Software Musings

Archive for June 2014

There is a short paragraph that has been puzzling me. It comes from the article “The Strangest Numbers in String Theory” by John C Baez and John Huerta, collected in “The Best Writing on Mathematics 2012” which I bought last November in a bookshop in Sydney, Australia—a bookshop of the type that no longer seems to exist in Canada.

The paragraph runs

“A while ago, David Gross, one of the world’s leading experts on string theory, put the odds of seeing some evidence for supersymmetry at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider at 50 percent. Sceptics say they are much less. Only time will tell.”

It is the last sentence that I have been struggling with: the idea of whether time will be able to tell us whether the probability is 50 percent or something much less.

The use of the term “odds” seems to indicate that the authors were thinking of a Bayesian rather the Frequentist model of probability and certainly that would be the only way to compute a prior probability: P(A) = P(A|B}P(B) / P(B|A). However, I still don’t see how to incorporate the time element into the equation.

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Disclaimer

The author of this blog used to be an employee of Nortel. Even when he worked for Nortel the views expressed in the blog did not represent the views of Nortel. Now that he has left, the chances are even smaller that his views match those of Nortel.