OT: excellent book on information theory

Discussion in 'Python' started by Paul Rubin, Jan 16, 2006.

  1. Paul Rubin

    Paul Rubin Guest

    I came across this while looking up some data compression info today.

    David J.C. MacKay
    Information Theory, Inference, and Learning Algorithms

    Full text online:
    http://www.inference.phy.cam.ac.uk/mackay/itila/

    It's a really excellent book, on the level of SICP but about
    information theory, probability, error correcting codes, etc. Very
    readable, and geeky (in a good way) at the same time. The writing
    style is perhaps along the lines of "Numerical Recipes", though the
    format is more conventional.

    The whole text is online as a pdf, which is very nice. The printed
    version is somewhat expensive, but according to the following analysis
    it's a better bargain than "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone":

    http://www.inference.phy.cam.ac.uk/mackay/itila/Potter.html
    Paul Rubin, Jan 16, 2006
    #1
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  2. On 2006-01-16, Paul Rubin <> wrote:
    > I came across this while looking up some data compression info today.
    >
    > David J.C. MacKay
    > Information Theory, Inference, and Learning Algorithms
    >
    > Full text online:
    > http://www.inference.phy.cam.ac.uk/mackay/itila/
    >
    > It's a really excellent book, on the level of SICP but about
    > information theory, probability, error correcting codes, etc. Very
    > readable, and geeky (in a good way) at the same time. The writing
    > style is perhaps along the lines of "Numerical Recipes", though the
    > format is more conventional.
    >
    > The whole text is online as a pdf, which is very nice. The printed
    > version is somewhat expensive, but according to the following analysis
    > it's a better bargain than "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone":
    >
    > http://www.inference.phy.cam.ac.uk/mackay/itila/Potter.html


    That made me smile on a Monday morning (not an insignificant
    accomplishment). I noticed in the one footnote that the H.P.
    book had been "translated into American". I've always wondered
    about that. I noticed several spots in the H.P. books where
    the dialog seemed "wrong": the kids were using American rather
    than British English. I thought it rather jarring.

    --
    Grant Edwards grante Yow! Don't SANFORIZE me!!
    at
    visi.com
    Grant Edwards, Jan 16, 2006
    #2
    1. Advertising

  3. Grant Edwards wrote:
    [snip]
    >
    > That made me smile on a Monday morning (not an insignificant
    > accomplishment). I noticed in the one footnote that the H.P.
    > book had been "translated into American". I've always wondered
    > about that. I noticed several spots in the H.P. books where
    > the dialog seemed "wrong": the kids were using American rather
    > than British English. I thought it rather jarring.
    >

    In a bid for a US Government contract I had to rewrite British documents
    to use the official American terms and words. Bill to be paid by the US
    tax payer.

    Andrew Swallow
    Andrew Swallow, Jan 16, 2006
    #3
  4. Paul Rubin

    Paul Rubin Guest

    Grant Edwards <> writes:
    > That made me smile on a Monday morning (not an insignificant
    > accomplishment). I noticed in the one footnote that the H.P.
    > book had been "translated into American". I've always wondered
    > about that. I noticed several spots in the H.P. books where
    > the dialog seemed "wrong": the kids were using American rather
    > than British English. I thought it rather jarring.


    The US edition even changed the title from "Philosopher's Stone" to
    "Sorcerer's Stone". American schoolkids weren't expected to know what
    a philosopher was (or anyway what the Philosopher's Stone was).
    Paul Rubin, Jan 16, 2006
    #4
  5. "Paul Rubin" <http://> wrote in message
    news:...
    > Grant Edwards <> writes:
    >> That made me smile on a Monday morning (not an insignificant
    >> accomplishment). I noticed in the one footnote that the H.P.
    >> book had been "translated into American". I've always wondered
    >> about that. I noticed several spots in the H.P. books where
    >> the dialog seemed "wrong": the kids were using American rather
    >> than British English. I thought it rather jarring.

    >
    > The US edition even changed the title from "Philosopher's Stone" to
    > "Sorcerer's Stone". American schoolkids weren't expected to know what
    > a philosopher was (or anyway what the Philosopher's Stone was).


    Which is downright annoying.

