Tag Archives: categoricitis

Blockchain categoricitis 2, or life as an investor and a category theory fan

… or the unreasonable effectiveness of category theory in blockchain investments.

A year ago I wrote the post Blockchain categoricitis and now I see my prediction happening.

Categoricitis is the name of a disease which infects the predisposed fans of category theory, those which are not armed with powerfull mathematical antibodies. Show them some diagrams from the height of your academic tower, tell them you have answers for real problems and they will believe.

Case in point: RChain. See Boom, bust and blockchain: RChain Cooperative’s cryptocurrency dreams dissolve into controversy.

Yes, just another cryptocurrency story… Wait a moment, this one is different, because it is backed by strong mathematical authority! You’ll practically see all the actors from the GeekWire story mentioned in the posts linked further.

Look:

Guestpost at John Baez blog: RChain (archived)

“Programmers, venture capitalists, blockchain enthusiasts, experts in software, finance, and mathematics: myriad perspectives from around the globe came to join in the dawn of a new internet. Let’s just say, it’s a lot to take in. This project is the real deal – the idea is revolutionary […]”

RChain is light years ahead of the industry. Why? It is upholding the principle of correct by construction with the depth and rigor of mathematics.”

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Another one, in the same place: Pyrofex (archived). This is not a bombastic guestpost, it’s authored by Baez.

Mike Stay is applying category theory to computation at a new startup called Pyrofex. And this startup has now entered a deal with RChain.”

Incidentally (but which fan reads everything?) in the same post Baez is candid about computation and category theory.

“When I first started, I thought the basic story would be obvious: people must be making up categories where the morphisms describe processes of computation.

But I soon learned I was wrong: […] the morphisms were equivalence classes of things going between data types—and this equivalence relation completely washed out the difference, between, say, a program that actually computes 237 × 419 and a program that just prints out 99303, which happens to be the answer to that problem.

In other words, the actual process of computation was not visible in the category-theoretic framework.” [boldfaced by me]

(then he goes on to say that 2-categories are needed in fact, etc.)

In Applied Category Theory at NIST (archived) we read:

“The workshop aims to bring together two distinct groups. First, category theorists interested in pursuing applications outside of the usual mathematical fields. Second, domain experts and research managers from industry, government, science and engineering who have in mind potential domain applications for categorical methods.”

and we see an animation from the post  “Correct-by-construction Casper | A Visualization for the Future of Blockchain Consensus“.

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I never trusted these ideas. I had interactions with some of the actors in this story   (example) (another example), basically around distributed GLC . Between 2013-2015, instead of writing programs the fans of GLC  practically killed the distributed   GLC project  because it was all the time presented in misleading terms of agents and processes, despite my dislike. Which made me write chemlambda, so eventually that was good.

[hype] GLC and chemlambda are sort of ideal Lisp machines which you can cut in half and they still work. But you have to renounce at semantics for that, which makes this description very different from the actual Lisp machines.  [/hype]