What are you working on? August 2012

post by RobertLumley · 2012-08-03T15:10:05.004Z · score: 7 (8 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 95 comments

This is the bimonthly 'What are you working On?' thread. Previous threads are here. So here's the question:

What are you working on? 

Here are some guidelines:


Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by wmorgan · 2012-08-03T16:35:53.931Z · score: 26 (26 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Dating. Progress from June, February, December, October.

A year into my experiment, I'm glad to finally report some success: I asked a girl out and she said yes and we had a very nice time together ending in my first real sexual intimacy. I tried to see her again, and she was enthusiastic about the prospect for a week or so, but things cooled after that. I think she moved on.

For a long time before this I had to seriously consider some scary hypotheses about myself, many along the lines of "you are so X that you'll never Y." I've updated all of those downward. But as far as the actual date went, I don't think my changes of the last two months had much to do with it. In the honesty of calm retrospection, no theory fits as well as "we both wanted to," i.e. "I got lucky," i.e. I don't actually know exactly what works and what doesn't, yet.


A year ago, I wouldn't even have been in a position to have this kind of good fortune. And even if, say, half the effort was hers, well, the other half came from somewhere, along with a bunch of nontrivial skills that took practice & research & reflection to build. I could name a dozen ways that the night would have sucked if it happened to wmorgan_2010. But it was actually awesome, and while I can already feel myself climbing back on the hedonic treadmill, for now I'm very very happy to have finally completed level three. Next subgoal is to do it again.

comment by roland · 2012-08-04T08:31:16.549Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

One thing that made a huge difference for me: record yourself when talking to strangers and listen to it afterwards. Unbelievable how much insight I got and awareness of my own clumsiness/mistakes once I listened to myself talking. The way I do it is I carry a small digital recorder under my shirt and just press record before I start talking.

comment by RomeoStevens · 2012-08-05T02:24:08.541Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

this sounds terrifying.

which probably means it's a really good idea.

comment by juliawise · 2012-08-06T13:36:01.327Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

When deciding to do this, you should take into account that it may be illegal, depending on whether you're in a public space and what state you're in.

comment by bbleeker · 2012-08-08T11:24:46.979Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Why did that get voted down? juliawise is right. Also, I'm not a very socially ept person either, so I'd hate it if someone were to record me that way.

comment by iDante · 2012-08-03T16:20:09.433Z · score: 20 (20 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm an undergrad astronomy researcher. About a month ago my advisor asked me if I'd ever heard of a strange thing called "Bayesian statistics." I had, thanks to lesswrong :D.

Recently there's been a movement in astronomy research towards Bayes. Astronomy is one of the most statistical of the physicses, so it's about time this happened. The recent rush has been almost entirely caused by the rise of MCMC algorithms and increasing computing power.

Anyway, my project has been to redo a bunch of statistics from an old paper of his with new data and the new statistics. At first I didn't think it would be any fun, but I've made huge progress and MCMC is really cool. I'm lucky that my advisor is good and gave me a "big picture." Turns out with decent statistics we'll be able to constrain cosmological parameters like the ratio of dark matter to luminous matter and such. Over the last few weeks I've figured everything important out. I've done all my fits, made a whole lotta graphs, and I'm writing a paper. Yeah!

On the side I'm teaching myself general relativity and figuring out how to better teach special relativity.

comment by VincentYu · 2012-08-04T18:32:14.422Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Nice. How are you implementing MCMC? Are you using one of the Gibbs samplers like BUGS or JAGS?

I'm also an astronomy undergrad, working with infrared spectra. I don't currently need MCMC, but it's interesting and I might play around with JAGS in the future.

comment by iDante · 2012-08-04T19:37:43.196Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I didn't use a Gibbs sampler but they seem useful. This article has some JAGS code you can check out. I actually used a python sampler called emcee. It's nice for simpler fits, but gets messy when you have complicated priors and such. For the most part I was doing "simple" linear fits and I followed Hogg's approach (look in section 8). There's some article by Kelly in 2007 that goes over this also but that one is already dated.