    Children are capable of learning a word - and causing discongruence in
    semantics causes a serious problem when making a movie

    --
    LTP

    :)
    Luc The Perverse, Jan 16, 2006
    #5
  6. On Mon, 16 Jan 2006 15:31:58 -0000
    Grant Edwards <> wrote:
    > That made me smile on a Monday morning (not an
    > insignificant accomplishment). I noticed in the one
    > footnote that the H.P. book had been "translated into
    > American". I've always wondered about that. I noticed
    > several spots in the H.P. books where the dialog seemed
    > "wrong": the kids were using American rather than British
    > English. I thought it rather jarring.


    "translated into American", I'm sure refers to the American
    version of the book, which is titled "Harry Potter and the
    Sourceror's Stone".

    I find that bizarre. There is no mythological
    basis for a "Sourceror's Stone", but the "Philosopher's
    Stone", was of course the mythical Alchemists' goal of a
    catalyst for converting lead into gold (it had other
    properties, IIRC).

    Apparently the publisher was of the opinion that American
    children just aren't cultured enough to know about that,
    even though I knew the reference when I was 12. I am
    really, really insulted by that.

    They even went so far as to shoot two versions of every
    scene in the movie that referred to the stone so that it
    would agree with the book. AFAICT, you cannot purchase
    the original movie or book within the United States, and
    due to the Evil Conspiracy of region-coding, I couldn't
    watch the British DVD even if I were to import it (Well,
    yeah I could, but it would be painful, and probably illegal,
    do to that other Evil Conspiracy, the DMCA -- don't let
    your country pass a law like this).

    Now I don't suppose I should really get my nose all out
    of joint over this sort of thing, but it's symbolic of
    a lot of things that are wrong with the world right now.

    --
    Terry Hancock ()
    Anansi Spaceworks http://www.AnansiSpaceworks.com
    Terry Hancock, Jan 17, 2006
    #6
  7. Terry Hancock <> wrote:
    ...
    > due to the Evil Conspiracy of region-coding, I couldn't
    > watch the British DVD even if I were to import it (Well,
    > yeah I could, but it would be painful, and probably illegal,


    I have a region-free DVD player here in CA -- considering that I brought
    with me a hundred or more DVDs from the old country, and I get as many
    more here in shops or via netflix, I really couldn't do without. I
    legally ordered it on the web and it was legally delivered. What's
    illegal about it?!


    Alex
    Alex Martelli, Jan 18, 2006
    #7
  8. Paul Rubin

    Steve Holden Guest

    Alex Martelli wrote:
    > Terry Hancock <> wrote:
    > ...
    >
    >>due to the Evil Conspiracy of region-coding, I couldn't
    >>watch the British DVD even if I were to import it (Well,
    >>yeah I could, but it would be painful, and probably illegal,

    >
    >
    > I have a region-free DVD player here in CA -- considering that I brought
    > with me a hundred or more DVDs from the old country, and I get as many
    > more here in shops or via netflix, I really couldn't do without. I
    > legally ordered it on the web and it was legally delivered. What's
    > illegal about it?!
    >

    Nothing at all. But I still prefer tales of people who have hacked their
    DVD players to be multi-region :)

    Interestingly, when I made the converse move from America to Europe
    several retailers were anxious to assure me that their products, while
    single region, could easily be hacked into multi-region players using
    information available from web sites which they would deny having told
    me about.

    regards
    Steve
    --
    Steve Holden +44 150 684 7255 +1 800 494 3119
    Holden Web LLC www.holdenweb.com
    PyCon TX 2006 www.python.org/pycon/
    Steve Holden, Jan 18, 2006
    #8
  9. Alex Martelli wrote:
    > Terry Hancock <> wrote:
    > ...
    >
    >>due to the Evil Conspiracy of region-coding, I couldn't
    >>watch the British DVD even if I were to import it (Well,
    >>yeah I could, but it would be painful, and probably illegal,

    >
    >
    > I have a region-free DVD player here in CA --


    N.B.: CA, in addition to being the postal abbreviation for the US state
    of California, is also the the two-letter country code for Canada. In an
    international forum such as this, confusion may result, especially as
    "Legal in California" and "Legal in Canada" are slightly different.
    Rocco Moretti, Jan 18, 2006
    #9
  10. Rocco Moretti <> wrote:

    > Alex Martelli wrote:
    > > Terry Hancock <> wrote:
    > > ...
    > >>due to the Evil Conspiracy of region-coding, I couldn't
    > >>watch the British DVD even if I were to import it (Well,
    > >>yeah I could, but it would be painful, and probably illegal,

    > >
    > > I have a region-free DVD player here in CA --

    >
    > N.B.: CA, in addition to being the postal abbreviation for the US state
    > of California, is also the the two-letter country code for Canada. In an
    > international forum such as this, confusion may result, especially as
    > "Legal in California" and "Legal in Canada" are slightly different.


