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  1. #101
    Steve Smith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by st23 View Post
    As an aside question, when do you think time will end?
    Tuesday (pm).


    Steve.

  2. #102

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    Quote Originally Posted by st23 View Post
    You said something to the effect that infinity is impossible. I am stating (over and over for some reason) that infinity doesn't have to exist for the proposed monkey experiment. The monkeys don't need forever. Just a a long time. Forget about infinity is what i am saying.
    I know.
    I'm saying that if we do, the entire thing is pointless.

    Like i said, we can "start talking about another thing entirely. But then we would be, uhm... talking about another thing entirely."

    Quote Originally Posted by st23 View Post
    No, an impossible problem is not easy to solve. It is impossible to solve, by the definition of impossible. That's what impossible means. If it were possible to solve with an "impossible solution?????" as you say, it would not be impossible, by the definition of the word impossible. And to tell you the truth, an "impossible solution" is impossible, by the definition of the word impossible that you used to describe it. That's called logic. Not a meaningless group of symbols. Its how we form coherent arguments.

    if you think the monkey experiment is impossible you should give reasons or use logic, not just repeat that it is impossible.
    Yet the logic is so dead simple... I really think you are trying to find something so hard that you miss the obvious.
    An impossible solution is impossible. Indeed. It's no more complicated than that.
    So an impossible solution (in this case "infinity") is proposed.

    See how it works? And how the logic is impeccably coherent?

    Originally Posted by st23
    If it is impossible for monkeys to type Shakespeare's works it has nothing to do with the fact that we will not reach the end of time.

    Quote Originally Posted by st23 View Post
    Didn't you suggest that because infinity is impossible the experiment was impossible? I can't scroll back now for an exact quote. I was stating that if the experiment is impossible, it is impossible for some other reason, like monkeys cant type all the keys, etc. Has nothing to do with infinity existing.
    I said that infinity is dragged in to make an impossible thing seem possible.

    I also suggested - like you do here - that the monkeys not typing Shakespeare has nothing to do with infinity existing. (I think i said something like them all becoming bicycle repairmen instead.)

    So were fine.

    Quote Originally Posted by st23 View Post
    I'm not bending definitions and a sample of data can be appear more random than others.

    Which of these data sets 0 to 10 is more random:

    {1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,3,5,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1 ,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1}

    {1,4,8,2,9,1,3,2,0,7,8,1,7,3,9,5,2,7,8,4,1,1,3,1,4 ,5,6,3,2,3,5,7,8,2,1}
    Yes, you were bending definitions!

    And whether a sequence appears more random than another has nothing to do with being more random.
    If (!) you would be suggesting here that it does, you would again be bending definitions.

    Quote Originally Posted by st23 View Post
    Did you even read what I posted. I said it is possible to generate a "random" (note the quotes) sequence that is not repeatable by taking a value from the system clock. I suppose you could reset the clock and make sure the process runs at the same speed down to the millisecond. But as I said earlier... weather or not the characters generated fit you puristic vision of "random" is not important in the very least. It has to fit an even distribution of letters that for all practical purposes does what a "real" random number generator does. It can be repeatable. It can be repeatable by a first grader. It does not matter. It has to give a somewhat even distribution of letters. Therefor, you can't disregard the monkey experiment based on weather these are "REAL" random numbers or not as you did shown below:
    Assuming people haven't read what you wrote, repeating it once again, does nothing to improve what you wrote.

    But i will repeat what i said too: you cannot generate something that is random. The two ("generate" and "random") are mutually exclusive.

    I also noted the quotes (you will remember the "bending of definitions" thing).

    I also said a few times that fitting your purpose well enough is not sufficient to turn the not-random into random.
    An 'It's random enough for me' approach may be convenient. But we're then no longer talking about the thing we were talking about.
    Or in the words of a randomly (in your new definition) selected bit of what i wrote earlier: "We can start talking about another thing entirely. But then we would be, uhm... talking about another thing entirely."

    Is that "purist"? Perhaps.
    But no more than you liking coherent arguments.

    It's not purist, of course.
    Already used too often now (yet once again - this too is something those monkeys will do, with probability 1: repeat the same thing over and over again), but here's that quote again: "we can start talking about another thing entirely. But then we would be, uhm... talking about another thing entirely."
    Take away the thing that makes randomness randomness (its random nature) and you are no longer talking about randomness. There's nothing purist in that observation.