Posterior distributions from samplers are really fun to play with.

comment by Manfred · 2012-08-03T16:50:42.530Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Well, the thing you might be interested in is that I'm thoroughly revamping the combat system of Yvain's Dungeons and Discourse RPG (sorry, not linkable yet, but Yvain's original can be found here). This involves me riffling through a lot of philosophy summaries for cool skill names. Marxist: "Perpetual Revolution." Nietzschean: "Will to Power." Materialist: "Summon: Laplace's Demon." Idealist: "Summon: Cave." So it's been good for my philosophical education. I'm doing this both because I'm enjoying turning philosophy into sweet RPG humor, and because I plan on using it. The learning part is merely a happy side-effect.

comment by J_Taylor · 2012-08-03T22:58:41.943Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

"Perpetual Revolution"

I believe that you may be thinking of Permanent Revolution. If I could recommend some cool Marxist (or, Marx-descended) terms: Revolutionary Terror, Antagonistic Contradiction, Metabolic Rift, Dual Power, Struggle Session.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-08-04T00:58:08.122Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

How far down the Marxist rabbit hole can we go...?

Alienation of Labor, Hauntology, Summon: Spectre of Communism, Chocolate Laxative, Desert of the Real.

comment by Xachariah · 2012-08-06T09:52:27.115Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Permanent Revolution lasts until dispelled or you succeed on a saving throw.

Perpetual Revolution revolution requires a new saving throw each round. :D

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-08-19T17:00:08.836Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

In addition, they both grant damage reduction 10/icepick.

comment by Manfred · 2012-08-04T03:17:58.945Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I actually had it correct in my notes, I just recalled it wrong :)

And thanks for the suggestions! Now I can replace "Class of Conflict" with something that sounds much better.

Also, I must warn you I'm playing pretty fast and loose with what's "Marxist" - for example, one of the passives is New Soviet Man.

comment by Alejandro1 · 2012-08-03T18:24:39.164Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Do you know the hilarious Philosophy Action Figures?

comment by Manfred · 2012-08-04T03:26:24.074Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

No, I had not :D

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2012-08-06T13:50:19.279Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

"Eternal Recurrence".

comment by Manfred · 2012-08-06T15:50:40.875Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Already in there :P

comment by Bill_McGrath · 2012-08-05T11:40:31.791Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Will this be made available for play? I suspect at least one other of my gaming buddies would love to try this out.

comment by Manfred · 2012-08-05T12:00:00.342Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Feel free to remind me in about three weeks (when I expect to be done), if I haven't posted something where you can find it.

comment by Alicorn · 2012-08-03T18:39:55.036Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Are you collaborating with Yvain/have you his blessing on this or are you just doing it on your own? (I don't think he'd mind, I'm just curious if it's Official.)

comment by Manfred · 2012-08-04T03:20:19.989Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Oh my, I would never do anything unOfficial.

comment by Vaniver · 2012-08-03T17:07:15.333Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I've gotten far enough in my MLP rationalist fanfic that I'm pretty sure it will see the light of day. I have a very edit-heavy writing style, though- I'd much rather have the entire thing be complete and then release it than go chapter by chapter- which is highly atypical for successful online writers, which worries me. (As far as I can tell, it's standard for normal writers). I think I'm also at the point where having people reading my drafts will be interesting for them and motivating for me- so if you're interested in being an alpha reader, send me a PM.

(Why? Because ponies are fun, it's something to do at night before falling asleep, and I'd like to add to the growing rationalist fiction genre. And, who knows, maybe more bronies will end up at LessWrong.)

comment by lukeprog · 2012-08-04T02:05:01.726Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Your process is crazy. You need to learn from feedback. Edit the first chapter a bunch and post it, and learn.

comment by Vaniver · 2012-08-04T02:38:03.596Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

In general, I agree with iterative releases, and the position of editor exists for good reason. The two problems I see with the typical online writer release schedule are that the first iteration of a story is generally not the first chapter, but the skeleton, and that feedback about released chapters can only impact unreleased chapters. For example, the first chapter includes a letter whose wording may be significant- and so it'd be nice to have the significance of the wording nailed down before I nail down the wording itself. I'm also considering having the braided story structure common in some fiction, which looks much easier when you write the strands separately and then braid them.

