentialism, paradigms, and the education of engineering and computer scientists in an interdisciplinary age.
    • 10. Finding a life’s impedance match.</li></ul>3<br />© David E. Goldberg 2010<br />
    • 11. Once Upon a Time…<br />Once upon a time…<br />There was a civil engineer<br />working for Stoner Associates <br />doing hydraulics software for pipelines.<br />Was starting to do real-time control &<br />wondered how human operators<br />controlled gas pipelines <br />like you or I drive a car.<br />Went to British Hydromechanics Research Association to represent company.<br />4<br />© David E. Goldberg 2010<br />
    • 12. A Cocktail Party in Canterbury<br />At the opening reception.<br />My advisor walks in…<br />Like the parting of the Red Sea.<br />Another prof asks WHEN will I return for PhD.<br />Not “cost effective.”<br />A phone call & a big night.<br />E. Benjamin Wylie (b. 1928)<br />5<br />© David E. Goldberg 2010<br />
    • 13. One Fine September Day in A2<br />First day of classes and was signed up for standard AI course.<br />Expert systems were the rage, Prolog was hip, LISP was cool.<br />Class was cancelled with little sign on the door.<br />Hopes and dreams down the drain.<br />Searched and searched for a replacement.<br />Found CCS 524, Intro to Adaptive Systems, taught byJohn Holland.<br />6<br />© David E. Goldberg 2010<br />
    • 14. A Professor Named Holland<br />Youngish looking prof:<br />Talking about biology & genetics.<br />Samuel’s checker player.<br />Schemas and building blocks.<br />Classifier systems.<br />What’s nice civil engineer doing in class like this?<br />When was Prof Holland going to get to real AI I could use for pipelines?<br />Or maybe this was the real AI.<br />7<br />© David E. Goldberg 2010<br />
    • 15. Education of a Genetic Algorithmist<br />1984 took position in Engineering Mechanics at Alabama, Tuscaloosa.<br />Education began then, but there was a lot I needed to learn:<br />Focus on 4 core lessons:<br />Learning to ask<br />Learning to label<br />Learning to decompose<br />Learning to model<br />8<br />© David E. Goldberg 2010<br />
    • 16. Lesson 1: Learning to Ask<br /><ul><li>In 1984 had many questions about how GAs work, when they fail?
    • 17. Wasn’t experienced in asking good framing questions.
    • 18. Key problem: Using GAs to solve engineering problems, but GAs weren’t engineered well.
    • 19. Philosophical terms: Socrates 101.</li></ul>© David E. Goldberg 2010<br />9<br />Socrates (470-399 BCE)<br />
    • 20. What’s a Good Question?<br />Socrates asked variety of questions.<br />What is truth? What is courage?<br />More often the critic. Rarely gave answers.<br />In creative enterprises, many good questions are framing questions:<br />Get at heart of the issue.<br />Help define the problem or elicit definition.<br />Sometimes cause problem to be represented in novel way or from unusual or creative perspective.<br />Fundamental importance of dialectic. Creative process of asking and answering questions.<br />GA example from 1985: Alleles, Loci & Traveling Salesman Problem. How is inversion for orderings, similar to and different from mutation & crossover for alleles? <br />10<br />© David E. Goldberg 2010<br />
    • 21. Lesson 2: Learning to Label<br /><ul><li>In the early days, language was nonexistent or unsettled.
    • 22. Challenge of being category creator vs. category enhancer.
    • 23. Tabula rasa or a green field.
    • 24. Some borrowed from biology, “fitness,” “linkage” & “landscape.”
    • 25. Others invented: “deception,” “niching,” “abeyance,”
    • 26. Philosophical terms: Aristotle 101.
    • 27. Underappreciated as means to understanding and solving problems.
    • 28. GA example: Use of term “linkage learning” leads to practical schemes such as mGA, fmGA, LLGAs, and adaptive EDAs.</li></ul>© David E. Goldberg 2010<br />11<br />Aristotle (384-322 BCE)<br />
    • 29. Terms Really Do Matter<br />Terms gather thoughts under consistent rubrics.<br />Can be part of larger taxonomy.<br />Defines attention areas.<br />Can have influence on how others think.<br />Catchy or sticky terms propagate virally.<br />12<br />© David E. Goldberg 2010<br />
    • 30. Lesson 3: Learning to Decompose<br /><ul><li>Wasn’t experienced at decomposing big problem into little problems.
