Is there a "protocol kernel" or "kernel of protocol"?

Is it possible to distill a “kernel” from protocols, potentially leading to a deeper understanding of their nature?

In computer science, a kernel forms the core of an operating system, managing communication between software and hardware. Similarly, in linear algebra, the kernel of a matrix is the set of all vectors that map to the zero vector when multiplied by the matrix.

The phrase “kernel of truth” implies that even within embellished or distorted statements, a core of truth persists, and an essential message can be extracted from surrounding noise.

So, is there an analogous “protocol kernel” or “kernel of protocol” that represents the essential principles or components common across different protocols? Or does each protocol category possess its own distinct, irreducible kernel?


In what direction(s) is the kernel convoluting?

Your mention of convolution hints at varying degrees of complexity. Can we draw an analogy between the kernel of a protocol and an OS microkernel, whereby the ‘convolution’ vector explains how a protocol’s fundamental principles might remain stable even as its overall complexity increases through new extensions or layers?

yea if protocol has kernel and protocol exist in some way in the operator, the kernel should exist in the operator. there might be a microkernel equiv in my mind when i do a handshake, question is how we describe it

What’s the kernel of a roommate-finding protocol then?

kernel might relate to expressed or unexpressed data, tested or untested statements of potential roommate, for RFP1 to have some basis

kernel might contain some superposition state of those that go into creating the next kernel

“Superradiance” and the concept of a “kernel of protocol” in human systems may share an interesting parallel.

In superradiance, specific quantum states exhibit resilience, maintaining coherence despite environmental fluctuations. Similarly, a robust protocol kernel enables human systems to withstand social, economic, or environmental stresses, ensuring that fundamental interactions remain functional and effective.

While distinct, the parallel in how coherence and effectiveness emerge from disorder may also offer another perspective on “protocol hardness”.

I think this will turn out to be something closer to a vector embedding of the “intelligence” of the protocol in an underlying latent space. A kind of ghost in the machine rather than a kernel in the OS sense.

And not all protocols will have these. Only big-P protocols that are also hyperobject type infrastructures. So there is no ghost in the machine of “handshakes” as a protocol, but there is likely one in “Los Angeles traffic.”

My suspicion is, this kernel will be something like the “message of the medium” – a set of illegible biases. Like typical traffic conditions in Los Angeles, like “The 101S is backed up in the mornings due to rush hour.” Keller Easterling used the word “dispositions” of infrastructure to talk about something similar. An essence/essential nature.

Another good example. Most pragmatic bureaucracies are designed in part to “kill by delay.” I’ve lately made a sharp, mutually exclusive distinction between protocols and bureaucracies, but to the extent they’re overlapping concepts, that would be part of it.

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yea if there is a “what what” like in an OS it’s more like a physics problem.

in the ghost sense kinda like how 2 programs ordering a bunch of if () {} differently creates a bias. when we read the lines it doesn’t seem much different. but observable when the it runs slow enough.

it’d also be fun if there are actors assuming different OS-like kernels

audience can teach them subsets of protocols and discover biases

I’ve previously played with the idea that the protocol is not the mediator, rather a set of rules and norms shaping how the medium operates. While the protocol facilitates exchange, it’s the medium - the underlying infrastructure, technology, or social context - that carries the weight of the message.

While my analogy to the kernel of an operating system may overemphasize a technical perspective, I still wonder if there’s value in examining the core functions that enable a protocol to operate. Perhaps instead of “kernel” we could think of it as a “protocol engine” responsible for executing the rules and procedures defined by the protocol. Although not necessarily a mediator itself, this engine plays a crucial role in how the protocol interacts with its environment.

The mention of “big-P protocols” and “hyperobject type infrastructures” makes me wonder if it is better to focus on viewing protocol kernels more through a cultural or societal lens