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### 0904: "Sports"

Posted: Fri May 27, 2011 4:04 am UTC

Alt text: Also, all financial analysis. And, more directly, D&D.

EDIT to start discussion: It seems like he's making this general statement so we'll realize how pointless sports are. But then D&D is brought into it, which is a very important part of life.

### Re: 904: "Sports"

Posted: Fri May 27, 2011 4:09 am UTC
So true.

### Re: 904: "Sports"

Posted: Fri May 27, 2011 4:13 am UTC
Errm, maybe Monte Carlo valuation of exotic options, as those often don't have nice formulas for their price. Even then, it's assumed there are margins of error (despite being done with thousands of simulations with thousands of steps). Financial analysis is otherwise rarely based on random numbers.

### Re: 904: "Sports"

Posted: Fri May 27, 2011 4:14 am UTC
Since when is D&D weighted?!

Spoiler:
I may not have ever played the game before.

### Re: 904: "Sports"

Posted: Fri May 27, 2011 4:15 am UTC
Wait, did Randall just prove that D&D is equivalent to mainstream sports? Sweet!

### Re: 904: "Sports"

Posted: Fri May 27, 2011 4:17 am UTC
glasnt wrote:Since when is D&D weighted?!

As in any game with multiple dice, there are numbers more likely to come up than others, namely half the maximum total roll.

### Re: 904: "Sports"

Posted: Fri May 27, 2011 4:22 am UTC
Once again XKCD flexes its bookmarking prowess for another hot topic: Kurt Vonnegut Turns Cinderella Into An Equation

### Re: 904: "Sports"

Posted: Fri May 27, 2011 4:26 am UTC
Brooks Hatlen wrote:
glasnt wrote:Since when is D&D weighted?!

As in any game with multiple dice, there are numbers more likely to come up than others, namely half the maximum total roll.

Only when there is more than 1 die rolled. Otherwise it's (almost) a uniform distribution.

### Re: 904: "Sports"

Posted: Fri May 27, 2011 4:28 am UTC
Sports are a weighted RNG, but the weights are interesting to try to understand. Is this player merely on a hot streak because chance sometimes produces such, or is he actually so good it's more likely for him than somebody else?

Unfortunately, few sports commentators even realize that streaks happen by chance, or that individual games are never enough data to draw conclusions from with any degree of certainty. There's a lot of unplumbed depth there.

### Re: 904: "Sports"

Posted: Fri May 27, 2011 4:36 am UTC
A good bit of political commentary also fits the pattern.

### Re: 904: "Sports"

Posted: Fri May 27, 2011 4:40 am UTC
Draw 2 well-placed line segments and the comic becomes two spheres balanced atop tetrahedra.

### Re: 904: "Sports"

Posted: Fri May 27, 2011 4:42 am UTC
CorruptUser wrote:
Brooks Hatlen wrote:
glasnt wrote:Since when is D&D weighted?!

As in any game with multiple dice, there are numbers more likely to come up than others, namely half the maximum total roll.

Only when there is more than 1 die rolled. Otherwise it's (almost) a uniform distribution.

It isn't half of the maximum total roll, although that could be a rough approximation.
For example, the most common sum from rolling two dice is 7, and not (6+6)/2 = 6.

Edit: assuming six sided dice

### Re: 904: "Sports"

Posted: Fri May 27, 2011 4:49 am UTC
Radical Pi wrote:Wait, did Randall just prove that D&D is equivalent to mainstream sports? Sweet!
Yep, that's what I got out of it too. Now I can justify being equally disdainful of both!

### Re: 904: "Sports"

Posted: Fri May 27, 2011 4:50 am UTC
Although it references "all sports" it seems quite more applicable to baseball, which is a very stat-based game, or at least lends itself to being analyzed heavily via stats. With 163 games and thousands of opportunities to perform (at-bats and pitches) per season, it generates quite a bit of "random" numbers to play with, and gives commentators something to talk about during the 2-5 hours each game lasts.

Typically commentators draw conclusions based on the seemingly random numbers. Example: "Player X has struck out the past 17 games, he is 'due' to hit anytime now" true RNG tells us otherwise, but of course, in pure math we neglect human error/skill. Though, anyone that ever tried going to a batting cage and take a swing at a piece of dense leather flying at the general direction of your face with a stick of wood will definitely agree that it takes at least some degree of skill which this comic is assuming is nothing but RNG based.

I personally like baseball, and fall victim of the stat-whoring it entails.

### Re: 904: "Sports"

Posted: Fri May 27, 2011 4:55 am UTC
Radical Pi wrote:Wait, did Randall just prove that D&D is equivalent to mainstream sports? Sweet!

Well, in sports the numbers are results, and in D&D they are the mechanics. It's hard to say what their relationship is then.

