# Is Design a Stochastic Process?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stochastic

Researchers use the term stochastic systems to describe the physical systems in which the values of parameters, measurements, expected input, and disturbances are uncertain

Would we expect different designers to create different designs? Does the same designer ever design competing solutions? Why is that? What factors inform a design decision and outcome?

Outside of hard determinism (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hard_determinism) isn’t everything a stohastic process?

## 196 thoughts on “Is Design a Stochastic Process?”

1. newton: Correct, to plan to incorporate the unplanned. What designed the Grand Canyon. That’s ok.

The grand canyon isn’t designed…

2. Greetings Rich. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Is Design a Stochastic Process?

No, at least not in my humble opinion, unless a stochastic processes Itself is designed, but in general no. Stochastic processes are processes that obey mathematical rules and equations.

I will probably offend the UncommonDescent crowd by saying design cannot be described purely in terms of mathematics or physics, much as Bill Dembski has tried. To the extent Bill has tried to define design that way, it is idiosyncratic for the way people understand design in an intuitive way.

Design, like consciousness transcends mathematical description. It’s pointless to define design in terms of math and information theory. I’ve gone on record as saying ID should not be promoted as science. Neither should ID be promoted as a purely mathematical concept, any more than consciousness should be promoted as a purely mathematical concept …

So the general answer is no, in my humble opinion.

So if you ask me to define design, it is like trying to define consciousness, it sort of defies description.

What we only can say, imho, is making a statement as to how far a system, object or event is from ordinary expectation. It cannot be formally decided if something is truly designed in as much as I cannot formally prove anyone or anything is conscious. At some point some unprovable assumption must be made.

Would we expect different designers to create different designs?

Not necessarily, and especially not if one is trying to plagiarize.

Does the same designer ever design competing solutions?
Why is that?

Yes, that allows adaptation. General Motors designs competing solutions to the architecture of cars, the don’t sell just one design solution to automobile transportation. Even the same consumer may buy competing solutions to the problem of transportation….

What factors inform a design decision and outcome?

Sometimes utility, sometimes things outside of utility like an object made purely to impress others — like Mount Rushmore or a rube goldberg machine such as a peacock/peafowl.

Outside of hard determinism (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hard_determinism) isn’t everything a stohastic process?

Hard to say because even stochastic processes, at least as far the practice of math, are often defined within boundaries and distributions. Are there distributions that define mathematical description. Probably. So if something defies mathematical description, is it stochastic? Don’t know…

3. Frankie: The grand canyon isn’t designed…

What is it about the Grand Canyon that makes you believe it was not designed?

4. At least some stochastic processes are planned. I don’t see why that’s a problem for intelligent design.

5. Frankie:
Again- design processes are planned whereas stochastic processes are not

magic 8 ball says “Come back later creationist”

6. Mung,

It isn’t. Joe’s been creating his own ‘intelligent design’ guff where he claims first you must rule out stochastic processes. Idiotic, but there you go.

7. Mung:

Are we off on the wrong foot in thinking that stochastic is the opposite of deterministic?

I agree with it (I’m a hard determinist remember) – but from a human perspective there are stochastic processes because we can’t measure or calculate enough. With perfect measurement every rolled dice would be deterministic – we just can’t get there.

8. stcordova,

If Design is not stochastic, why this? : http://www.xprize.org/prizes

Stochastic processes obey the law of large numbers, designs frequently do not.

I posted on the issue here:
http://www.uncommondescent.com/mathematics/the-fundamental-law-of-intelligent-design/

After being in the ID movement for 10 years, and suffering through many debates, if someone were to ask me what is the most fundamental law upon which the ID case rests, I would have to say it is the law of large numbers (LLN). It is the law that tells us that a set of fair coins randomly shaken will converge on 50% heads and not 100% heads. It is the law that tells us systems will tend toward disorganization rather than organization.

Designs are often violations of the law of large numbers (or some variant or analogy thereof), therefore violations of stochastic processes, therefore one can say a design is not a stochastic process.

9. stcordova: Designs are often

It’s a shame you can’t find a metric where designs are always. Then the whole ID ‘project’ may actually be of some practical use.