    You're right - guess I'm going native!-) I did mean California.


    Alex
    Alex Martelli, Jan 18, 2006
    #10
  11. On Wed, 18 Jan 2006 07:55:50 +0000
    Steve Holden <> wrote:

    > Alex Martelli wrote:
    > > Terry Hancock <> wrote:
    > > ...
    > >
    > >>due to the Evil Conspiracy of region-coding, I couldn't
    > >>watch the British DVD even if I were to import it (Well,
    > >>yeah I could, but it would be painful, and probably

    > >illegal,
    > >
    > >
    > > I have a region-free DVD player here in CA --
    > > considering that I brought with me a hundred or more
    > > DVDs from the old country, and I get as many more here
    > > in shops or via netflix, I really couldn't do without.
    > > I legally ordered it on the web and it was legally
    > > delivered. What's illegal about it?!
    > >

    > Nothing at all. But I still prefer tales of people who
    > have hacked their DVD players to be multi-region :)


    It isn't illegal in Canada anyway. And yes, it would be
    possible for me to pay a very high price to get a
    region-free player in the USA, but I'm certainly not going
    to.

    IMHO, region coding is an immoral abuse of the economy
    -- the corporation that produces the video benefits from
    cost-savings resulting from the globalization of the labor
    market, but then uses cryptography to prevent the consumer
    from benefitting from the same globalization.

    If it were just a matter of breaking cryptography, though,
    that wouldn't be such a big deal: they write it, we break
    it. Tough cookies.

    But the US has made that illegal -- even when it is a
    practical necessity to exercise fair use rights on
    legally-purchased media. I am disgusted by that.

    --
    Terry Hancock ()
    Anansi Spaceworks http://www.AnansiSpaceworks.com
    Terry Hancock, Jan 18, 2006
    #11
  12. On Wed, 18 Jan 2006 07:55:50 +0000
    Steve Holden <> wrote:

    > Alex Martelli wrote:
    > > Terry Hancock <> wrote:
    > > ...
    > >
    > >>due to the Evil Conspiracy of region-coding, I couldn't
    > >>watch the British DVD even if I were to import it (Well,
    > >>yeah I could, but it would be painful, and probably

    > >illegal,
    > >
    > >
    > > I have a region-free DVD player here in CA --
    > > considering that I brought with me a hundred or more
    > > DVDs from the old country, and I get as many more here
    > > in shops or via netflix, I really couldn't do without.
    > > I legally ordered it on the web and it was legally
    > > delivered. What's illegal about it?!
    > >

    > Nothing at all. But I still prefer tales of people who
    > have hacked their DVD players to be multi-region :)


    It isn't illegal in Canada anyway. And yes, it would be
    possible for me to pay a very high price to get a
    region-free player in the USA, but I'm certainly not going
    to.

    IMHO, region coding is an immoral abuse of the economy
    -- the corporation that produces the video benefits from
    cost-savings resulting from the globalization of the labor
    market, but then uses cryptography to prevent the consumer
    from benefitting from the same globalization.

    If it were just a matter of breaking cryptography, though,
    that wouldn't be such a big deal: they write it, we break
    it. Tough cookies.

    But the US has made that illegal -- even when it is a
    practical necessity to exercise fair use rights on
    legally-purchased media. I am disgusted by that.

    --
    Terry Hancock ()
    Anansi Spaceworks http://www.AnansiSpaceworks.com
    Terry Hancock, Jan 18, 2006
    #12
  13. Terry Hancock <> wrote:
    ...
    > > Nothing at all. But I still prefer tales of people who
    > > have hacked their DVD players to be multi-region :)

    >
    > It isn't illegal in Canada anyway. And yes, it would be
    > possible for me to pay a very high price to get a
    > region-free player in the USA, but I'm certainly not going
    > to.


    Me neither! I got mine for about $50 from a well-rated web merchant, as
    I recall -- is that what you mean by "a very high price"?


