Looney Labs Icehouse Mailing list Archive

Re: [Icehouse] [Zendo] Another Spock Rule question

  • FromJody Chandler <windblownhermit@xxxxxxxxx>
  • DateFri, 5 Aug 2011 06:01:46 -0700 (PDT)
Apologies to any who subscribe to the list yet who are upset about all the recent activity.  Because of that this will be my last post on the subject, so hopefully explains my postion clearly enough I won't need to reply to any responses.

There is some subtlety here with the shirt rule I will agree.  But there is no denying that on the surface it violates the Spock rule.  It also refers to a specific situation in time, which is otherwise explicitly against the rules.  Could another master on another day use the same rule exactly as phrased and have it be isomorphic to the original?  No, unless by accident that his shirt has the exact same colors.  "There are some official restrictions, which are all consequences of a basic relational property of koans: a koan is not allowed to refer to anything outside of itself, in space or in time. This has several implications."  The Master's shirt is outside of the koan so violates the official restrictions.  The rule should be abstract enough to be universal.  It could be recorded into an archive and used by others "isomorphically". 

But on the other hand, because color itself is a valid part of koans, students are capable of observing the colors in the koans and inducing a rule isomorphic to the shirt rule as it is in that game.  So is it valid?  The isomorphism principle, it seems to me, is to be applied by the Master more in the case of when a student states a rule that is isomorphic yet phrased quite differently than his own, than in determining whether a master's rule is valid.  In this case, the student might guess the rule in terms of color, not shirts, and the master would have to confirm enlightenment without insisting on references to his shirt --in fact enlightenment will occur there with nobody but the master knowing about the relationship to the shirt.  Thus the original rule has been corrected, not validated. 

So how is this the same as the scrabble rule and how is it different?  It's the same because you have a case where a supposedly valid isomorphic rule can be created out of a rule that is originally formulated in an invalid way.  But it's different in a very important way. The shirt rule ultimately relies solely on a property that is considered part of koans, the colors, and so could be reasoned out by students because it is within the sphere of things they are told to consider when reasoning out what the rule may be. 
The Scrabble rule relies on a property that is not considered part of koans, the names and spelling in English of the colors.  But it can be made into an isomorphic rule that doesn't refer to these, you say?  Ask yourself if such an isomorphic rule could really be guessed without thinking about Scrabble and the names of the colors and how they are spelled?  The answer is pretty obviously no.  So the rule is invalid not because it is "too hard" but because it relies for its guessability on a property outside the scope of the game's koans.  When students learn the game of Zendo, they learn what koans are and what properties of koans are to be considered valid; and the names of the colors (a piece could equally validly be called "Blue" or "Azul", but these don't change the color of the piece) is not a part of a koan.  It is to be expected by students then, that rules rely only on these properties, as specifically stated in the restrictions.  Any student thinking along the lines of Scrabble and the spelling of the names of the colors is doing so only outside the scope of the restrictions (and probably realizing this, will decide not to guess along those lines) they are expected to know.   Students not considering these things are only doing what the game rules tell them and they would never ever guess the rule. 

Specifically, koans contain color, pip count, size, and orientation, groundedness, direction, pointing, touching, towers/stacks, and height, and number of pieces along a 2 dimensional plane represented by the table.  Koans do not contain the names or spellings of the colors (a piece can be called Blue, it can also be called Azul), so my point is that because the restrictions of Zendo tell students not to consider things outside the koans, it is unfair and invalid to have a rule they can't guess without considering those myriad things outside the scope of the koan. 

*Finally, the "prime" example (of something too difficult for the average beginning player but not invalid) is usually incomparable to the scrabble rule because prime is just a type of number and so could refer to valid properties of koans (pip count, number of pieces, for example).   However, if it similarly referred to the number of letters in the spelling of the colors, it would be invalid.

Thanks all for the interesting discussion

--- On Thu, 8/4/11, Shadowfirebird <shadowfirebird@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:

From: Shadowfirebird <shadowfirebird@xxxxxxxxx>
Subject: Re: [Icehouse] [Zendo] Another Spock Rule question
To: "Icehouse Discussion List" <icehouse@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thursday, August 4, 2011, 6:23 PM

On Thu, Aug 4, 2011 at 9:05 PM, Marc Hartstein <marc.hartstein@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
Excerpts from shadowfirebird@gmail's message of Thu Aug 04 15:59:26 -0400 2011:
> > Bn iff the koan contains a color that was present on the shirt I was
> > wearing when the game started.
> BTW your second example fails the spock rule...

No, it doesn't. It's isomorphic to "...contains at least one blue or
green piece." [or whatever colors were the ones which made up that rule]

Just be clear -- I'm talking about this rule: "Bn iff the koan contains a color that was present on the shirt I was wearing when the game started."

Spock recreates the game on the Enterprise, and can no longer see your shirt.  Neither did he take note of the colour, since it wasn't part of the pieces or their orientation to the game surface.  Ergo, I think this fails the Spock rule.


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