Patents, Math, Software

Since the most important body of patent law in the world is that of the US, I begin this post by quoting this wikipedia article, where a judicial finding in the US pre-empts the patenting of Mathematics:

'[SCOTUS] ruled that a process claim directed to a numerical algorithm, as such, was not patentable because "the patent would wholly pre-empt the mathematical formula and in practical effect would be a patent on the algorithm itself."'

Here's a follow-on syllogism:
  • No mathematics is patentable
  • All software is mathematics
  • Therefore no software is patentable.
One of my regular addictions is groklaw. Some time ago, someone posted an article there, titled 1 + 1 (pat. pending) — Mathematics, Software and Free Speech. Today the same author posts a follow-up, A Simpler Explanation of Why Software is Mathematics, which I submit for your consideration, admittedly before I've read them all.

Intellectual freedom to the people: shorten copyrights, narrow applicability of patents, enable imagination and innovation without fear of lawyers breathing down your neck.

Two articles in a morning?

This time it's microbes that generate electricity while stabilizing radioactive spills. What a wonderful world.

Cool article of the morning: superconductors!

And I do mean cool. Slashdot today reports on an advance in superconductors. As usual there's more noise than signal, this time not only on the slashdot end but also in any of the sources that could be used to talk about the story. Charitably, the title used is clear but these articles could all be improved.

The best article so far is behind a paywall at IEEE but the abstract here tells you all you need to know without getting lost in the details. The sapphire strand is being used as a place to hang a real high-temperature semiconductor that uses Yttrium, Barium, Copper and Oxygen. The results keep a low temperature more easily and are superconducting at microwave frequencies and 77 K (around the boiling point of Nitrogen -- "high temperature" in superconductors is different than "high temperature in weather).


Canada asked to be called a copyright pirate!!?

Sent to my Member of Parliament this morning -- Canadians, especially those residing in ridings represented by Conservatives, consider sending something like this yourselves:

To: the Honourable Member of Parliament for Port Moody-Westwood-Port Coquitlam, Minister of Heritage and Official Languages, Mr. James Moore
Regarding: Michael Geist's story on leaked cables

Hello again...

After this story, the only credible thing for the Canadian government to do is to write new copyright legislation that enshrines the public good above all other considerations, declares anything edging towards DMCA unconstitutional and restricts the length of copyrights to the limits that were in place before Steamboat Willie's copyright was first just about to expire.

This is a shameful way for a government of Canada to behave. I am disgusted. There are more important moral issues to be disgusted or happy about but if this is one of the "smaller" things, how can we hope your government to do right in the greater things?


Arthur N. Klassen

If you need help finding your MP's contact information, get in touch...