Author Archives: nogre

Water Water Everywhere

Running water is one of the most amazing things in this world. Turn a knob, water flows.

But even here in America we are starting to have problems:

Soon enough we are all going to have to decide between water and power. What really worries me is I have no idea who is going to make that decision.

Posted in internet.

Rock Paper Scissors

Rock Paper Scissors is a game in which 2 players each choose one of three options: either rock, paper or scissors.  Then the players simultaneously reveal their choices.  Rock beats scissors but loses to paper (rock smashes scissors); Paper beats rock and loses to scissors (paper covers rock); Scissors beats paper but loses to rock (scissors cut paper).  This cyclical payoff scheme (Rock > Scissors, Scissors > Paper, Paper > Rock) can be represented by this rubric:

Child 2
rock paper scissors
Child 1 rock 0,0 -1,1 1,-1
paper 1,-1 0,0 -1,1
scissors -1,1 1,-1 0,0
(ref: Shor, Mikhael, “Rock Paper Scissors,” Dictionary of Game Theory Terms, Game Theory .net,  <>  Web accessed: 22 September 2010)

However, if we want to describe the game of Rock Paper Scissors – not just the payoff scheme – how are we to do it?

Ordinary logics have no mechanism for representing simultaneous play.  Therefore Rock Paper Scissors is problematic because there is no way to codify the simultaneous revelation of the players’ choices.

However, let’s treat the simultaneous revelation of the players’ choices as a device to prevent one player from knowing the choice of the other.  If one player were to know the choice of the other, then that player would always have a winning strategy by selecting the option that beats the opponent’s selection.  For example, if Player 1 knew (with absolute certainty) that Player 2 was going to play rock, then Player 1 would play paper, and similarly for the other options.  Since certain knowledge of the opponent’s play trivializes and ruins the game, it is this knowledge that must be prevented.

Knowledge – or lack thereof – of moves can be represented within certain logics.  Ordinarily all previous moves within logic are known, but if we declare certain moves to be independent from others, then those moves can be treated as unknown.  This can be done in Independence Friendly Logic, which allows for explicit dependence relations to be stated.

So, let’s assume our 2 players, Abelard (∀) and Eloise (∃) each decide which of the three options he or she will play out of the Domain {r, p, s} .  These decisions are made without knowledge of what the other has chosen, i.e. independently of each other.

∀x ∃y/∀x

This means that Abelard chooses a value for x first and then Eloise chooses a value for y.  The /∀x next to y means that the choice of y is made independently from, without knowledge of the value of, x.

R-P-S: ∀x ∃y/∀x (Vxy)

The decisions are then evaluated according to V, which is some encoding of the above rubric like this:

V: x=y → R-P-S &
x=r & y=s → T &
x=r & y=p → F &
x=p & y=r → T &
x=p & y=s → F &
x=s & y=p → T &
x=s & y=r → F

T means Abelard wins; F means Eloise wins.  R-P-S means play more Rock Paper Scissors!

Johan van Benthem, Sujata Ghosh and Fenrong Liu put together a sophisticated and generalized logic for concurrent action:

Posted in game theory, independence friendly logic, logic, philosophy. Tagged with , , , .

RIP Satoshi Kon

NY Times Obit

Last Words

WTF.  satoshi kon falls to cancer.  dammit.


Go watch Paranoia Agent.  i used to have the picture of maromi as my desktop background.

Watch Paranoia Agent 01 in Animation |  View More Free Videos Online at
Posted in art, news. Tagged with , .

$1000 Philosophy Blogging Prize

3 Quarks Daily is putting up a grand for the best philosophy blog post of the last year; $300 and $200 for 2nd and 3rd places respectively.  If any of you out there have written something good, or there is something you read that you really like, nominate it! [philosophy of science needs a better representation people]

3 Quarks Daily Prize

Posted in internet, news, philosophy. Tagged with , , .

Rewrite of Evolution

New theory of evolution!  Hooray!

Patched a bunch of things together to make a nice story.  Fixed the little issue about fitness being circular.  Expanded natural selection to apply more generally.  Causal structure.  Epistemological foundations.  ooOoOO0Ooooooo.

And it’s good fun.  I swear.  Epistemology, history of physics, evolution… makes me happy.  You should really read it.

