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Dan Polansky (1977-) has the official Czech name Daniel Polanský, lives in Czechia, is a co-author of FreeMind mind mapping software and is a key contributor of Czech entries to the English Wiktionary, a multilingual dictionary aiming to cover great many languages. He is distinct from Daniel Polansky (1984-), an American fantasy author living in Los Angeles.
He was educated in mathematics and computer science, worked for large international companies as a software developer and software engineer, having used English, German and Czech as on-the-job languages, and has a passionate interest in true philosophy but not the philosophy that appears to be not genuine or worthwhile, which pertains to a significant part of the continental philosophy.
The intent is to have the email enabled in all Mediawiki wiki user accounts. It is tested to work for the English Wiktionary. For messages that are arguably unfit for online communication, the use of the email contact is welcome. This may include advice on behavior adjustment that one finds too sensitive to be published online.
True philosophy is exemplified by Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Galileo, Mill, Poincaré, Russell, Popper, Kuhn, Lakatos, Kripke, Hofstadter, Quine, Dawkins, and Pirsig. It does not need to be all perfect and correct (some of it isn't), but it has to make basic sense.
The concept of continental nominally refers to continental Europe, but is not truly locational; for instance, there is not much continental about Wittgenstein's Tractatus and the Viennese circle with their logical positivism, or about Popper's early Viennese work. Nor is everyone in Prague necessarily continental, e.g. Jaroslav Peregrin is not continental. But there sure are too many continental entities in Czechia. Whether all that is continental is really pseudo-philosophy is an open research question; the working hypothesis is that most of it is pseudo. For a fun rant in German against the pseudo-philosopher Hegel by Shopenhauer, one may consult Wiktionary: Citations:Afterphilosoph; it looks like a thesaurus entry.
His main project is probably the English Wiktionary (user page), contributions to which include Czech content, thesaurus entries (previously "Wikisaurus"), votes that drive transparency, and more. Contributions further include those to Wikibooks (e.g. Windows Batch Scripting), Wikisource (e.g. Britannica 1911), and debates and other pages in Wikiversity.
Contribution size (8 Feb 2023):
- The English Wiktionary
- New pages in the mainspace: 26,431
- Edits in the mainspace: 143,024
- Created many pages in Wiktionary: Wiktionary:Thesaurus
- Uploaded a complete wikified thesaurus: Wiktionary: Appendix:Roget MICRA thesaurus
- Uploaded a complete wikified thesaurus: Wiktionary: Appendix:Moby Thesaurus II
- The English Wikiversity
- The English Wikisource
- New pages in the mainspace: 566
- Edits in the mainspace: 2,485
- More detail is in Wikisource: User:Dan Polansky/Pages created
- The English Wikibooks
- New pages in the mainspace: 159
- Edits in the mainspace: 4,374
- Highlighted contributions to pages:
- The Czech Wiktionary
- New pages in the mainspace: 700
- Edits in the mainspace: 2,302
- A productive created vote is Wiktionary:cs: Wikislovník:Hlasování/Přísloví a fráze s malým a bez tečky, which was then implemented.
- The Czech Wikisource
- New pages in the mainspace: 43
- Edits in the mainspace: 71
- Detail is in Wikisource:cs: Uživatel:Dan Polansky/Založené stránky.
He is one of the authors of FreeMind, the free-as-in-freedom mind mapping software, having been the nearly sole FreeMind maker of versions 0.5.0 and 0.6.1. He further served as FreeMind project director and quality assurance until version 0.9.0; he has had no control over what happened thereafter. His taste and preferences significantly differ from those of Christian Foltin, yet he and Christian were able to work together and overcome differences to deliver FreeMind 0.9.0 in decent if imperfect quality. He prefers a much smaller FreeMind than the latest currently available. This is why he is using his custom version; see also Wikiversity:FreeMind#Dan Polansky version.
The work on FreeMind was primarily on software behavior design rather than programming; the Java platform made the implementation of application ideas fairly straightforward, and therefore, arguably, the work on FreeMind reveals much more of a good application design taste (provided you like the result) than remarkable programming skill. One less fortunate choice is the use of XML entities to store Unicode characters rather than UTF-8 encoding.
Earning a living
He earned living as a programmer of computer software and as a software engineer, usually for large international corporations full of formal bureaucracy but also for a small Czech startup as a single person to set up a server, install software server and drivers, develop the software and deploy it.
Languages used include:
- ABAP: part of a powerful environment for developing business applications, featuring integration with facilities on multiple levels including database and user interface ones
- C++: powerful yet also challenging and complex language
- Python: lovely and easy to read language, even if on the slower side
In 2000, Dan Polansky received a rector award by Masaryk University (Faculty of Informatics, a faculty of computer science teaching mathematical and programming subjects including parts of pure mathematics) for best students of master's programme.
The courses taken as part of the 5-year computer science master's degree (1995-2000) involve those that would probably be found in many western curricula. Some example courses:
- Set theory, including cardinal numbers, ordinal numbers, the cardinality of power set, order, preorder, etc.
- Mathematical logic, including predicate logic, meaning first-order logic
- Abstract algebra: ring, lattice, etc.
- Linear algebra: vector space, matrices, etc.
- Game theory: mini-max theorem and Arrow's theorem
- Probability and statistics: various distributions including normal, the central limit theorem, percentiles, median, etc.
- Calculus: derivation and integration
- Formal languages: Chomskian grammars (context-free, context-sensitive, etc.)
- Computer graphics: Bresenham's circle algorithm, ray tracing, etc.
- Operating systems: thread and process scheduling, paging, etc.
