Data and Frameworks

EE376A (Winter 2019)

Authors: Justin Lewis-Weber and Wyatt Pontius


There are millions of arbitrary modes of analysis that one could use to analyze information, but one distinction that we’ve found to be useful is the following bifurcation: between data and frameworks.

Data is “things known or assumed as facts, making the basis of reasoning or calculation” according to the dictionary. According to us, it’s facts, pieces of specific information about a thing. That is, they’re concrete and in regard to something specific. Importantly, they’re useless by themselves, not inherently valuable. For example, a single XY coordinate is not useful unless presented in context with other points.

Frameworks, on the other hand, are structures of thought – powerful tools that are, importantly 1) synthesized from analysis of data and  2) are used to analyze further data.

The amount of data in the world is potentially limitless, should we decide to measure everything in it. Frameworks allow us to compress that data into generalized trends and laws – where data is the chaos, frameworks provide the order. Frameworks are the moral of the story.

We are particularly curious about the power of frameworks, particularly in three aspects: 1) their compressive properties , 2)  their hierarchical nature, and 3) their projected future utilty.

Per point 2, we propose that frameworks exist on different orders. In the realm of physics, for example, there exist rather fundamental frameworks such as Newton’s Laws (in our back-of-the-napkin estimation, a 4th order framework) from which other more specific frameworks such as Bernoulli’s Principle (a 2nd order framework) can be derived. This is all in relation to data as the 0th order. The ‘order’ of a framework is directly related to its usefulness (point 3).

At the end of the day, we seek to develop an objective and quantified measure for the value of a framework–necessarily involving all three points above. The value of a framework, we believe, is the sum of its compressive value plus its future utility, which is dependent on its order.. We are still fleshing out the details of the quantification of these aspects for frameworks in different domains.


Throughout the quarter, we worked on constructing questionnaires that would evaluate knowledge in a given field from a basic, surface level understanding to a very deep possible understanding. From this, we believe that people’s understanding of different fields can be quantified and visualized. More importantly, we believe that such a 3D knowledge map could serve as a basis for better understanding aptitude as well as interests.


We sought to show children the compressive nature of a physics framework, namely newton’s law of gravitation. We constructed a “gravity well” out of a hula hoop, spandex, and a weight, where we rolled marbles like planets around the distorted ‘fabric’ of space-time. We explained to the children how the single newton’s law with 1/r^2 proportion (as approximated by the stretched spandex) compressed the data that was all of the position and velocity readings of the marbles across the surface, and even enabled accurate prediction and understanding of deeper physical laws.

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