### Re: 904: "Sports"

Posted: Fri May 27, 2011 5:05 am UTC
monty30 wrote:
CorruptUser wrote:
Brooks Hatlen wrote:
glasnt wrote:Since when is D&D weighted?!

As in any game with multiple dice, there are numbers more likely to come up than others, namely half the maximum total roll.

Only when there is more than 1 die rolled. Otherwise it's (almost) a uniform distribution.

It isn't half of the maximum total roll, although that could be a rough approximation.
For example, the most common sum from rolling two dice is 7, and not (6+6)/2 = 6.

Edit: assuming six sided dice

I know it's not correct, but was correcting a different problem; single die rolls have no mode, assuming a fair die of more than 1 side. No die is truly perfect, but close enough that you can assume it to be.

### Re: 904: "Sports"

Posted: Fri May 27, 2011 5:21 am UTC
At first glance I took this to mean that all sports commentary was a load of random bullcrap, which I guess fits too.

### Re: 904: "Sports"

Posted: Fri May 27, 2011 5:29 am UTC
Fougare wrote:Though, anyone that ever tried going to a batting cage and take a swing at a piece of dense leather flying at the general direction of your face with a stick of wood will definitely agree that it takes at least some degree of skill which this comic is assuming is nothing but RNG based.

Well, not really: it said the generator was weighted. The weighting is the skill of the players.

It's a great comic, but for me it's also kind of something I love about sports, and people in general. It's wonderfully Pratchett-ian; the urge to make narratives, and even adjust actions to suit them - narrative causality.

### Re: 904: "Sports"

Posted: Fri May 27, 2011 5:30 am UTC
Isn't everything a "weighted" random number generator, if you describe it like that?
All actions are fundamentally based on quantum-mechanical unpredictability which is funneled into the relative order we see on the macroscopic scale by the laws of physics, but everything that is describable within those laws has a chance of happening. A number value can be ascribed to every byte of sensory input you receive based on the fundamentally random events of the universe, but some numbers are more likely than others. Therefore, the entire universe can be described as a "weighted random number generator".

As the cheesy people say: It's about the journey (method of weighing), not the destination. Gambling, sports, D&D, financial analysis, and all of science are about the understanding of the method of weighing, and/or the excitement of seeing how that understanding can be used to manipulate the weighing in your favor.
So yeah, damn scientists who try to add a narrative to the universe!

### Re: 904: "Sports"

Posted: Fri May 27, 2011 5:33 am UTC
Osprei wrote:
Radical Pi wrote:Wait, did Randall just prove that D&D is equivalent to mainstream sports? Sweet!

Well, in sports the numbers are results, and in D&D they are the mechanics. It's hard to say what their relationship is then.

Well, some numbers are results, but some numbers are mechanics. Is a player's batting average (or OBP) a result or a mechanic? In baseball, all stats are basically scientifically measured qualities about a player (with a large degree of inaccuracy). It's like watching a bunch of different dwarves fighting a bunch of different dragons and then trying to figure out the various THAC0s and ACs. Except with beer and hot dogs.

God, I just outnerded my own tolerance...

### Re: 904: "Sports"

Posted: Fri May 27, 2011 5:35 am UTC
I kind of think that sport is a narrative. - I hate it when sports commentators use stats to shield the fact that they did not watch a game. Stats can hide important elements of any game, or conversely show important trends when looked at over time. Lazy commentators simply look at the stats and make their mind up from that, instead of watching the game.

Soccer is one sport that has few many meaningful stats and commentators are forced to watch games. Which is good, the commentary for soccer is normally very good.

Cricket is a sport that lives on stats. But a 5 day test match is probably the most enthralling contest I have witnessed first hand, and when I watch the game I tend to forget the stats and enjoy the competition.

### Re: 904: "Sports"

Posted: Fri May 27, 2011 5:36 am UTC
And it's so fun!

(The D&D, not the sports analysis. )

### Re: 904: "Sports"

Posted: Fri May 27, 2011 5:42 am UTC
This comic totally misses the point of sports... You can make models to predict the outcomes of games but the narrative is what is actually happening. There is free will (or at least the appearance of it) and a game involves an active competition between players, not just rolling dice. (Although there are some things that are pure chance.) Don't confuse your simplified model with what is actually happening.

### Re: 904: "Sports"

Posted: Fri May 27, 2011 5:42 am UTC
Also, life. Also, double-blind studies. The special thing about p < .05 is that you're allowed to apply your preferred narrative to it. In sports, of course, the narrative is not always held to those standards, but rarely are politics or even everyday life, for that matter.

### Re: 904: "Sports"

Posted: Fri May 27, 2011 5:42 am UTC
sellyme wrote:At first glance I took this to mean that all sports commentary was a load of random bullcrap, which I guess fits too.

That's so true.... although I wish every sport could borrow the Mexican soccer announcer, just once. Especially golf and bowling.

that would be awesome....

