Book 2 – Text Updates 038

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Re: Book 2 – Text Updates 038

Postby ftl » Fri Jan 14, 2011 12:56 am

I'll just post my understanding of the bracer, as it's been hammered out a long time ago in other discussions in the other section of the forums. I don't claim that this is the only way to understand the bracer, but I go with it because
1) It's consistent with the way probability works.
2) It's consistent with the way Parson has used the bracer.
3) It's consistent with descriptions we've had of the bracer from other characters.

As I see it, the bracer is an ultimate Mathamancy artifact. It's great at doing math with odds. Therefore, it can automatically combine probabilities in the mathematically appropriate way - if you have three options, with probabilities A, B, and C, and each of those has sub-options, each with some probability of victory, it can automatically do all the math and say that the final probability of winning is [Something]. Or, if you ask it a question like "how many Archons does it take", it can instantly run the calculations for any number of archons.

It is able to do this for things other than battle calculations - since anything about which you're uncertain can be assigned a probability based on your uncertainty, questions about anything are fair game.

That part isn't controversial - I think everyone agrees that the bracer CAN do all those things. The question comes down to - what INFORMATION can it use as inputs to its calculations?

Obviously, it can't be omniscient. If it knew the future, it would give 0% or 100% as an answer to everything. But, it obviously knows more than what just Parson knows - after all, early in the story, Parson was asking it questions about units whose stats he didn't know.

So my preferred interpretation is that it can get the following information:
1) Whatever that Parson himself knows or thinks is relevant. That takes a little bit of thinkamancy, but it's not out of the ordinary - we've seen a lot of applications of "natural thinkamancy", and a worn item having access to its owners insight doesn't seem like it would be out of the blue. For this to be relevant, the bracer also needs to be able to turn Parson's intuitions into numbers - but that also makes sense, since it's supposed to be a Mathamancy artifact. It would give the sort of numbers that Parson WOULD come up with, IF he had infinite time, paper, and pencil.
2) Anything that is considered "basic knowledge" - the sort of stuff that any Erfworld unit would be popped with. So this lets it answer basic questions like "if a level 1 Warlord fights a level 2 stabber, who will win?"

Then, with these two inputs, it's able to calculate all the probabilities that we've seen, based on the rules of math and probability only.

This is consistent with its description as a mathamancy artifact - this interpretation doesn't have the bracer able to do any Predictamancy or Lookamancy (it doesn't get any knowledge of the future, or of anything in the present that's hidden). It does take a little bit of thinkamancy, but we've seen Natural Thinkamancy used pretty often to explain things like that.

This is consistent with numbers its given. For simple things that Parson's already thought a lot about, the bracer gives roughly the same numbers that Parson would. (Probability of success of a well-defined plan.)

It is consistent with the fact that the bracer HAS been wrong before. The incident with the gobwins - the bracer said that there should have been gobwins, but they weren't there. This would make sense if some of the inputs were wrong - if Parson hadn't considered the fact that someone would deliberately interfere with the gobwins. (This 'incorrect' answer COULD also be explained if the bracer is exquisitely sensitive to the details of how you word the question - if Parson wasn't actually asking the question he thought he was asking, and so the bracer didn't take into account information that it could have used had the question been better. However, I think this is unlikely - after all, the bracer communicates by subvocalization and reading thoughts/intent, like a unit being given orders, which makes it harder to argue that the exact phrasing is important.)

Importantly, this interpretation is consistent with how Parson uses the bracer. After a big fight and a long campaign, both of those AFTER Charlie gave Parson a bit of a bump about the bracer's abilities, I would find it hard to believe that Parson hasn't spent some time investigating its capabilities. It would be, in my mind, quite a plot hole if, a book down the line, there's another sequence of Parson "discovering" new Bracer abilities that he could have discovered earlier. He should have spent some time trying to exploit the rules, by now.

So yeah, that's how I think about the bracer. I think it's consistent and fits everything we've seen the bracer do, though that of course doesn't *prove* anything conclusively.

Responding directly to what some people before discussed:


It seems like anyone could just continue asking the bracer questions until you had a kind of brute-force outline of what's really going on.


