Thursday, September 20, 2018

Only the Big Ideas #3 — Biology, Comp. Sci., Bias, Systems Thinking

Surfacing big ideas from big disciplines
10 mental models this week. Read on below for the articles and mental model definitions:
  • Technical Debt
  • Occam’s Razor
  • Antifragility
  • Refactoring
  • Power Laws
  • Preferential Attachment
  • Sensitivity to Initial Conditions
  • Effort Justification
  • Endowed Progress Effect
  • Systems Thinking

a16z — Biology, the New (Old) Technical Debt… and What That Means for Healthcare Innovation

Technical debt is a concept in programming that reflects the extra development work that arises when code that is easy to implement in the short run is used instead of applying the best overall solution. (TechnopediaCarnegie Mellon)
When presented with competing hypotheses to solve a problem, one should select the solution with the fewest assumptions (Wikipedia)
put another way: There are two parts that are considered the basis of Occam’s razor:
  • The Principle of Plurality — Plurality should not be posited without necessity
  • The Principle of Parsimony — It is pointless to do with more what is done with less (Howstuffworks)
Anti-fragile systems love randomness and uncertainty; going beyond resilience or robustness, they get stronger with stress and volatility (Harvard Business Review)
a change made to the internal structure of software to make it easier to understand and cheaper to modify without changing its observable behavior (Martin Fowler)

New York Times — Is Justin Timberlake a Product of Cumulative Advantage?

a relationship between two things in which a change in one thing can lead to a large change in the other, regardless of the initial quantities (Farnam Street)
put another way: a functional relationship between two quantities, where a relative change in one quantity results in a proportional relative change in the other quantity, independent of the initial size of those quantities: one quantity varies as a power of another (Wikipedia)
When a new node joins a network, it is more likely to connect to a conspicuous, high-degree node than an obscure, low-degree node. In other words, the rich get richer and the hubs get hubbier (Quanta)
This is in contrast to fitness, which is a “fit-get-richer” effect, whereby the ability of individuals in a population to acquire a given quantity is determined by intrinsic qualities. (Joint estimation of preferential attachment and node fitness in growing complex networks)
A system’s sensitivity to initial conditions refers to the role that the starting configuration of that system plays in determining the subsequent states of that system. When this sensitivity is high, slight changes to starting conditions will lead to significantly different conditions in the future. Sensitive dependence on initial conditions is a defining property of chaos in dynamical systems theory. (Santa Fe Institute)

The Ikea Effect

Effort justification is a person’s tendency to attribute value to an outcome, which they had to put effort into achieving, greater than the objective value of the outcome (Wikipedia)
The endowed progress effect is the idea that if you provide some type of artificial advancement toward a goal, a person will be more motivated to complete the goal (Zapier blog)

Bloomberg — The Crisis Was in the System

A school of thought that focuses on recognizing the interconnections between the parts of a system and synthesizing them into a unified view of the whole (The Systems Thinker)