A note to my friend Ron Kellogg dated 27 Jan 2007 :

>I'm writing a book on scalable vector graphics (perhaps I was when I

>talked to you last -- it has been a while)

[note the book is done: see here]

>There is a chapter on the semantic web which I'm working on now that

>got me thinking about psychology and language and writing a bit.

>That was a while ago, now.

>Anyhow, a practical question and a series of fanciful ones first:

>1. Given a number n, we wish to find n maximally distinguishable

>stimuli in some perceptuo-cognitive realm....

>like n maximally distinguishable pure sinusoidal auditory tones.

>or n maxminally distinguishable colors

>or n maximally distinguishable k-sided polygons

>or n maximially distinguishable words (or ideas, or texts)

>or n maximally distinguishable people

>By what methodology would we do that (as a function of the

>perceptual-cognitive modality)? Suppose we define distinguishable as

>the inverse of confusable (just to operationalize a bit)

>Clearly more sensory realms like auditory tones, would rely a lot on

>weber/fechner/stevens psychophysics.

>With colors we'd have to do a lot of scaling in CIE/lab space, I guess.

>With the other stuff, it seems like the metrics of the space have not

>even been established, so the question becomes rather vague or at least

>unanswerable, somewhere along that continuum. Is the descent into

>vagueness sudden or gradual?

>2. Since some of these questions are practical -- like choosing the

>colors for game pieces so as to maximize distinguishability -- some

>research may have been done. I asked someone at the Color Institute in

>Rochester a couple of years ago and they didn't know.

>But do you know of any good list servers or discussion groups or

>anything of the like on which an outsider (like a computer sci guy or

>whatever I am) could pose such questions in hopes of getting a

>practical answer?

>I continue to have more ideas than I will ever have time to write down

>or do anything with -- what a funny life.

>Best regards,

>David