I am a Node on the Edge because I cannot claim to have all the answers or a decade long history of experience but I can help to define questions to be solved. Hopefully their is a potential finite set of questions that allow most requirements be solved and my aim is define these with collaboration of the community.
It would be amazing if these questions developed into some kind of NP Complete space where they all referred to one question such in NP Complete Theory or Monty Pythons Holy Grail but that is/maybe asking too much?

Tuesday 26 April 2016

We're so modern!

Data Science and Visualisation is seen as a Modern Industry but it has been going on for ever

Look back at some of the methods of data capture, storage, processing, analysis, visualisation and evaluation from ancient time to today.

I shall go through each of the methods stated above and highlighting how they were done.

This is a trail through the decades with a zooming in on different civilisation through time.

Although the main focus of this post is Data Science Examples of history there are academic attempts to quantify the sophistication of these civilisations for comparisons. I shall use these quantification to compare to the sophistication of the examples. This should highlight the importance of Data Science within each Civilisation. I have chosen a specific metric called Social Development Index devised by "The Measure of Civilisation: How Social Development Decides the Fate of Nations". This measures four factors of a civilisation energy capture, social organisation, ability to wage war and information technology. This can help to determine the focus of civilisation i.e. Waring State, Social Experiment, Energy Overloaded State or High Tech State or any other. This gives an equally comparison of civilisations to measure against the examples, evaluate against what we know of the evolution of these civilisations and their achievements. 
    This should allow an evaluation of the Data Science 's  role, examples, approach, prominence and sophistication through each civilisation evaluated.   

Where to start

First identified Homo sapiens


"Two Ethiopian fossils have been crowned as the oldest known members of our species. An estimated 195,000 years old, the pair were witness to the earliest days of Homo sapiens.
The discovery adds yet more weight to the argument that Africa, and Ethiopia in particular, was the birthplace of humans. The dating sits well with genetic analyses of modern populations, which suggest that H. sapiens first appeared in Africa around 200,000 years ago."

"Omo fossils provides yet more support for the 'out of Africa' theory, which contends that humankind spent most of its life in Africa, before sweeping across the world during the past 40,000 years. "The finds confirm that east Africa was a key area in this story," says Chris Stringer"

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Key facts

Found: 1967
Location:   Kibish, near Ethiopia's Omo River
Dated: estimated 195,000 ago 
Re Analysed and Published: 2005

 African and other Rock Art

  Key facts

First Civilization

   Mesopotamian - "first of the civilization to have ever emerged on the face of planet earth ever since the evolution of humans"


"Now, owing to the relative rarity of copper and the absolute rarity of tin (as soon as the alloy becomes the standard metal), and owing further to the difficulties of transporting heavy materials, the surplus(agriculture) required to support the essential specialists is large."

"Two factors seem to have contributed to that end, to convert metal into a necessity.  Bronze's durability and reliability"

What happened in History
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"Our civilization is rooted in the forms and innovations of societies that flourished in the distant lands of Western Asia more than six thousand years ago. These earliest societies, established millennia before the Greco-Roman period, extended from Egypt to India. The earliest among them was the region known to the ancients as Mesopotamia, located between the Tigris and the Euphrates Rivers and occupying what is today Iraq, northeastern Syria, and southeastern Turkey. In Mesopotamia arose the first cities, believed by their inhabitants to be the property of the gods, who granted kings the power to bring prosperity to the people. Here urban institutions were invented and evolved. The need to record and manage the distribution and receipt of goods led to the invention of writing, monumental architecture in the form of temples, and palaces were created, and the visual arts flowered in the service of religion and royalty. These extraordinary innovations profoundly affected surrounding areas in Anatolia, Syria-Levant, Iran, and the Gulf, and Mesopotamia was in turn influenced by its neighbors. As Mesopotamia turned to outlying lands for such rare and precious materials as lapis lazuli, carnelian, diorite, gold, silver, and ivory, these regions were linked by networks of trade that encouraged cultural exchange."
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   Key Facts

Contributing Inventions and Evolutions

First City

1 Urbanisation - This civilisation is referred to as the "cradle of civilisation" and it developed the first concept of urbanisation.

"By around 3200 B.C., the largest settlement
 in southern Mesopotamia, if not the world, was Uruk: a true city dominated by monumental mud-brick buildings decorated with mosaics of painted clay cones embedded in the walls, and extraordinary works of art"

This is the beginnings of mass collaboration and communication which is important for data science to be a success. This is the beginning of interdependence and reliance on others increasing documentation and interest in developing a large scale of management.