    • 31. Looked for magic bullets in equations of motion or transform methods.
    • 32. 1990 talk by Gary Bradshaw on the Wright Brothers and their explicit decomposition of powered flight.
    • 33. Philosophical terms: Descartes 101?</li></ul>© David E. Goldberg 2010<br />13<br />René Descartes (1596-1650)<br />
    • 34. Design Decomposition for GA Design<br />ICGA 1991: Shared “theory” tutorial with GunarLiepins.<br />Need design theory that works:<br />Understand building blocks (BBs), notions or subideas.<br />Ensure BB supply.<br />Ensure BB growth.<br />Control BB speed.<br />Ensure good BB decisions.<br />Ensure good BB mixing (exchange).<br />Know BB challengers.<br />Read about it in DoI.<br />14<br />© David E. Goldberg 2010<br />
    • 35. Lesson 4: Learning to Model<br /><ul><li>Knew quite a bit about modeling mathematically.
    • 36. Engineers as Pavlovian dogs when it comes to equations.
    • 37. Didn’t know how to model conceptually:
    • 38. Causal chain.
    • 39. Categorize according to list of types or kinds.
    • 40. Need to understand problem qualitatively in words and diagrams prior to quantitative modeling undertaken.
    • 41. Philosophical terms: Hume 101 or Aristotle 102.</li></ul>© David E. Goldberg 2010<br />15<br />David Hume (1711-1776)<br />
    • 42. A Model of Models<br />Engineer/Inventor<br />Error, ε<br />Scientist/Mathematician<br />Cost of Modeling, C<br />16<br />© David E. Goldberg 2010<br />
    • 43. What is a “Model?”<br />High Cost/Low Error<br />Low Cost/High Error<br />Unarticulated Wisdom<br />Articulated QualitativeModel<br />DimensionalModels<br />FacetwiseModels<br />Equations of Motion<br />The Modeling Spectrum<br />17<br />© David E. Goldberg 2010<br />
    • 44. Marginal Analysis<br />When should engineer/inventor adopt more expensive model?<br />At the margins, when ΔB ≥ ΔC.<br />Marginal benefit of model to technology under development must equal or exceed its marginal cost.<br />To engineer/inventor, artifact is the object of study  models almost always instrumental.<br />To scientist/mathematician building a model<br />may be the object <br />or instrumental to some other goal (then engineer’s calculus applies).<br />18<br />© David E. Goldberg 2010<br />
    • 45. Objection: That’s Common Sense<br />People see this list and say “That’s common sense,” “I do that,” or “I know that.”<br />Perhaps, but common sense is notconscious sense and <br />Power is in being explicit about these techniques as systematic method.<br />Productivity and quality of results improved when I labeled these things and start using them consciously. <br />© David E. Goldberg 2010<br />19<br />
    • 46. Demarcation of Engineering Knowledge<br />Realized that I was on philosophical grounds, a demarcation argument.<br />Realized that many practices in engineering and CS have proceeded without critical reflection.<br />Engineering and CS studied without definition.<br />Starts with misleading math-science death march.<br />Gives impression that engineering = analysis or “the basics” (math, science, engineering science).<br />Ontology, epistemology, reasoning ignored.<br />“Design” as abused term & mysterious process.<br />20<br />© David E. Goldberg 2010<br />
    • 47. My Philosophical Turn<br />Have turned to philosophy for personal & professional reasons.<br />Started Engineering and Technology Studies at Illinois or ETSI (with Michael Loui).<br />Co-chaired 2007 and 2008 Workshop on Philosophy & Engineering (WPE) at TUDelft and Royal Academy of Engineering.<br />Started engineering reflections track at Society for Philosophy & Engineering.<br />Co-Founded Illinois Foundry for Innovation in Engineering Education (2007, 2008).<br />Co-chaired Summit on the Engineer of the Future 2.0 at Olin College.<br />Turn had its roots in starting a company.<br />21<br />© David E. Goldberg 2010<br />
    • 48. Conceptual Modeling at ShareThis<br />Was asked to join co-founding team of ShareThis (then Nextumi) in 2004.<br />Create consumer chromosome inspired by GASOML.<br />Did tech work, but also worried a lot about modeling “creepiness.”<br />Models were conceptual.<br />Ray Price, tech visionary research & a course.<br />Design of Innovation, explored qual-quant divide.<br />22<br />© David E. Goldberg 2010<br />
