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The Game Theory of Life

samzenpus posted about 3 months ago | from the life-and-math dept.

Math 85

An anonymous reader writes In what appears to be the first study of its kind, computer scientists report that an algorithm discovered more than 50 years ago in game theory and now widely used in machine learning is mathematically identical to the equations used to describe the distribution of genes within a population of organisms. Researchers may be able to use the algorithm, which is surprisingly simple and powerful, to better understand how natural selection works and how populations maintain their genetic diversity.

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Study (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47269911)

The distribution of my FROSTY PISS

how soon before (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47269913)

This research can be abused to create a field of neoeugenics? Hitler's vision shall have mathematical basis, at last!

Two things (4, Interesting)

kruach aum (1934852) | about 3 months ago | (#47269917)

1. If the machine learning algorithm has been found to be mathematically identical to the genetic spread algorithm, how would biologists be able to use it to better understand natural selection and genetic diversity? What can they learn from the first algorithm that they couldn't learn from the one they already had? If the two algorithms are mathematically identical, aren't they both just different names for the same mathematical structure? Learning a cat is called neko in Japanese doesn't tell you anything about cats you didn't already know -- it just tells you something about the Japanese language.

2. Are algorithms discovered, or created? If anything is discovered, the underlying mathematical structure more than one algorithm can point to seems to be a better candidate than the algorithms themselves. Fossils are discovered; algorithms are made up.

Re:Two things (2)

smitty_one_each (243267) | about 3 months ago | (#47269929)

It seems the process is there, and the algorithm merely describes it. Cats abound; one language calls them 'neko'.

Re:Two things (3, Interesting)

lfourrier (209630) | about 3 months ago | (#47269983)

"algorithms are made up"

succint unproven "fact" for a question that can give work to philosophers for a few years.

are mathematics (of which algorythms are a small part) discovered or created ? No one has a clear answer to that question.

Re:Two things (5, Insightful)

Tom (822) | about 3 months ago | (#47270137)

are mathematics (of which algorythms are a small part) discovered or created ? No one has a clear answer to that question.

Really? Maybe it's because the answer is so simple, no one serious has bothered tackling it.

Mathematics is a language. As such, it is created.

The things that mathematics describes are where it gets interesting. Much like in other languages, you have tangible things (easily verified as existing independent of the language), intangible things (dreams, emotions, forces) that are generally accepted as existing independent of language. And then you have two classes of things that are not entirely independent.

You have categories or groups. "Animal" is not an intangible thing, because it doesn't describe anything that actually exists, it is a term for a collection of things that exist. The term itself is semantics, but most categories have an objective component that exists independent of language.

The final category is pure language constructs. Rhymes, sentences, grammar, poems, etc. - while you can argue that they are linked to some biological or neurological element of human nature, a rhyme or a poem is very much a language construct and does neither describe a thing nor a group of things, it's a self-referential language construct.

And if you look closely, you find the same in mathematics.

Re:Two things (2)

lfourrier (209630) | about 3 months ago | (#47270181)

Begin with https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophy_of_mathematics. Then find from which position you stand whith your "simple answer". Then study the diversity of points of view and arguments, and see if you can prove their errors. If you can do that really well, publish. You will be famous.

But saying mathematics is a language and the things described are not part of mathematics, or perhaps they are, and a poem cannot describe something... I feel you have some work to do before being able to convince everybody.

Re:Two things (1)

Tom (822) | about 3 months ago | (#47270481)

Begin with https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

From that page:
Although most mathematicians and physicists (and many philosophers) would accept the statement "mathematics is a language", [...bla bla... it's not as simple, but the more we think about it... ] that the distinction between mathematical language and natural language may not be as great as it seems.

There's actually a more specific article [wikipedia.org] right on WP, but as always, never believe anything you read on WP without checking it against other sources.

Re:Two things (1)

lfourrier (209630) | about 3 months ago | (#47270689)

one can discuss, at length, and some will. The initial question I asked was : " are algorithms discovered or created? ". The only sure thing I can say (and I think any honest person would say) is : It seems an easy question, but there is no easy universal answer (even without going to theories where consciousness and self are emergent illusions)

Re:Two things (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47273535)

Mod parent up!

