Bigelow’s 14 Maxims for Ideal Prognosticators, from George Dyson’s Turing’s Cathedral


An excerpt:

Bigelow compiled a list of fourteen “Maxims for Ideal Prognosticators” starting with MIP 1: “Make all observations in same coordinate system as will finally be used by the gun-pointer.”

Maxims 2–4 advised separating the available information into that needed immediately and that needed later, while Maxim 5 added that “if noise is ever to be filtered from signal, it must be done at the earliest possible stage rather than after the two are tangled with other noises and signals, for the same reason that repeater stations are used on a signal line rather than filters and amplifiers at the ends.”

Maxim 7 advised “Never estimate what may be accurately computed”; Maxim 8 advised “Never guess what may be estimated”; and, if a guess was absolutely necessary, “Never guess blindly” was Maxim 9.

Maxims 10 through 14 specified how to implement optimal prediction when the target “has the character of a Brownian motion impressed upon a resonator system.” Existing methods of tracking a target’s changing position “of necessity refers it to an irrelevant point of observation thus destroying its fundamental symmetry,” while an ideal predictor should assume that the target obeys the conservation laws of physics “upon which is superimposed a random modulation symmetrical in time.”

The Wiener-Bigelow debomber would model the behavior of the airplane within the frame of reference belonging to the airplane, rather than referring it to that of the observer on the ground.

Dyson, George (2012-03-06). Turing’s Cathedral: The Origins of the Digital Universe (pp. 112-113). Random House, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

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