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[Computational Complexity] Probability

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  • Lance Fortnow
    On Saturday, Terrence Fine gave a talk on probability at a workshop at Northwestern. Before the talk he asked who thought probability was subjective (an
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 5, 2011
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      On Saturday, Terrence Fine gave a talk on probability at a workshop at Northwestern. Before the talk he asked who thought probability was subjective (an individual's belief in the chance of an event) or a frequentist (a probability represents what happens if an experiment can be repeated many times). Someone noticed I didn't raise my hand either time so I said that I had a computational point of view of probability, since I have a computational point of view of everything.

      I didn't mean computation as in Turing machine but as a process. A process that creates events according to some distribution. How does this process work? I don't care. That's the beauty of computational thinking, we abstract out the notion of probability and just make use of it. I've written papers on quantum computation having no idea of the physical processes that create entanglement. I study nondeterministic computation where we have no physical counterpart. Probability works the same way, at least for me.

      My contribution to the workshop was to explain Kolmogorov complexity, the universal distribution and its relationship to inductive learning to the mostly economics crowd. Perhaps I could have explained things a bit more clearly as one econ student said to me afterwards "You lost me at prefix free". 


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      Posted By Lance Fortnow to Computational Complexity at 12/05/2011 08:30:00 AM
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