Predictions: Past And Future
Predictions: the 2010 results and the new ones for 2011
Michel de Nostradamus is famous for making a thousand predictions. Some claim that he got about half right; so he got about a half wrong.
Today I want to look over last year’s predictions and also make predictions for the new year, 2011.
In 1555 Nostradamus published the first of ten books; each book has 100 predictions. They were written in verse, in a form called quatrains. His brilliant insight was to make predictions that were vague, open to many interpretations, and often about the far future. These are great ideas if you wish make predictions, but not make incorrect ones.
I am unafraid and will make my predictions about the next year. Even better, I will go over the list of predictions from last year and see how I did.
I have often been on committees, of various kinds, to help make a ten-year strategic plan. These committees are usually fun, and they allow you to think about the future, about the directions of the field, essentially making predictions. One thing that I have learned is that the report from the previous committees, which was done ten years earlier, is never available. I have asked many times to see how well the previous committee did, to help gauge how we might do. The answer is always a polite no—or a we will get the report to you soon, but we never actually get it. Oh well.
My 2010 Predictions
Here are the predictions from last year, together with the results.
- A problem on Stephen Smale’s list of open problems will be solved. Yes—essentially: See this paper.
- No circuit lower bound of or better will be proved for SAT. Yes—this was an easy prediction.
- A quantum computer will solve a non-trivial problem. No.
- A Computer Scientist will win a Nobel Prize. No.
- The Goldbach Conjecture will finally be solved—negatively. The number
will be shown not to be the sum of two primes. No—but could be true.
- I will have a paper rejected by a conference. Yes and yes.
- Spam will grow to be 100.001 per cent; of all e-mail. The 0.001 is due to sampling error. Yes—essentially.
- Someone will prove that is not contained in . Yes.
- Someone will discover a polynomial time factoring algorithm—but will not tell anyone. Yes/No—unclear.
- On April over 3 billion people will type “google” into the Google search box, then precisely at 12:00 GMT they will all hit the enter key. This will cause the Internet to crash, and it will be down for 17 hours and 12 minutes. No.
- At least one of my predictions will be wrong, but not all of them. Yes.
Okay, I cheated. I never made the prediction about the lower bound, but added it to make my point about the need for checking the previous predictions.
Total outcome out of the ten predictions: four yes’s, three no’s, three on the fence. Not great, not terrible, a fair score. No? Per the main point of my partner’s ongoing chess research, one needs to compare against some reasonable “prior probability” of each prediction. Some of the hits were like obvious chess moves, but I’ll take credit for the Smale prediction, and give back some on the quantum computer and Nobel Prize misses.
My 2011 Predictions
My predictions for the coming year are the following:
- No circuit lower bound of or better will be proved for SAT.
- A Computer Scientist will win a Nobel Prize.
These are two holdovers from last year. I will let them “ride” and make them again. Note there is no CS Nobel, so what the latter means is that among those cited for science or economics will be someone trained or currently employed in computer science. Note also that with prediction 10. below I am “doubling down” on the past success.
- The complexity class , bounded-error quantum polynomial time, will be shown to lie in the polynomial hierarchy. This is rather nervy, since contrary to the clear drift of this paper, this major followup, and this recently revised paper.
- A conceptually new algorithm will be discovered for an important practical problem; it will be a breakthrough in asymptotic time but in concrete terms will be even more galactic than previous ones.
- At least five claims that and five that will be made.
- Graph Isomorphism will be proved to be reducible to the Graph Reconstruction Problem. For background, see this paper.
- Apple will invent a new type of alarm clock: the iClock. Pressing the “snooze” button will take you back one hour via your own personal time travel device. It will require a monthly subscription fee and will be wildly successful—however, see this for a caveat.
- The world’s population at exactly 12:00am GMT on April will be even.
- A “provably” secure crypto-system will be broken.
- A Clay problem will be solved by two independent researchers at about the same time.
What are your best predictions? I further predict that next year many of my predictions will be wrong.
Happy New Year.