About the Simulation

Mathematicians and Physicists have very precise meanings for most of what they talk about. The Simulation, however, has sloppy meaning even among the pros.

Often, the layperson will have a complete understanding of what a thing means. Length is a good example of a broadly agreed upon term. In a Euclidean space it is pretty intuitive. A 2D or 3D space, anyone can put a ruler up to a pair of points and measure the Length. When the Mathematician or Physicist goes all-in on length, though, they lose the layperson. The non-uniform measure of a Minkowski Space (the (3,1) Pseudo-Riemann Manifold with Einstein’s Gage Invariant Metric Tensor imposed) completely loses the Layman and they believe they can travel in time when they try to understand. But no Physicist or Mathematician ever gets lost in this concept.

The Simulation, however, has wildly varying ideas. As an Engineer, I would like to shed some light on this.

At one end of the pool, a simulation is a non-real world. It is fake, evanescent, and even malevolently run by some maniacal computer nerd who wants to Get Neo. At the other end of the pool, it is more simply a set of rules, run by an outside machine, that constrains the simulated entities. In Engineering, a Simulation is a very precisely defined thing.

  1. The Simulation is specifically created to reproduce, as precisely as desired, some Real thing.
    1. One corollary is that the “Real” thing might be only potentially real such as the “Life” game that John Conway created.
  2. The Simulation must be Run by some Simulator who cares about the simulated entities. Otherwise it wouldn’t be Run.
  3. The Simulation must run in an environment that is absolutely nothing like the simulated Real thing. If it was exactly like the Real Thing, then it would be … well … the Real Thing, just replicated.

What I’ve seen is a conversation that flouts these principles. For example, the Tom Campbell narrative proposes that the Simulators are Us, who exert Consciousness to modify, very subtly, the “Underlying reality that is more real than the Simulation”.

The movie, “The Matrix” et. al. propose that the Simulators are a (perhaps evil, perhaps merely opportunistic) mechano-computational lot who manipulate the “Real” beings with mistakes, glitches, in the Simulation.

The Physicists propose that The Simulation is a not-run-by-anyone set of rules that are a backdrop to the Apparent Illusion of a Physic. Einstein’s quote about Reality being a Persistent Illusion comes to mind.

I now propose to dump all of the above in “The Simulation” argument land and declare that Simulated or Not, reality is Reality whether “Simulated” ore “Real” and the differentiation between the two is pointless for the entities in the simulation.

  • Either the Simulation is infinitely precise, or it is imprecise.
  • Either the Simulation is run by an intentioned Simulator Entity or it is … well … just … Running.

If Infinitely precise, the it is totally indistinguishable from a Physic. I define “A Physic” as a system where the “Rules of Physics” are truly at the bottom of all behaviors.

If it is imprecise, then there will be glitches. Miracles could be glitches. Then, if there is a Simulator Entity who might insert non-rules behaviors then that would be would be, by definition, a Miracle.

If it is not intentionally run, then it is isomorphic to a Physic with those rules at the bottom of everything being the program of the Simulation. Those Simulator Engine rules are the “what’s at the bottom” below the quarks, electrons, gluons, photons etc. Once again, the Real vs. Simulation dividing line evaporates.

“Cogito ergo sum” is true, I am me, I think, I exist. Descartes hit it on the head that Simulated in a vat or not, he was real. I am real. Simulated vs. Real is pointless in this sense.

Unless you wish to escape the Simulation.

The Reality behind the Politics

We have this pair of labels in the US, Conservative (almost always Republican) and Liberal (almost always Democrat.) There are libertarians and communists, but those are fringe here.

I SAY that there are Relativists and there are Absolutists. Democrats are conservative Relativists and Republicans are conservative Absolutists.

The Absolutist believes that there is a God-defined best practice for all things in the universe. The Relativist believes that best practice is what we agree upon. Absolutists believe that following rules is a good thing. Relativists believe that judging every situation on its merits without looking to the law is a good thing.

A quick aside for Anarchy, Leadership and all that. Anarchy has been given a bad name by conflating it with Chaos. The Absolutist’s greatest nightmare is Chaos. The yin of that yang is Conformance vs. Fascism. Conformity has been given a bad name by conflating it with Fascism. The Relativists greatest nightmare is Blind-Following.

The cruelty of Absolutists is that non-conformists are marginalized. The cruelty of Relativists is that the over-achiever is penalized. The autistic, the artist, the one who doesn’t believe in consumerism is dis-incentivized. So now my position is revealed.

One perfect world would be the hive or colony. All members are identical, therefore there is never dissent. Dissent is uncomfortable, and in the hive it is perfectly acceptable to eat the dissenter. Voila! The discomfort of dissent is quickly gone.

There are a few hallmarks of Fascism:

  • Following the leader is paramount.
  • Simplifying the list of goals is highly valued.
  • Goals at the bottom of Maslow’s Hierarchy are considered most truthful.

Countering these points, we resort to the philosophers of history.

