Wednesday, March 5, 2014

I MUST be Michael Jordan


Long, long ago I was watching "Numbers" on TV.  This was a TV series based on a Geek helping out the FBI.  Anyway, the Geek and his brother is outside playing basketball in the driveway.  The geek proposes a hypothesis; "I am Michael Jordan.  (Not the name he used but close enough for this story.) If I am Michael then I can get around you and score a two point basket." He does it and scores.  Ergo, he must be Michael Jordan.

His brother says, "No, that just shows that I still fall for the same old head fake that you've been using since grade school."  The Geek then explains to brother that what this demonstrates is not that the test failed, but that the hypothesis was wrong.

It actually had to do with fingerprints and a hypothesis that I had never really considered.  First, that fingerprint identification is an art form, not a science.  We don't really KNOW that no two fingerprints are alike BECAUSE we have never actually tested all 7 billion persons on the plant.  And with ten fingers (on average) per person that means comparing 7B*7B*10 fingerprints.  Mathematically, 7*10^9 * 7*10^9* 10 = around 49*10^19 fingerprint comparisons to validate this theory!  Anyway, what we have done is test a sample and "ASSUME" that the hypothesis is correct.  [I really like this show.  One of the few on TV that tries to explain logic to the masses.]

Epiphany:  How many rules are written with the same wrong hypothesis.  And how many rulebased systems, aka BRMS, are out there running faulty logic BECAUSE we, the true geeks, don't make the BA's explain in depth why that hypothesis HAS to be true and no other explanation can exist.  I can think of a couple of systems that had those problems before we came along and every time I got that "eye roll" that said, "You're a geek.  You don't understand business.  I should not have to explain this to you."

Anyway, just something to think about on a slow week- night.  :-)

Thanks to Diana Forgy for correcting my population calculations and my math earlier!!  :-)