    • 49. Some Philosophical Reflections<br />The existential pleasures of engineering.<br />Kuhn, paradigms, and all that.<br />Is GEC stuck in a paradigm or paradigms?<br />Is education of engineers and computer scientists stuck in paradigm?<br />With so many calls for educational change, how come we’re still stuck?<br />23<br />© David E. Goldberg 2010<br />
    • 50. Existential Pleasures of Engineering<br />Slide title taken from book by Samuel Florman.<br />Making cool technology is fun.<br />Existential philosophers: Life is lived. Dasein, beings in time in the process of being.<br />We choose. Things happen. We choose again.<br />Thought of careers as planned. Tracing my career path as example.<br />Not unlike genetic algorithms: Interesting mix of randomness and choice resulting in the solutions that become.<br />Martin Heidegger (1889-1976)<br />24<br />© David E. Goldberg 2010<br />
    • 51. Kuhn, Paradigms & All That<br />My cocktail party started with me stuck in a “cost effectiveness” mindset.<br />“Paradigm” traces to The Structure of Scientific Revolutions in 1962.<br />Kuhn argued that science proceeds in fits and starts, not gradually.<br />Old paradigms, ways of thinking about the world, are overturned by revolutions, not gradually.<br />What ways are we all stuck in paradigms?<br />Thomas S. Kuhn (1922-1996)<br />25<br />© David E. Goldberg 2010<br />
    • 52. Is Synthetic Biology Locked in a Paradigm?<br />What habits of thought productive early in GEC are counterproductive now?<br />Continued adherence to old religions (GA, ES, EP, GP).<br />Loose metaphorical operator design without any analysis? A vs. B comparisons with little basis.<br />Rigorous theory & no consideration of design implications?<br />Lack of progress in examining or contributing to understanding biological mechanism. <br />Oftentimes progress comes from new influences: What field or disciplines are we not collaborating with that would help make progress? <br />Interested in neuroscience, philosophy, GAs & consciousness.<br />26<br />© David E. Goldberg 2010<br />
    • 53. Are Engineering & CS Ed Stuck in Paradigm?<br />Paradigm of tech academy is from the cold war.<br />Following assumptions sacrosanct:<br />Basic engineering science key to success.<br />Government funds superior to industry $$$.<br />Demonstrate mettle as individuals with peer-reviewed journal papers in specialty.<br />Question any  stare, derision & ridicule.<br />These beliefs are not scientific. <br />Paradigm of 50s-present.<br />Code words: “the basics,” “rigorous,” & “soft.”<br />Invoking code words not an argument.<br />27<br />© David E. Goldberg 2010<br />
    • 54. The Missing Basics<br />Have taught 20 years in industrially sponsored senior design course.<br />After 4 years students don’t know how to<br />Question: Socrates 101.<br />Label: Aristotle 101.<br />Model conceptually: Hume 101 & Aristotle 102.<br />Decompose: Descartes 101.<br />Measure: Bacon-Locke 101.<br />Visualize/draw: da Vinci-Monge 101.<br />Communicate: Newman 101<br />List starts as before in education of Gamist.<br />Call these the missing basics (MBs) vs. “the basics” = math, sci, & eng sci.<br />Missing basics are in some sense more basic than “the basics.”<br />Why does engineering education backfill these skills in practice?<br />Socrates (470-399 BC)<br />28<br />© David E. Goldberg 2010<br />
    • 55. The Missing Basics as Rosetta Stone<br />Missing basics key to <br />Engineering and CS ed reform<br />Liberal ed reform<br />Interdisciplinary research<br />Lifelong learning<br />If math & science the center, how do humanists and scientists talk?<br />Wrong turn at the Enlightenment.<br />Toulmin’s argument that geometry is not a good general epistemological model.<br />29<br />© David E. Goldberg 2010<br />
    • 56. An Academic NIMBY Problem<br /><ul><li>NIMBY = Not in my backyard.
