Software Patents and reduction/interchangeability of presentation

Xavi Drudis Ferran xdrudis at
Sun Aug 17 23:09:29 UTC 2003

El Sun, Aug 17, 2003 at 06:33:46PM +0200, edA-qa mort-ora-y deia:
> One thing I've not really seen disccused much, in the context of 
> software patents, is the reduction of physical processes to mathematical 
> representations.  I have this troubling feeling that this forces us to 
> allow software patents, or not have any patents whatsoever.
> Consider that all, save a few, physical processes and biological 
> processes can be reduced to a series of math forms which express the 
> process.  Indeed, in the quantam world only the math forms exist, as the 
> empirical status is not quite there.

I think you will find some more authoritative experts in patents at
to answer that (but I think you just have to read the archive for that). 

The problem I see in your whole email is you are being too formalistic. 

You have only to look at what does this patent forbid and what does it
teach we didn't know before. 

If it doesn't teach new uses of controlled forces of nature, it's
not worth it. 

If you only look at the language used to express either the teaching
or he prohibition, you can be fooled by clever application drafting. 
I don't care whether the language is verse, math or C as long as 
it prohibits important things, and I don't care whether it has a 
teaching written in prose, diagrams or a videotape as long as 
it is new, non-obvious, has industrail application and is 
 new uses of controlled forces of nature
> To extend this, most of us would probably argue that software is an 
> extension of such math forms* (where logic is included as such a math).

For me software is a subset of math. 

> So the question I've never actually seen addressed is, "What is a 
> software patent really?".  At what point does something stop being a 
> mathematical representation of a physical process and become a strictly 
> "soft" program?

When what is forbidden is not the physical process but the 
information. That is if you claim a new transistor it is physics
no matter how mathemathically you model it (note that you can't
invent a new transitor only by math, you need experiments, which 
you can later explain by mathematical models). If you claim 
addition of 2 numbers it is math, no matter how many transistors
you throw at it. Just claiming any way of adding 2 number with
machines using transitors does not teach anything about physics. 
It is a mathematical deduction of the know model of a transistor. 
Anyway, I'm sleepy...

> If biological or quantam computing becomes a reality (ie, a more 
> functional reality), is the line between software and 
> physical/biological process any longer clear enough to make a distinction?

I don't understand the question.
> *Those parts which are not math forms are surely physical processes, 
> which then in turn could be reduced to alternate math forms.

Physical processes can be described with math forms, but they are not 
math forms. Math forms can be embodied in physical objects, but they 
are not physical objects. 

When you describe something, the description is not the something. 

You can go the Mattrix way and pretend everything is math/software/virtual
and no real world exists or whatever, and still you could find 
the same kind of dichotomy between software you have the source of 
and software you have to experiment with to reverse engineer, 
but it's not really useful to go this way. 

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