Is an invention created or discovered?
Are laws of nature created or discovered?
Is art created or discovered?

At some point the inventor discovers that someone else created/discovered exactly the same invention, quite independently, and vigilantly starts to sue or get sued out of self-preservation.

At some point the scientist discovers that the model is not reality itself and dependent on frames of references, and thus starts to look inward for new possibilities and paradoxially starts the maturing process towards spirituality and self-empowerment.

At some point the artist realizes her framework dictates a certain style which begin to feel way too limiting, and need to throw all limiting rules aboard in order to reach more genuine freedom and self-expression.

Captcha: osmosis

Re:Two things (1)

Tom (822) | about 3 months ago | (#47275067)

Are laws of nature created or discovered?

Someone has read too much Mage: The Ascension ;-)

Re:Two things (1)

Tom (822) | about 3 months ago | (#47274457)

I do not agree that the question is difficult.

I do agree that a lot of people consider it difficult, because they are trapped in category mistakes and cannot properly seperate their levels of abstraction.

Once you get that right, it isn't all that hard anymore. You just need to go beyond the word, into meaning. What is it, exactly, that you mean by the word "algorithm"? Is it

a) the particular formula in particular mathematical notation?
b) the operations described by that formula?
c) the process described by those operations?

Re:Two things (1)

Xest (935314) | about 3 months ago | (#47280923)

I think it's still hard because you could equally have:

1) Person A who thinks up the algorithm in his head and writes it down hence creating it

2) Person B who independently spots the algorithm executing in a natural process and writes it down, hence discovering it.

An algorithm is a set of instructions, but how you come to getting into your mind and writing down those instructions results in a dividing line between whether it was created or discovered and even that's not simple when there's a debate about whether the very act of understanding itself is a process of discovery or creation.

This remains true whichever of your definitions is used.

Re:Two things (1)

Tom (822) | about 3 months ago | (#47281379)

Again, I think you are mixing different levels of abstraction here.

Let's, for simplicity sake, take an extremely simple algorithm as an example: 1+1=2

Person A writes it down as a purely mathematical description, finds out he can draw nice conclusions from it and generally enjoys it in the sphere of pure math. It was created, no doubt.

Person B does not ever spot "1+1=2" anywhere in nature. What person A spots is that if he has one stone in his hand, and he adds a second one, he now has two stones in his hand. That is the natural process. "1+1=2" is not that process, but an abstract description of the process. If person B were to abstract (that is the creative part) and write it down, he would still be creating the 1+1=2 formula.

The difference between these two persons is not that one created and the other discovered. The difference is how their creative process got started.

You discover a new species of snake on your jungle trip. You create a name for it. Same thing with math, really.

Re:Two things (1)

Xest (935314) | about 3 months ago | (#47299333)

But I don't think anyone talks about creating a description when they're referring to description vs. discovery of an algorithm. Everyone knows that language, which is ultimately what math is, is a creation of the human mind (or is it discovered inside the human mind? I'll let you figure that one out).

What you're referring to as the creation of an algorithm is simply the creation of the description of the algorithm which is a different thing to the creation/discovery of the algorithm. Fundamentally the point still stands that the person you created it, may simply have subconsciously discovered it - what they wrote down is merely the description of what they discovered.

Re:Two things (1)

Tom (822) | about 3 months ago | (#47344287)

(or is it discovered inside the human mind? I'll let you figure that one out).

There's not even an argument there. Current scientific knowledge indicates strongly that our brains are wired for language processes, but not for a specific language.

What you're referring to as the creation of an algorithm is simply the creation of the description of the algorithm which is a different thing to the creation/discovery of the algorithm.

No. You are trying to introduce some kind of strange sideways category. Or maybe it is the word "algorithm" that's causing the confusion here. I've described my view, how about you describe yours?

untrue (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47270185)

Things in mathematics can be independently verified. You can give a theorem to a computer and have it search for a proof. The proof either exists or it does not. You can even prove it is unproveable. You can't have a computer generate random words and have it know when its quoted Shakespeare (without a reference copy to check against).

So maths is more like the world, a country (proof) exists whether you have discovered it yet or not. The same cannot be said of Shakespeare.

Re:untrue (2)

Tom (822) | about 3 months ago | (#47270465)

You do realize that these two things are not nearly equivalent, yes?

