Functions and computer literacy with a twist


This is a follow up post on my 2012 “functions” and “computer literacy” ramble.

Really minor update.

Stuff does go on inside the black box. A black box can appear opaque to the naked eye, however, functions at the very least do have some kind of ‘stuff’ going on inside. “The Mechanics” if you will.

If we’re working with syntax based systems, like language, the black box will likely adhere to syntactical rules. The structure.

If we’re working with semantics, like meaning, the black box is way more complicated.

So what’s the formula? I take inspiration from the Qur’an. Chapter 2:148 says this (in English 🇺🇸):

And to each is a direction that he will take, so you shall race towards good deeds. Wherever you may be, God will bring you all together. God is capable of all things.

That’s the criteria for me when evaluating a function, or in a way, performing a function. It must tend towards good, ideally with some urgency.

I’ll obviously have blind spots and that’s incidentally why teamwork is so beneficial for you and me.

Pay special note to the “capable of all things” bit.

It seems to have thrown many people off in my humble opinion, including myself. In my university days, I came to accept that “the void”, an empty set { } cannot exist. Why? Because there’s someone looking at the curly braces. Me (obviously, the cherisher above as well, but I might have taken that for granted back then).

More recently, life, wife, toddler, gruelling work, other life travails, etc., I came to really truly accept that the “void” really exists. That it was a contradiction that exists for real. The False, represented by the uptack ⊥ in formal logic.

In other words, my assumption that the void does not exist was incorrect.

The proof? Black holes ⚫ out there in space. They exist. We’ve known about them for very long, yada yada. The void is weird in an apparent sort of way. That was a good life lesson, and indeed, to me, God was capable of all things.

Nuff all this preachy stuff. How does all of this connect back to the concept of a function? Of course we can leave it all to the divine. However, the divine directive is to race to good deeds. Good actions in other words. Good outcomes (at least, according to the Quran).

For me, this means function based systems must dutifully amplify good in every possible direction. Remove bad, promote a lot more good. This is a simple maxim to adopt in your day-to-day work, relationships, etc.

It’s obviously all a bit too simplistic ⚪, yet Euclidean 💐. Here’s a companion video to drive the Euclidean beauty point home.

Observe. It’s beautiful.

Photos by Bernard Hermant on Unsplash and George GrimmHowell from