The compromise that I'm currently attempting is basically writing the skeleton of the whole story, adjusting that until I'm happy with it, and then fleshing it out from the start to the finish, releasing chapters as they're fleshed out. We will see what I actually end up doing.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2012-08-03T23:06:09.432Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Pony rationalist fiction? Taken as seriously as is evident from your tone? MUST READ!

Please tell me somehow when you're done.

comment by maia · 2012-08-03T21:32:33.063Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)


comment by DanielLC · 2012-08-03T22:26:24.521Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm working on a relativistic shoot-em-up. I decided to work on it because it's pretty cool, and it's fairly easy, so I can use it to sort of work my way up to the really awesome stuff I want to do.

comment by shminux · 2012-08-03T22:37:48.246Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I wonder how accurate this can be. Certainly would be really hard to do well for multi-player (how would you implement mutual time dilation and subsequent speed-up based on relative velocities and accelerations, given that proper times of each player are the same?). Space contraction and single-player should be doable. Modeling time dilation for NPCs would be a challenge.

comment by DanielLC · 2012-08-04T02:31:08.949Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I probably won't do multiplayer. I have an idea to make it work, but it only really works if you play against each other, and I've never seen a shoot 'em up that does that.

Time dilation being a challenge depends on the paths used. I tried using Bezier curves, but it turns out that it's impossible to calculate how much apparent time has passed between two events on the curve. I would just calculate it numerically for each enemy, but that wouldn't work for any enemy that follows the player, since its path would be procedural.

Length contraction is easy. Terrell rotation is not. I have yet to find an equation for a first approximation matrix.

Also, there is a problem with stuff red- and blue-shifting out of the visible spectrum.

comment by RolfAndreassen · 2012-08-11T23:43:53.377Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Can't you just make your game objects radiate a realistic Boltzmann spectrum, perhaps arbitrarily declaring that they all have a fairly high temperature? Then they won't go invisible; their infrared or ultraviolet parts will shift into the visible spectrum to compensate.

comment by DanielLC · 2012-08-12T02:06:06.828Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I was thinking about that.

Right now I have it set up to use a period of a sin wave to represent how much reception that color gets from that frequency. Integrating that times the blackbody radiation thing gets some crazy result. If I use a bell curve instead, it's much shorter, but it involves a polylog.

I might be able to get away with having the receptor things only work with one frequency if all the colors are spread out enough.

Also, I don't know how the radiation spectrum works when the object isn't black, or how to look it up.

comment by RolfAndreassen · 2012-08-12T17:18:08.505Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Well, all you want is a reasonable approximation. I would just say "It has this colour inside the visible spectrum, and blackblody otherwise".

comment by RomeoStevens · 2012-08-05T02:22:58.606Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Why is that last one a problem? The in game universe should explicitly acknowledge this as an actual problem you'd encounter if you were flying around in space and use false color or something.

comment by DanielLC · 2012-08-05T04:46:43.148Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's not a technical problem, but it's still a problem. I want it to look right, so I don't want to just use false color and mess with the wavelengths. I don't want bullets to turn invisible when they come at you too fast. For now, I just have it show some minimum color if it shifts out of the visible spectrum, or even if it's just black. I don't want to do that in the actual game, though. I'm thinking of giving stuff colors outside the visible spectrum, and maybe just making most of the enemy bullets infrared.

comment by dbaupp · 2012-08-04T08:01:59.398Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Out of interest, are you achieving the relativistic effect by setting the speed of light very low?

comment by DanielLC · 2012-08-04T18:46:30.613Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I haven't set a scale yet, but the speed of light is presumably what it is in real life.

comment by metanat · 2012-08-04T08:43:19.669Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

A Bayesian Calculator with visualization that is easy to drop into existing web pages. It is built in JavaScript, HTML and CSS. I've been working on this for around a year on and off. Richard Carrier was looking for a replacement calculator for the one he uses in his introduction to Bayes Theorem material, and I was at the time looking to better understand and develop intuition for Bayes Theorem. There are a number of features I intend to add (more visualizations, more config options and other things identified here), and also some refactoring work that needs to take place.

The project is hosted on github for anyone interested in helping or looking at the way it is implemented.