Finding if a combination of words satisfies all semantical and grammatical requirements is not the same as verifying if some combination of symbols has been published before, no matter which language you talk about.

Math certainly is a very special language in that it strictly obeys the rules of logic, and thus can be used to derive and formulate proofs in such a clear and unambigious way that computers can be used for the purpose. I would certainly not say it's a language like English or Spanish.

If you need help to bridge the gap, think about computer and other functional languages. They inhabit the space between mathematics and human languages and have elements of both.

So maths is more like the world, a country (proof) exists whether you have discovered it yet or not.

You make the exact category mistake that I wrote about in my original post. You confuse the word "Russia" with the physical area on the planet that we describe with that word. Of course the land area with all its rivers and lakes and mountains exists independently. But it is not "Russia" until someone creates the English language and invents this word to describe it (or, if you want, until someone invents Russian and invents the word ÐоÑÑÐÑ).

Likewise, the fact that you have 2 stones in your hand if you have 1 stone in it and then put another stone into it as well is an objective fact. 1+1=2 is mathematics and was invented. Other ways of describing the same fact are imagineable, just like names for countries are pretty much arbitrary combinations of sounds.

Re:untrue (2)

Tom (822) | about 3 months ago | (#47270491)

until someone invents Russian and invents the word ÃþÃ'Ã'ÃÃ').

seriously, slashdot ?

It's 2014, not 1994. Fucking get some Unicode support.

Re:untrue (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | about 3 months ago | (#47270499)

Wait until you do some JEs that look fine in draft, then eat themselves when published. Because consistency is so over-rated.

Re:Unicode (2)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | about 3 months ago | (#47271337)

Drifting off topic, but did the infamous Beta in fact get Unicode support?

I mean, look at this tortuous new Beta, did they even bother to put in the Unicode support that people have been screaming for for ten+ years?

Damn we need a mole at Dice. What do they even do at management meetings?

"Let's make a whole new design with 55 changes."
"What about Unicode Support?"
"That's a big word. That's too hard for me. Let's put more videos up instead."

Re:Unicode (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47276399)

beta does not have unicode support

Re:Two things (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47270325)

Mathematics is a language.

Mathematics is no more a language than the Library of Congress is.

Re:Two things (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47270381)

Why did Mathematics have no word for zero until Jains wrote about it?

Re:Two things (2)

Tom (822) | about 3 months ago | (#47270435)

You mean like Latin didn't have a word for computer or laser or neutron star?

Because words are added to languages when they are needed. Languages are not created in the "a designer sits down and invents it" sense, but in the sense of continuous improvement.

Re:Two things (4, Funny)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about 3 months ago | (#47270521)

Except esperanto. I'm pretty sure someone sat down and invented that one.

Re:Two things (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47272293)

“Could you send for the hall porter, there appears to be a frog in my bidet.”

Re:Two things (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47272859)

Except esperanto. I'm pretty sure someone sat down and invented that one.

And Klingonese [wikipedia.org] ... and the various languages constructed by J. R. R. Tolkien [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Two things (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47273533)

And lojban.

Re:Two things (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47270551)

So we agree that math is a language?

Re:Two things (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47270619)

It is absolutely not a language. The *mathematical language* is a language, which we use to describe mathematics. But mathematics in itself is not a language, far from it.

Re:Two things (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47274207)

But the Library of Congress stores things written in language.

Even the Library of Congress, what is that? To me, it's a word. I've not been there so I have no experience with which to associate it. Even if I did, the experience could be expressed in words. If the library has a virtual presence, it is literally made of (computer) words.

What is the difference between what mathematics really is and its description? As the description becomes more and more expressive, nothing, I would say.

Re:Two things (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47280261)

I'm not sure if you think you are making a point by bringing up the library of congress. But compare with music. We have a language for music - "A-sharp B-flat C" is a string in that language. But it is wrong to say that the string *is* music. It merely *describes* music. Descriptions can have varying degrees of completeness and they can also be wrong. But the music itself is never "wrong". Neither is mathematics, but sometimes our descriptions of it can be.

Re:Two things (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 3 months ago | (#47271921)

Languages are not created in the "a designer sits down and invents it" sense, but in the sense of continuous improvement.

