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Comment Re:Science and Intuition defeating Fun Math (Score 1) 981

OK, now with 3.13M families:

# echo 'select child1_gender,count(*) from families where child2_gender = "M" and child2_day=2 group by child1_gender;' | mysql test
child1_gender count(*)
F 111608
M 112037

50.095% male. If I remove the Tuesday constraint?

# echo 'select child1_gender,count(*) from families where child2_gender = "M" group by child1_gender;' | mysql test
child1_gender count(*)
F 783068
M 784087

50.03% male.

But you know, perhaps I'm being not literal enough. It's always possible to misencode a problem, and there's a lot of insistence that you have to handle the overlapping case of boy/boy. So, lets try a different mechanism. Lets literally do what the problem asks:

"I have two children, one of whom is a boy born on a Tuesday. What's the probability that my other child is a boy?"

For each family, if either of the children is male, return whether they are both male.

# echo 'select child1_gender=child2_gender from families where (child1_gender="M" and child1_day=2) or (child2_gender="M" and child2_day="2") ' | mysql test | sort | uniq -c | sort -n
1 child1_gender=child2_gender
207934 1
223445 0

...heh! That's kind of neat! I think I shall play with this some more.

Comment Re:Science and Intuition defeating Fun Math (Score 1) 981

Alright. It's 4:21AM, I'm in a random hotel room with a $400 voucher from Delta, and somewhere, someone on the Internet is wrong.

This sounds like a job for SQL.

First, lets start with a table:

# echo "describe families" | mysql test
Field Type Null Key Default Extra
child1_gender char(1) YES NULL
child1_day int(11) YES NULL
child2_gender char(1) YES NULL
child2_day int(11) YES NULL

Now, lets put a million records in it.

# echo "select count(*) from families" | mysql test
count(*)
1025537
# echo "select * from families limit 10" | mysql test
child1_gender child1_day child2_gender child2_day
F 1 M 0
F 4 M 3
M 1 F 1
F 5 M 1
M 0 M 3
F 0 F 3
M 0 M 2
M 4 F 1
M 6 M 3
F 3 F 1

(We're going to define 2 as Tuesday.) Now, lets look at the problem statement:

"I have two children, one of whom is a boy born on a Tuesday. What's the probability that my other child is a boy?"

We're going to translate that to, as in parent post.

Select the gender of all second children where the first child was born on a Tuesday and the first child was male.

Select the gender of all first children where the second child was born on a Tuesday and the second child was male.

Or, in actual SQL:

select child2_gender,count(*) from families where child1_gender = "M" and child1_day=2 group by child2_gender;
select child1_gender,count(*) from families where child2_gender = "M" and child2_day=2 group by child1_gender;

The results?

# echo 'select child2_gender,count(*) from families where child1_gender = "M" and child1_day=2 group by child2_gender;' | mysql test
child2_gender count(*)
F 36593
M 36617

# echo 'select child1_gender,count(*) from families where child2_gender = "M" and child2_day=2 group by child1_gender;' | mysql test
child1_gender count(*)
F 36811
M 37031

So, in the first set, we see 49.58% male for the other child. In the second set, we see 50.14% male for the other child.

And in myself, I find a renewed respect for numerical simulation. Happy Tuesday!

Comment Science and Intuition defeating Fun Math (Score 1, Insightful) 981

Take a thousand families, with two children, where one of the children was a boy born on a Tuesday.

I don't mean a thousand theoretical families. I mean, lets say you straight up took one thousand real families, that matched the above constraints, straight out of the census. No joke, you break out the SQL.

When you check the gender of the other child, you are going to see the breakdown of gender being 50% male, 50% female.

Now, I know there's a lot of fun handwaving going on. Here's the flaw, in a nutshell. There are indeed three possibilities, when one child is constrained to be a boy:

boy, girl
girl, boy
boy, boy

The mistake -- and it is a mistake, because when you actually run the experiment, the hypothesis is invalidated -- is thinking that each of the above cases is equally likely. Specifically, order of birth has been incorrectly elevated as a determining factor. So we see:

boy, girl: 33%
girl, boy: 33%
boy, boy: 33%

When we really should be seeing:

boy, boy: 50%
boy, girl: 25%
girl, boy: 25%

Or, more accurately:

same-gender, both male: 50%
different-gender: 50%
      boy first: 25%
      girl first: 25%

Another way to frame the query, with similar results, is to say:

Select the gender of all second children where the first child was born on a Tuesday and the first child was male.

Select the gender of all first children where the second child was born on a Tuesday and the second child was male.

You'll note the girl, girl families will show up in neither result set. So they can do nothing to skew the numbers.

The results of both queries will, predictably, be 50/50 male and female.

This is a good example of why framing a problem correctly is so difficult and critical. It's only because this problem is so amenable to experimental formulation that it's easily defensible.

(Note that the use of Tuesday was an excellent DoS against math geeks.)

