The original function of academic publishers was to disseminate information. Then a quality control element came in (via the refereeiing system). Now the internet has totally removed the original function. It should not be beyond the scientific community to work out some kind of quality control method for online publishing at a tiny fraction of the cost of today’s journals, and end the iniquity of signing away copyright in our own work.

]]>Thanks for pointing us to this book.

I will certainly give it a read especially since I teach a graduate

course on Bayesian Data Analysis here at the University at Albany and

new perspectives on the history will be useful.

It is disappointing that the Cox-Jaynes thread in the history is

missing since it is the one that I have found that has led to *deep

understanding*. I was at a NASA meeting a few years ago and a person

(a good guy who I will not name) from the ISBA crowd gave a tutorial

and at the end mentioned several introductory texts. Absent from the

tutorial was any mention of Cox, Jaynes, etc. I spoke up and

mentioned this important thread (which as you probably know led to

many of us at NASA Ames: Cheeseman, Stutz, Scargle, Wolpert, myself,

etc.). I also mentioned Devinder’s text as particularly accessible

and useful, as well as MacKay’s, Gregory’s and Bretthorst’s. I also

recall at the ISBA meeting in Chile in 2004 or so Arnold Zellner

scolding the crowd for neglecting 1/2 of the picture: entropy and

information. As revered as he was by that community, his outburst was

laughed off as the rantings of a crazy old man.

Sad really.

As John Skilling can attest, I myself have found Cox’s insights to be

profound. I have taken them ever so seriously and with surprising and

delightful results. The lesson I have taken away is that all one

needs to do is quantify the order in what you are looking at.

Consistent quantification may not be useful, but it can’t be wrong!

This makes it a great place to start. The result is that the

constraint equations enforcing consistent quantification will result

in the laws that govern the quantified system. This is precisely why

laws reflect an underlying order—laws derive from that order.

This idea of generalizing an algebra has led not only to a theory of

questions (which, for those of you who have been following, I now

understand how to handle properly), but also has led several of us

(Goyal, Skilling and myself) to a derivation of the Feynman rules of

quantum mechanics based on similar symmetries (inspired, in part, by

the earlier works of Tikochinsky, Gull and Caticha), as well as a

novel derivation of special relativity and the geometry and

dimensionality of space (which was quite unexpected and quite unlike

anything I have yet found):

Goyal, Knuth, Skilling, Phys Rev A, 2010 (

http://pra.aps.org/abstract/PRA/v81/i2/e022109 )

Goyal, Knuth, Symmetry 2011 ( http://www.mdpi.com/2073-8994/3/2/171/ )

Knuth, Bahreyni 2010 ( http://arxiv.org/abs/1005.4172 )

Skilling, Knuth 2010 ( http://arxiv.org/abs/1008.4831 )

Propelled and emboldened by these advances, my colleague Keith Earle

and myself (the most unlikely of suspects, as neither of us are

theorists by training) are working on a derivation of the Dirac equation and have already obtained new insights as well as a glimpse into how to handle both electromagnetism and gravity in concert with quantum mechanics. Keith is working from the middle up ( http://arxiv.org/abs/1102.1200 ) and I am working from the bottom to the middle. This is what I mainly am focused on now.

At this point in time, the ideas of Cox have inspired us to derive far more than probability theory!

Bayes was just the beginning.

Cox and Jaynes, taken seriously, have led to deep understanding and

their insights have now taken us light-years beyond statistics.

(I haven’t even begun to mention the advances in Maximum entropy)

Don’t despair, THE BOOK hasn’t been written yet.

I seriously feel that in the long run, this thread through the long

story of probability will turn out to be the most amazing one!

Cheers

Kevin Knuth