Open access to federally funded research

The White House is asked for public comments on public access to federally funded research. Here are the relevant links, including the rather alarmingly title blog post by Aram Harrow where I found this: Could Elsevier shut down Call to action from the alliance for taxpayer access The details The deadline for comments is tomorrow, January 2. My comments follow. If you read this and have much better ideas for how to expand open access, please send your own!

Near optimal holdem play with one round of betting

Consider the following simplified version of Texas holdem, with two players Alice and Bob: Alice and Bob are each dealt two private cards. Alice posts a small blind of 1, Bob posts a big blind of 2. Alice either folds, calls, or raises by any amount $\ge 2$. Bob either calls or folds. Five more shared cards are dealt, and the winner is determined as usual.

Exact poker win probabilities

Brief summary in case you just want the data: here’s a table of exact win/loss/tie probabilities for every pair of two card preflop hands in Texas holdem: exact.txt Eugene d’Eon and I have been playing around computing Nash equilibria for extremely simplified versions of heads-up Texas holdem poker. For those who don’t know the details, in Texas holdem each player is dealt two cards face down, followed by five cards face up which are shared between all players (with betting at various points in between these cards).

Minimal continuous poker

Consider the following poker-like game, played with two players: Alice and Bob. Bob posts a blind of 1. Both players are dealt a single, continuous hand chosen uniformly at random from $[0,1]$. Alice can fold, call, or raise any amount $b \gt 0$ (calling means $b = 0$). Bob either calls or folds. My original plan was to work out the Nash equilibrium for this game, and therefore derive interesting smooth curves describing the optimal way for Alice to bluff and generally obscure her hand.

Cars and logs

Consider $n$ cars arranged in random order along a road, all moving in the same direction. Each car has its own distinct ideal speed, and will travel at that speed unless blocked by another car ahead. No passing is allowed (this is a windy, mountain road, say). After some time, the cars will have settled into a series of chains of cars, each composed of a bunch of cars trapped behind a slower car in the front of the chain.

Tai chi and calculus

Tai chi as a martial art seems far removed from actual fighting, since the motions are slow to the point of static. However, a few years ago during a conversation with Debra Page we came up with a cool analogy to describe part of why studying tai chi is valuable to the full speed case. I never got around to writing it up, so here goes: tai chi is like calculus.

Manic depression and lattices

Sweet. Now that I’m public about being manic depressive, I get to write about fun analogies with various aspects of mathematics and computing. Today’s analogy: depression and mania are like least and greatest fixpoints in lattices. To the depressive mind, the world is as bad as it could possibly be given some of the available evidence. (I say “some” because a depressed person tends to ignore a good deal of positive evidence).

Manic depression

I believe life is more joyful and free when one is open and honest about as many things as possible. Therefore, I’ve decided to be open about having manic depressive illness, in the belief that being public about it will lift a bit of mental weight from my shoulders, and act as a personal vote in favor of openness and lack of stigma about mental illness. So far I’ve had two manic periods.

People vs. ants

There’s a weird notion in some science fiction (or in some futuristic predictions) that if super intelligent beings existed, they might view us in the same way that we view ants. The main implication is that they would show little to no interesting in talking to us. This is absurd. If ants could talk, thousands of biologists would spend a great deal of their time talking to them. I don’t think they would view us as pets either; people already try to endow our pets with as much intelligence and consciousness as possible, others campaign for their rights, etc.

Consciousness transfer and bungee jumping

I’ve been reading The Age of Spiritual Machines by Kurzweil, and got to the obligatory section where he pontificates about the philosophical issues behind consciousness copying and transfer. In the process I thought of a nice analogy between one of the practical issues involved and bungee jumping. Imagine that your brain is scanned and an improved replica of yourself is created. There are now two copies, and for practical reasons (say population control), you only get to keep one.