On Unifiers, Diversifiers, and the Nature of Pattern Recognition

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    We study a dichotomy of scientific styles, unifying and diversifying, as proposed by Freeman J. Dyson. We discuss the extent to which the dichotomy transfers from the natural sciences (where Dyson proposed it) to the field of Pattern Recognition. To address this we must firstly ask what it means to be a “unifier� or “diversifier� in a field, and what are the relative merits of each style of thinking. Secondly, given that Dyson applied this to the sciences, does it also apply in a field known to be a blend of science and engineering? Parallels are drawn to Platonic/Aristotelian views, and to Cartesian/Baconian science, and questions are asked on what drives the Kuhnian paradigm shifts of our field. This article is intended not to marginalise individuals into categories (unifier/diversifier) but instead to demonstrate the utility of philosophical reflection on our field, showing the depth and complexities a seemingly simple idea can unearth.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)11-20
    Number of pages9
    JournalPattern Recognition Letters
    Publication statusPublished - 16 Oct 2015


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