Sunday, January 15, 2012

Patterns Overt and Cryptic

Prior to such mathematically advanced cryptosystems as ECC, cryptographers broke codes by finding patterns in what initially looks just like noise.
Practitioners of that exquisite genre known as the Paranoid Thriller  seek patterns in the everyday  with deeper, dark significance.  Cinematic & TV examples:  Pi; Rubicon.   The premise is delicious, but the execution is not so easy to carry out;  most of the attempts have been failures.
And now, debuting January 25 on the channel that brought you “24”, and starring Jack Bauer I mean what's-his-name :  Touch.

The basic premise sounds like a retread of The Rain Man,  featuring another autistic mathematical-savant, yet you can well garner from the trailer  that the series will take off in a different direction.
It may turn out to be bogus, but this is one Season’s Premiere that I am seriously looking forward to.

[For the results, click here.  But first go get some comforting chocolate and a teddy bear, because the upshot is alas disappointing.]

In anticipation, I have added a Label “patterns” to the essays that touch upon such topics as synchronicity, the Roots of Coincidence, the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon,  and C.S. Lewis’s wonderful metaphor of the underside of the carpet  as a hint of the real patterns visible in the proper view (how we perceive but through a glass darkly  here below).  Here are the essays so labeled:

Such matters are vaguely related to another notion that only recently acquired its own Label on this site, that of Depth; these essays you may consult here:

One distinction is that, with the notion “depth”, we are trying to get at something quite widely recognized within (mostly) mathematics, something inherent to mathematics (or to our practice thereof) though difficult to characterize;  whereas the variety of notions that nestle beneath the rubric “patterns”  are a motley crew and mostly just for fun (though of course each one of them has adherents that take them in dead earnest).

[Footnote]  A shout-out to the importance of patterns, by a philosopher:

The need to complete patterns, … is one of our strongest tendencies.   It may not be as immediately vociferous as our sexuality, but it may well be as important, or more so.
-- Ernest Gellner, The Psychoanalytic Movement (1985; 2nd edn. 1993), p. 59

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