My first language is FORTRAN and now I speak C++, they are all designed languages, you insensitive clod.

Re: Two things (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47278383)

"Insensitive"? Were you butt hurt by that quote?

You didn't even argue the quote. Surely fortran and c++ had continuous development.

And, the languages were created as needed, there isn't stuff added "this will get used in 20 years " as if it was all created in a day.

Re: Two things (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 3 months ago | (#47285625)

You didn't get the "you insensitive clod" meme, you insensitive clod!

Re:Two things (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | about 3 months ago | (#47271281)

Because Mathematics describes _concepts_.

When people's paradigms enlarged to include more concepts they extended mathematics. The exact same thing happened for imaginary numbers, and quaternions.

How does *any* language name and define foreign concepts? I.e pick a language that doesn't have a term for "email" or "computer"

Re:Two things (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47277003)

When mathematics extends itself to include paradoxes, it will start to be as expressive as natural languages in describing reality.

Re:Two things (1)

mark-t (151149) | about 3 months ago | (#47271793)

I would argue that mathematics didn't even exist until after the idea of zero was thought of... certainly many of the foundations of what could form mathematics were already in place, but the notion of an additive identity value is pretty axiomatic to mathematics. I'd suggest that what existed before zero was thought up wasn't mathematics at all... but may be best described as what we would now consider arithmetic.

Re:Two things (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47288491)

Magmas are single-operation algebraic structures that lack an identity element. They do not receive much attention from theorists, but that doesn't mean they aren't there. So mathematics without a zero certainly exists, even today (as if time could change mathematics).

Re:Two things (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | about 3 months ago | (#47270507)

You could take all the books in the LoC, treat them as pixels, and get your Shakespeare on with them, for all you'd need a hot air balloon to appreciate the result.

Re:Two things (1)

radtea (464814) | about 3 months ago | (#47275213)

Mathematics is a language. As such, it is created.

The interesting thing about math is that it is a language that reveals underlying isomorophisms, like the one described in TFA. This feature is one of the things that leads to naive people thinking that the math somehow "precedes" the things it describes.

But we see similar isomorphisms in all languages. Consider the "ballad" form of poem. It occurs in incredibly diverse contexts, but the underlying structure is always the same, which means you can sing "Amazing Grace" to the tune of the theme from "Gilligan's Island". So claiming that "pi" shows up in a variety of contexts doesn't prove anything except that it reflects those parts of the universe we find it interesting as humans to describe.

Furthermore, mathematical descriptions include extraneous bits. Wave equations have both advanced and retarded solutions, for example. If the math truly "preceded" the reality you'd expect that this would never happen, or that there would be some mathematical (rather than empirical) principle that let us get rid of the parts that don't describe reality.

The role of mathematics in biology is an, err, evolving one. The possibility of a law-like mathematical description underlying biological and evolutionary processes is at least worth speculating about: http://www.amazon.com/Darwins-... [amazon.com]

Re:Two things (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47302995)

Spot on!

Re:Two things (1)

Bongo (13261) | about 3 months ago | (#47270341)

Phenomena manifest in many ways, many perspectives.

The colour "red" is a human phenomena, and the notion of "wavelengths" and "energy" are also something humans see/have/experience as phenomena. You can then use signifiers, signified, words, sounds, etc. to say "red" for what you see in your vision as "red" whilst noting on some instrument the "wavelength".

There is no really real reality beyond your experience of sights, sounds, concepts, etc. -- reality which we can speak of, IF we can't observe it. In this sense, you don't create reality, but likewise, hallucinations are "real" for you. There is basically no firm ground to stand on, hence phenomena are "empty". But that doesn't mean YOU are creating "reality", what you are is a phenomena experiencing machine, which has a set of senses. The point is, we can't ask is the equation "real", because we can't access the truly real reality directly anyway. Whatever the "sun" is, we know it rises and sets, as experienced by all human beings and animals. Your sight of the sun is as real as the mathematical formula describing its motion and vice versa.

Whether you're experiencing a mathematical abstract idea or a colour in your vision, that's what you have and it is co-created perception, just like you need a lens to focus light. That doesn't mean we create reality, rather we create our dream implicitly by being an instrument which can experience.

