When a concept is inherently approximate, it is a waste of time to try to give it a precise definition.

-- John McCarthy

Thus, whenever you look in a computer science textbook for an algorithm which only gives approximate results, you will find that the algorithm itself is very vaguely specified, since the result is just an approximation anyway.

(I would have said: "When a concept is inherently fuzzy, it is a waste of time to give it a definition with a sharp membership boundary.")

Rationality Quotes August 2013

by Vaniver 1 min read2nd Aug 2013736 comments


Another month has passed and here is a new rationality quotes thread. The usual rules are:

  • Please post all quotes separately, so that they can be upvoted or downvoted separately. (If they are strongly related, reply to your own comments. If strongly ordered, then go ahead and post them together.)
  • Do not quote yourself.
  • Do not quote from Less Wrong itself, HPMoR, Eliezer Yudkowsky, or Robin Hanson. If you'd like to revive an old quote from one of those sources, please do so here.
  • No more than 5 quotes per person per monthly thread, please.