"Infinite" in the context of IoT

June 21, 2018 Gene Frantz, Octavo Systems

This is part ten of a series. Read part nine here.

Infinite has always been a hard concept for me to grasp. When I realized that what we, as an industry, were touting that the "cloud" in "cloud computing" had:

  • Infinite performance
  • Infinite bandwidth
  • Total security (can I say infinite security?)

I was somewhat concerned that we were selling more capability than we could provide. So, with that realization, I began to tell people that we were advertising "infinite performance, infinite bandwidth, and total security, all of which were over-stated.” As this seemed a bit harsh of a statement, I would continue the discussion with, “But, if you can continue to overstate another year, there is money to be made.” (See the previous blog if you haven’t already done so.)

What I was suggesting in this two part comment is that my personal vision of cloud computing was that it would always provide me more performance, more bandwidth, and better security than I would ever need. And, just as Moore’s Law drove the semiconductor industry with what seemed to be an impossible future, it seems we can assume we can create an infinitely high performance, high bandwidth, and total security for IoT. Therefore we (I) should buy into the cloud concept and use it for everything we (I) could think of. After all, it is a huge cloud.

Once I was comfortable with the term “infinite” when associated with cloud computing, I began to formulate a working definition of “infinite.” I realized that on a personal level, infinite performance meant just a bit more performance than I needed.  It then became obvious that the practical definition of infinite bandwidth meant just a bit more bandwidth than I needed. Finally, it followed that as long as security kept ahead of those trying to take my stuff, it was as if I had total (infinite) security.

It seems appropriate at this point for me tell you a couple of stories of how I came to grips with the term "infinity." The first story is one out of my days of learning geometry. It has to do with the tangent. If I looked at a graphical representation of the function (below), I noted that at 90 degrees, the value of the tangent was either positive infinity or negative infinity depending from which direction it was plotted. Plotting from zero degrees to 90 degrees, the value becomes positive infinity at 90 degrees. But plotting the value from 180 degrees back to 90 degrees, it becomes negative infinity. Therefore, in my mind, at 90 degrees, positive infinity equals negative infinity. Therefore, it is a circle of existence.

A second story relates back to an evening dinner I had with a friend who is the CEO of a company named CNOGA (look them up – they are doing some neat medical stuff). We were discussing the theological topic of how the universe was created. His answer was, "Zero." I found this a bit of a cryptic response and asked for further explanation. “If you add up all of the numbers from minus infinity to plus infinity," he said, "the answer is zero.”  Simply put, for every positive number, there is an exact negative number. So when all possible numbers are added together, the answer is zero. His thought on the universe was that perhaps there existed an exact negative of the universe we live in. Now before you take a position one way or another on the theological or scientific aspect of his comment, let me assure you it made my understanding of infinity clearer. But, then, didn’t change my nor his theological or scientific position on the creation of the universe.

Now how about some questions:

  1. Assuming you have had the same issue with the concept of “infinite” as I have had, what was your solution on how to deal with it?
  2. Does my practical definition of “infinite” make sense to you?  Explain you answer.


Gene Frantz is Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer at Octavo Systems.







 

Read part eleven of the series here.

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