Exponent of Desire

post by shminux · 2013-02-26T18:01:40.545Z · LW · GW · Legacy · 13 comments

I've been mostly lying in bed with fever for the last couple of days, and one night my starved for external stimuli semi-conscious mind produced the following mathematical construct, which I decided to share. This is not intended to be scientific or even all that serious.

So, suppose you have something. Let's call it 's'. You like it, so you want to keep having it. This is a first-order want, let's call it w(s). You also want to want to have it, which is a second order want: w(w(s)), or w2(s). If you are perfectly content, this will be true for all higher order wants, as well, wn(s). Now, you don't worry nearly as much about higher orders, so let's discount their contribution to your thoughts and feelings by the factor n!. Finally, the sum total of your wants for s is


This is, of course, the standard way to construct functions of linear operators.

So, if you love someone wholeheartedly and without reservation, you can call them the exponent of your desire. Hopefully they are geeky enough to appreciate it.


Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by iDante · 2013-02-26T20:43:05.946Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I spent a long time trying to come up with some explanation that would come up with sin(w)s. There was even gonna be a pun (it's a sin to have such convoluted desires).

But I failed.

Replies from: Luke_A_Somers, passive_fist
comment by Luke_A_Somers · 2013-02-26T21:42:50.765Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

You mean, you want it,

but you're neutral to wanting it,

and you definitely don't want to want to want it,

and you're neutral towards wanting not to want to want it,

and you're glad you're neutral towards wanting not to want to want it,


Seems like someone who likes something but is pretty glad they're not obsessive about it. Could happen with a moderate user of alcohol, or a fan of something that gathers obsessive fans...

Replies from: shminux, None
comment by shminux · 2013-02-26T22:50:31.916Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

He wanted a sin and you gave him a cos.

Replies from: wanderingsoul, Luke_A_Somers
comment by wanderingsoul · 2013-02-27T06:05:57.785Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't really care much about the it

My friends do though, so I often wish I cared more

I'm unsure whether I want to be moved by that consideration though

I really wish I had stronger opinions about things like that

But I don't really know how much good that wish is doing me

At least I give self reflection a shot though, people always say it has good effects

Though I'm unsure whether I should believe the hype

I dislike always being uncertain

Though I admit that dislike has both unpleasant and motivating aspects

And I love just what this drive to dispel uncertainty can do


Bonus points to whoever manages to make one recurse on itself and actually get the infinite series

Replies from: ahartell
comment by ahartell · 2013-02-27T08:03:11.299Z · LW(p) · GW(p)


Shouldn't the last one refer to the one above it rather that the one two places above it though? I think it should be "and I love being able to recognize the costs and benefits of this uncertainty" rather than "and I love just what this drive to dispel uncertainty can do."

comment by Luke_A_Somers · 2013-02-27T15:41:23.592Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think it fits better if cos = you have it and don't care that you have it, etc. I don't mean it fits what you were saying originally, but in terms of conceptual schema, I think the integral of w(s) is cleaner.

Replies from: shminux
comment by shminux · 2013-02-27T18:01:19.133Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Sorry, you are right, I got confused.

Replies from: Luke_A_Somers
comment by Luke_A_Somers · 2013-02-27T18:09:01.207Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

In the OP, 0th order was your wanting the thing, right? So you were right that I gave him cos...

Replies from: shminux
comment by shminux · 2013-02-27T19:58:06.001Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

No, "you want it" corresponds to w, "don't want to want to want it," is -w^3/3!, etc.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-02-27T12:44:22.590Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Seems like someone who likes something but is pretty glad they're not obsessive about it.

That's me, with lots of stuff.

comment by passive_fist · 2013-02-28T02:35:55.993Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Imaginary wants?

Replies from: iDante
comment by iDante · 2013-02-28T03:27:57.972Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Of course! That could make things a lot easier.

comment by DanielLC · 2013-02-26T18:55:05.658Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The sum total of your wants for s is w(s). s just means that you have it. w^2(s) means that you want to want to have s, but not that you want s. Perhaps you've been told that good people want s, so you want to want s. You might try to get s to make people think you want s, or because you're in denial about wanting s, but you don't actually want s.