The graph I like the most is the area-proportional venn graph.

comment by Oscar_Cunningham · 2012-08-04T09:33:28.711Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

You should tell Eliezer. He sometimes updates his Intuitive Explanation of Bayes Theorem, and so might want to use your calculator.

comment by metanat · 2012-08-04T10:19:44.085Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

There is one feature in particular that would be good to implement before sending it to Eliezer. The ability to configure the calculators default values and labels would be really useful for this intuitive explanation page.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-08-03T17:30:33.531Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Publishing Kindle editions of the work of Dora Marsden (1882 - 1960). Her trajectory is fascinating: from suffragist to suffragette to secularist to anarchist to egoist. To mental ill health? To long-term isolation and confinement, definitely. While not forgotten, her work is not in currency. I'd like to change that. The only other Kindle title on Marsden is generated by robots and costs six times more than my book. The only print book on Marsden published in the past twenty-plus years is nearly one hundred dollars used. By human-editing my edition, providing a new introduction and making it inexpensive, I'm hoping more people will read her work. Perhaps also read more egoism in general.

From my introduction... "Post-everything by 1913. Reading books of comics twenty years before the first comic book was published. Small-press publishing forty years before the first photocopier. Social media savvy eighty years before the Web."

Volume one is here.

Volume two is what I'm working on.

PS: just this morning applied to teach how to make model rockets at local science museum. Hope to increase number of model rocket builders by making it accessible to many kinds of brains, hands and budgets. This is barely in progress, but if accepted will be a larger undertaking.

comment by Raemon · 2012-08-03T15:54:36.663Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Been working on a website for a network of meetup groups promoting effective altruism/optimal philanthropy. Still needs a little bit of polish but we're looking for feedback (you can check it out at www.thehighimpactnetwork.org). (We'll be doing an official announcement soon)

Also recently started a meetup group for a rational humanist open mic, where people can share performance art relating to ideas we tend to care about, which had a pretty successful first meeting. (Around 19 people)

comment by Mitchell_Porter · 2012-08-04T16:08:50.288Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Working on the storyboard for "My Little Monad: Qualia Are Magic".

comment by [deleted] · 2012-08-04T01:30:40.165Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Research has mostly stalled over the summer due to several trips -- California, Canada, and currently China -- and also my new boyfriend (who was partly responsible for the Canada trip). At the same time I'm changing apartments, and so after I return to the states I'll be homeless for a few days.

The article I've been working on for the past year recently stalled when I realized that the technique I'm building off of horribly broke in my situation for a subtle but hindsight-obvious reason. It was a good opportunity to rewrite the article and standardize some of the notation. The only thing left to rewrite at this point is about three pages of vector calculus and to find a different proof for one of the theorems.

comment by jimmy · 2012-08-03T19:02:04.761Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Still working on hypnosis and related stuffs.

In one direction, I’m turning the python based chat bot into a web based automated hypnotherapy business. I just got it put together, so there’s a lot of tweaking to do and a lot more to add.

In another direction, I’ve been moving away from the label “hypnosis” as it’s become less mysterious (and hence less deserving of a name to toss over the unknown). Instead, I’ve been mixing in various techniques to normal conversation and getting results that way.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-08-05T09:41:11.966Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The synaesthesia bot doesn't appear to be working with me. I can see as many red 2s in my mind as I want, but when I see such a deeply black 2 before my eyes, against that blue background... I just can't imagine it as red -- especially after the word "RED" disappears from the screen. (But I think it might work if it was grey on a white background. When I look at black-and-white printouts of colour diagrams, if I have seen the original I can easily tell my mind which shade of grey is supposed to be which colour.)

And why did the lucid dream one insult me???

comment by jimmy · 2012-08-06T18:58:57.137Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't expect 100% success rate. In fact, the synesthesia one doesn't work with me either. I haven't put a lot of work into it though. I'll have to think about changing up the background.

I often throw in obviously bad lines as a placeholder so when I get there it's immediately obvious that I need to fix it. I guess I missed one - Oops, sorry.

comment by Alicorn · 2012-08-03T18:42:43.815Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I finished my sixth novel on Tuesday. (Best read after Summons in the same series.) I'm seven chapters deep into another one (best read after Summons and also Silver).

comment by shminux · 2012-08-03T19:29:25.836Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Excellent! One piece of your own advice, if you will... "crisply!" Oh, and don't hesitate to use the spellchecker before posting.

comment by Alicorn · 2012-08-03T19:37:56.246Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you find specific misspellings, please let me know. I use a huge number of made up words and names, so I don't want to use a mechanical spellcheck which will false positive me 5,000 times before I add all the fictional terms to the dictionary (and then a few hundred times every new book as I introduce more people/places/things); I rely on my betas.