  • Think for yourself
  • Things should be as simple as possible, BUT NO SIMPLER.
  • Transcendent achievement is the ultimate goal.

There is another dividing line amongst the talking head pundits. That of practical goal setting. The practical bloke says … “well … that will never happen, so let’s set our sights on the achievable.” While the dreamer says … “I know it’s currently possible … but never lose sight.”

Noise and Guitar Pickups


The noise of a passive, linear, single-port circuit is a very simple thing. Single port needs explanation. Simple is a relative term.
Single port means that there is no other input to the circuit. For the pickup this is tricky since the ambient magnetic field of the world is, in fact, a significant port into the pickup. The electric field is a source, but not as strong. That stray-field source will be assumed to be set to zero for this discussion, but I will bring it back and analyze it in another post.
Simple means that, to someone who knows complex mathematics and the Johnson noise theory, it is simple. The pickup will be modeled as either an impedance or a conductance that has a series or parallel voltage source or current source that drives a noise signal. The six words you need to know are Impedance, Admittance, Resistance, Conductance, Reactance and Susceptance. There is a pretty good write-up at All About Circuits


So, it is obvious that you need to know the complex impedance, in detail, of the pickup. The real part, as proved by Shannon using Boltzmann, gives the noise source capability. It is an interesting footnote that it is called Johnson noise because J. B. measured the stuff. Then old Harry did the work to relate it to quantum theory. Along those lines and at roughly the same time, all this randomness was really important because Claude was really interested in how much telegraph data could be shoved through a wire over the background noise. It took 20 years from the resistor noise findings and the information part of the puzzle. But I digress.


Measuring a pickup’s impedance is no small feat. The impedance can get as high as a few Mega-Ωs … it is polluted by the cable that comes out of the pick (or worse, some folks won’t let you hack their guitar apart and you have to measure with tone and volume in the way – how rude!) then finally it is infected with noise that it … well … picks up. Oh, yeah, I almost forgot … the impedance is non-linear due to the iron in the middle so we have to be careful of that factor. The cable pollution is known in the network analysis world as measurement plane management and is a little tricksy to fix up. I have done this by hand and using built-in facilities of an impedance analyzer. The noise removal is (I am boldly stating based on theory, but you know how that goes) easier to remove.


Hewlett-Packard … er … Agilent … unh … Keysight have a really nice write-up on how to take the fixture plumbing out of a measurement. That plumbing is alternatively known as the test head, test adapter, harness. For a Guitar Pickup it isn’t much of anything, but we can also de-embed the hookup cable. How’s that for nice magic. The write-up correctly uses T-Parameter matrix mathematics to eliminate the effect-on-reading of the parasitics between the meter and the DUT. I mention that here so that you will know that I didn’t just hold my tongue right and fudge the numbers when I get around to presenting numbers.


Did you know that at the end of time, nothing … I mean nothing … correlates. OK, so I’m a drama queen. Formally, in the limit as time approaches infinity, the correlation between two arbitrarily close, but still distinct, sine wave signals is precisely 0.0. When it comes time to measure any sine stimulus, as long as it is a little bit away from interfering noise, integrate the sine multiplication (AKA a Goertzel Transform, just multiply by the I and Q of the frequency being tested) and you have the best estimate of phase and frequency of the KNOWN frequency component in the sample. This is the theory part. The math is true, but the practical problem of noise is what I worry about. I am hoping that I don’t have to go to … like … an hour per frequency point.

Rules of the Garage … revisited

It’s been a few years, but hear-up! All that stuff about not locking up the tools (q.v. Fiorina, Carly c. 1999 Rules of the Garage) is real nice, I like it. Here are a few more:

EVERYONE’s system is somebody else’s SubSystem.
EVERYONE’s system is somebody else’s Component.

EVERYONE’s output is somebody else’s input. (like … think requirement, specification, source, intermediate, binary …)
EVERYONE’s input is somebody else’s output.

THERE IS NO WIP, there is only deliverables.

There is only working status and issued status. (NEVER re-open something that you published and call it the same rev)

There is no major or minor change. If the change doesn’t affect anything then don’t make the change. If it affects something, then it isn’t minor. (I know, I know, this one needs tempering with the practical reality of expectation. People love to dismiss change, they hate change, so go ahead and call it minor.)

Don’t mistake revision advancement with maturity. Maturity can go backwards and forward. Revision can only advance. So only make one revision mark. Numeric, Alpha. DON’T use character set to differentiate maturity level.

That’s all I have to say for now.


I’m struggling with how to get a thing done. I’m not talking about mowing the law, I’m talking about dreams. I watched the story of Rick Hall … someone who wanted to be somebody.

He pushed really hard and got kicked out.  The guys who really succeeded (The Swampers) loved the music, but didn’t have some kind of chip to grind with an ax off of their shoulders.

So here I am.  Make it beautiful, don’t fuss too much about it, don’t worry about the mistakes.  But never settle.