It is a lot easier if you think of the mind as just another sense organ. So sight is a sense organ, and mathematics is a sense organ. Thoughts are a sense organ. Just because you see red doesn't mean reality is made of redness. Your senses manifest that particular representation/perspective.

What I think most people mean by "reality" in the everyday sense of the word is that this stuff over here correlates with that stuff over there. A real car correlates with death if you stand in the middle of the road. A hallucinatory car (which looks as real as the real one) doesn't. Your math equation is "real" if it correlates with the stuff you're modelling.

So to try to answer the question, the math equation is "created" in the sense that a human thought of it, but it is no more separate from reality than the phenomena you're trying to study, because that phenomena is itself something your perceptual senses are "creating" also. We never see the really real directly. Seeing is an activity. Not that it makes much difference. Trouble is we are sentient and so sentience is always part of whatever it is you're "seeing out there".

Re:Two things (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47270479)

I have a clear answer to that. Mathematics are discovered. If they were invented, they would work exactly as we wanted them to. But they don't. For example, the pythagoreans were convinced that all numbers could be represented as a ratio of integers. But they were proven wrong.

Re:Two things (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | about 3 months ago | (#47271209)

> are mathematics discovered or created?

Uh, you do realize the question is not mutually exclusive, right?

The answer is: Both

Stop thinking linear, and start thinking multidimensionally.

Re:Two things (2)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | about 3 months ago | (#47271283)

"are mathematics (of which algorythms are a small part) discovered or created ? No one has a clear answer to that question."

I thought it was pretty clear that stuff is discovered. To me this kind of question reads like "Well, does it stop being right at any time once it is discovered?" and the answer is generally no. (A, you sometimes get stuff that was discovered and not properly reported, at which point the original discovery is not at fault and it is just a reporting problem, or B, you get stuff that was *insufficiently* discovered and *over-reported*, causing someone else to re-do parts of the work and end up with something else. But then it's still discovered, at whatever level that year's understanding entails.)

In a way it's a bit silly, you can't just "make up" (create) knowledge, so it has to be there. It can just be ferociously difficult to "correctly" discover, and we might end up with three or thirty versions of the knowledge as we discover it. But once something is really nailed, hard, I can't think of any cases where people said stuff like "Oh, sorry, that law stopped existing in 1932". Every time, when a mistake shows up, it's "Oh, sorry, we didn't discover it right."

Re:Two things (2)

stoborrobots (577882) | about 3 months ago | (#47270097)

When you have two distinct things, which you understand to different extents, proving that they're identical allows you to learn about one thing from the knowledge of the other thing.

To use your example:

Prior to today, we knew that cats lapped up milk with their tongues, and also preen their fur with their tongues. Also prior to today, we knew that a Japanese animal called neko coughs up balls of stuff.

Today we found out that cats are identical to neko.

We now know that cats cough up balls of stuff, and that neko preen their fur with their tongue. We might now use this new-found knowledge to identify that the coughed up balls of stuff were probably derived from fur and/or milk.

Re:Two things (0)

Vlad_the_Inhaler (32958) | about 3 months ago | (#47270111)

Just call it "Intelligent Design". Lots of people are going to be claiming they were right all along, although most of them won't have any chance of actually understanding the maths.

Equations, not algorithm (1)

grimJester (890090) | about 3 months ago | (#47270115)

"equations used to describe the distribution of genes", meaning the algorithm (mechanism) was probably unknown while the equations just described the end result. Also, the behavior of an algorithm that sees lots of use has probably been studied a lot so there's a treasure trove of material for researchers to dig through to find stuff relevant for genetics.

Re:Two things (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47270249)

Are algorithms discovered, or created?

That's a false dichotomy. Both sides can be argued, so both sides are probably true at once. Who cares? If calling a cat neko tells me nothing about cats, why does determining the answer to the above question tell me anything about algorithms?

Re:Two things (1)

kruach aum (1934852) | about 3 months ago | (#47270475)

Because names are properties acquired by stipulation. Discovery entails an existence of algorithms independent of humanity, while creation entails the existence of algorithms depends on humanity (or other algorithm creators). That's why it's a true dichotomy, as one entity cannot have contradictory properties at the same time.

Re:Two things (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47271327)

That's why it's a true dichotomy, as one entity cannot have contradictory properties at the same time.

