Showing posts from June, 2019

Book review. Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World

This is a very recent book, released on May 28, 2019. I got drawn to this book due to its interesting and controversial title: "Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World". The blurb about the book says:
"If you take a closer look at the world's top performers, from professional athletes to Nobel laureates, you'll find that early specialization is the exception, not the rule.
[David Epstein] discovered that in most fields--especially those that are complex and unpredictable--generalists, not specialists, are primed to excel. Generalists often find their path late, and they juggle many interests rather than focusing on one. They're also more creative, more agile, and able to make connections their more specialized peers can't spy from deep in their hyperfocused trenches. As experts silo themselves further while computers master more of the skills once reserved for highly focused humans, people who think broadly and embrace diverse experiences and perspe…

Is this consensus?

The specification for consensus is as follows. The first two are safety properties, the last one a liveness property.
Agreement: No two node can commit different decisions.Validity (Non-triviality): If all initial values are same, nodes must commit that value.Termination: Nodes commit eventually. Below I talk about whether ABD or chain replication solve consensus, and whether it would be possible to implement state machine replication using them.

Does ABD solve consensus?

No, ABD does not solve consensus. I had written a summary of the ABD protocol in a 2012 post. And I had talked about why ABD is not consensus in a 2015 post. Below is a short recap of that followed by a discussion of whether ABD can still be employed to solve the state machine replication problem.

Consensus is prone to the FLP impossibility result, and it may lose progress under FLP conditions. In particular, for Paxos, if we can't determine whether the incumbent leader has failed in an asynchronous environment, t…

Book review. Loonshots: How to nurture the crazy ideas that win wars, cure diseases, and transform industries

This book, by Safi Bahcall, is about how to nurture radical breakthroughs in science and technology.

The book draws inspiration from the innovations Vannevar Bush made possible Office of Scientific Research and Development (OSRD), created in 1941, and the innovations Theodore N. Vail enabled at Bell.

OSRD's portfolio of accomplishments is impressive indeed. The war against Nazis is won through superiority in the field of science. The bombers' microwave radar cut through darkness and fog to detect German U-Boats, and rendered them ineffective in a matter of weeks.

The book compiles insights from the organizational principles Bush and Vail employed as Bush-Vail rules. The main concept here is of a dynamic equilibrium, where the organization maintains well-separated and equally strong loonshot and franchise groups (phase separation) continuously exchanging projects and ideas in both directions.

Summary of the The Bush-Vail rules

1. Separate the phases
separate your artists and soldie…

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