Please do not attribute character dialogue and opinions to me on that basis alone.

comment by shminux · 2012-08-03T21:10:46.855Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Hmm, most of the errors seem to be fixed now, still see "woldfrider" in the last paragraph.

comment by Alicorn · 2012-08-03T21:12:15.565Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The last paragraph of what?

comment by shminux · 2012-08-03T21:19:40.268Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)


comment by Alicorn · 2012-08-03T21:21:00.011Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The last paragraph of Blood does not contain that error, or any word that could plausibly look like it. Do you mean the last paragraph of some chapter of Blood?

ETA: Oh, you mean the last segment. ≠ paragraph!

comment by shminux · 2012-08-03T22:03:25.506Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yes, sorry.

comment by Sly · 2012-08-03T19:15:25.459Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Working on an indie game that (roughly) is a combination of Diablo and Bejeweled.

comment by Vaniver · 2012-08-03T20:22:12.904Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Reminds me of Puzzle Quest. What elements from each game are you trying to capture?

comment by Sly · 2012-08-04T06:32:47.504Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

More like your Diablo character is moving and fighting within the bejeweled puzzle itself if that makes sense. Breaking gems clears a path and spawns monsters, loot, etc.

comment by achiral · 2012-08-07T15:05:05.384Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm pushing my bodyweight up and increasing strength. On July 22nd 2012 I was back squatting 90 kilos for 3 sets of 5. Last week I was able to squat 297lbs(134.7kg) for a single. I've also pushed my deadlift up to 130k for a single. In this time my bodyweight has increased from 150lbs to 167lbs.

My goals for Halloween are to deadlift 400lbs and squat 315lbs. I'd like to get up to a bodyweight of around 200lbs at 5'8" as a long term goal but that will probably take much longer than till Halloween.


  • Because it's fun
  • Because strong men are harder to kill and more useful in general than weak men
  • Because I have an undying fear of being a pussy
  • Because I want to increase my bone density
  • Because I want to compete in Olympic weightlifting competitions one day
  • Because I want increased strength for playing BJJ
  • Because I want to look AND BE strong and sexy for the wimminz(and possibly some guyz too)

What I will be working on come Fall semester: Intro to Abstract Algebra 501, Advanced Calculus 407 and spanish 101


  • Because I want my mind strong like my body and I need to major in something
comment by Bill_McGrath · 2012-08-05T11:57:59.953Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yesterday I received a draft of a poem which I'm setting as a madrigal (SATB) for a concert in September. I only have two weeks to work on it, so time is pretty tight, but for the majority of that time I have my house to myself, the usual distractions in the house aren't available, and recently the place was tidied up so I will be better able to focus. (I find it difficult to study or work when my environment is messy - I don't know if this is common.)

comment by [deleted] · 2012-08-04T09:50:13.458Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I've been working on a turn-based tactics game mainly inspired by Missionforce: Cyberstorm. The mechanics are mostly there, so I'll spend the next month polishing and adding content. I doubt I'll have time for it after this month, but it would be nice to have something reasonably playable. Maybe I'll open-source it or put the goofy sci-fi writing on a blog or something. I'm doing it mostly for fun, although it's partly an exercise in coding productively.

I've also been sketching out puzzles for a mildly educational logic game, based on boolean circuits and models of computation, maybe eventually building up to quantum stuff, but the idea is turning out to be dryer than I hoped.

Also working through courses on QFT and Convex Optimization, lectures by David Tong and Stephen Boyd, respectively. As much as I like the lecturers I find myself mostly reading the textbook/notes with the videos playing in the background. I have much less patience for lectures than I used to.

comment by Risto_Saarelma · 2012-08-08T11:55:56.708Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I've been working on a turn-based tactics game mainly inspired by Missionforce: Cyberstorm.