Not necessarily. Asking any number of probabilistic questions can't give you more information than the bracer actually has available to generate answers. No amount of asking "What's the probability that this coin will land heads?" will give you anything better than "50%".

I would like to eventually see, in the text updates, some indication of what the bracer is not capable of.


I think we've had one example - the gobwins. The bracer said that they should have found gobwins by now; they didn't find the gobwins. That indicates that there ARE limitations to what it knows - that is, until the gobwins weren't gone for long enough for Parson to suspect something fishy, the bracer didn't suspect anything fishy either.

The bracer can clearly give probabilities of situations Parson doesn't fully understand. Its first noncombat application, whether it would be worth it for Charlie to end the Mathamancy deal to learn what happened to his Archons, how could Parson be expected to know what's going on there?


You can always, always, ALWAYS give a probabilistic answer to any question. The more information you have, the better the answer is - but even with very little information, you can still give an answer. It's just not a very useful one.

In that case, the bracer, at the very least, had the following information:
1) What actually happened to the Archons. Parson knew that.
2) What possible ways there were for Charlie to learn that information anyway. Parson could figure that decryption would eventually become known.
3) What COULD be done about it - or as much as Parson or Wanda knew on that matter.

Those alone would be enough to come up with pretty useful numbers for an answer, even if the bracer didn't know what Charlie intended to use the results for or what future questions he'd ask. (For both of those, my interpretation would involve the bracer using Parson's "best guesses").


how could the bracer know what is meant by a statement like 'behind the disappearance of?'


I'd guess it gets its instructions via natural thinkamancy from Parson; if Parson understands what he's asking, so does the bracer. Dwagons don't need to understand Language to follow orders issued in Language, because it's not the words that matter; as mentioned, good commanders can give orders without using words at all. Same thing would make sense here, I think. It interprets 'behind the disappearance of' however Parson intended it to be interpreted when he asked the question.

-Bracer has a thinkamancy-level link with Parson, able to alter it's calculations based upon his mental preferences, without the need for specific wording. (very impressive magic)


Hmm, I would disagree that this is very impressive magic. It's how orders work, in general. I'll quote the update where we learn this:

"Speaking or shouting the command will work, Lord," said Maggie, lurching a bit as she rounded the remains of the picnic and walked up beside him. Though he was not completely steady himself, he offered his right elbow and she grabbed it gratefully. "Not be- because they understand Language, but because it hhhelps you frame the intent in your mind. You see. Experienced-" she swallowed hard, or possibly hiccupped. "Excuse me. Experienced commanders can command stacks with few or no words. When you understand your command, the unit will. Yet another fo-horm of natural Thinkamancy, Lord."


So I would agree with the natural thinkamancy link, but would disagree that this is "very impressive magic".

I still see the Fate thing as a problem, especially if it is using Predictamancy (which is really the only thing that makes sense, given that it can answer and quantify distinctly non-mathematical questions).


Everything can be treated as a mathematical question. Seriously.

Just look at our world. People put "odds" on all sorts of things - you can make bets on sports, on politics, on everything under the sun. Lots of those things aren't fundamentally mathematical, but somewhere out there there's a bookie that has figured out the odds of the various possible outcomes, or thinks he has. Anything that has multiple possibilities, you can put an over/under on. There's absolutely nothing "fundamentally mathematical" about two people playing tennis with each other, and yet betfair odds predict winners fairly accurately.

So no, I don't think the bracer needs any predictomancy to do what it does; just mathamancy.

That's not predicting the future, that's the past. It either was Charlescomm or wasn't, and I don't see how that can be represented as a probability.


Again, I think I can refer you to the way probability works in our world. It represents uncertainty in your knowledge - and it doesn't matter whether that uncertainty is a fundamental part of the universe or not. If I ask you what's the probability that a coin LANDED on tails (and you didn't see the result), it'll give the same answer as asking whether it WILL land on tails (and the result didn't happen yet.)

