Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Offloading to the more powerful hardware

Posted by Danny Tarlow
MIT's Street-fighting Mathematics course has a section on Picture Proofs. I like the visual (no pun intended) of thinking of our minds as computers and offloading CPU calculations to the GPU. From the intro to the chapter:
Do you ever walk through a proof, understand each step, yet not believe the theorem, not say ‘Yes, of course it’s true’? The analytic, logical, sequential approach often does not convince one as well as does a carefully crafted picture. This difference is no coincidence. The analytic, sequential portions of our brain evolved with our capacity for language, which is perhaps 10^5 years old. Our pictorial, Gestalt hardware results from millions of years of evolution of the visual system and cortex. In comparison to our visual hardware, our symbolic, sequential hardware is an ill-developed latecomer. Advertisers know that words alone do not convince you to waste money on their clients’ junk, so they spend zillions on images. This principle, which has higher applications, is the theme of this chapter.

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