Download here. [pdf, 304kb]

Posted in biology, epistemology, evolution, fitness, General Relativity, measurement, philosophy, physics, Relativity, science. Tagged with , , , , , , , .

bah humbug

I haven’t done a link roundup in a while, so be assured that all these links are awesome.

[via information aesthetics]


Animal of the Month: Immortal Jellyfish

‘Immortal’ jellyfish swarming across the world – Telegraph


In second place is: Giant meat-eating plants prefer to eat tree shrew poo – BBC – Earth News


A Softer World: 395


[via Don’t Panic > Magazine > Desire > THE BLACK HEART GANG]


Beautiful and depraved: “Absolutely amazing.  Welcome back Massive Attack. And Mazzy Star. Two of the most iconic performers I’ve ever experienced.  And then this woman.  Wow.” Not safe for work. [if that link isn’t working, the video is here too.]


[via Whitezine]


“Perhaps nothing has been more influential in determining the popular perception of the Italian game than furbizia, the art of guile… The word ‘furbizia’ itself means guile, cunning or astuteness. It refers to a method which is often (and admittedly) rather sly, a not particularly by-the-book approach to the performative, tactical and psychological part of the game. Core to furbizia is that it is executed by means of stratagems which are available to all players on the pitch, not only to one team. What are these stratagems? Here are a few: tactical fouls, taking free kicks before the goalkeeper has finished positioning himself, time-wasting, physical or verbal provocation and all related psychological games, arguably even diving… Anyone can provoke an adversary, but it takes real guile (real furbizia) to find the weakest links in the other team’s psychology, then wear them out and bite them until something or someone gives in – all without ever breaking a single rule in the book of football.

But if gamesmanship is so rewarding, why are some teams reluctant to embrace it? Why do the Spanish play such a clean version of the game and consider these tactics to be beneath them, while their closest neighbors, the Italians and Portuguese, have no such qualms? Here is Tallarita’s explanation:
Ultimately, these differences come from two irreconcilable visions of the game. The Spanish style understands football as something like a fencing match, a rapid and meticulous art of noble origins where honour is the brand of valour. To the Italians, football is more like an ancient battle, a primal and inclement bronze-age scenario where survival rules over honour.

But this just begs the question: why are the visions of the game so different in nations that are geographically and culturally so close?

Rajiv Sethi: Gamesmanship and Collective Reputation [via]


[via Core77]

Posted in fun, internet. Tagged with , .

Aesthetic Highs of Soccer

I love soccer as a sport.   I played it growing up and only quit when it started getting serious (too many elbows to the head in one game and I figured it just wasn’t what I was looking for any more – it gets nasty in the box).  So it concerns me that here in the good ol’ US of A many people do not seem to appreciate it.

What I started thinking about was that each goal in soccer is something very special, more special than any single thing to any other game in another sport.

As I thought about this over the last few days the NBA finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics have been going on.  [Full discloser: I don’t love basketball, though this may have something to do with the Knicks being horrible.]  However, I only watch the last quarter of those games.  Sure great plays happen all game, but it always seems to come down to who can make the biggest plays at the end.  There is a great quote by Jordan which is something like, “It is not enough to play well, you have to have something left to finish with.”  The game goes to whichever player or whichever team makes the plays at the end; the first three quarters are just a preamble.

Putting this all together, watching soccer is like watching the last 10 minutes of a basketball game, but for the full 90+ minutes.  The individual or team plays that lead to a goal are like the critical brilliant plays that Bryant makes at the end to edge out the other team.  It is this brilliance that can happen at any moment which makes soccer so exciting.

Posted in art, news, philosophy. Tagged with , , , .


If there were a verb meaning ‘to believe falsely’, it would not have any significant first person present indicative.

Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, II x

Interesting that there is no significant first person present indicative of self disrespect.  Consider, with Moore’s Paradox in mind:  ‘I disrespect myself by sitting here, but I am doing it anyway.’

* * * * *

Considering disrespect”s relation to Moore’s Paradox at issue here, it begs the question, ‘What is the analysis of Moore’s Paradox?’  For given an answer to that, we might have a parallel answer for disrespect.

My stance is that a person’s statements about the truth are indistinguishable from statements of how he or she is going to act.  Also, statements about a person’s beliefs are about how that person plans on acting.  So Moore’s Paradox breaks down to saying that you are going to act one way but then planning on acting a different way, yielding a contradiction.