...anyhow, gah! I always write forever about bracer stuff. I haven't been checking the board at all, and then when I get back first thing I see is a bracer discussion. Anyhow, hope some of this has been interesting for people, I don't claim to know the author's intent for the bracer but I *do* believe I have a pretty good understanding of probability.
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Re: Book 2 – Text Updates 038

Postby GaryThunder » Fri Jan 14, 2011 1:22 am

I think Parson's intent, if not his exact phrasing, is coloring the answer to his question of "What are the odds that we should have found Gobwins by now?" Should implies "if a different set of circumstances applied than those that do" in some fashion, generally understood to be "if things were going as I [Parson] believe they were going." He then subsequently asked it if anything was fishy going on, and it told him more accurate information. The bracer wasn't wrong or without access to proper data, it was just answering the question that it was most probably asked. But does its ability to access Parson's information mean it has Thinkamancy?

But your theories are sound. That's a good interpretation of how the bracer works, without even having to use Predictamancy. I had a theory that there might be Predictamancy magic about it as a result of SPW being a linked-Predictamancy spell. (But no Mathamancers in that link...a spell of power indeed, if it could generate artifact-level items outside of its disciplines.) My guess about why the bracer is so powerful is that such calculations as he was making in Book 1 are the province of Mathamancers only (or maybe talented Moneymancers), and almost certainly with some juice cost. Sophisticated calculations might be possible by high-level Mathamancers for some difficulty, but it might not be possible without a Mathamancer/Predictamancer link, and that seems a bit much for calculations. It's all speculation, but still.
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Re: Book 2 – Text Updates 038

Postby Althernai » Fri Jan 14, 2011 3:54 am

I suspect most of the Mathamancy comes from Parson's calculator watch which had to change somewhat as it was brought to Erfworld.
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Re: Book 2 – Text Updates 038

Postby drachefly » Fri Jan 14, 2011 10:53 am

In order to get a firm answer on one (probability of something fishy) from the improbability of the other (probability of observed lack of gobwins), Bayes' theorem requires an estimate of the prior probability of interference -- something which is rather hard to obtain.

For example, if all sides were always interfering with each others' ability to form natural alliances, any failure to find a natural ally would be nearly certain to be due to interference. If it was nearly certainly impossible, it would take a very unlikely streak of not finding them before the same conclusion could be met.

What's missing from these probabilities are the error estimates. Parson doesn't remember trigonometry (though one might reasonably think that if he's into gaming enough to be really good at it he should be good enough at math that trig should click and stick), so maybe he's not canny enough to know to ask for that. If so, it's a weakness, a significant one.
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Re: Book 2 – Text Updates 038

Postby bdares » Fri Jan 14, 2011 11:52 am

Well, you could do this:

Calculate the probability distribution for finding x number of natural allies popping in a constant number of turns. I'll assume it's a Gaussian distribution. (It could be many things, but I'll assume that these distributions are known by Erfworlders).

Then, you look at the probability that you found x number of allies. If this probability is very low, then we can reject the known probability distribution as accurately representing the current probability of a natural ally being popped. Then, we know that we have a variable that's not considered in the "normal" distribution, i.e. someone is meddling.

For example, let's say the number of hobgobwins that pop follows a gaussian distribution with variance 1 and mean 10/turn.

We find 2. Since the variance is 1, this number is 8 standard deviations away from the mean. The probability of this happening is extremely low, smaller than 1/10^100. Then, we can conclude that the function we know is wrong, or that something else is at play. If this happens 20 turns, or 100 turns in a row, we know that something's up, as surely as we know that a drop of ink in a tank of water will spread.
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Re: Book 2 – Text Updates 038

Postby effataigus » Fri Jan 14, 2011 11:59 am

ftl wrote:So my preferred interpretation is that it can get the following information:
1) Whatever that Parson himself knows or thinks is relevant. That takes a little bit of thinkamancy, but it's not out of the ordinary - we've seen a lot of applications of "natural thinkamancy", and a worn item having access to its owners insight doesn't seem like it would be out of the blue. For this to be relevant, the bracer also needs to be able to turn Parson's intuitions into numbers - but that also makes sense, since it's supposed to be a Mathamancy artifact. It would give the sort of numbers that Parson WOULD come up with, IF he had infinite time, paper, and pencil.
2) Anything that is considered "basic knowledge" - the sort of stuff that any Erfworld unit would be popped with. So this lets it answer basic questions like "if a level 1 Warlord fights a level 2 stabber, who will win?"