    • 57. “Reform is fine…”
    • 58. “….as long as you don’t change my course.”
    • 59. Politics of logrolling: You support my not changing. I support your not changing.
    • 60. Even when agreement for change is acknowledged, almost all specific changes are resisted.</li></ul>30<br />© David E. Goldberg 2010<br />
    • 61. iFoundry: A Pilot Incubator for Change<br />Less planning more dot connecting.<br />iFoundry = Illinois Foundry for Innovation in Engineering Education:<br />Separate pilot unit/incubator. Permit change.<br />Collaboration. Large, key ugrad programs work together. Easier approval if shared. <br />Connections. Hook to depts, NAE, ABET (?), industry. <br />Volunteers. Enthusiasm for change among participants. <br />Existing authority. Use signatory authority for modification of curricula for immediate pilot. <br />Respect faculty governance. Get pilot permission from the dept. and go back to faculty for vote after pilot change<br />Assessment. Built-in assessment to overcome objections back home. <br />Scalability. Past attempts at change like Olin fail to scale at UIUC and other big schools. <br />31<br />© David E. Goldberg 2010<br />
    • 62. Emotional Rescue: Ditch the Greek Ideal<br />Live in interesting times.<br />Still playing by rules of 5th century BC in Athens.<br />Eschewed emotions in favor of rational.<br />Not either/or.<br />Elephant and the rider.<br />What 73 freshmen taught me.<br />Passion powers the elephant through hard times.<br />© David E. Goldberg 2010<br />32<br />
    • 63. Things that Happened & Their Lessons<br />Events<br />Bumped into GAs by accident.<br />Joined field at time of growth. Was urged to do something else.<br />Fluids training as disciplinary grounding in complexity.<br />Wrote a book I was told not to write.<br />Became philosophical in a action-oriented field.<br />Took on reform effort not admired by peers.<br />Rational stance from 2.5kya isn’t working<br />Lessons?<br />Important things can be random.<br />Opportunity is knocking? Will you answer the door?<br />Being appropriately different can be beneficial.<br />Authority figures are not necessarily right or wise.<br />Exploring the unexplored can yield interesting insights.<br />Sometimes important jobs are not valued by others.<br />Need balance of emotions, rationality, and changing the path.<br />33<br />© David E. Goldberg 2010<br />
    • 64. Finding Your Impedance Match<br />Metaphor of circuit impedance: Matched speakers.<br />Mismatch  distortion or Match  clear sound.<br />Aristotle talked about virtues leading to happiness or eudaimonia.<br />About fulfilling your potential.<br />New positive psychology takes up these ancient themes.<br />Been blessed to be able to do things I found to be interesting and important.<br />Hope you are blessed, too.<br />34<br />© David E. Goldberg 2010<br />
    • 65. 2 Meetings <br />Forum on Philosophy, Engineering & Technology, 9-10 May 2010 (Sunday Eve – Monday), Colorado School of Mines.<br />Steven Goldman keynotes. <br />www.philengtech.org<br />Engineer of the Future 3.0: Unleashing Student Engagement.<br />14-15 November 2010, University of Ilinois at Urbana-Champaign, Student-run & student-centered meeting for transformation of engineering education.<br />© David E. Goldberg 2010<br />35<br />
    • 66. More Information<br />Goldberg, D. E. (2002). The design of innovation: Lessons from and for competent genetic algorithms. Boston, MA: Kluwer Academic Publishers.<br />Lab:www.illigal.org<br />iFoundry:www.ifoundry.illinois.edu<br />Philosophical writing: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/ (search for “Goldberg”).<br />Powerpoint: www.slideshare.net/deg511<br />YouTube: www.youtube.com/illinoisfoundry<br />36<br />© David E. Goldberg 2010<br />

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