10. Mung: At least some stochastic processes are planned.

Name them, thanks. I will look for the passages in their books but I am sure Meyer and Dembski rail against stochastic processes being able to produce CSI, SC and IC

11. I have read papers on stochastic processes which list and discuss them. Yet not one lists “design” as a stochastic process

12. Frankie: There isn’t anything about it that says it was

In what ways would the canyon need to be different to make you suspect it were designed?

Proponents of ID only claim that stochastic processes cannot explain the arrival of this first life form, and the complexity it exhibits.

14. Fair Witness: In what ways would the canyon need to be different to make you suspect it were designed?

If when viewed from the air it spelled out “made by newton.”

15. Fair Witness: In what ways would the canyon need to be different to make you suspect it were designed?

It would have to have tool marks or some other hallmark of design. But as it stands it can accounted for by erosion and other non-design processes.

16. As opposed to what, Richie? Do you think there are supernatural stochastic processes? Or are you just upset because I have supported my claim?

17. LoL!@ dazz- I provided a link and a quote from that link to support my claim. I am not going to post the entire article, duh.

All one has to do is read Dembski’s and Meyer’s book to see they say stochastic processes cannot produce CSI from scratch

18. Frankie:
Dembski concurs with Johnson: Intelligent Design as a theory of information

Page 168: “Stochastic processes can model everything from Darwin’s mutation-selection mechanism to the probabilistic algorithms of computer science”

I guess they weren’t designed then. Derp. Should have read the whole book. I bet you were up all night looking for that quote.

once again Joe shows us he doesn’t understand how the internet works..

20. Outside of hard determinism (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hard_determinism) isn’t everything a stohastic process?

Outside hard determinism, everything is non-hard-determinism, but not necessarily stochastic because stochastic process have expected values, and a non-hard deterministic process may not have a definable or DETERMINABLE expected value.

The expected value of a stochastic process X(t) is the
deterministic function μX(t) = E[X(t)]

That means, as far as the practice math, a stochastic function’s expected value must be DETERMINED or defined, it cannot be formally unknown. Stochastic process are customarily meant to have a DETERMISTIC expected value function, otherwise, it’s useless for most probability applications.

That means then, something can in principle be non-deterministic, but also not stochastic, but some mysterious undefinable mathematically uncharacterizable woo….

Designs are frequently objects that defy the expected outcome of a stochastic process, a good example is 100% heads for 500 fair coins that violates the stochastic expected value of 50% heads by astronomical distances (deviations from expectation) — even though 100% heads is no more improbable than any other specific heads/tails configuration of 500 separately identifiable coins. That is an example of design (100% heads) that is not the expected result of a stochastic process acting on all coins over many trials or cycles.

21. Rich:

once again Joe shows us he doesn’t understand how the internet works..

That’s frikkin’ hilarious.

22. once again Joe shows us he doesn’t understand how the internet works..

The link works for me. I don’t know what your problem is.

23. Richardthughes: once again Joe shows us he doesn’t understand how the internet works..

I don’t know how it works either, but I am sure it was designed, perhaps even by some stochastic process. It sure doesn’t appear to have been planned.

24. He was complaining to HP the other day that his gifs didn’t print “animated”.

25. Richie quotes Dembski:

Page 168: “Stochastic processes can model everything from Darwin’s mutation-selection mechanism to the probabilistic algorithms of computer science”

Yes, natural selection and drift are stochastic processes. That is what I have been saying. Did you have a point? Obviously not…

26. dazz:

I bet he’s still scratching his head wondering what we’re laughing at, hahaha

When he pastes the link into his browser, it works just fine. What’s the problem?

ETA: Ninja’d, by Frankie himself.

Um, Joe, what do you think the ‘C:’ means?

27. keiths:
dazz:

When he pastes the link into his browser, it works just fine.What’s the problem?

Crying real tears of laughter here.

“The is the beauty of being me- anything that any man does I can understand.” –Joe G

28. keiths:
dazz:

When he pastes the link into his browser, it works just fine.What’s the problem?

ETA: Ninja’d, by Frankie himself.

Um, Joe, what do you think the ‘C’ means?

The C means it is on a computer directory but it still works for me, even on my laptop, which I didn’t use to find the article

29. But anyway I have more than proven that ID rails against stochastic processes being able to produce CSI, SC and IC.

30. And we are still waiting for Richie to tell us about these supernatural stochastic processes

31. dazz:

I take back my request to ban Joe. He’s too much fun

Plus he gives Mung, fifth and phoodoo someone to look down on.

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