I like this proposal a lot... it makes the bracer fit nicely into the SPW spell... in that Parson is an excellent strategic thinker, but his intuition (in the Maggie sense) for Erfworld sucks:
1. He can't see unit stats => 3-D glasses
2. He hesitates before killing => Sword of ruthlessness
3. His intuition doesn't apply to Erfworld mechanics => Bracer

With the powers you propose, all the bracer does is let Parson make instantaneous guesses about probabilities as though he had both the sum of his current knowledge and a good understanding of the laws of Erfworld (hex/zone barriers, pop rates, combat mechanics, the strengths of its units). This ability sounds a lot like intuition!

Of course, it is better than intuition because it does the numbers behind the assumptions correctly for Erfworld every time... or so we are led to believe by Sizemore's comment that it would actually be useful for other sides (presumably with warlords with appropriate intuition).
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Re: Book 2 – Text Updates 038

Postby kagato23 » Fri Jan 14, 2011 4:00 pm

effataigus wrote:
ftl wrote:So my preferred interpretation is that it can get the following information:
1) Whatever that Parson himself knows or thinks is relevant. That takes a little bit of thinkamancy, but it's not out of the ordinary - we've seen a lot of applications of "natural thinkamancy", and a worn item having access to its owners insight doesn't seem like it would be out of the blue. For this to be relevant, the bracer also needs to be able to turn Parson's intuitions into numbers - but that also makes sense, since it's supposed to be a Mathamancy artifact. It would give the sort of numbers that Parson WOULD come up with, IF he had infinite time, paper, and pencil.
2) Anything that is considered "basic knowledge" - the sort of stuff that any Erfworld unit would be popped with. So this lets it answer basic questions like "if a level 1 Warlord fights a level 2 stabber, who will win?"

I like this proposal a lot... it makes the bracer fit nicely into the SPW spell... in that Parson is an excellent strategic thinker, but his intuition (in the Maggie sense) for Erfworld sucks:
1. He can't see unit stats => 3-D glasses
2. He hesitates before killing => Sword of ruthlessness
3. His intuition doesn't apply to Erfworld mechanics => Bracer

With the powers you propose, all the bracer does is let Parson make instantaneous guesses about probabilities as though he had both the sum of his current knowledge and a good understanding of the laws of Erfworld (hex/zone barriers, pop rates, combat mechanics, the strengths of its units). This ability sounds a lot like intuition!

Of course, it is better than intuition because it does the numbers behind the assumptions correctly for Erfworld every time... or so we are led to believe by Sizemore's comment that it would actually be useful for other sides (presumably with warlords with appropriate intuition).


I think it's actually a bit more then just "good understanding" actually. We've been told that most units don't really know all the math behind the mechanics of erfworld. Word of titans specirfically described a basic beginnings of the leveling system (if I recall correctly, that a level one unit would croak 10 marbits to get to level 2 and 25 to get to level 3), but then said that while mathamancers and others try their best to put together now leveing works, nobody has a large enough frame of reference to really work out the numbers as well. That's why Sizemore and Charlie are so impressed with the device, and why it's possibly an artifact: it could well be outperforming a master mathamancer.

By all accounts, Parson's ability to find the odds of unit spawning, which I'm sure would be similar (while not stated, if units don't know the raw numbers, it presumes one would have to watch a hex or series of hexes for many turns to get an idea of the spawn rates, and that'd only work for any individually observed unit), is already more knowledge then anybody in erfworld has, at least instantly at hand. What it wouldn't be though, is surprising for a DM, who would have his rulebooks or self-made laws in place for such occasions. Once you have those odds, it's just a matter of plugging in your calculations, which is all what Parson has to do.

Parson has declared himself a player. His bracer seems to be going along with it.
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Re: Book 2 – Text Updates 038

Postby Dinkum » Fri Jan 14, 2011 4:08 pm

Huh? You're saying that Parson would not try to "game the system", an activity he consciously seeks to do at every opportunity, and spends many waking hours contemplating?