Will it have character portraits with death animations?

comment by shminux · 2012-08-04T02:30:04.161Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Just for fun, writing an imaginary abstract for a paper I wish someone had written and cross-posted on gr-qc and quant-ph.

In this vein (or, more likely, vain), who wants to write an abstract for a fake paper proclaiming a breakthrough in, say, FAI research?

comment by Manfred · 2012-08-04T04:11:20.447Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm game :) Where should it be on a scale of silliness to seriousness?

comment by shminux · 2012-08-04T05:59:14.713Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

As realistic as you can make it. Strive to fool the experts in the area.

comment by Manfred · 2012-08-04T08:19:14.063Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Decision-making for an Agent with Bounded Resources

C. Manfred
Department of Computer Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

We consider the behavior of a decision-making agent with bounded resources, which faces problems whose complete solution exceeds those resources. While there are several available methods to treat the resulting "logical uncertainty," a rigorous treatment has until now escaped realization. We show that, as intuitively expected, there exists an optimal decision-making procedure analogous to expected-utility maximization. We present two practical algorithms for determining the weights in this procedure, which are shown to be correct in the extreme limits. When these algorithms are interpolated, the resulting weights do not differ from the optimum by more than a small constant.

comment by gwern · 2012-08-04T15:10:31.062Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Comment on Manfred 2012

G. Branwen
Department of Commenting, LessWrong at The Internets

In Manfred (2012), the author presents a result on an asymptotically ideal utility-maximization of a function in the presence of incomplete information. We discuss the hidden assumption used in the proof, and exhibit a repaired proof which can be shown to be only a special case of long-established asymptotic universal search algorithms based on Solomonoff induction over all computably enumerable functions, from which the Manfred algorithm does not improve except by a constant factor ε in limited domains.

comment by shminux · 2012-08-04T21:34:25.224Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Both abstracts are pretty impressive. I certainly could not tell the difference from a real thing. Maybe this should be a regular feature. Care to fake something EY would author?

comment by CharlesR · 2012-08-04T02:24:10.662Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Installing Arch Linux.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2012-08-03T23:02:48.264Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

While there has been a slump the last weeks, before that I've done more since the last thread than in a years before that.

The one most relevant to lesswrong is here: http://jsbin.com/eqomac/66/ Very much work in progress, fluff text and polishing and clarifications needed. Also two core functionalities of proper AI and multiplayer from different computers needed before it's really playable, which may require large rewrites...

(also wrote this silly thing: http://jsbin.com/idifof/121/ Or not. Sort of write it ship-of-thesus style over a random thing I found online that there are almost not traces left of.)

Also some random python games and 3d models mostly done for practice. And some writing not suitable for these parts.

I've also slowly started getting ubuntu working on my laptop, wich is hopefully the start of moving everything in my life over to linux and in the proccess refactoring it.

And a bunch of other stuff I havnt bothered to mention.

comment by thomblake · 2012-08-03T16:42:52.120Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Working on updating js3-mode with a better parser - one that will be faster and understand comments.

Writing a js lexer is harder than it ought to be.

comment by Risto_Saarelma · 2012-08-08T12:07:31.972Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Having a day job writing C++ leaves me without the mental fortitude to write more C++ for fun, so now I'm reanimating my abandoned and thoroughly bit-rotted Google Go language roguelike game into what is starting to look like a total rewrite in Go version 1. Trying to get a playable version out by mid-September.

comment by rhollerith_dot_com · 2012-08-11T18:36:40.970Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Ah, you're creating a computer game. (Thought I'd add that for them that don't know what Rogue is.)

comment by Risto_Saarelma · 2012-08-11T18:54:02.718Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Heh, right. Forgot that the term is pretty opaque by itself, edited grandparent.

comment by wsean · 2012-08-06T17:20:35.961Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Working on a fanfic of a fanfic of a fanart of a fanfic. At this level of recursion, the original source material has become difficult to detect. I understand at seven levels, it becomes Douglas Hofstadter slash fic. (blatant EY joke theft)

I started off writing this in second person imperative, in response to a challenge from a writer friend of mine (e.g. "You are thinking you would never write in second person imperative. Try it anyway. See what happens."). Not sure I'll stick with it, though; it works beautifully in some parts, and like chewing aluminum foil in others. Also, I'm guessing it would make it more difficult for anyone who wanted to take the recursion to another level.