Quantum mechanics much?

Re:Two things (1)

kruach aum (1934852) | about 3 months ago | (#47272641)

Something that has the property of being grey does not have both the property of being white and the property of being black. Similarly, something that has the property of being a particle-wave does not have both the property of being a wave and the property of being a particle. That we call it a particle-wave is a contingent artifact of our developmental history; on the macro-level, there are no things that behave like particle-waves, but there are things that behave like waves and things that behave like particles. Had there been things that behaved like particle-waves, we would have a word for it other than the clumsily put-together "particle-wave".

Re:Two things (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47270453)

As the article states, diversity is basically game of trust.

In non-diverse communities/countries, certain illness/defects/mental issues persist because they do not wish to relocate somewhere healthier. Take for example Blond hair. People who naturally have blond hair tend to be German, Russian or some other northern European. Take those people and move them to Texas, and they will burn to a crisp. However they'll be perfectly fine somewhere else north like Iceland or Alaska, or anywhere less tropical like most of Canada. Likewise those with dark skin tend to like being closer to the equator, and hence why you don't see to many of them once you get to northern Europe and Canada.

So what happens when you the is a smaller portion willing to diversify into another climate? You get offspring that are not the skin color of both parents, because it's exactly in the middle. So that new offspring is more suited for the area that they've settled in. Repeat every 20 years or so. That's the algorithm. The diversity on earth is a function of where we choose to live, and who we consider our peers. If my local community is nothing but hipster starving artists, chances are the children will also be hipster starving artists unless they really hate it and move somewhere else. That moves the diversity around.

This is why immigration and border controls could be considered bad policy, we may need to control the people coming and going for economic reasons, but we shouldn't be blocking people who actually want to come here and pick up the jobs nobody wants, nor should we prevent people from leaving if the jobs they want are't here. I'm sure there's plenty of Americans who would love to go leave the US and work somewhere else for a while just to see why they had it so good at home.

Anyhow, if we tear down all the border controls, given about 200 years, genetic diversity will eventually cause all red/blond hair, blue/grey eye people to disappear. It will happen unless we start putting them in Zoos. :) Everyone will have a skin color reflecting the climate they live in, but everyone will have black hair.

Re:Two things (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47270979)

1. If the machine learning algorithm has been found to be mathematically identical to the genetic spread algorithm, how would biologists be able to use it to better understand natural selection and genetic diversity? What can they learn from the first algorithm that they couldn't learn from the one they already had? If the two algorithms are mathematically identical, aren't they both just different names for the same mathematical structure? Learning a cat is called neko in Japanese doesn't tell you anything about cats you didn't already know -- it just tells you something about the Japanese language.

In your analogy, you don't gain anything, because the things that Japanese speakers know about cats are roughly the same as the things English speakers know about cats.

But say that Japanese and English speakers knew non-overlapping things about cats - once you realise that "cat" and "neko" are the same thing, you suddenly gain access to the other bits of information that seemed irrelevant before.

Stepping out of the analogy: It's likely that computer scientists will have studied this algorithm using very different techniques, and therefore may have discovered different things. Prior to this realisation, those things may have seemed completely irrelevant to biology, and therefore would have been ignored. Now we know they are the same, the analysis done by the computer-scientists can be brought to bear on the biology problem, and vice-versa.

Re: Two things (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47284269)

1. Patterns are either created (as in art or instructions) or they are discovered (as in natural science).

2. Algorithms are created to describe those patterns.

Is it me or... (2)

SigmundFloyd (994648) | about 3 months ago | (#47269953)

...has the "simulated universe" hypotesis just got a slight boost from this finding?

Re:Is it me or... (1)

rusty0101 (565565) | about 3 months ago | (#47269999)

I think that kid of depends on whether you think that an algorithm that makes something work requires that the universe within which that algorithm appears to be at work, has to be a simulated universe. Is it possible as an alternative that there are several possible processes where these results, or results statistically insignificantly different, might obtain, and it happens that this process wins because it simply uses less energy and produces results that provide better survivability than the other processes, without the universe these processes are running in being a simulated universe?