### Re: 904: "Sports"

Posted: Fri May 27, 2011 5:47 am UTC

### Re: 904: "Sports"

Posted: Fri May 27, 2011 6:05 am UTC
This got me thinking.

Is there a way to determine the probability that a set of numbers are (weighted) random numbers?

### Re: 904: "Sports"

Posted: Fri May 27, 2011 6:09 am UTC
michaelsaunders77 wrote:Draw 2 well-placed line segments and the comic becomes two spheres balanced atop tetrahedra.

Done.

### Re: 904: "Sports"

Posted: Fri May 27, 2011 6:10 am UTC
But the weighted random number generator is made out of people. It's people!

### Re: 904: "Sports"

Posted: Fri May 27, 2011 6:12 am UTC
Osprei wrote:
Radical Pi wrote:Wait, did Randall just prove that D&D is equivalent to mainstream sports? Sweet!

Well, in sports the numbers are results, and in D&D they are the mechanics. It's hard to say what their relationship is then.

From a general perspective:
In D&D you literally use numbers produced by a weighted random number generator and then create stories around those results. (ugh, that was awkward)
In Sports you take statics generated by players/teams and then use those to make predictions about what will happen next time.

From a real-time perspective:
In D&D your generator spits out a number and use that to say what event occurred
Usually Sport Commentary is taking those numbers as they come and talking about what just happened

### Re: 904: "Sports"

Posted: Fri May 27, 2011 6:12 am UTC
WolfieMario wrote:
michaelsaunders77 wrote:Draw 2 well-placed line segments and the comic becomes two spheres balanced atop tetrahedra.

Done.

i think you both need to learn what a tetrahedron is...

### Re: 904: "Sports"

Posted: Fri May 27, 2011 6:23 am UTC
he's right, those are both square pyramids.

EDIT: actually, those bases are probably irregular

### Re: 904: "Sports"

Posted: Fri May 27, 2011 6:48 am UTC
CorruptUser wrote:Financial analysis is otherwise rarely based on random numbers.

You obviously don't know anything about accounting, do you?

### Re: 904: "Sports"

Posted: Fri May 27, 2011 6:57 am UTC
CorruptUser wrote:I know it's not correct, but was correcting a different problem; single die rolls have no mode, assuming a fair die of more than 1 side. No die is truly perfect, but close enough that you can assume it to be.

A die of more than one side? I don't think they make dice in the one sided variety, but that might just be me.

### Re: 904: "Sports"

Posted: Fri May 27, 2011 6:58 am UTC
philip1201 wrote:Isn't everything a "weighted" random number generator, if you describe it like that?

### Re: 904: "Sports"

Posted: Fri May 27, 2011 7:02 am UTC
wlao wrote:
CorruptUser wrote:Financial analysis is otherwise rarely based on random numbers.

You obviously don't know anything about accounting, do you?

Forum Sports Commentator 1 aka Bob: Wow!, did you see that play exchange now wlao has been around her for some time since 2009 but this is his 6th post and he comes in with a strong troll move.
Forum Sports Commentator 2 aka Steve: now hold on their bob, it could be a genuine piece we'll have to wait and see.
Bob: Now I can't wait to see CorruptUser's response he's been in the competition since 2009 too but has over 900 posts. I expect some class response
Steve: Ofcourse this could be a ploy and a way to get this whole discussion off topic, I can't wait to see how this pans out. We might even see some grammar nazi tactics.
Bob: I sure hope so!

After typing this i think i know why sports commentators exist. Self indulgence.

### Re: 904: "Sports"

Posted: Fri May 27, 2011 7:21 am UTC
I like how the left person's head is drawn... The break vaguely reminds me of gelled hair.
madock345 wrote:A die of more than one side? I don't think they make dice in the one sided variety, but that might just be me.

Of course they do. It's a sphere.

### Re: 904: "Sports"

Posted: Fri May 27, 2011 7:27 am UTC
nickgb wrote:[Baseball] is like watching a bunch of different dwarves fighting a bunch of different dragons and then trying to figure out the various THAC0s and ACs. Except with beer and hot dogs.

Beautiful.

### Re: 904: "Sports"

Posted: Fri May 27, 2011 7:40 am UTC
Except in cricket they also discuss the weather, and pigeons that may fly by, why half the crowd has turned up dressed as the incredible hulk. . . .

### Re: 904: "Sports"

Posted: Fri May 27, 2011 7:46 am UTC
The mode for multiple fair dice of any size is (range/2)+min, with odd ranges resulting in 2 modes (round up AND down). Specifically, 2d6 is 7 ((12-2)/2)+2, 3d6 is 10 AND 11 ((18-3)/2)+3, 2d20 is 21 ((40-2)/2)+2) and so on.

TBH i just worked that out for examples. If someone can show me a proof for it (by induction most likely) I would like to see it.