It's not a huge project, probably a few thousand words going by the outline. Thought I might as well post here so as to put a little pressure on myself to actually finish it.

comment by juliawise · 2012-08-06T13:24:54.961Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Learning banjo chords. My hands can physically hold down the strings better than they could in May, and I can do more chords without looking. The goal is to practice at least five times a week for at least five minutes. I've been meeting that most but not all weeks.

I picked the goal of messing around for at least five minutes rather than a stricter goal because I know someone who's gotten good at a lot of instruments this way, and he says his motivation is best if practicing is just goofing around rather than drilling.

comment by arundelo · 2012-08-08T05:28:27.664Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I agree with the "anti-hardcore" approach of keeping the time commitment and mental energy commitment manageable. You can do it more than five five-minute periods per week, though, with the following techniques:

  • Leave the banjo out of its case and easily accessible at all times, reducing the activation cost of playing it. You can just walk by and, on a whim, pick it up and play it for half a minute. (This may not be practical if you live with a toddler or if your living space is extremely small.)
  • If you don't already have one, get a strap, so you can play while you stand or walk.
  • If you watch TV or do other stuff that doesn't occupy your hands, noodle around on the banjo at the same time.

How much you can do these depends on your husband's tolerance for noise, but it may help to play quietly, or mute the strings with the side of your hand, or play only with your fretting hand.

Bonus tips:

  • Chords are the thing you're most interested in now, but don't be afraid to mix it up with single-note stuff.
  • Play along with things, be they random bits of music you hear on the TV, radio, or internet, or your favorite recordings. This is hard at first but gets easier the more you do it. Don't worry too much at first about playing exactly the same thing you're listening to; just try to approximate it or, failing that, find something that sounds good with whatever you're listening to.
  • Noodle. Play random stuff. If you find something that you like the sound of, play it over and over, and come up with variations.

What style of banjo do you play? My brother Mason plays clawhammer on a five-string open-back banjo. On most of his YouTube stuff he's playing guitar or viol, but he plays banjo in this video of "Rove Riley Rove" (which also includes yours truly [mandolin], and our sister Katari [voice] & my friend Curt [guitar]).

comment by juliawise · 2012-08-09T12:52:23.145Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Thanks! I'm doing some of this stuff, but most of it is new advice. I guess I'm learning frailing on a five-string? I'm getting Pete Seeger's book "How to play the 5-string banjo", since the Seegers are what made me fall in love with the instrument.

Jeff already plays the banjo (albeit by tuning it like a mandolin), and he's currently learning trumpet, so me making additional noise is not a problem.

I liked the recording!

comment by arundelo · 2012-08-09T15:19:39.593Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I guess I'm learning frailing on a five-string?

Yup, or at least that's what the Seeger book teaches. That's also what Mason's doing in the video. (Some people distinguish between "clawhammer" and "frailing", but they're basically the same thing. I'd have to listen again to see if Mason's doing any drop-thumbing in the vid, but he does do it a lot.)

A thing to try -- Mason gets a less ringy, more plunky sound that he likes better by using a folded-up sock or washcloth as a mute. He lightly wedges it between the (drum) head and the wooden bar inside the body, underneath the bridge.

Thanks for the compliment and happy frailing!

comment by folkTheory · 2012-08-05T06:28:09.329Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Learning introductory physics and statistics at Udacity

comment by RobertLumley · 2012-08-03T15:21:38.211Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

A personal project: I've been working on trying to listen to more music recently. I've noticed that the more rockish-upbeat music I listen to, the more motivated I am to be productive, etc. I haven't actually quantified this with my journal, but I would be astonished (p=0.05) if it weren't statistically significant.