Sorry, I did not really clarify my intent with that. I was suggesting that given his own near-impossible victories, and inclination to treat Erfworld less as a game now, Parson may not feel that the numeric answers he gets are absolute enough to justify any potential loss of life. Parson is still hardcore gaming the system whenever he can, but him reducing his actions to only the bracer results seems to be at odds with his current ideals of treating units like people. He still seems happy enough to use it to work out potential avenues of approach regarding the Gobwin situation, though.
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Re: Book 2 – Text Updates 038

Postby drachefly » Fri Jan 14, 2011 6:31 pm

bdares wrote:Well, you could do this:

Calculate the probability distribution for finding x number of natural allies popping in a constant number of turns. I'll assume it's a Gaussian distribution. (It could be many things, but I'll assume that these distributions are known by Erfworlders).


A) I'd be more inclined towards the Poisson distribution,
B) I think the Erfworlders, at least outside of mathamancers, probably don't know these things, and
C) it doesn't really address my point.

There are the observations (gobwins = 0), and a set of models. Under the simplest business-as-usual model, P(observations) is... low. Under other models (some of which include Charlie messing around with unit production)... well, what are these models, and what are their prior probabilities? Without that you can't apply Bayes' theorem and get a probability that Charlie is messing around with unit production.
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Re: Book 2 – Text Updates 038

Postby Zeku » Fri Jan 14, 2011 7:05 pm

"Natural thinkamancy" involves living things. The real world equivalent of "natural thinkamancy" is some grunt soldier or laborer picking up on the nuances of an order due to the power of his own subconscious mind. Objects do not have a subconscious mind, unless it is designed directly into the schematics/logic unit of that object.

Thus, objects do not have natural thinkamancy, and thus the 'code' or 'magic' behind constructing an artificial thinkamancy link would be breathtakingly complex. It would be the equivalent of 'non-invasive cybernetics' in the real world, only instead of controlling simple artificial limbs, it could construe the subtleties of complex instructions about subjects utterly foreign to a computer, or the raw elements of magic.
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Re: Book 2 – Text Updates 038

Postby Oberon » Fri Jan 14, 2011 8:24 pm

GaryThunder wrote:It either was Charlescomm or wasn't, and I don't see how that can be represented as a probability.
That can absolutely be represented as a probability: 0% if he was not, 100% if he was. Those may be the extreme ends of the probability scale, but they are still probabilities, and they retain a significant distinction from the probabilities even one step (1% or 99%) away from them.
ftl wrote:Or, if you ask it a question like "how many Archons does it take", it can instantly run the calculations for any number of archons.
The interesting thing about Charlie's first questions is they they themselves were not specifically expressed as a question which required a percentage chance answer:
Parson wrote:[...] calculate if 14 archons could take our garrison before our turn starts tomorrow. Fortunately the answer was "no".
That is either Parson representing a 0% percentage of success as "no", or the bracer can give different answers than just percentage chances.
Parson wrote:Then he asked me to calculate how many additional archons he would need...
Now, the contract is for Parson to provide "twelve battle evaluations", not "twelve calculations", so the easy conclusion here is that Parson had to run many calculations in order to arrive at a valid response. [Could 15 archons...Could 16 archons...Could 17 archons..., etc] I said it was interesting because in later strips or updates they are referred to as a "calculation", not an "evaluation." It's also interesting that the term "battle" was originally used, but then dropped. Going by the original stated terms of Parson's contract with Charlie, Parson had no contractual obligation to provide a calculation about the relative worth of Parson providing the answer about why former archons were working for GK vs the value of the remaining "battle evaluations", as that question is not a request for a "battle evaluation."
ftl wrote:I think we've had one example - the gobwins. The bracer said that they should have found gobwins by now; they didn't find the gobwins. That indicates that there ARE limitations to what it knows - that is, until the gobwins weren't gone for long enough for Parson to suspect something fishy, the bracer didn't suspect anything fishy either.
Erm, no. I disagree here. If you ask "what is the chance that I should have discovered gobwin natural allies in the surrounding hexes", that question does not incorporate potential interference. It is a simple calculation of odds, which can be interpreted as "In normal circumstances, what are the odds that GK units seeking them out (as they were) would have found gobwin natural allies." Once you get that answer as a percentage chance and find that it is high and yet you have not yet discovered gobwins, you have to make further calculations to determine if you are just unlucky (a 99% chance still fails 1% of the time, as I learned in a game of Boot Hill when my character the Waco Kid had a 99% chance to hit with his elephant gun....and missed), or if some outside interference is influencing the odds against you.
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Re: Book 2 – Text Updates 038

