On Wed, Aug 01, 2012 at 01:24:59PM -0400, John Clark wrote:
> On Wed, Aug 1, 2012 at 8:04 AM, Russell Standish <li...@hpcoders.com.au>wrote:
> > Flipping a coin is never rational, although it may well be the best thing
> > to do.
> >
> I don't know what to make of that. If X is the best way to achieve a goal
> then X is the rational thing to do. The Monte Carlo Algorithm was invented
> soon after the end of the second world war specifically to model how a
> H-bomb worked, and it in effect flipped a coin millions of times. A
> thermonuclear fireball is far too complex to model from first principles so
> they generated random inputs for the position and momentum of particles and
> then performed deterministic calculations from them and then found the
> probability distribution. Without that the H-bomb would not exist. You can
> argue if building a H-bomb is a rational goal or not but it you want to
> figure out how to build one you've got to flip a coin many millions of
> times.
>   John K Clark

No, it is not the rational thing to do. A rational agent has infinite
computing capacity and knowledge. A rational agent will know how to
simulate an H-bomb exactly without resorting to random approximations.

It may well be a boundedly rational thing to do, although I'm not sure
this is even true.  I haven't studied bounded rationality theory in
great depth.

Of course all this is shining light on the concept of rationality,
which I personally think is rather suspect. Certainly, real people are
not rational - they have to get on with their lives.


Prof Russell Standish                  Phone 0425 253119 (mobile)
Principal, High Performance Coders
Visiting Professor of Mathematics      hpco...@hpcoders.com.au
University of New South Wales          http://www.hpcoders.com.au

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