    Alex
    Alex Martelli, Jan 19, 2006
    #13
  14. Paul Rubin

    Guest

    Terry Hancock wrote:
    > I find that bizarre. There is no mythological
    > basis for a "Sourceror's Stone", but the "Philosopher's
    > Stone", was of course the mythical Alchemists' goal of a
    > catalyst for converting lead into gold (it had other
    > properties, IIRC).


    As an American, I was somewhat mystified by the "Americani[zs]ed"
    version of the title. Learning the real title was illuminating, since,
    as you point out, philosopher's stone actually has mythological
    meaning--even here in the USA.
    , Jan 19, 2006
    #14
  15. Steven D'Aprano <> wrote:
    ...
    > I mean, when you read "He sat on the chair" do you need
    > to look up the dictionary to discover that chairs can
    > have arm rests or not, they can be made of wood or
    > steel or uphostered springs, be on legs or coasters,
    > fixed or movable? If it mattered, a good author will
    > tell you, and if it doesn't matter, it doesn't matter.


    But if in their dialects of English "chair" strongly implies a hard,
    straight-backed, no-arms sitting-device, they won't elaborate, even if
    it DOES matter, exactly because it's already implied in the word they
    used. Not sure if this is true of any dialect of English, today, but it
    might be in Italian (for "sedia", the exact translation of "chair").

    So, you've just learned that "He" chose to sit in a chair rather than a
    sofa; depending on subtle nuances of the English dialect used (varying
    with time and space), this may have very different implications in
    defining the character and mood of this individual...


    Alex
    Alex Martelli, Jan 19, 2006
    #15
  16. Paul Rubin

    Roger Upole Guest

    "Alex Martelli" <> wrote in message news:1h9duoa.zid3pp1ue00g0N%...
    > Steven D'Aprano <> wrote:
    > ...
    >> I mean, when you read "He sat on the chair" do you need
    >> to look up the dictionary to discover that chairs can
    >> have arm rests or not, they can be made of wood or
    >> steel or uphostered springs, be on legs or coasters,
    >> fixed or movable? If it mattered, a good author will
    >> tell you, and if it doesn't matter, it doesn't matter.

    >
    > But if in their dialects of English "chair" strongly implies a hard,
    > straight-backed, no-arms sitting-device, they won't elaborate, even if
    > it DOES matter, exactly because it's already implied in the word they
    > used. Not sure if this is true of any dialect of English, today, but it
    > might be in Italian (for "sedia", the exact translation of "chair").
    >
    > So, you've just learned that "He" chose to sit in a chair rather than a
    > sofa; depending on subtle nuances of the English dialect used (varying
    > with time and space), this may have very different implications in
    > defining the character and mood of this individual...
    >
    >
    > Alex


    Hmm, and what if your context for "chair" was that unless you were
    to confess, you would be placed in a comfy one ? And furthermore,
    what if you were told that while in this chair thing, you would be seeing
    the sketch about the penguin on the telly ? Lets see, "sketch" means
    a rough line drawing, and the only "telly" I know of is Telly Savalas,
    but I'm fairly sure I know what a penguin is.
    So while in this "chair" I am to be shown a crudely drawn picture
    of a bald man with a fat flightless bird perched upon his overlarge head.
    Torture indeed .....

    Roger
    (who has obviously had too much coffee)



    ----== Posted via Newsfeeds.Com - Unlimited-Unrestricted-Secure Usenet News==----
    http://www.newsfeeds.com The #1 Newsgroup Service in the World! 120,000+ Newsgroups
    ----= East and West-Coast Server Farms - Total Privacy via Encryption =----
    Roger Upole, Jan 19, 2006
    #16
  17. Paul Rubin

    Steve Holden Guest

    Roger Upole wrote:
    > "Alex Martelli" <> wrote in message news:1h9duoa.zid3pp1ue00g0N%...
    >
    >>Steven D'Aprano <> wrote:
    >> ...
    >>
    >>>I mean, when you read "He sat on the chair" do you need
    >>>to look up the dictionary to discover that chairs can
    >>>have arm rests or not, they can be made of wood or
    >>>steel or uphostered springs, be on legs or coasters,
    >>>fixed or movable? If it mattered, a good author will
    >>>tell you, and if it doesn't matter, it doesn't matter.