I created a pandora playlist seeded by some of the songs I have that work best for this, but it's been pretty hit or miss. Sometimes it's really upbeat, sometimes not. I recently downloaded Journey, which had a number of songs that were awesome for this purpose, but I'm starting to get tired of listening to them incessantly, which is a problem. Below are the songs I've found that work best for this, if anyone has recommendations for similar music (Particularly 60's-80's music that was before my time), they would be appreciated. All the Small Things (Blink 182), Any Way You Want It (Journey), Blue Collar Man (Styx), Born This Way (Lady Gaga), Burn Out Bright (Switchfoot), Carry On Wayward Son (Kansas), Come Sail Away (Styx), Dead or Alive (Journey), Don't stop Believin' (Journey), Godspeed (Anberlin), The Great Escape (Boys Like Girls), Nightmare (Eve 6), Pressing On (Relient K), Salvation (The Cranberries), Separate Ways (Journey), and Tubthumping (Chumbawamba).

Edit: I've edited this like 4 times for typos now. Sorry guys.

comment by bojangles · 2012-08-05T17:27:31.130Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Things your list reminds me of:

Some other favourites of mine:

comment by RobertLumley · 2012-08-05T17:57:47.296Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)


comment by gwern · 2012-08-03T16:18:05.123Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

https://groups.google.com/d/msg/brain-training/5G3uujOqdbI/_ocNSa2AYPEJ may be of interest to you.

comment by Alicorn · 2012-08-03T18:41:03.503Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The Cranberries, and the solo albums by their singer Dolores O'Riordan, are low-variance awesomeness; get the whole discography if you like what you've heard of them.

comment by RobertLumley · 2012-08-03T18:42:16.225Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I do have their whole discography, and I do really like them. :-)

I haven't heard any of Dolores's solo music though.

comment by Bill_McGrath · 2012-08-05T11:51:59.991Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm having difficulty finding any particularly 'positive emotion'-music in my collection! Based on what you posted and your responses to other suggestions, here are a few that may be worth checking out:

Bad Religion (solid pop-punk, three part vocal harmonies, highly intellectual to boot), Arctic Monkeys, At The Drive-In (highly charged, very energetic, somewhat anarchic), Ben Folds (modern piano rock, very rockin'), Blue Oyster Cult (not a million miles away from Journey), Kate Bush (80s singer with a unique voice). You probably won't like all of these, but some might be worthwhile.

comment by falenas108 · 2012-08-05T23:36:14.089Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

As much as I love Arctic Monkeys, I wouldn't describe them as 'positive emotion.'

comment by Bill_McGrath · 2012-08-08T11:11:14.211Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Nope, I didn't mean the post to imply that.

comment by Vaniver · 2012-08-03T16:26:36.632Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I've also had trouble getting Pandora to make good mood stations (or instrumental ones for when I'm doing language-heavy work, etc.). I've got a solution in mind but it'll be a while before my plate is clean enough to start that project, and it's not clear it'll be superior to existing techno. (Is that something you enjoy?)

I've been listening to a lot of Bulletproof and Little Talks recently while doing things. The second has a lot of nice features which work great as counterpoints to their voices, but would be way more energetic on their own.

comment by RobertLumley · 2012-08-03T20:30:26.092Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

So originally, I thought those were artist names, and I searched them in my Rhapsody account... and proceeded to get this. My model of all of Less Wrong instantly broke.

comment by RobertLumley · 2012-08-03T20:09:24.939Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I can't say I get into techno too much. The closest that I actually like is is dance-pop music like Cascada. I'll check out those artists though, thanks.

comment by Alicorn · 2012-08-03T21:15:50.491Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you like Cascada try Groove Coverage.

comment by JQuinton · 2012-08-09T03:32:27.804Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm learning how to play gypsy jazz. I've already been playing guitar for about 15 years but gypsy jazz is a completely different guitar style than what I normally play. Right now I'm learning how to play a typical rhythm guitar for gypsy jazz by listening to some tunes that I like and lessons on YouTube. The problem is that these are chords that I hardly ever play so transitioning between them -- at fast gypsy jazz speeds -- has been... difficult.

comment by Rain · 2012-08-09T02:13:28.717Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm learning the use and care of firearms and melee weapons. The two sides of human interaction are reasoning and force, and I've always dealt with the former rather than the latter. Thus, I plan on learning more about force, both historical and modern, and purchasing my own weapons.

I'm also exercising. This is the first time in my adult life I've managed the recommended daily dose of exercise, thanks to recent analysis of how to overcome personal barriers. I exercised 16 out of the last 27 days.