My suspicion is that the way we will be able to tell if the universe is simulated or not will be if we can demonstrate that everything that works in our universe works under well defined processes in simulations, and I'm not entirely sure that we can. At some level you run into the problem of something within a state not being able to fully describe all of the parameters of that state. I know that there are people who think that's not the case, and others who think that it is the case. I don't know, and I'm not sure it matters.

I'm not sure I'd know what to do if there was a way to definitively prove that the universe I exist in (or at least perceive about me) is only a simulation. It's not like I can use that knowledge to escape this universe, so the taxes will still need to be paid, the interest on loans will still grow, and there will likely still be death at some level. Perhaps the escape from this universe to the universe that has this simulation running in it is death, Perhaps it's finding a way to outlive the heat death of the universe, I don't know, and I'm uncertain as to which would be preferred.

But then that's the nature of metaphysical questions, isn't it? Or is it?

Re:Is it me or... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 3 months ago | (#47270363)

...has the "simulated universe" hypotesis just got a slight boost from this finding?

No, it hasn't. You would expect things to be governed by simple, predictable principles. Otherwise they'd happen wildly differently every time, and we wouldn't have life at all.

Re:Is it me or... (1)

Theovon (109752) | about 3 months ago | (#47270655)

The simulated universe hypothesis is based on the seeming odd coincidence that our universe’s operation looks identical to information theory.

The problem with that hypothesis is that people seem to forget that our concept of information theory is a function of the universe it was developed in. Thus, it’s no coincidence, and the congruence of physics and information theory is not evidence of simulation.

Re:Is it me or... (1)

SigmundFloyd (994648) | about 3 months ago | (#47271231)

our concept of information theory is a function of the universe it was developed in.

I don't think it needs to look similar to the universe's inner mechanisms just because of that.

Analogic Learning (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47270017)

Our Learning is a combination of what we associate with the result vs. what we experience the first time. However, we cannot be entirely sure of the result unless we experience it multiple times;

This forces us to create biases, learnings and mind sets that somehow seemingly protect us and help us survive - while driving us irrational most of the time.

Neural network algorithms most certainly operate in the same way.

is greate ! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47270023)

I find an good chinese novel named ZeTianJi that Writed by this guy who they called Maoni worked at Tencent Corp.Here is the book website www.zetianji.biz that you can reading online now.

Simpsons...errr....Matt Ridley did it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47270045)

Sounds the same as conclusions by researchers cited in Matt Ridley's book "The Origin of Virtue".

Re:Simpsons...errr....Matt Ridley did it (1)

mestar (121800) | about 3 months ago | (#47270193)

Or in the "Red Queen."

So much time would be saved, and so much more understanding of evolution would be had, if sexual selection was thought in schools. My guess is that this isn't done be because of the word sex in the name.

In the context of the article:

survival of the fittest -> narrows the gene pool
sexual selection -> increases variation in the gene pool

The fist part prunes the "bad" genes. The sexual part actually encourages any "bad" genes that became sexually attractive by any random start.

The examples are peacocks tail, deer's antlers and human brain.

How does this differ from John Holland's work ? (2)

tree_frog (113005) | about 3 months ago | (#47270087)

Only having read the abstract, and the linked article, I don't really see how this is different from the "2 Armed Bandit" theory which John Holland Laid out 40 years ago in "Evolution in Natural and Artificial Systems". Holland laid out how the combination of sexual reproduction with mutation within a population otpimises search across the space by combining exploitation of good areas of the search space with exploration to find better areas.

Can someone more up to date enlighten me?

kind regards

tree frog

Re:How does this differ from John Holland's work ? (1)

sweetenham (78025) | about 3 months ago | (#47270221)

It's worth reading the paper: http://www.pnas.org/content/ea... [pnas.org]

The point is that the well known properties of the game theory algorithm explain why sex has the effective properties which have been observed but not explained. I haven't read John Holland's paper. Does it refer to the details of the multiplicative weight updates algorithm?

ditto that (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47270699)

That's the first thing I thought also. This isn't the first time someone has thought about this problem.

Re:How does this differ from John Holland's work ? (2)

strangeintp (892348) | about 3 months ago | (#47271833)

I haven't read that specific work but I have read "Hidden Order: How Adaptation Builds Complexity", so I am generally familiar with his conceptual framework. I agree, they are all offering the same explanation. I think the difference may be that Holland did not lay it out mathematically in a game theory framework. For another perspective, check out Stuart Kauffman's "Origins of Order", which also provides an analytical (though not equation-based) treatment.