    >>
    >>But if in their dialects of English "chair" strongly implies a hard,
    >>straight-backed, no-arms sitting-device, they won't elaborate, even if
    >>it DOES matter, exactly because it's already implied in the word they
    >>used. Not sure if this is true of any dialect of English, today, but it
    >>might be in Italian (for "sedia", the exact translation of "chair").
    >>
    >>So, you've just learned that "He" chose to sit in a chair rather than a
    >>sofa; depending on subtle nuances of the English dialect used (varying
    >>with time and space), this may have very different implications in
    >>defining the character and mood of this individual...
    >>
    >>
    >>Alex

    >
    >
    > Hmm, and what if your context for "chair" was that unless you were
    > to confess, you would be placed in a comfy one ? And furthermore,
    > what if you were told that while in this chair thing, you would be seeing
    > the sketch about the penguin on the telly ? Lets see, "sketch" means
    > a rough line drawing, and the only "telly" I know of is Telly Savalas,
    > but I'm fairly sure I know what a penguin is.
    > So while in this "chair" I am to be shown a crudely drawn picture
    > of a bald man with a fat flightless bird perched upon his overlarge head.
    > Torture indeed .....
    >

    No, not the comfy chair!
    --
    Steve Holden +44 150 684 7255 +1 800 494 3119
    Holden Web LLC www.holdenweb.com
    PyCon TX 2006 www.python.org/pycon/
    Steve Holden, Jan 19, 2006
    #17
  18. Paul Rubin

    Ben Guest

    Hi Paul,

    Dr MacKay was my information studies lecturer and 4th year degree
    project mentor at university, about 5 years ago, and I think that this
    book is basically the course notes we used then!

    He is an excellent lecturer, and if the book is as good as the course,
    it should be very interesting, particularly the error correcting stuff.

    Very off topic I know, but it's always interesting when two areas of
    interest collide (my time at university, and my love of python!)

    Cheers,
    Ben

    Paul Rubin wrote:
    > I came across this while looking up some data compression info today.
    >
    > David J.C. MacKay
    > Information Theory, Inference, and Learning Algorithms
    >
    > Full text online:
    > http://www.inference.phy.cam.ac.uk/mackay/itila/
    >
    > It's a really excellent book, on the level of SICP but about
    > information theory, probability, error correcting codes, etc. Very
    > readable, and geeky (in a good way) at the same time. The writing
    > style is perhaps along the lines of "Numerical Recipes", though the
    > format is more conventional.
    >
    > The whole text is online as a pdf, which is very nice. The printed
    > version is somewhat expensive, but according to the following analysis
    > it's a better bargain than "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone":
    >
    > http://www.inference.phy.cam.ac.uk/mackay/itila/Potter.html
    Ben, Jan 19, 2006
    #18
  19. On Wed, 18 Jan 2006 18:31:35 -0800
    (Alex Martelli) wrote:

    > Terry Hancock <> wrote:
    > ...
    > > > Nothing at all. But I still prefer tales of people who
    > > > have hacked their DVD players to be multi-region :)

    > >
    > > It isn't illegal in Canada anyway. And yes, it would be
    > > possible for me to pay a very high price to get a
    > > region-free player in the USA, but I'm certainly not
    > > going to.

    >
    > Me neither! I got mine for about $50 from a well-rated
    > web merchant, as I recall -- is that what you mean by "a
    > very high price"?


    My information may be out of date, but while I certainly
    feel there is nothing wrong with such a purchase, I think it
    may in fact be illegal. It doesn't sound like the seller is
    paying the royalty fees required to provide for all regions
    (they would be guilty of patent infringement, AFAIK).

    In many cases, these are actually after-market
    modifications, which may be illegal.

    Of course, you should rest assured that it is not *you* who
    is breaking the law in this case. As with "pirated" tapes
    and DVDs, it is the distributor, not the purchaser who can
    be prosecuted.

    There is also the point, that if the seller is not in the
    USA, they may be outside the jurisdiction of such laws, yet
    it may still be legal to import the products.

    But, IANAL, and this is one of the stickiest areas of the
    law, so I should hesitate even to speculate what the truth
    is here.

    It is also possible that the aforementioned royalty fees
    have been reduced since I last checked into this stuff.

    None of which changes my opinion that "region coding" is an
    evil conspiracy or that the DMCA is just plain wrong.

    --
    Terry Hancock ()
    Anansi Spaceworks http://www.AnansiSpaceworks.com
    Terry Hancock, Jan 19, 2006
    #19
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