Apparently William Dembski, over at Uncommon Descent is *not* happy with my review of

Behe’s new book. He pulls out a rather pathetic bit of faux outrage: “Are there any anti-ID writings that the Panda’s Thumb won’t endorse?”

The outrage really comes off badly. But what’s Debski and his trained attack dog DaveScott try to smear me for my alleged lack of adequate credentials to judge the math of Behe’s argument.

This is rich. Michael Behe, a *biochemist*, writes a book that makes sloppy mathematical arguments – which is, in fact, built around a primarily mathematical argument. But there’s never so much as a peep questioning whether or not Behe is qualified to make a mathematical argument. But let a lowly computer scientist *dare* to criticize the glaring and obvious errors in his argument, and suddenly, it’s all about credentials.

Sorry guys, but that’s not how math or science work. Credentials don’t matter in math. What matters is the validity of your arguments. Behe makes a claim based on an *unvalidated* mathematical model. I laid out a very clear critique of Behe’s arguments on mathematical grounds, showing why Behe’s model is invalid. It’s that simple. If you don’t like my critique, if you think that it’s not fair, the only real response is to respond *to my arguments* by showing where I’m wrong. I didn’t respond to Behe by saying “He’s not a mathematician, he’s a biochemist: how dare he write a mathematical argument!” I wrote a careful critique laying out point by point what’s wrong with his argument.

Dembski and DaveScott can’t stand that – but they also can’t actually *respond* to the substance of my arguments. So they have to pretend outrage.

But where it gets particularly funny is when DaveScott tries to do a background search on me:

>To others – Carroll’s doctoral thesis was in the construction of compilers for general

>purpose parallel processing. Presumbly his position at Google Inc. is in the same area.

>There’s very little in the way of math in compiler design but it’s certainly heavily

>related to programming – it’s hard to imagine anything more involved with programming and

>less involved with math.

First, it’s “Chu-Carroll”. I’ve *never* been able to understand why people have *such* trouble with a hyphenated name. To do a publication search on me, he *had* to use Chu-Carroll. Every search result (except for my very first paper, which was written before I got married) has “Chu-Carroll” for the last name. My thesis has “Chu-Carroll”. My old IBM website has “Chu-Carroll”. My blog has “Chu-Carroll”. Every citation of my work cites it as “Chu-Carroll”. So where does this need to chop off the “Chu” come from? Why is the clear and obvious record that I use “Chu-Carroll” as my last name not sufficent for someone like DaveScott? (Sorry, I know it’s off-topic, but it’s a pet peeve.)

Davescott clearly isn’t qualified to judge much of anything about compiler design. It is, in fact, an extremely mathematical field of computer science. You see, what you do working on an optimizing compiler is that to figure out what information is expressed in the static semantics of a program, and then use that to do performance-improving transformations transformations that *provably* don’t alter program semantics. It’s a field which is highly dependent on things like lattice theory, domain theory, graph theory, and denotational semantics. Parallel compilation also generally involves a fair bit of linear algebra and sometimes vector analysis.

What’s more, if Davescott had bothered to find out a teeny tiny bit about my dissertation, he would found that the main contribution of it is something called the parallel continuation graph: a mathematical representation of parallel computation in terms of a π-calculus inspired variation of continuation-passing form compilation. The neat thing about the PCG is that many parallel performance optimizations could be expressed via simple graph restructurings. I’m quite proud of that dissertation; I still think the PCG is incredibly cool. And I challenge anyone to argue that proving that the transformation of source code into the PCG was semantically valid, and the proofs of the validities of graph-based program transformations was “very little in the way of math”.

> For someone who’s been in commercial computer R&D for over 10

>years Carroll’s patent portfolio (2 patents, sole inventor on one of those) is abysmal

>especially for an uber patent-house like IBM where he spent most of his time so far.

> He’s

>got a fair number of journal publications but that’s a metric for academicians not

>industry.

> Both the patents were in client-server networking i.e. zero math content. I

>generated twice that many patents in half the time and I was just a non-degreed senior

>systems engineer. Even that was still short of my performance plan target which called for

>being a named inventor on two patent submissions per year.

Bzzzt. Wrong. Industry actually quite likes publications. The mantra at IBM was that there are three things that IBM wants to see from researchers: papers, patents, and products. To be successful, you need to be generating at least two. I was mostly a papers and products guy. (Personally, I don’t like software patents; 14 year monopolies on software concepts seems completely unreasonable to me, so I didn’t file them unless I had to. You see, DaveScott, some of us have this quaint idea about this thing called “ethics”. I realize that’s probably a foreign idea to someone who works on a DI site.)

What’s funny about this is that once again, Davescott blows it by not bothering to read. Because the second of those two patents – granted 1 week before I left IBM – is on *search*: source code search optimization based on a kind of multidimensional vector analysis. You assign program fragments to locations in a many-dimensional search space, and then find things that are close to a particular search vector. (And why the patent there? Because there are *so* many patents in IR that you have to file as a matter of self-protection, to establish when you did the work, so that you’ll have a defense if someone else tries to file a patent that overlaps with it.) So in his attempt to smear me as unqualified of judging a mathematical argument based on search, he specifically mentions my work on search. Not super bright, Dave.