User Tools

Site Tools


This is an old revision of the document!

Christopher Symonds

Hello, I'm TV's Christopher Symonds. You might know me from such classics as “2 and a Half Threads”, “Special Victims Unit Testing”, and the mind-bending movie “Exception”.


04-Oct-2014 04:40:31PM-0600

This week, I'm lumping my updates into one post.

Researcher Presentation

I finished up my researcher presentation on Tom Ray last Monday after class. I'm glad I picked him, he's had a fascinating career, and I'm looking forward to telling everyone about him.


I wrote an abstract and expected outcome a few days ago, and I was sure to use as many $2 words as I could to make it sound good. However, I've already blown my expected outcome out of the water because…


So it turns out that the hunch was correct that the gridlock of elements that kept occurring in my simulation runs were made up of predominently the same category. In fact it essentially entirely one category, but not the Non-Parochial, Non-Altruists as I'd suspect, and no not the Parochial Altruists, either. It is, to my surprise, entirely the Parochial Non-Altruists (the ones who steal from outgroups, at potential cost to themselves.)

Bunch of thieven' brigands

After looking at their behavior, I suppose I understand why; the consequences of failure aren't too bad. So in the grand scheme of abilities, they have a much smaller chance of dying than the others, so I need to nerf their advantage a little bit. However, I feel that I am arbitrarily doing this, and need to figure out some way of making the behavior a realistic one, even if it confers a greater advantage. However, at this point one is as realistic as the other, so I suppose I will just attempt adjustments until I am at least no longer getting gridlock.

28-Sep-2014 01:07:25PM-0600

Amazing: I make an off-hand comment about how I'm a loser who doesn't know how to debug and not 4 hours later, a tutorial gets posted on logging and debugging. IT'S LIKE MAGIC!

Today's impediment is that I do not have a million dollars…

Worth a shot. Anyway, I've implemented the genetically-specific behavior of my Sytizens, and thanks to the magic of LOG.Debug I've ironed out some (not all) kinks in my element. I need to be able to incorporate some randomness into the creation of the element, specifically in GetDefaultAtom function. I have an sos in to Trent on the best way to get a nicely seeded prng in that function.

Next up: Implement breeding. Now where is the Barry White function…

27-Sep-2014 09:51:34PM-0600

Stellar programming achievements today:

  • Managed to get my Sytizens to take full account of their surroundings
  • Managed to get them moving in a direction biased towards food (I think)
  • That's pretty much it
  • Oh, at one point I realized I was adding negative integers into an unsigned int variable
  • Ah yes, and at one point I tried to divide by 0

So, not much progress today. I still have tomorrow, and the rest of what I need is essentially variations on things I've since figured out, so I'm hoping for a faster pace tomorrow.


  • I'm concerened that even without conflict, my Sytizens tend to die very quickly now matter how kind I am or how much RES I have floating around. Sometimes it seems these things die surrounded by food, so I'm not sure what's going on there.
  • I'm hesitant to have these guys gang up in any way, as that will likely be their death warrant given how quickly they can run out of energy and DREGs are slow to replace it unless I just saturate the map with RES.
  • Without being able to do any kind of debugging, I'm flying blind here.

27-Sep-2014 10:16:04AM-0600

Forgot to update last night, so this is last night's update: Managed to get the good Sytizens of Paralta walking around and eating res and dying when they run out of gas. This was no small endeavor, and there were more than one “Aha” moments when I finally understood how some basic mechanisms of MFM work (like realizing that I have to keep re-writing the active Sytizen to the window if I want the new state to take effect, even if the Sytizen does not move). My poor wife had to endure me shouting at my Sytizens all night “Why won't you die?! I want you to die!” She looks at me funny now.

Yes...yes...die my little pretties...die!

Today, I'll be forging ahead to get as many interesting behaviors as I can out of them before demo on Monday.

21-Sep-2014 08:29:11PM-0600

Tutorial done. Element_Sytizen draft is done. Didn't get to push ahead on research of Tom Ray as I'd hoped. Getting Ubuntu/MFM working at home was much more of an endeavor than I'd fooled myself into believing. I guess there's always next week. Until there isn't.

