☞ Free Money + Algorithmically Generated Conjectures

Here’s a bizarre arbitrage opportunity I discovered in the Legoland gift shop:

Free money! It’s next to one of those machines that extrude a penny into a souvenir, so it’s existence makes sense, but is there an opportunity here?

Alas, there are some time constraints that prevent anything close to an instant Scrooge McDuck lifestyle. When I began making some estimates, if you can cash in one hundred $5 bills each hour, you can make $10 an hour (more than minimum wage in Missouri, where this is located), but that doesn’t count spending the time sorting your change and bringing this money back to a bank to have it in normal human (i.e. non-penny) form. And of course, there is a more fundamental concern: the likelihood that the people working at the gift shop don’t just kick you out of the store.


A couple articles worth checking out:


Computational creativity is a sprawling and probably not entirely monolithic domain, encompassing everything from algorithmic art and design to computationally-generated scientific hypotheses. That being said, I am a strong proponent of a human-machine partnership in the creative fields, broadly construed.

That’s why I was intrigued to see a recent paper entitled “The Ramanujan Machine: Automatically Generated Conjectures on Fundamental Constants.” Taking a page from the mathematician Ramanujan and his phenomenal continued fraction formulas for fundamental constants like π, the authors have developed an algorithmic method for discovering equations that might converge to constants.

A fantastic line from the paper, when discussing the likelihood of the truth of the equations that their algorithm uncovers and how unlikely it is that their discovered equations work by chance: “This minuscule probability makes us believe that the new conjectures are truths awaiting a rigorous proof by the mathematical community.” Wow.

For more on this, check out the Ramanujan Machine.

(note: if this is interesting, please feel free to check out my fun and clunky attempt to evolve an equation for the fine structure constant of the universe using genetic programming from several years back.)


Until next time.

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