Postby oslecamo2 » Fri Jan 14, 2011 9:51 pm

Oberon wrote:
GaryThunder wrote:It either was Charlescomm or wasn't, and I don't see how that can be represented as a probability.
That can absolutely be represented as a probability: 0% if he was not, 100% if he was. Those may be the extreme ends of the probability scale, but they are still probabilities, and they retain a significant distinction from the probabilities even one step (1% or 99%) away from them.
ftl wrote:Or, if you ask it a question like "how many Archons does it take", it can instantly run the calculations for any number of archons.
The interesting thing about Charlie's first questions is they they themselves were not specifically expressed as a question which required a percentage chance answer:
Parson wrote:[...] calculate if 14 archons could take our garrison before our turn starts tomorrow. Fortunately the answer was "no".
That is either Parson representing a 0% percentage of success as "no", or the bracer can give different answers than just percentage chances.

Or it may have been a not so good chance. If 14 archons had just around 30% chance of taking the garrison, it probably counts as "no" for any commander.

Hamster and Wanda completely revised the battle plan on Jetstone just because their chances had droped to around 60%. You probably want 90% chance of winning before risking elite troops.

Oberon wrote:
ftl wrote:I think we've had one example - the gobwins. The bracer said that they should have found gobwins by now; they didn't find the gobwins. That indicates that there ARE limitations to what it knows - that is, until the gobwins weren't gone for long enough for Parson to suspect something fishy, the bracer didn't suspect anything fishy either.
Erm, no. I disagree here. If you ask "what is the chance that I should have discovered gobwin natural allies in the surrounding hexes", that question does not incorporate potential interference. It is a simple calculation of odds, which can be interpreted as "In normal circumstances, what are the odds that GK units seeking them out (as they were) would have found gobwin natural allies." Once you get that answer as a percentage chance and find that it is high and yet you have not yet discovered gobwins, you have to make further calculations to determine if you are just unlucky (a 99% chance still fails 1% of the time, as I learned in a game of Boot Hill when my character the Waco Kid had a 99% chance to hit with his elephant gun....and missed), or if some outside interference is influencing the odds against you.


Agreed there, 1% is still perfectly able to happen. And another thing, it's how you ask the questions.

-What's the chances of taking Jetstone now? Pretty good.

-And what's the chances of taking Jetstone, if, say, Jillian showed up with a bunch of mounted troops and a mancer? Not so good.

So I say the bracer didn't change it's mind answer to Hamster new's data. It changed it's mind to Hamster's new question. It first had calculated all possible scenarios (including Jetstone alone and Jetstone+Jillian), then in calculated a more specific scenario (Jetstone+Jillian).

The second sceario is included on the first, but it's "dilued" among the probability that Jetstone had no more tricks up their sleeves and was thus screwed.

On the other hand, when the Bracer said they had 90% chance of burning the tower down even with Jillian and a mancer, the 10% included the quite far-off chance that said mancer was a turnmancer linked with an attuned tool-wielder droping a super-nuke.

The bracer knows all. But you do need to ask it the right questions, and it answers only on statistics, wich you're left to gamble with.
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Re: Book 2 – Text Updates 038

Postby Lamech » Fri Jan 14, 2011 10:35 pm

oslecamo2 wrote:The bracer knows all. But you do need to ask it the right questions, and it answers only on statistics, wich you're left to gamble with.
I truly doubt this. Either something is or it isn't. Maybe its something that seems contradictory: "The electron has a down spin; the electron has an up spin." But something either is or it isn't. So it wouldn't give a chance that Charlie has messed with the gobwins if it knew all. And unless Parson poorly worded his question it would have taken into account Jetstones allies if it knew all. (And forgeting about Jetstone's allies is something that would be really dumb for the perfect warlord.)
The bracer does not know all. I posit that the bracer knows everything that GK units know, and possibly game mechanics.
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Re: Book 2 – Text Updates 038