20-Sep-2014 02:15:22PM-0600

Just a celebratory news update: as of the timestamp I finally have the mfm built and running on an ubuntu partition at home. (MFM is painfully slow, however, at ~25AER) Now to figure out emacs and do the tutorial.

19-Sep-2014 07:46:22PM-0600

I'm a little behind on my news, but since last update, I've settled on a project and will move ahead with a study of parochial altruism and the evolution thereof with the hopes of pinning down a good fitness behavior that a robust program might engage in to ensure suitability in a resource-competitive environment. My presentation and the ensuing discussion helped reveal some potential pitfalls I might encounter like my approach to reproduction, as well as some great improvement ideas in having PA elements rove around in bands.

Today I had a great primer in developing for the MFM via Trent's boot camp. I think I've got my work cut out for me and it's a good thing that I only have essentially one element to develop.

This evening I am going to attempt getting a usb drive set up with Ubuntu to be able to boot from it.

This weekend I will be working on the Element_Creg tutorial and flesh out my element.

07-Sep-2014 04:27:05PM-0600

Still playing catch-up from 5 days out of town. Too early to feel like I'm drowning. Perused the options for ALife researchers and chose Dr. Thomas Ray. He seems really interesting; especially with lines like “My current research: The diverse set of psychoactive drugs collectively represents a rich set of tools for probing the chemical architecture of the human mind.” I read that one sentence and said “Sold.” I've found no additional time to get into the labs at school and play with the fishes. I guess I'm left floundering at 80kAEPS.

27-Aug-2014 10:17:54PM-0600

Read Professor Ackley's paper Altruism in the Evolution of Communication. Was relieved to discover that it was a different angle of altruism than I was thinking of. However, am still considering what lessons might be carried over to a study of a population of individuals sharing resources in varying degrees of altruism. Also, attempted to get MFM running through a putty session which was laughably unsuccessful.

27-Aug-2014 04:06:33PM-0600

Spent some time with Ezra in the CS lab playing with the fish and sharks. Best results so far only made it to 80 kAEPS. Have not hit on a stable solution yet. Strongly considering changing my research topic, but haven't hit on any bright ideas yet. Trying to think outside the box, but I'm not even really sure what the box looks like…


Today I made a people page for myself.


Profile on Dr. Thomas Ray

I've selected researcher Tom Ray as my subject for the researcher profile section of the course.

Project Idea(s)

Altruism I am interested in studying the effects of altruism in the form of resource sharing between individuals in a population living in a given state of scarcity. Is there a 'sweet spot' of this kind of altruism that benefits the species as a whole that arises as a function of a given level of scarcity? How does one measure that kind of thing? Is it possible to model an environment of scarcity in a quantifiable way that is useful? Possible paper title might be “Optimal Altruism in Scarcity Systems' or 'Hey brother, can you spare an artificial dime?'
FrobWorld+ Other possible topics include FrobWorld+, wherein we take peaceful frobs and put weapons in their hands, give them a sense of tribalism, maybe even allow them to specialize as gatherers, warriors, etc. Other wishlist capabilities include hoarding and resource management, communication, breeding and genetic crossover as opposed to spontaneous mitosis wherein the genetic propagation relies solely on mutation for evolution. Pack them with as much human-like capabilities we can give them within time constraints and see how their evolutionary paths unfold, and if we converge on any particular genetic pattern as dominantly successful. This is a bit weaker as I'm not sure what specific questions we might ask of this, rather it's a “This sounds like it would be fun, let's do it and see if something interesting falls out of it” kind of thing.

Third Idea

The previous two ideas are, as you can see, both inside the box. This idea space is reserved for an idea that is outside the box. And when I've thought of one, I will put it here.


Feel free to leave a comment in this section. Don't forget your time stamp!

Starting TLS failed
people/chris_symonds.1412463412.txt.gz · Last modified: 2014/10/04 16:56 by csymonds