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Submission + - Mathematicians find optimal video game double jump strategy. (

RobertJ1729 writes: Mathematicians Aaron Broussard, Martin Malandro, and Abagayle Serreyn have cracked the code for the optimal video game multi-jump, a normal jump followed by additional jumps initiated in midair without the aid of a platform, to determine the highest achievable jump, and have described strategies human players or AI can use in real time to select successful multi-jumps in real time. Their results (doi) are published in the December issue of The American Mathematical Monthly . From the paper's introduction:

A multi-jump is a finite sequence of jumps where the first jump is initiated from the ground and the rest are initiated in midair. The number of jumps in a multi-jump is the length of the multi-jump, so a double jump is a multi-jump of length two. Several video games, such as Chair Entertainment Group(R)’s Shadow Complex(TM) and Nintendo(R)’s Super Smash Bros.(TM) Melee, feature triple jumps or multi-jumps of even longer length.

The basic problem we consider in this paper is the following. Suppose that a character in a two-dimensional side-scrolling video game wishes to use a multi-jump to jump to the right from a fixed starting point across a gap and land on a fixed platform. ...We therefore assume that the character has a known finite sequence of jump arcs available to her and faces the problem of selecting when to jump in midair, i.e., to switch from the arc of one jump to the next, so as to land on the platform. ...

Provided the platform is reachable by a multi-jump, we give strategies for solving this problem on the fly for both player-controlled and artificial intelligence (AI)-controlled characters. In the simplest situation all jumps available to the character are equal and fully concave (Definition 5). In this situation we give a simple strategy (the line method) that is usable by both players and AI. In our experience the majority of games featuring multi-jumps are covered by this situation. We give two further strategies for AI-controlled characters in more-complicated situations. Our first AI strategy is very general, in that it applies to any collection of standard jump functions (Definition 1). We also give a faster (less computationally intensive) AI strategy for collections of standard jump functions whose derivative inverses are known and computable exactly.

Comment Re:What is a "Drone?" (Score 1) 410

>Is a regular, run of the mill R/C toy that is flown within line of sight of its operator at all times considered a "drone?"

No, but RC aircraft are also banned in DC, since they can be weaponized nearly as well as a drone can.

You are mistaken. According to the FAA, any unmanned aircraft is under the jurisdiction of the FAA. The new registrations rules only apply to aircraft over 0.55 lbs. I can't find details about the DC "No Drone Zone," but I assume the same criteria applies even though the FAA's website says, "all unmanned aircraft."

As you can see by the crazy stuff that gets posted here, and worse at political sites, we have a lot of dangerously stupid, deeply-misinformed people running around.

Indeed. ;)

Comment Re:What is a "Drone?" (Score 1) 410

Is a regular, run of the mill R/C toy that is flown within line of sight of its operator at all times considered a "drone?"

According to the FAA, yes. The FAA believes it has authority over ANY rc aircraft, including paper airplanes, though the FAA has so far only sought to apply regulation to aircraft over 0.55 lbs.

Comment Some more news coverage of the meltdown (Score 3, Interesting) 126

The local NBC affiliate covered the fiasco, interviewing several frustrated fans, and reported that RICC at one point disabled comments on their Facebook page. WPRI Eyewitness News and ABC6 also covered the story.

Mike Ferreira describes some of the chaos on the Anime Herald:

Families were separated. Vendors were barred from returning to their booths. People stood outside in a rainy 40-degrees for hours only to be turned away. Traffic was backed up for hours due to inadequate parking. People were packed into an event hall like cattle, with little room to move or maneuver, and countless photo ops that people paid for were left unfulfilled.

Some people on Facebook describe the conditions inside the convention center as unsafe. RICC has responded to some of the comments, saying, "There was no mess up. This happens a lot at large events. It is very difficult to predict the turnover flow of patrons. Sometimes, for the safety of all, we need to halt entry to let the crowd thin out." RICC Organizer Steven Perry of Altered Reality Entertainment has been unreachable by media and disgruntled fans.

People are being very supportive of the Fire Marshals who handled the mess. One Facebook user writes, "Fire marshal #9 guarding the Omni North Garage was awesome. Delt with an angry mob through the whole 4 hours." I personally witnessed that marshal do a really great job with a really bad situation. Rhode Island is the site of the worst nightclub fire in US history, and Rhode Islanders understand that the Fire Marshal was acting with restraint and responsibly.

I have not heard about the conditions at the convention center today. They have apparently already sold to capacity but are still selling tickets online.

Submission + - Rhode Island Comic Con Oversold, Overcrowded.

RobertJ1729 writes: The Rhode Island Comic Con (RICC) is in the middle of a complete melt down as hundred are turned away at the door or denied reentry due to the event organizers selling far more tickets than the venue can accomodate. The Providence Journal reports that "According to Providence Fire Chief David Soscia, too many people were being let in at a time and the organizers were not correctly counting them. That led to over-congested areas in the building which has a maximum capacity of 17,000 people." Meanwhile the Rhode Island Comic Con Facebook page is being flooded with comments from angry attendees describing disorganized chaos both inside and out of the convention center. RICC initially posted, "Hello RICC fans! WE ARE NOT OVERSOLD!," and promised to honor tomorrow tickets sold for today. That post generated several hundred angry comments before eventually being deleted (though it survives in part on RICC's twitter feed). Commenters are alleging that RICC is deleting negative Facebook comments. Users are tweeting at #ricomicconfail2014 to vent their frustration.

Comment Re:Empirical Data Trumps Information Theory (Score 1) 211

Information theory and quantum physics are in a different category. Quantum physics is a model of reality that happens to predict certain kinds of observations to a high degree of accuracy. Information theory is mathematical truth and not a model. Information theory is inviolable. Quantum physics is violable to the extent that it does not describe reality perfectly.

Comment Python is the better programming language (Score 1) 143

The arguments in favor of R boil down to this: R is more widely used by statisticians and has a much larger library of statistical packages. But R is not a very good programming language, is difficult to learn, and is not well suited to integrate with or be used for more general purpose programming tasks.

Python, on the other hand, has a vast library of packages but does not yet have nearly as many packages specialized for the statistical computing domain. The arguments in favor of Python are, in essence, that it's very easy to learn and easy to use and easy to integrate with other general purpose programming tasks. Python is also gaining a lot of momentum in the scientific computing community. For many statistical analysis applications (most?), the packages that do exist for Python are more than adequate. Some folks even suggest that R's lead over Python is evaporating fast.

Comment How in the hell did this pass IRB? (Score 5, Informative) 160

The scientists represented to the IRB that the dataset was preexisting, and so the IRB passed on the review. It's not clear that the dataset was preexisting, though, since the study seems to indicate that the scientists were involved in the design of the experiment from the beginning. What's more, the paper itself claims to have obtained informed consent when clear there was none.

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