Daniel Lepage on Wed, 11 Jan 2006 08:11:50 -0600 (CST)

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Re: [s-d] Triller submits p332

On Jan 9, 2006, at 2:48 PM, Mark Walsh wrote:

On: 1/9/06 10:37:38 AM Wonko sent:
Subject: Re: [s-d] Re: [s-b] [auto] Triller submits p332

On Jan 9, 2006, at 12:46 PM, Mark Walsh wrote:

On: 1/9/06 6:03:45 AM Antonio sent:
Subject: [s-d] Re: [s-b] [auto] Triller submits p332
What sequence?
The sequence is from 1 to X.

But in what order do you assign those numbers to the objects? This
prop doesn't specify the initial ordering method, and doesn't even
clearly indicate that the initial order should be decided before the
random numbers are rolled. So while "Shuffling" a pack of cards, I
could roll the dice to see how things are swapped, and then construct
the initial state such that the state I want will result from the
swaps I rolled.

Actually, it does call for initially ordering sequentially from 1 to X.
I suppose a Minister could manage to obtain the random numbers
before performing the initial ordering, and then stack the deck, if
you will, by pre-arranging the list to provide an advantage.
This reaches to trusting the Ministers. Antonio has already made
incorrect assumptions and acts as Super. I've done so myself, but
have made the appropriate corrections.

If we're going to trust the Ministers not to abuse random number generation anyway, then why do we need standard methods at all? In fact, trying to standardize it might actually *hurt* the integrity of our random numbers, because of problems like the ability of Ministers to pre-arrange the list advantageously (which can never be legal if you just say that they must be dealt out in such a way that each player has an equal probability of getting each power, and leave it to the Minister to figure out how to do that). This system just introduces a vulnerability, a potential for extremely clever exploits.

I don't really like the dice roller because I think it takes too many
messages to do anything. Part of this stems from my time as Minister
of the Arena, when a given action frequently required four or five
die rolls that all depended on the earlier rolls (if a roll of 3d5 is
less than eight, then the shot hits and does 4d9 damage, but
otherwise it hits a random neighboring cube with equal probability
between all neighbors and does 4ds damage to each player in that
cube, where s is that player's strength, etc.). This either required
a large number of messages, or a set of really weird rolls (we roll
18d147; if the first one is less than 87 then the shot hits, in which
case the second and third die rolls are both divided by 17 and summed
to get the damage dealt, otherwise the second mod 3 determines which
other square is hit and the third and fourth determine damage when
divided by 18 if the shot hits Peter or by 12 if it hits Wonko, and...)

That's an extreme case (though conceivably real). Right now we even
have a simple case, the Basement, which calls for a 1d3 if the initial
1d4 is a 4. It is work, but that's what they pay me for.

I admit that my example is extreme. I rarely needed dice with more than twelve sides. But I did frequently have messages like this one:
#C First roll is to see what Peter hits. 1 is (1,1,3), 2 is (2,2,3), 3 is (3,1,3), 4 is (2,1,2), 5 is (2,1,4), 6 is 1, 7 is 2, etc.
#C Second roll is whether I destroy Peter. 6 or higher fails.
#C Third roll is what my second shot hits. 1 is (1,1,4), 2 is (2,1,3), 3 is (1,2,3), 4 is (1,1,2), 5,6,7,8 are themselves mod 4, and 9 or 10 means I reroll this one. #C Fourth roll is another destroy peter roll; 6 or higher fails. Also fails if Peter's already dead.
#C Finally, Iain's shot hits something; same choices as the first roll.

No. of sides on every die:     10
No. of dice for every roll:     1
No. of dice rolls requested:    5
No. of rolls per line:          3

  9 7 3
  8 10
Another irritating feature of the dice roller, btw, is the cutoff on the lengths of comment lines; when I actually sent the above message, the comments all got clipped and I had to post again to explain what all the numbers meant.

If I as a Minister were called upon to shuffle something, I would
much rather use a simple tool (like one of Python's randomizing
functions) than have to roll a bunch of dice and perform all the
swaps. This isn't so bad for Super Powers, but I can remember being
Minister of Cards, where I occasionally had to shuffle a hundred
objects at once; this method would be completely infeasible.

I've got an excel macro of 8 simple lines of code that handle
this scenario beautifully for any number of objects. Its merely
a matter of copying the dice rools out of the return message
and pasting them into an excel column. The macro handles all
the swapping IAW the dice rolls. It's even a simple matter to
modify 3 of those lines to provide a running display of each swap
and the resultant order. Posting that with a reasonable length is
another matter.

True, but it can be done in Python in four simple lines of code (or one really ugly line of code :D ) with no need to copy the dice rolls out of a message; I think the copying would be a prohibitively tedious task if you had to shuffle fifty objects.

Ah well, I could worry this to death (mine).
If it's up to me I'll be using this method anyway; it's simple,
straightforward, and works as advertised. But I suppose
as long as noone else likes it, they can use whatever method
they see fit.

I don't object to anyone using the method, I just don't like being forced to use it if a situation arises where it isn't appropriate.


It is disconcerting to reflect on the number of students we have flunked in chemistry for not knowing what we later found to be untrue.

  --quoted in Robert L. Weber, Science With a Smile (1992)

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