Saturday, May 31, 2008

Semantic Vectors Revisited (for 31 bucks!)

Its been a while since I posted (been busy writing my new book) and even longer since I've posted any ideas related to my ideas on using concepts from linear algebra to model intelligence. But I thought I'd share an experience that makes me wonder how anything got done before the WWW!

While doing research on tensors for my book I came across a book called MathTensor: A System for Doing Tensor Analysis by Computer. This book describes software for Tensor Math developed using Mathematica so it instantly caught my interest. This lead me to one of the author's web sites which lead me to an article Tensor Analysis of Matrix Cognition during Medical Decision-Making. Now you can't put the words matrix and cognition next to each other without getting my immediate attention so I jumped to that essay which ultimately lead me to this gem: A scaling method for priorities in hierarchical structures by
Thomas L. Sattay written in the Journal Mathematical Psychology 1977; 15:234-281 (there is no online version but you can buy a PDF copy at ScienceDirect if you are willing to part with $31.

I found this research to be fascinating and gave me much food for thought that I'll try to share when I have more time. For now I'd only like to make the following rather obvious observation. If it was not for the web, there would be close to zero chance that I would have found this article and an even smaller chance I would be reading it within 15 mins of finding it. The only sad part is that it is locked up in some obscure journal that I did not have immediate access to without parting with the cost of a nice dinner. I think publishers of journals need to catch up with the rest of the world and begin opening up their older content to free access. Clearly they can use advertising to subsidize this but perhaps advertisement driven business models have reached a point of saturation. Perhaps its time for a library based approach to become virtualized.

I am sure I could find a library within a reasonable vicinity of my home that had access to this journal but who has the time! Why not offer a version that rather than costing $31 to keep forever, costs me $1 to read for a day and $0.50 for each additional day. DRM technology is certainly good enough to make this work. And I am guessing that the publishers would make more money than by waiting for someone like me who was motivated enough to part with $31. There is a vast amount of lost knowledge hiding in these journals. History has shown that the world benefits greatly when such knowledge is serendipitously rediscovered (think Gregor Mendel and his Bean Plants). Its time to unlock the vaults of knowledge so creativity and discovery can reach new unimagined heights!

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