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
>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
>I continue to have more ideas than I will ever have time to write down
>or do anything with -- what a funny life.