Human anus (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47270171)

Human anus [wikipedia.org]

Not new. (2)

Alsee (515537) | about 3 months ago | (#47270233)

It has been known for years, probably decades, that gene frequencies follow this mathematical rule, and that it has been mathematically proven optimal for solving Multi-armed bandit [wikipedia.org] type problems. Each generation genes are tested by natural selection, and increase or decrease in frequency according to multiplicative increase or decrease. This is a mathematically optimal strategy for exploring and optimizing payoff in a complex unknown environment. Mutation creates random stuff to try, and this mathematically selection algorithm optimally crafts it into useful new information.

-

Re:Not new. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47271233)

And each generation rediscovers for itself that they can publish a paper with this "exciting result!" that is decades old.

This happens a lot when the professor, and the grad students, have never really studied the history of related fields.

Re:Not new. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47272089)

>This happens a lot when the professor, and the grad students, have never really studied the history of related fields.

I haven't studied the history, but have understood the principals of GoL and this algorithm for a while now. It seems to me this just obvious and publishers should be ashamed.

Cheap Mathematical Headlines (2)

Myu (823582) | about 3 months ago | (#47270251)

Why does Slashdot seem to buy in so often to spinning the recurrence of mathematical tools across various fields as some kind of scientific breakthrough? Correlation is not causation, not all structural similarities imply some kind of necessary physical theoretical account. We as empirical agents use logical tools for the formation, quantification and application of theories - so of course some functions will occur in several different settings, because we're bringing the same resources to the table each time.

This can't possibly be! (1)

Roxoff (539071) | about 3 months ago | (#47270311)

The Earth was created 7000 years ago by some unknown but benign power, evolution doesn't exist - how can some equation possibly describe it using mathematics? Mathematics itself is obviously a made up tool anyway, so you can make it say whatever you want. They'll be using Empirical Science next to debunk what is clearly the One Truth. :)

When I saw the title... (2)

Snard (61584) | about 3 months ago | (#47270945)

... I imagined that someone discovered a mechanism in genes that favored survival if there were exactly two or three neighboring genes, and non-survival if there were fewer or greater numbers. Oh, and something about a new gene being 'created' when there are exactly 3 neighboring ones.

Re:When I saw the title... (1)

strangeintp (892348) | about 3 months ago | (#47271887)

I would have modded +1 funny if I could. My first impression with the headline was similar.

Re:When I saw the title... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47275783)

Although, a gene glider would be one helluva thing to see under the microscope...

Novel, it is not (3, Interesting)

jw3 (99683) | about 3 months ago | (#47271895)

John Maynard Smith introduced the game theory to evolutionary biology in the early 70's. It was a breakthrough at that time, however today it is scarcely news. Evolutionary biology, and in especially population genetics has been a highly mathematized discipline ever since before WWII, when it was developed by Fisher, Wright and Haldane. Later you had Hamilton and Maynard Smith. It is nice that computer scientists noticed that something exciting is going on here, but don't fall for press releases and insubstantiated claims.

Re:Novel, it is not (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47273209)

but don't fall for press releases and insubstantiated claims.

This is not a press release, but a peer-reviewed paper in PNAS.

Re:Novel, it is not (2)

mtthwbrnd (1608651) | about 3 months ago | (#47274271)

so it has even less credibility then.

Actual Algorithm (1)

fineghal (989689) | about 3 months ago | (#47272335)

"We demonstrate that in the regime of weak selection, the standard equations of population genetics describing natural selection in the presence of sex become identical to those of a repeated game between genes played according to multiplicative weight updates (MWUA)..."

Preprint (1)

frank_adrian314159 (469671) | about 3 months ago | (#47273581)

There's a preprint of what seems to be a more complete paper on the work hosted on arxiv. There's a bit more math in it, but it's still somewhat understandable: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1208.3160.pdf [arxiv.org] .

Silly humans! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47276193)

There isn't an algorithm as the world was created 6000 years ago out of nothing. Of course maybe the mystical sky daddy also created the algorithm too in order to test your faith in ghosts of the holy kind. Maybe we should call that ghost Casper just to make him more approachable.

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