- Computability: computable function via while programs, arithmetical hierarchy
- Complexity theory: P vs. NP, O() complexity
- Modal and temporal logics: , <>, LTL, mu calculus (with two fixed-point operators), Büchi automata (infinite green lights mean pass)
- Fuzzy logic: fuzzy sets in the shape of _/˘\_ as opposed to the traditional _|˘|_; boolean operators on the fuzzy sets (in Czech, someone proposed the term mlžiny for fuzzy sets)
- Process calculi and algebras: bisimulation and other relations defining when two systems behave the same, where the relations (probably) form a lattice
- Compilers: lexical analysis (ca. finite automata, like convert a built-in keyword to a token category), syntactic analysis (ca. context-free grammars with literals being token categories and the like, with admixture of context-sensitiveness); LALR parsers
- Ethics and Technology, which introduced me to Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
- A course dedicated to Hofstadter's Gödel, Escher, Bach, with emphasis on Gödel's theorem
- Philosophy of science, covering Descartes, Poincaré and other philosophers
He was then accepted into a doctoral study of computer science in the field of parallel and distributed systems (meaning mathematical theories of processes and their logics: definition, theorem, proof), but ended the study without completion.
To prevent misconceptions based on Dan Polansky's various publications on wiki, political views are as follows:
- Dan Polansky is 1) redistributionist, 2) Millian libertarian, 3) democratic, 4) direct-democratic (referendum), 5) codificationist, 6) non-conformist.
- Supports Mill's harm principle to a large extent, with rare exceptions requiring strong justification of violation. This is the libertarian aspect.
- Supports freedom of speech to an extent similar to the American one, with the exception that visual pornography is not speech and therefore is not protected. The notion of protection of freedom of expression is on the whole unrealistic; expression is too broad a concept, too encompassing. It is speech that is the means of expression of argument and ideas; images are of much less consequence. A video containing speech ought to be protected as speech; the speech aspect is protected. However, a protection of visual pornography ought not be automatically dismissed without a proper debate.
- YouTube and Twitter probably ought to be regulated as utilities and their right to censor ought to be curbed, and therefore, the freedom of speech on these platforms probably ought to be protected as if these companies were state actors. This requires a thorough double check and it has to trace to a debate.
- Supports extensive state redistribution as found e.g. in Czechia, which is a semi-socialist and semi-capitalist state with tax-funded healthcare, tax-funded education including universities, tax-funded old-age pensions, and tax-funded disability pensions. The nominally libertarian idea that taxes are an incursion into liberty is rejected.
- Objective reality exists and it can be to a large extent known. However, the picture of reality does in fact depend on current state of knowledge, and is all too often wrong for various portion of reality, as history of science shows. The notions that each person makes their own reality or has their own truth are untenable.
- Science is demarcated from non-science via Popperian falsificationism.
- Democracy is bad, whereas the alternatives are much worse. We ought to engage in what Popper calls piecemeal engineering, improving the systems step by step by changing codifications of policies and institutions, with the help of open debate. At the same time, we ought to emphasize the strength of the argument over mere numerical majority in all settings where this is practicable, which it is not in general elections.
- Representative democracy is better than no democracy.
- Direct democracy via referendum is better than representative democracy. Persons are hidden and merely reveal themselves and thus are poorly known. Principles are better known than persons. Voting for bundles of policy options instead of on each policy option separately is something the citizens would never accept as customers. For instance, in the U.S., one can oppose transgenderism, but support redistributionism, and then, no party matches the political choice. The people ought to be able to vote on policy options separately. A wikidebate on the subject shall be created.
- There are problems with referendums relating to misleading campaigns. This requires piecemeal modification of rules (as if engineering) to create proper regulation of misrepresentation misconduct (informally, shameless lying). It is tricky since it possibly interferes with freedom of speech.
- Constitution ought to be codified, as in the U.S. and Czechia but not the U.K. Well codified statutory law is far superior to common law. Common law does have its merits. The problem of excessively detailed rules resulting from statutory law is real. Balance needs to be sought. To be debated in a wikidebate.
- Non-conformism: One ought to seek to get knowledge of what is true (corresponds to reality) and is morally right. One ought to do the right thing even if it means loss of popularity. One ought to accept to be not part of the crowd. One ought to dare to go beyond the customary if it is good; the potential for unique contribution is all the bigger.
Others said about
The following is a biased selection of things said about Dan Polansky; the quotations are approximate and not word-for-word correct:
- Daniel is a smart guy. Said by an Canadian manager.
- You can tell us you have brought us the smartest one from the team. Said by an American manager to a Czech manager.
- The reason I have assigned you to this task is because I selected the best one from the team. Said by a Czech manager after I objected to having been assigned yet another task that was not so nice.
- Daniel aus Tschechien is der beste in Deutschlernen. Said by a teacher of German.
The above has almost no epistemic force: I could have just made it up. But some things follow from it:
- It is difficult to be humble about one's intellectual skills given this kind of feedback.
- The statement found on wiki to the effect that Dan Polansky's intelligence or capacity to understand is less than average is probably untrue, and probably constitutes libel; however, I have no intention to take any legal action. If the group of editors controlling the project where the putative libel took place are completely happy with that libel (if it really is a libel), there is probably something deeply rotten not in the state of Denmark but somewhere else.
User pages on Wikimedia projects:
- Wikiversity: User:Dan Polansky; also Wikiversity:cs: User:Dan Polansky
- Wiktionary: User:Dan Polansky; also Wiktionary:cs: User:Dan Polansky
- Wikipedia: User:Dan Polansky; also Wikipedia:cs: User:Dan Polansky
- Wikisource: User:Dan Polansky; also Wikisource:cs: User:Dan Polansky
- Wikiquote: User:Dan Polansky; also Wikiquote:cs: User:Dan Polansky
- ↑ Ocenění Masarykovy univerzity, ceny rektora | FI MU, fi.muni.cz