I have mentioned several times my discomfort about "an operator"
as opposed to "the thing being operated on" when it comes to
groups. I am never quite sure just which of the two it is
that people are talking about, even (or especially) when I am listening
to myself talk. There is clearly an essential duality between the
two, but I am not sure I have quite a strong enough group theory
background to fully understand it. I am very comfortable when the
operators form a group, but I am not very comfortable when the things
being operated on form a group.
I am presently rereading (hopefully VERY SLOWLY
AND VERY CAREFULLY) Dan Hoey and Jim Saxe's seminal paper from
December 1980 entitled Symmetry and Local Maxima. Here is a quote
from their paper.
We will sometimes (particularly towards the end of this message)
take the liberty of identifying a transformation with the position
reached by applying that transformation to SOLVED.
Well, I am beginning to think that the source of my discomfiture
is simply that everybody does the same thing all the time, and that
nobody ever makes the identification explicit. However, I think that
maybe the duality is there, whether the identification is explicit,
implicit, or not made at all. Let me see if I can make clear what I
mean with some non-cubing programming examples.
When I first started computer cubing, I was struck by the fact that
(at least with my model of the cube), the computer code to implement
a permutation operation looked exactly like the computer code to
translate between various character codes. For example, I have had
frequent occasion to translate between ASCII and EBCDIC (in both
directions). The code to translate between the ASCII string X and
the EBCDIC string Y is something like
for i = 1 to n Y(i) = T(X(i))
where T is the translate table. To make this clear by an example,
the ASCII code for the letter A is decimal 33 and the EBCDIC code
for the letter A is decimal 193. Hence, the 33-rd position of T
contains decimal 193, and the 193-rd position of T' contains 33.
Beyond this simple little loop above, many (if not most) programming
languages have a function (often called TRANSLATE or TRANSFORM) which
does exactly the same thing. There are also hardware architectures
which implement the TRANSLATE in hardware. For example, you might
have something like
Y = TRANSLATE(X,T)
where X is the string to be translated and T is the translate table.
X and T are clearly not interchangeable as input to the TRANSLATE
function. However, (and repeating myself) I think there is an
essential duality between X and T. For example, consider what
would happen if you reversed the role of X and T as follows. Let X
be the hexadecimal string 010201020301020403. Then,
Y = TRANSLATE(X,' ABC') would yield the string ' A AB ACB'. Such
a role reversal for the "permutation operator" and "permutation operatee"
can be a very powerful programming technique. For example, I have
used it to redistribute data, creating well-formatted print lines or
well-formatted display screens (text mode) with one fell swoop (with
only a single invocation of the TRANSLATE function).
I am going to continue reading, but perhaps I could pose a question to
Dan Hoey anyway: is reversing the role of X and T in the TRANSLATE
function above essentially the same thing as switching between
pre-multiplication and post-multiplication?
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = Robert G. Bryan (Jerry Bryan) (304) 293-5192 Associate Director, WVNET (304) 293-5540 fax 837 Chestnut Ridge Road BRYAN@WVNVM Morgantown, WV 26505 BRYAN@WVNVM.WVNET.EDU
If you don't have time to do it right today, what makes you think you are
going to have time to do it over again tomorrow?