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Math Science

Breakthrough In Drawing Complex Venn Diagrams: Goes to 11 83

00_NOP writes "Venn diagrams are all the rage in this election year, but drawing comprehensible diagrams for anything more than 3 sets has proved to be very difficult. Until the breakthrough just announced by Khalegh Mamakani and Frank Ruskey of the University of Victoria in Canada, nobody had managed to draw a simple (no more than two lines crossing), symmetric Venn diagram for more than 7 sets (only primes will work). Now they have pushed that on to 11. And it's pretty too."
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Breakthrough In Drawing Complex Venn Diagrams: Goes to 11

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  • by Lord Lode ( 1290856 ) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @09:06AM (#40963937)

    Visually, you don't really get fast useful information out of it, it's too hard to map a certain part of it to exactly which 11 regions it contains...

  • beautiful (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gsgriffin ( 1195771 ) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @09:14AM (#40963965)
    But useless
  • by Havenwar ( 867124 ) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @09:20AM (#40964001)

    The entire point of a venn diagram is a quick overview to easily be able to get an understanding about how things overlap, in what amounts and what areas. The diagrams on the linked page might be pretty, but they are in no way useful, and I doubt anyone would get more information out of it than reading the datalist it was compiled from.

  • Its art (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @09:23AM (#40964013) Homepage Journal

    At that level its just a shiny object with no substance.

    But then again, with what goes on in the political world these days perhaps it's appropriate.

  • by gmuslera ( 3436 ) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @09:34AM (#40964081) Homepage Journal
    There is the limitation of the media and the limitation of the receiver. With the appropiate culture, you could see blondes, brunettes and redheads in falling letters.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 12, 2012 @10:09AM (#40964225)

    I hope yours is just a snide remark, but, just so no one is confused, the mathematicians who did this were definitely NOT trying to display information graphically. Their may be (useful) implications of this research, but there was never an intent that it be for some kind of typography.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 12, 2012 @10:30AM (#40964305)

    I agree that the 11-Venn is fairly useless as a PowerPoint slide, but Slash Dotters of all people should understand that pure mathematics often leads to applied mathematics. For example, suppose this new finding leads to improved approaches to signal multiplexing, so that you can have billions more 8G cell phones and thousands more channels of nothing-to-watch on cable and satellite TV. Or perhaps it will lead to more advanced neural networks, so that we can get Cyberdyne Systems and SkyNet up and running. Or maybe it will even lead to advances in political science that give rise to governments that are actually capable of serving the people they govern. One just never knows...

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @11:19AM (#40964605) Journal
    Many seemingly pointless exercises in math lead to surprising breakthroughs. Graph partitioning is a very active area of research. Imagine creating an index on a ultra large database with pairwise "and" condition on many pairs of fields. Then finding multiple "and" or "or" condition based records within minimal traversing and merging of the index files. Who knows it might actually lead to dramatic speed ups of queries in large data bases.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 12, 2012 @12:20PM (#40965025)

    "Simple Venn diagrams" are mathematical objects with certain properties. Constructing such an 11-Venn is an impressive feat and adds significantly to the body of mathematical knowledge surrounding these objects. This is an example of mathematical research.

    Taking an idea, extending it, and applying it to other things is what mathematicians do. They are not struggling to understand the purpose of the original definition; instead they are leaving those of you who do not have such capacity for abstract thinking behind. In this case, you are missing the point.

  • by Immerman ( 2627577 ) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @02:06PM (#40965805)

    You've just run head on into the difference between targeted and foundational (or "blue-sky") research. Foundational research almost by definition has no particular application. Why do we care about the Higgs Boson? Why did we care about the electron? Or the neutron? No one had any concrete ideas for applications of any of them at the time - they were just trying to better understand the rules that govern the universe.

    Mathematics research is almost all blue-sky, but it's even more fundamental than physics since it the landscape is a construct of rigorous logic built on a foundation of a few of the simplest and most universally accepted rules, and the results apply to anything whose mathematical description can contorted into a compatible format, regardless of the original subject area.

  • Re:Its art (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 12, 2012 @03:57PM (#40966627)

    Interestingly, these more complex venn diagrams are going in the opposite direction that politics keeps moving in maturing democracies. Voters may prefer only a 2 set diagram this coming election:

    The ability for complex thought is certainly not determined by reading level, but it is a good warning indicator. Politicians are steadily creating ever simpler arguments to appeal to those who are willing to give them sanction for their actions. While it certainly makes the task of identifying the flaws in the arguments easier, it also implies that attempts to point out those errors will fall upon uncomprehending ears. There is a point at which an argument cannot be further simplified without destroying the content of the argument. At some point, certain arguments can no longer reach people due to the nature of their complexity. At that point, the argument itself must be abandoned and instead one must first correct the ability to think before returning to the task of correcting the understanding of a particular point.

    I run into this all the time. I find that I am more often correcting people on basic definitions and destroying bromides(propositions held without justification, accepted without thought) in their minds. I cannot even get to the meat of the subject because I have to deal with faulty reasoning methodologies first. I cannot speak on economics until I've gone back to deal with misunderstandings of epistemology, explaining the error in misusing the natural scientific method to justify some policy for effects it supposedly has by virtue of the fact that conditions were of some state while said policy was in effect(ignoring any attempt to control all the other countless variables that were also operating at the time). I cannot speak on philosophy and ethics until I've first dealt with misunderstandings of appeals to incidental and limited effect, where the outcome is subjectively valued differently by different actors and begs the question of any objective standard, while trying to point out when and where objectivity does exist in the universally preferable behaviors of men.

    Going back to this level of reasoning before returning to the actual point would be a dream for me. More often, I must define the most basic of terms like statism, the initiation of violence, and so on. Just trying to get people to stop calling random politicians a socialist or whatever other ideology is tough enough. I can talk about the central violent control of the means of production within a geographical region all I want, but some people cannot see the economic fascism at all. I can point out that even the closest thing to it(like North Korea) still uses money and has markets but still many think the northern European so called social democracies(which have far more voluntary market exchange between peaceful individuals) are anything close to socialism. I can point out the degree of self ownership such places foster is comparable to the US and yet I see unending claims that America is capitalist while much of Europe is not. I can point to the degree of fascistic controls dominating the markets in the US only to be met with blank stares. It is entirely frustrating. The ability to think critically on these topics is absent in a large number of people. I do not think it is complete however. I suspect these blatant gaps in reasoning are exclusive to certain contentious and traumatic thoughts and experiences. Many wonderfully smart people exhibit these problems. It isn't an issue of a persons overall ability to think. This suggests that the next level down we must go to address this sort of inflicted thoughtlessness is in the realm of the psychological. One cannot reason a person out of a position they reached by means other than reason. If a man is indoctrinated, one cannot expect him to be rational about the subject. One must address the source of his ailment, not the symptom. So, my final long winded and off topic point is that to deal with the problem of stupidity in voters, you must deal with their mental blocks first, then show them how to reason, then explain the actual subject at hand. No small task at all...

Practical people would be more practical if they would take a little more time for dreaming. -- J. P. McEvoy