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02-16-2011 - CRC

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Programmers often deal with memory and error checking algorithms. These functions help the program run efficiently and without error. More than that, they are, or can be, an integral part of the solution. The different modules in an application could be called loosely analogous to the brain's architecture and memory management and error checking are part of our internal processing.

When a program crashes it can be due to conflicting memory addresses, data corruption, bad data, bad syntax, bad logic or a combination of the above. It can also be due to hardware failure. Programs can vary greatly in design even within the same application. This is necessary when, for example, you have a program running another program, or several programs, as in the case of operating systems. As you could guess, there are an extremely large number of variables and processes going on all at once and tracking down errors can be an art form; the apparent error is not always easily traceable.

Without going into the list of mental disorders resulting from brain abnormalities and/or imbalances, many of them appear similar regarding cause vs. external indications in comparison to a computer system running an OS hosting multiple applications each with their own subroutines utilizing shared and private memory locations. Whereas computers are well understood, the brain is not. This is why psychology and psychiatry are not exact sciences and why their efficacy is still hotly debated.

What if a program did not properly store data in the proper location? Have you seen 50 First Dates? If a program gets caught in an infinite loop caused by an unsatisfied condition it could be compared to insanity or obsessive-compulsive disorders; insanity being defined as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result every time. More nebulous errors seem to have drugs thrown at them to mask the error instead of correcting the root cause.

If our brain and its constituent assemblages are the hardware and our mind along with instinct, as well as accumulated data, classifications and objectifications, represent the software, how do we define the manner in which we perform memory and error functions? There may be a few different aspects to explore.

Metamemory and metathinking (previously discussed), or the act of thinking about your memory and your thought processes, is a proactive way to minimize errors. It is something we do naturally but is an excellent way to improve performance.

There is a coding technique called recursion where a routine calls itself until a final condition is met. It can be one of the trickiest types of routine, but it is highly efficient and some problems can only be solved using this concept. Because of recursion's efficiency, potential simplicity and power I think it may be a method selected by evolution and hard-wired within the architecture of the brain. In essence, we as beings implement recursion by simply existing. Our minds have no "operator" sitting at a keyboard and must refer to ourselves to put things into context.

Context can be used to test our thoughts. This can be done by simply changing our point of view while simultaneously examining our "previously-held" beliefs. If nothing else, a high-level or outside perspective can shed much needed light on ambiguous circumstances.

Validation is accomplished through the acquisition of information which serves to confirm or discredit one's thoughts concerning a topic or mode of thought. We do this subconsciously, but it can and is actively employed.

May your CPU only taste good data and your drive remain defragmented.

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