    Anyway. The monkeys will not rewrite Shakespeare.
    But we still like ourselves for the endless potential we think lurks inside of us, ready to unfold itself. If only given half a chance...

  3. #103

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    I'm not sure why I'm replying to this, because I'm starting to think you're not even trying to have a discussion in good faith, just jerking people's chains.

    Pity this thing doesn't do multi-layered quotes. From me, first:

    Are you saying that it's *impossible* for a monkey to type _Hamlet_? Or that it's impossible to assemble infinitely many monkeys? (And just as well, too.) Or something else entirely?
    Quote Originally Posted by Q.G. View Post
    All that too, yes.
    I don't get it. I'll agree that it's impossible to assemble an infinite number of monkeys, because there aren't that many monkeys; but why would you think it's *impossible*, rather than just very unlikely, for a monkey to type _Hamlet_? (Of course it is very unlikely; that's the point.)

    But as several people have pointed out, you don't need an infinite number of monkeys, even though that's the most common framing of the thought-experiment---all you need is one very long-lived monkey and one very durable typewriter. If the monkey hits keys at "random", for some suitable definition of "random" (more later), it will eventually, "almost certainly" (which is a technical term with a precise meaning), produce every possible sequence of keystrokes---and one possible sequence of keystrokes is _Hamlet_.

    You may have to wait a very, very, very long time. In fact, if you decide in advance how long you're going to wait, no amount of time is enough to *guarantee* that the monkey will give you _Hamlet_. But "almost certainly" means that, as you wait ever longer, the *probability* that the monkey will produce _Hamlet_ approaches 1.

    (This is why you need infinity to talk about it; without infinity you can't build the concept of a limit, which means no definition of convergence. It also means no calculus and no statistics, which is why I suggested upthread that you can't substantially do science without buying into the notion of infinity.)

    What i am saying is that suggestions that we do not need infinity is not true.
    At least not as long as you want to stay with the things as it was set out.

    We can change all that, start talking about another thing entirely. But then we would be, uhm... talking about another thing entirely.
    I'm not sure what you think "the things as it was set out" would be; this may be the most digressive thread in APUG history. But you were the one who started claiming that "infinity does not exist", without being willing to explain what you meant or pick a definition of "exist" to give your comment some weight.

    So what i am saying was that an impossible problem cannot be solved. A solution would be impossible.
    So 'is' (among other thingies) infinity. So infinity provides the perfect solution. We need infinity to have our monkeys type Shakespeare.
    But (and that's where the thing falls down nonetheless) only as a possibility. Given an impossible solution to an impossible problem, there is no chance in hell that they will actually type Shakespeare, not ever.
    What in the @(!$*^(@%# are you talking about? As far as I can tell, this paragraph could be summarised as "Because I insist that infinity does not exist, it is impossible for a monkey to type Shakespeare."


    (on whether computers can generate random numbers)
    But it is not. "Random" and the-result-of-something-we-do (directly or by proxy) are two things that will never meet.
    What, because you say so? Are you saying that in fact a quantum RNG *isn't* random, and that therefore you know something about quantum mechanics that no one else knows? If so, write it down and get in line for your Nobel, dude!

    (me)
    Quantum effects are, as far as we know, truly random. (It's possible that there's something deterministic going on that we don't get, but a lot of experimental results in QM suggest otherwise. If the collapse of a wavefunction isn't "random", it's almost certainly something entirely new that we don't have a word for.) Those effects show up in the real world in phenomena like "flicker noise" in electronics, and it's easy enough to hook up a simple circuit as a peripheral to a computer and use its noise as a source of random numbers.
    Again, you are giving meaning to terms using things we do not understand.
    No, I'm not. Quantum effects are well-defined, concrete, and observable, and many of them, as far as we know, have no causality whatsoever.

    For someone who presumes to know everything about randomness, you've been curiously reticent about saying what you mean by it. Personally, I'd go with "the probability of any given sample taking each of the possible values is equal" as a decent thumbnail definition---it's not formally tight but it'll do. The output of a variety of quantum processes, as far as anyone has yet been able to determine, meets that definition; so what exactly is your problem with this discussion?

