Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 17th Jul 2011 20:58 UTC, submitted by fran

It's strange. Microsoft has been patent trolling the heck out of the Linux kernel for a long time now, and is still using these patents against Android today in its protection money scheme. However, as LWN.net illustrates, Microsoft makes quite a few contributions to the Linux kernel. Shouldn't this invalidate their patent claims?

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To say that software is math doesn't really tell the whole story, though. In this sense, the word "Math" is being used in two different ways. The "Math" that is discovered (and thus not patentable) is the kind that tells us things about orders of infinity, and the countability of natural numbers.

The math that is used for software construction isn't discovering anything, it's constructing something. I think no one would argue that anyone "discovered" Linux, or Office. These things were built to fulfill a purpose, and serve a useful function. This also separates them from a story-book. That's why the patent question for software is so interesting, I think.

To say that software is math doesn't really tell the whole story, though. In this sense, the word "Math" is being used in two different ways. The "Math" that is discovered (and thus not patentable) is the kind that tells us things about orders of infinity, and the countability of natural numbers. The math that is used for software construction isn't discovering anything, it's constructing something. I think no one would argue that anyone "discovered" Linux, or Office. These things were built to fulfill a purpose, and serve a useful function. This also

**separates them from a story-book**. That's why the patent question for software is so interesting, I think.I don't see how making a software program is essentially different from writing a book or composing a musical piece. Each activity is remarkably similar in that the author takes small "building block" components, being words & rules of grammar, notes & chords, or maths operations and computing language syntax, and one builds up a "work" from there.

In the case of a book, the work tells a story or conveys a message. In the case of a musical composition, likewise. In the case of a software program, signals or information are trasnformed from one form to another. Then there are other creative works of authorship such as making a statue, painting, artistic photography, poetry, film-making, playwright, songwriting and so on. Even things like carpentry and furniture polishing can be considered as a work of authorship.

There are very, very strong parallels here. I can see no reason at all why computer software, just because its working medium is mathematics operations and not words or musical notes, should be the only type of work of authorship that is patentable. Everything else of similar creative ilk is protectable by copyright only.

It makes no sense at all.

What is worse, having patents on software is arguably ruining the entire IT industry in America.

http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20110717140031881

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XvOHEA_xd2A

Seven ways to ruin a Technological Revolution indeed.

*Edited 2011-07-19 05:21 UTC*

To say that software is math doesn't really tell the whole story, though. In this sense, the word "Math" is being used in two different ways. The "Math" that is discovered (and thus not patentable) is the kind that tells us things about orders of infinity, and the countability of natural numbers.

Computer Science 101: software is just multiple binaries (0 and 1) i.e. abstract in this case therefore part of math. For example, show a word processor, a music, a movie in palpable form without any medium.

*Edited 2011-07-19 05:26 UTC*

Member since:

2007-02-17

The fact that software is math is actually a whole topic of study, called computational theory.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory_of_computation

There is even a corresponding (and far less well-founded) theory that a mind is actually a computer:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computational_theory_of_mind

Anyway, it is an ovious truism that computers manipualte bits of information stored in their memory and/or digitised measurements of real-world signals (aka input/output). It is also true to say that these bits are only numerals (aka digits ... which is the very root of the word digital). It is also true that the central component of any computer is the CPU, and the functional core of a CPU is its APU (aka Arithmetic Processing Unit). Arithmetic is the manipulation of numerals.

Therefore, the way that a digital computer is built means that all it can do is transform real-world signals into numbers (made up of binary digits) and them manipulate them using ... math. The results of these math calculations are then often turned back into real-world signals.

Ergo, all that a computer can do is math.

Ergo, software is math.

PS: It does take an intelligent mind to write mathematics processes to follow, just as it does take an intelligent mind to write a book to tell a story. Authors should enjoy the fruits of their creations, no argument. The most suitable form of IP protection for both of these types of original works of authorship is copyright.

Edited 2011-07-19 02:04 UTC