Deterministic vs. Non-deterministic

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Deterministic vs. Non-deterministic

Post by ssilk » Wed Mar 05, 2014 4:38 pm

“There are several different frameworks one could use to get a handle on the indeterminate vs. determinate question. The math version is calculus vs. statistics. In a determinate world, calculus dominates. You can calculate specific things precisely and deterministically. When you send a rocket to the moon, you have to calculate precisely where it is at all times. It’s not like some iterative startup where you launch the rocket and figure things out step by step. Do you make it to the moon? To Jupiter? Do you just get lost in space? There were lots of companies in the ’90s that had launch parties but no landing parties. “But the indeterminate future is somehow one in which probability and statistics are the dominant modality for making sense of the world. Bell curves and random walks define what the future is going to look like. The standard pedagogical argument is that high schools should get rid of calculus and replace it with statistics, which is really important and actually useful. There has been a powerful shift toward the idea that statistical ways of thinking are going to drive the future.” —PETER THIEL

Peter Thiel has co-founded PayPal.
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Re: Deterministic vs. Non-deterministic

Post by MF- » Thu Mar 06, 2014 11:12 pm

hmmm
having world with bridges that have 0.05% chance to collapse
and noone knowing which one and when exactly...
..that would sure be awesome.

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Re: Deterministic vs. Non-deterministic

Post by Darthlawsuit » Fri Mar 07, 2014 12:59 am

MF- wrote:hmmm
having world with bridges that have 0.05% chance to collapse
and noone knowing which one and when exactly...
..that would sure be awesome.
Bridges start with a % chance to collapse and as time passes by the % increases without you ever knowing. At any point the bridge you are driving on may break and the % is all depending on how well it was built which you have no clue about. Most modern bridges are done cheaply to make politicians look good, there are some bridges from the Roman era still standing with cars driving over them, never been rebuilt.

A meteor could also drop from the sky at any point and smack you in the head killing you instantly.

Isn't this such a great world :P

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Re: Deterministic vs. Non-deterministic

Post by Coolthulhu » Fri Mar 07, 2014 1:41 am

Non-determinism is such a fascinating thing in real life, it's amazing how clunky and atrocious it can be in video games.
Games designed with non-determinism in mind - for example roguelikes - handle it rather well once balanced. Other games generally suffer and non-determinism is just an ugly hack replacing proper design.
For example: random results of common recipes would be an example of ugly hack. Statistically they'd end up very close to expected value, you just get a layer of bullshit on top of that. A better idea would be having multiple resources accumulate until they can become items - not a big difference in terms of difficulty of programming it, but infinitely more elegant.

The worst possible kind of non-determinism would be things randomly breaking apart, especially bad if without warning. I started playing Simcity 4 rather recently; things can randomly catch fire there, which is annoying, tedious, has a minor impact and is easily solvable.

The best example of good non-determinism I can think of is random inputs in Spacechem. You still have to build a system that handles expected value most efficiently, you just need to handle some other cases too. If you do things right, things will work even in later missions, instead of burdening you with tedium of manually fixing things.
Another great example of non-determinism is an output of a furnace section of factory in Factorio. You can't guarantee an unbroken line of plates, especially if you're operating at peak efficiency at all times. If you're using electric furnaces, a hiccup in power delivery will be reflected in plate output, but you can't exactly predict where will it manifest the most.
Biter attacks would be a good example, but they're currently rather wonky because of their AI and preference to reach particular areas of the pollution chunk before doing other things.

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Re: Deterministic vs. Non-deterministic

Post by MF- » Fri Mar 07, 2014 10:20 am

Coolthulhu wrote: The best example of good non-determinism I can think of is random inputs in Spacechem. You still have to build a system that handles expected value most efficiently, you just need to handle some other cases too.
Yeah, let's talk about spacechem :)

Can you name a level with actually random input?
All random-looking levels I met were actually randomized, but deterministic and fixed.
Probably for the sake of statistics and video-publishing.

I actually even remember solving one by filling part of the game area with flip-flops instead of properly detecting what's going on

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Re: Deterministic vs. Non-deterministic

Post by Coolthulhu » Fri Mar 07, 2014 8:15 pm

This was needed for the results to be comparable. Even though the RNG uses a fixed seed, most proper solutions will still work in a non-deterministic environment.

You can exhaust the RNG in similar way in some older RPGs, particularly gameboy ones. Or in tool assisted speedruns.

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Re: Deterministic vs. Non-deterministic

Post by tiggyd » Tue Mar 18, 2014 10:11 pm

I remember writing an essay about determinism vs free will back in undergraduate philosophy. I was wondering if this would steer in that direction. I have always taken the view, from my observation of life that both exist in parallel. The most important factor for a human, or the 'end-user' is the 'experience' of free will. We should stand in awe at the power of our perception; the power to feel completely free, or tied down by the course of life.

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Re: Deterministic vs. Non-deterministic

Post by Coolthulhu » Wed Mar 19, 2014 7:47 am

Real life (as currently understood by the most knowledgeable people) is non-deterministic at quantum level. All determinism that we see is just a result of non-determinism simplifying into a statistic.
Pure determinism can't exist with even a single bit of non-determinism within it. Definition of determinism is pretty much "some actions can only lead to a single result". Thanks to quantum physics, either no such thing exists or no such thing will be known for years or maybe even centuries.

Free will by the very definition can't exist "in" determinism. If the universe was completely deterministic, every action would be predictable and thus free will, by definition, would not exist.

Interesting thing: in real life, pseudo-determinism arises from highly random non-determinism. In well-designed video games, pseudo-non-determinism arises from determinism as deterministic as computers allow it.

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Re: Deterministic vs. Non-deterministic

Post by ssilk » Wed Mar 19, 2014 9:28 am

Factorio is one of the best deterministic non-deterministic games I know. Best example: A row of inserters pulling things from a full loaded belt into a chest. You can't tell exactly, which item is put by which inserter. But at the end you can be sure, that one inserter fetches it. And there are many of those things.

Edit: Not one of the best, THE BEST! :)
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