Looking at TAE from a programming perspective

Kye Nelson


The TAE steps are a program or algorithm: that is, a finite set of instructions which accomplish a particular task.  An algorithm must satisfy these criteria:

  1. input,
  2. output,
  3. definiteness—each instruction is clear and unambiguous,
  4. finiteness—the algorithm will terminate after a finite number of steps, and
  5. effectiveness—every instruction must be basic and feasible.


In other words, an algorithm is a precise means for predictably accomplishing a specific purpose.


The purpose of TAE is to find and represent the inherent structure within what is known experientially.  The output of the TAE algorithm is essentially a description of a set of conceptual positions (which in programming would be called variables or data objects) and the ways they are related.  TAE has the interesting characteristic of being a program which articulates such logical structures within what is known, while usual programs simply use logical structures and boolean (that is, predicate logic) operations to manipulate data, without generating any new logical structure in the process.


TAE facilitates the capture, communication, and leveraging of knowledge abstracted from lived human experience, by means of the construction of formal theories.  In this it differs from phenomenological research, which typically constructs narratives. TAE introduces new concepts and re-formulates old concepts which before did not work adequately to describe lived experience.  It is concerned with modelling—specifically, with constructing theories about living processes as they are known from inside—where a model is formally understood to have these characteristics:

  1. it is a complete abstraction of a system or context, where complete means that all the information one needs to understand the content of the model is contained within it,
  2. it focuses on relevant details and ignores insignificant ones,
  3. it consists of elements (or submodels which are themselves composed of elements), and
  4. it captures characteristics, structure (including spatial and temporal relationships), and behavior (including interactions, states, transitions, and responses) of elements.


Thus, TAE can be seen as a new kind of algorithm which constructs theories (where a theory is understood to be a kind of model) in a new kind of science: a first person science. 


In TAE, each position in the logical structure can hold any one of a set or cluster of terms.  These terms have a funny quality: they both are and are not interchangeable in that position.  (To see why, try working through the first four steps, and notice the ways in which the resulting terms both do unquestionably fit within that slot, and also each bring different characteristics to that slot.)  This is one of the ways in which TAE in a sense moves beyond logic, by making room within a logical structure for the more-than-logical.