(Note also, by the way, this is the exact opposite of the Monty Hall problem. In that problem, people are expecting:

Door 2: 50%
Door 3: 50% ...when, really, we have:

Host Told You Where The Car Was: 66%
      Was Behind 3, Therefore Exposed 2: 33%
      Was Behind 2, Therefore Exposed 3: 33%
Host Didn't Tell You Where The Car Was: 33%
      Randomly Exposed 2: 16.5%
      Randomly Exposed 3: 16.5%

If you modify the Monty Hall problem, such that he opens a random door *which might actually expose the car*, then when he opens the door and you see a goat, it doesn't matter whether you switch or not.)

Comment Re:productize? (Score 1) 244

[This is Dan]

Basically, I create a wrapper class, that's really just a String inside. But when I test the types for each argument of the vararg wrapper, I can see whether the passed string is a SafeString or a bare (thus unsafe) string.

It occurs to me I didn't release this implementation; I'll get it out there.

I actually put some more demos and test kits on recursion.com, and the slides aren't bad. I really want this to get bashed on.

Comment Re:Well (Score 1) 244

[This is Dan]

This isn't taint mode. Taint mode is single language, and in the field, is just turned off without any checking being applied. I don't know of many other efforts that really address the problem that we use strings to communicate across languages, and when we do, we lose all type safety.

There are tricks like LINQ, which allow you to basically express one language with the syntax of another, and I like them lots. (Actually, I think they don't get enough credit for their security implications!).

Comment Re:productize? (Score 2) 244

[This is Dan]

The idea is that we make very expensive asks of developers, who simply don't follow our advice.

The question is whether we can ask less of developers -- specifically, whether we can get out of this silly zero sum game where the harder software is to write, the more secure it is.

Interpolique is an effort in this direction.

Comment Re:productize? (Score 1) 244

[This is Dan]

Actually, that's how the Java version works -- you take strings, and subclass them into safe versions and unsafe versions. Then you combine, either through a vararg shell, or through sequential dot notation.

I'm not a big fan of either; I really think interpolation is the right way for a programmer to express intent, and the compiler should be smart enough to extract it.

Comment Just a note (Score 5, Informative) 597

OK, I was actually there. Not, "I heard this from a guy." I mean, I'm Dan Kaminsky, who's named in the article.

This was kind of a silly situation. One of the guys in our group hit the ball and it sort of sailed into this guy's face. It's a styrofoam ball, the maximum speed of those things is maybe ten miles an hour. It's actually slower than a Nerf ball.

Anyway, the guy who actually hit the thing was sort of an awkward nerd, and laughed about it nervously. You know in the article when the guy's like, it was just one guy? That's because it was just him. There was certainly no mob taunting.

Really, this was a bunch of nerds and burners. There was no damage going on, just general silliness and large scale commerce with institutions that were each contacted in advance and specially staffed to seat all of us. I don't think it'll happen again, and that's sort of sad. Urban golf was a lot of fun for everyone.

Submission + - "Digital: A Love Story" Game Set Amidst 1988 BBSs (scoutshonour.com)

Effugas writes: Now here's something special. Independent game designer Christine Love just released "Digital: A Love Story", which unveils a shockingly well written romance/mystery inside a simulacrum of an Amiga desktop, circa 1988, with the player dialing and hacking into ANSI-art equipped BBS's (both local and long distance) that, in some cases, may very well be FIDONET nodes. This is awesome. Also awesome is that the game is fully Creative Commons licensed, and is available freely for Windows, Mac, and Linux. Check it out!
Games

Why Are There No Popular Ultima Online-Like MMOs? 480

eldavojohn writes "I have a slightly older friend who played through the glory days of Ultima Online. Yes, their servers are still up and running, but he often waxes nostalgic about certain gameplay functions of UO that he misses. I must say that these aspects make me smile and wonder what it would be like to play in such a world — things like housing, thieving and looting that you don't see in the most popular massively multiplayer online games like World of Warcraft. So, I've followed him through a few games, including Darkfall and now Mortal Online. And these (seemingly European developed) games are constantly fading into obscurity and never catching hold. We constantly move from one to the next. Does anyone know of a popular three-dimensional game that has UO-like rules and gameplay? Perhaps one that UO players gravitated to after leaving UO? If you think that the very things that have been removed (housing and thieving would be two good topics) caused WoW to become the most popular MMO, why is that? Do UO rules not translate well to a true 3D environment? Are people incapable of planning for corpse looting? Are players really that inept that developers don't want to leave us in control of risk analysis? I'm familiar with the Bartle Test but if anyone could point me to more resources as to why Killer-oriented games have faded out of popularity, I'd be interested."

Comment Hearing (Score 0) 311

I think he's going to burst his eardrums, and possibly some organs.

Look. this is going to be an enormous pressure wave that will saturate his body. He pops this barrier, it's going to rattle him pretty fierce.

They really should try this with a dummy first!

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