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Patent 5,893,120 Reduced To Pure Math 323

Posted by timothy
from the asking-to-be-reduced-to-bits-of-energy dept.
An anonymous reader writes "US Patent #5,893,120 has been reduced to mathematical formulae as a demonstration of the oft-ignored fact that there is an equivalence relation between programs and mathematics. You may recognize Patent #5,893,210 as the one over which Google was ordered to pay $5M for infringing due to some code in Linux. It should be interesting to see how legal fiction will deal with this. Will Lambda calculus no longer be 'math'? Or will they just decide to fix the inconsistency and make mathematics patentable?"
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Patent 5,893,120 Reduced To Pure Math

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  • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Sunday May 01, 2011 @03:02PM (#35992172)
    The problem is the definition of "implementation." If I patent, say, linear discriminant analysis, and implement it using C++, what did I get a patent on? A C++ implementation? My own personal implementation? No, in the current patent system, I get a patent on any implementation -- or in other words, a patent on the mathematics itself, to within a particular interpretation of the variables and results of the computation.
  • by MightyMartian (840721) on Sunday May 01, 2011 @03:27PM (#35992320) Journal

    It is the central problem of allowing software patents. I think the parent has described why software patents are absurd as concisely as I have ever seen it done. In essence we're allowing the patenting of algorithms, which are at heart pure math. We are allowing the patenting of mathematics, because judges and juries are too fucking incompetent to understand the very basis of computational science. A fraud has been perpetrated on the legal systems of many countries, but rather than throw every single person who has sought a software patent in prison for fraud, we in fact reward them by permitting them to extort money. It's a travesty that very shortly is going to bring the entire industry to its knees. Once you start going after garbage-collected hash tables and refuse to recognize that such techniques are decades old, no one could hope to implement any kind of operating system or virtual machine or, fuck, most interpreters, without risking ending up having their asses sued off.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 01, 2011 @04:26PM (#35992670)

    "You can reduce any algorithm to a physical device that implements the algorithm."

    O RLY? Here's my algorithm:

    1. Build a device, call it Larry
    2. Bend the universe as a demonstration of what Larry should do.
    3. Sell this universe to another universe, also as a demonstration of what Larry should do.
    4. Deposit proceeds into a my offshore account. Explain to Larry that this step is very important.
    5. Make sure Larry knows that, for every 5th loop, he's to build a Larry clone which does this recursively, instead of just a normal iteration.
    6. Set Larry to work.

  • by Co0Ps (1539395) on Sunday May 01, 2011 @05:50PM (#35993226)

    When discussing the issue of software patents, one always refers to "computer system" implementations. Since the domain has already been selected it is perfectly acceptable to claim that the basis of a software patent can be reduced to pure mathematics without refuting your argument.

  • by Firethorn (177587) on Sunday May 01, 2011 @08:48PM (#35994254) Homepage Journal

    The Metal/Wood thing is something that the courts could get into, but the general argument in such a case is that they are effectively the same device.

    But I'll admit that it is sort of the same argument. In order for a device to not be infringing despite doing the same task it would have to do the task via a different method, and the question comes in whether said method is different enough.

    Personally I like the idea of making them come up with an actual device or implementation because I think it'd keep the patent trolls down - things like force feedback joysticks being held back for years because a company that has never produced one holds some patent on it; sure, they'll offer a license, but no technological help. They might of patented the idea of a control mechanism with a feedback loop, but they didn't do anything else to actually develop it.

    Another one I remember has something to do with social media sites - and the company that did the patent doesn't run a social media site.

We gave you an atomic bomb, what do you want, mermaids? -- I. I. Rabi to the Atomic Energy Commission