Postby the_tick_rules » Sat Jan 15, 2011 1:56 am

The bracer can calculate odds, knowing is a difficult word to give it. Odds are different than knowledge. I guess it's also hard to guess where/how the bracer gathers the data it uses to produce calculations as well.
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Re: Book 2 – Text Updates 038

Postby Rizban » Sat Jan 15, 2011 12:38 pm

Zeku wrote:Well in many ways you're simply agreeing with me, though I didn't remember that so many questions were asked of the bracer within the comic itself. At any rate, I think we can assume the bracer has statistical knowledge of every unit type in Erfworld, since that's the type of knowledge that casters have taken for granted on previous updates. The only confusing bits are those questions that were asked in a vague way, and concerning complete unknowns, and the bracer nevertheless produced highly specific answers.

Realistically, this is just a narrative hole, the inevitability of making things up as you go. The real problem is, how do you salvage it?

-Bracer has a thinkamancy-level link with Parson, able to alter it's calculations based upon his mental preferences, without the need for specific wording. (very impressive magic) Complex requests may be truncated into simple calculations (ie, the bracer ends up being 'wrong,' because its calculating something much simpler than is being asked)
-Bracer's 'core' logical unit is a win/loss calculation, related to battle outcomes. Every question must related to the outcome of a fight, or be expressed in those terms.
-Bracer assumes all combatants are attempting to win through violence.
-Bracer possesses knowledge of all unit data.
-Bracer possess knowledge of all 'revealed' scouting data.

In statistics, it is VERY easy to get a very specific numerical answer with incomplete and missing information. Just because the bracer is producing all these numbers doesn't necessarily mean that they're accurate. We have not seen any kind of in depth research on its reliability or even an attempt to measure coefficients for reliability or error in the estimates.

Just because you can plug numbers into a formula and get a result doesn't mean the result is accurate, even if it is a very, very specific result.
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Re: Book 2 – Text Updates 038

Postby BLANDCorporatio » Sat Jan 15, 2011 12:56 pm

Fiendishrabbit wrote:
Foolamancer wrote:It just occurred to me... I think the Thinkamancer in the upper right is Lord Havelock Vetinari, from Terry Pratchett's Discworld series.


Nah. His beard is too scrawny to be Lord Vetinari. Just like it isn't David Xanatos. The closest so far is Ba'al from SG which is the only mentioned character so far which has that type of scrawny beard and an aquiline nose.


Nah, again. That bears an uncanny resemblance to ... me actually, at least while I still have some hair left. Well, me, or any number of my clones. The good thing about me, there's so many of me.

But seriously, officially I think that's meant to be Derren Brown's Erf counterpart.

Rizban wrote:Just because you can plug numbers into a formula and get a result doesn't mean the result is accurate, even if it is a very, very specific result.


No statistical procedure worth its salt will forget to deliver a confidence interval, or some measure of the uncertainty of the result.

It's just that even very specific results, computed on ALL relevant data, aren't always meaningful. If a census declares that the average family has 2.4 kids, would you now expect to see a 0.4 baby when you visit your neighbours?
The whole point of this is lost if you keep it a secret.
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Re: Book 2 – Text Updates 038

Postby zilfallon » Sat Jan 15, 2011 2:23 pm

ftl wrote:It is consistent with the fact that the bracer HAS been wrong before. The incident with the gobwins - the bracer said that there should have been gobwins, but they weren't there. This would make sense if some of the inputs were wrong - if Parson hadn't considered the fact that someone would deliberately interfere with the gobwins.


I found your post about the bracer very interesting. it is almost exactly what I always thought about the bracer. But you are making a wrong assumption:

His bracer put it at a 98 percent chance that the Archons should have spotted some Gobwins in the mountains or Sizemore found some below ground by now. They'd either rolled a critical fumble, or something weird was going on.