    (me)
    You could argue that this isn't the *computer* "doing" randomness, and in a literal sense you'd be right, but you might as well say "computers can't display images" (because it's the monitor, not the CPU, that does the display).
    And again this bending thingy: "You can 'bend' definitions to make them fit what you can have. But that's nothing else but cheating."
    So what's your point? That computers *can't* display images? As I said, if you want to plant your flag on that argument, no one can prove you wrong, but it seems like a pointlessly reductive way to describe a "computer", and I'm pretty sure it isn't what anyone else in this discussion means by the word.

    (me)
    The reason quantum-randomness peripherals are uncommon isn't that there's something "impossible" about them, it's just that there's hardly any need for them. For *almost* everything people do with computers, a pseudo-RNG is good enough, but that's not the same as saying it's the *only* thing that can be done.
    And again: "Being "adequate" is not a substitute for lacking randomness. Something that is not random is not random. No matter how well it may suit your needs."
    I don't think you actually read the quote you responded to. That was exactly my point; most "random" numbers generated by computers are not, of course, random. But that's not because there's some sort of Chinese wall between computers and randomness; it's because pseudorandom is usually good enough.

    Your argument, if I understand it aright, is that "random" is a vacuous concept that doesn't exist. Well, I'm sorry, but as far as the state of human knowledge about quantum mechanics goes at this point in history, you're just wrong; there are real, observable phenomena in the physical world that are flat-out random by any reasonable definition.

    (Disclaimer: As with everything else in science, we might turn out to be wrong. That's life. But if "we could be wrong" is your best argument against the collapse of a wavefunction being a random process, you gotta explain why you don't take the same line of argument to say that gravity, light-sensitive media, monkeys, and typewriters don't exist either.)

    ("random")

    We do not need a "right" definition (again a slippery term is introduced to make the murky even more murky) to bend the definition we have and use. No.
    I think, with all due respect, that you have no idea what you're talking about when you say "random" or "infinity". You talk about "the definition we have and use" as if it were obvious, but you're not willing to enlighten me as to what you think that obvious definition is? What's, as I'm told the kids say nowadays, up with that?

    -NT
    Last edited by ntenny; 05-28-2010 at 03:47 PM. Click to view previous post history. Reason: formatting
    Nathan Tenny
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  4. #104

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    Quote Originally Posted by ntenny View Post
    I'm not sure why I'm replying to this, because I'm starting to think you're not even trying to have a discussion in good faith, just jerking people's chains.
    Why???

    But i'll then make sure not to jerk your chain.
    Nice way to end a discussion, that. "In good faith" indeed. Thanks.

  5. #105
    nick mulder's Avatar
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    Like I said back in post 46:

    I should prefix this all with 'there will always be someone smarter than you on the net' - at least someone who thinks they are, and may just convince you they are, even though they aren't
    and I note we've hit quantum physics - so again, anyone want to take a punt on how many posts until many worlds theorem pops up ? (post 47)

    Now that's what I call active observer bias
    Cleared the bowel problem, working on the consonants...

  6. #106

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    Quote Originally Posted by nick mulder View Post
    Like I said back in post 46:



    and I note we've hit quantum physics - so again, anyone want to take a punt on how many posts until many worlds theorem pops up ? (post 47)

    Now that's what I call active observer bias
    See post 37!

    Is there not supposed to be an infinite number of alternative dimensions?

    If so, in one of them the monkeys are taking all the picctures and we are in the trees.
    Sim2 with an infinite number of opinions!!

  7. #107

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    I would like to apologize to for the comment about the phrase being not "logical." I was actually going to delete this but didn't get to the computer in time. Perhaps it is not a big deal that I typed it, but I was not relevant to the topic or probably even correct. I was just blowing off steam, and I just need to ignore some comments, not make comments of my own that are not constructive or pertinent.

    I was commenting on something I felt was redundant or arguing in reverse, like saying "something is wrong because its wrong." I realize an "impossible solution" is probably just an oxymoron and has nothing to do with logic. That's why I put "and to tell you the truth" to imply that it was an aside note. I think I realized it would probably not be perceived as such, but didn't care at the time. I probably should have put a smiley face after it, or better yet not typed it. My comment on the value of logic was out of place, and sounds silly and I would like to apologize.

    By contributing to this thread, I was trying to express how I understood the problem and hoping for constructive dialog. I do not know enough about statistics or probability to claim to know the answer. I started out making silly comments or or taking art too seriously at other points, but I actually saw the value of the statments I was skeptical of at first.

    Constructive comments were made for both sides of the issue. The path the thread took explains why some who have a far greater understanding of the problem than I may not have commented further and some don't join threads like this at all.

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