04 April 2016

Softwarization: a matter of mathematical thinking. And beyond ?

It is often argued that “Softwarization” (and Hardware commoditization) combined with the “algorithmic revolution” will create the conditions  for the development of the so-called “platform economy”.

As a matter of fact, what we are witnessing is a progressing transformation of telecommunications infrastructures into “software-based fabrics” of (almost) standard hardware capable of enabling verticals platforms of platforms (e.g., providing services for IoT, Robotics, Industry4.0, Tactile Internet, etc.). With this plastic “software-based fabrics” it is expected it will be possible to chain network functions and services, to execute and orchestrated them on virtual resources, from the Cloud to the Fog.

On the other hand, deep inside in this “software-based fabrics” there will be a “fabric of algorithms”, so the core of this transformation will be mathematics. Software is obviously the most used instrument to implement said mathematics, today.

So, mathematics will be language, computation will be about executing said language (coded in software), storage will be about saving the related exchanged information and, eventually and networking will be about creating relationships between, combining – at almost zero latency - said sets of functions and services.

This morning I stumbled upon this very interesting paper arxiv.org/abs/1603.06371, The Classical Origin of Modern Mathematics.

The aim of this paper is to study the historical evolution of mathematical thinking and its spatial spreading.  They have identified two important transitions in the 20th century.  A first occurred between 1930 and 1940, when the disciplines of statistics and probability merged and began to attract other applied fields, such as information theory, game theory, and statistical mechanics. The result was the emergence of the field of applied mathematics. The second transition occurred between 1970 and 1980, when computer science and statistics merged to form one community (see this link).

That’s amazing. It appear that mathematical evolution is not made of smooth transitions, but instead, it is a maelstrom, characterized by tipping points, I’d say like “phase transitions” in complex systems.

That’s a law of Nature. My guess is that the next transition is about occurring in front of us. Current technology drivers (e.g., what’s behind Softwarization) are steering computer science, Artificial Intelligence and Applied Mathematics for networks to merge into a new community. This will have far reaching socio-economic implications for the Digital Society and Economy !

Beyond that, the next frontier, will be realizing that human mind is not at all “algorithmic” (by the way as remarkably argued by K. Godel), and that will be a much more impactful revolution, based on a new theory of information !    

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