One thing he never volunteered in these meetings was that the bracer gave a 78% likelihood that there was something fishy going on with the lack of Gobwins and prevalence of Marbits.

And if there was, then there was a better than 92% chance that the agency behind it was Charlescomm.


Read this again. Bracer wasn't wrong at all. %98 is certainly NOT equal to %100.
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Re: Book 2 – Text Updates 038

Postby MarbitChow » Sat Jan 15, 2011 9:34 pm

Lamech wrote:
oslecamo2 wrote:The bracer knows all. But you do need to ask it the right questions, and it answers only on statistics, wich you're left to gamble with.
I truly doubt this. Either something is or it isn't. Maybe its something that seems contradictory: "The electron has a down spin; the electron has an up spin." But something either is or it isn't. So it wouldn't give a chance that Charlie has messed with the gobwins if it knew all. And unless Parson poorly worded his question it would have taken into account Jetstones allies if it knew all. (And forgeting about Jetstone's allies is something that would be really dumb for the perfect warlord.)
The bracer does not know all. I posit that the bracer knows everything that GK units know, and possibly game mechanics.

That depends on what you mean by 'know all', but I tend to side with Lamech on this.

I'd even go so far as to say it doesn't even 'know' what GK units know; it's just that since Parson has access to that information, he can use that info as input to the Bracer.
It can 'know all' (that is, it can have a completely accurate mathematical model of Erfworld) without being able to provide any true-or-false information on real-world events.
The fact that it can run hypothetical simulations (see Jack & Parson in the War Room) leads me to believe this to be true.

I think that this model includes all Erfworld units. It was able to whether Charlie should spend a calculation to discover information, which means it has a model of Charlie and his resources.
Even though Parson can't access that model, he can ask questions and the Bracer can run a simulation against it's internal model.
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Re: Book 2 – Text Updates 038

Postby Drongo » Sat Jan 15, 2011 10:28 pm

Long time lurker first time poster.
Sorry if someone has covered this already.
Seems Marie is about to join GK when Parson travels though the magic kingdom.
If and when GK wins at Spacerock then they could end up with the following casters:
Hocus Pocus: Marie (predictamancy) + mathamancy bracer
Spookism: Ace Hardware (dollamancy)
Stuffamancy: Sizemore (dirtamancy) + "Figgy" (dittomancy)
Eyemancy: Maggie (thinkamancy) + Jack (foolamancy)
Hippymancy: Is Janice also likely to join GK?
Naughtymancy: Wanda (croakamancy) + attuned pliers
Stagemancy: Cubbins (hat magic)
Clevermancy: JS healomancer
This would cover 5/8 of the fate axes.
If casters can be decrypted then Parson wouldn't even have to wait for his turn before attacking the Magic Kingdom and collecting many more. If archons could travel to the MK then Parson could take quite an army which would include golems and action figures. GK could capture all capital cities with a caster army from the MK portals (starting with Charlie) before Stanley returns from lunch.
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Re: Book 2 – Text Updates 038

Postby Ytaker » Sun Jan 16, 2011 1:51 pm

BLANDCorporatio wrote:No statistical procedure worth its salt will forget to deliver a confidence interval, or some measure of the uncertainty of the result.

It's just that even very specific results, computed on ALL relevant data, aren't always meaningful. If a census declares that the average family has 2.4 kids, would you now expect to see a 0.4 baby when you visit your neighbours?


The uncertainty with the bracer is 0%. It knows the exact numbers for unit stats and combat, probably, so there's no uncertainty in combat calculations.

The census also collects data on related variables. That means you can see the birth rate for different age brackets, for different races, sometimes different religions. It's very helpful to know this data because it allows you to predict the future demographics of these groups.

For instance, you can compare the birth rate of hispanics in 2000 and compare that to the birth rate of hispanics in 2008 and use that to predict the number of hispanics in 2030. Likewise, Parson can ask about specific things. If his mathamancy bracelet declares that on average there would be 2.7 dragons within reach of the capital per turn, that would be useful for him calculating the future population of dwagons in Gobwin Knob. And the bracelet probably knows the exact probability of a dwagon popping in any hex so it can give him an exact answer.
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