This suggests that if you believe that Moore’s Paradox has something to do with predicting how the speaker will act, then the similar form of self-disrespect may likewise be about self-knowledge.

Venturing a tentative opinion, let’s assume that respect has something to do with capabilities.  You have to respect the strengths of your enemies;  they are capable of fighting back.  You have to treat dangerous objects with respect because they can hurt you.  You respect people you like because they have done or can do things that are difficult.

Disrespecting someone is to treat that person as incapable when they are not.

Disrespecting yourself would be to treat yourself as incapable when you are not.  So in any case that you could say you were disrespecting yourself, you would know you were capable of greater things and yet not changing.  Hence it makes sense that there is no first person present indicative of self-disrespect on this analysis.

Posted in philosophy, wittgenstein. Tagged with , , , .

Revision and Hypothesis Introduction

Say we have some theory that we represent with a formula of logic.  In part it looks like this:

[1] …(∃z) … Pz …

This says that at some point in the theory there is some object z that has property P.

After much hard work, we discover that the object z with property P can be described as the combination of two more fundamental objects w and v with properties R and S:

[2] …(∃z) … Pz … ⇒ …(∃w)(∃v) … (Rw & Sv)…

Now lets say that in our theory, any object that had property P depended upon some other objects, x and y:

[3] …(∀x)(∀y)…(∃z) … Pz …

In our revised theory we know that objects w and v must somehow depend upon x and y, but there are many more possible dependence patterns that two different objects can have as compared to z alone.  Both w and v could depend upon x and y:

[4] …(∀x)(∀y)…(∃w)(∃v) … (Rw & Sv)…

However, let’s say that w depends on x but not y, and v depends on y but not x.  Depending on the rest of the formula, it may be possible to rejigger the order of the quantifiers to reflect this, but maybe not.  If we allow ourselves to declare dependencies and independencies, arbitrary patterns of dependence can be handled.  The forward slash means to ignore the dependency of the listed quantified variable:

[5] …(∀x)(∀y)…(∃w/∀y) (∃v/∀x) … (Rw & Sv)…

Besides the convenience and being able to represent arbitrary dependence structures, I think there is another benefit for this use of the slash notation:  theoretical continuity.  In formula [2] above, there is a double right arrow which I used to represent the change from z to w and v, and P to R and S.  However, I created this use of the double right arrow for this specific purpose;  there is no way within normal logic to represent such a change.  That is, there is no method to get from formula [3] to formula [4] or [5], even though there is supposed to be some sort of continuity between these formulas.

Insofar as the slash notation from Independence Friendly Logic allows us to drop in new quantified variables without restructuring the rest of the formula, we can use this process as a logical move like modus ponens (though, perhaps, not as truth preserving).  Tentatively I’ll call it ‘Hypothesis Introduction’:


  1. …(∀x)(∀y)…(∃z) … Pz …
  2. …(∀x)(∀y)…(∃w/∀y) (∃v/∀x) … (Rw & Sv)…      (HI [1])

The move from line one to line two changes the formula while providing a similar sort of continuity as used in deduction.

One potential application of this would be to Ramsey Sentences.  With the addition of Hypothesis Introduction, we can generalize the Ramsey Sentence into, if you will, a Ramsey Lineage, which would chart the changes of one Ramsey Sentence to another, one theory to another.

A second application, and what got me thinking about this in the first place, was to game theory.  When playing a game against an opponent, it is mostly best to assume that they are rational.  What happens when the opponent does something apparently irrational?  Either you can play as if they are irrational or you can ignore it and continue to play as if they hadn’t made such a move.  By using Hypothesis Introduction to introduce a revision into the game structure, however, you can create a scenario that might reflect an alternate game that your opponent might be playing.  In this way you can maintain your opponent’s rationality and explain the apparently irrational move as a rational move in a different game that is similar to the one you are playing.  This alternate game could be treated as a branch off the original.  The question would then be to discover who is playing the ‘real’ game – a question of information and research, not rationality.

Posted in game theory, independence friendly logic, logic, philosophy, science. Tagged with , .

RIP Guru

rest in peace guru.

Posted in art, news, NYC. Tagged with , .