"The late 4th  Millennium  B C in the first important city, Uruk, where writing was invented and monumentual architecture and art flourished."

metallurgy of copper and bronze

wheeled vehicles

the potters’ wheel



"During the thousand odd years of the Chalcolithic Age the peoples of the Near East had made discoveries pregnant with revolutionary consequences - the metallurgy of copper and bronze, the harnessing of animal motive power, wheeled vehicles, the potters’ wheel, bricks, the seal. Even before 3,000 B.C. these achievements were being diffused at least to the Aegean and to Turkistan and India. In a thousand years or so they will reach China and Britain. But, save for two localized centres of bronze working in Mexico and Peru, none reached the New World, Oceania, or Africa south of the Sahara till late historical times."
What happened in History
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"The distinctive achievements of civilizations that differentiate them from barbarism are the invention of writing and the elaboration of exact sciences. In Sumer, Egypt, and India the new economy had required and elicited conventional systems of writing and numeral notation, of weights and measures and of time-keeping."

What happened in History
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Data Capture

"Researchers studying clay balls from Mesopotamia have discovered clues to a lost code that was used for record-keeping about 200 years before writing was invented.
The clay balls may represent the world's 'very first data storage system,' at least the first that scientists know of, said Christopher Woods, a professor at the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute, in a lecture at Toronto's Royal Ontario Museum, where he presented initial findings.
The balls, often called "envelopes" by researchers, were sealed and contain tokens in a variety of geometric shapes — the balls varying from golf ball-size to baseball-size. Only about 150 intact examples survive worldwide today." 
The researchers used high-resolution CT scans and 3D modeling to look inside more than 20 examples that were excavated at the site of Choga Mish, in western Iran, in the late 1960s. They were created about 5,500 years ago at a time when early cities were flourishing in Mesopotamia.
Researchers have long believed these clay balls were used to record economic transactions. That interpretation is based on an analysis of a 3,300-year-old clay ball found at a site in Mesopotamia named Nuzi that had 49 pebbles and a cuneiform text containing a contract commanding a shepherd to care for 49 sheep and goats.
How these devices would have worked in prehistoric times, before the invention of writing, is a mystery. Researchers now face the question of how people recorded the number and type of a commodity being exchanged without the help of writing.
The tokens within the balls come in 14 different shapes, including spheres, pyramids, ovoids, lenses and cones, the researchers found. Rather than representing whole words, these shapes would have conveyed numbers connected to a variety of metrological systems used in counting different types of commodities, Woods suggested. One ovoid, for instance, might mean a certain unit, say 10, which was used while counting a certain type of commodity.
The researchers, however, were perplexed when their CT scans found one clay ball containing tokens made of a low-density material, likely bitumen, a petroleum substance. "When we make a three-dimensional model of the cavity you get this very strange amoeba like-looking shape," Woods said during the lecture.
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Example :

"Map of the World" from Late Babylonian around the 6th Century gives a description of the world with a rectangle for Babylon and circles for other towns.
  It includes animals and regions even uses words which have been used in other text such as Epic of Gilagmesh which refers to a similar flood story to the Hebrew Noah Ark Bible story.
 Whatever the accurate depiction of this tablet it refers to known towns of the era and how to get there.
  It forms a style similar to our infographics by communicating the understanding of the world at the time, in an appealing map diagram and while documenting information to keep.
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The romans brought printing to the masses. They inscribed statues in Marble and Law's in Bronze.

Europe 18th Century


"A quarter of a millennium ago, intellectuals in Western Europe discovered that they had a problem. As problems went, theirs was not a bad one: they appeared to be taking over the world, but did not know why. The explanation that eighteenth-century theorist came up with varied wildly, although the most popular ideas all held that since time immemorial, something had made the West different from the rest and determined that Europe would one day dominate the world.
 In the early twenty-first century, these ides are still with us, albeit in heavily modified forms. The most influential argument, now as in the eighteenth century, is probably the theory that Europeans are the heirs to a distinctive and superior cultural tradition. The roots of this Western civilization are most often traced back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, although other advocates identify prehistoric Indo-Europeans, ancient Germans, or medieval Europeans as the founders."

ref  The Measure of Civilisation: How Social Development Decides the Fate of Nations
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  Data Capture