Naming Conventions?

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Axaj
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Naming Conventions?

Post by Axaj » October 31st, 2009, 9:46 pm

How are official names decided? Does the creator have to approve, or is it decided by some of the major researchers?
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calcyman
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Re: Naming Conventions?

Post by calcyman » November 1st, 2009, 6:41 am

The nomenclature of Life objects is rather interesting:

  • Most engineered objects are named by their creator (rectifier, Gabriel's p138, metacell etc.).
  • Some objects are named according to their appearance (honeycomb, block, beehive etc.).
  • Some are named after their period (pentadecathlon, Achim's p144 etc.).
  • Others are named after existing, related objects. (The queen bee shuttle was named after the fact that it generates beehives.)
  • Latinate names are quite common. Pentadecathlon and sesquihat are examples.
What do you do with ill crystallographers? Take them to the mono-clinic!

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PM 2Ring
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Re: Naming Conventions?

Post by PM 2Ring » November 1st, 2009, 7:44 am

The nomenclature of Life objects is rather interesting
I'm sure that the colourful nomenclature has been a factor in promoting interest in Life. IMHO, if the original Life article by Martin Gardner in Scientific American had referred to Life objects by RLE or binary codes instead of descriptive names, it would have been harder to read & understand, and would have appealed to a much smaller audience. It would have just been a boring old article about some esoteric curiosity of computer science. Thankfully, that didn't happen. :) Instead, we were treated to a glimpse of the colourful and vivacious genius of John H Conway, and we were inspired.

However, a lot of patterns have been discovered and built over the last 4 decades, and it would be nice if we had a more systematic naming system. I'm not suggesting that we discard the current names, especially for well-known objects: that would cause chaos. But maybe we should adopt the stategy of the biologists and give Life objects a multi-part technical name that complements the common name. The technical names would be more systematic than the common names, and would include information about the object's period and velocity. Et cetera...

Perhaps we can use this thread to brainstorm different possible approaches to a new naming scheme?

An alternative to a systematic naming scheme is to devise a standard hashing / checksum algorithm, so that every Life object of interest gets its own unique ID number. The hashing algorithm would need to pre-process objects to take symmetry into account & all phases of oscillating and moving objects, so that a glider (for example) would always get the same hash code, no matter what phase it's in & what direction it's heading. Such a scheme wouldn't be so useful for larger patterns consisting of many components, since minor variants would get different ID numbers, but it should be ok for smaller patterns (eg most glider guns) if the pattern has been optimized.

Axaj
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Re: Naming Conventions?

Post by Axaj » November 1st, 2009, 1:06 pm

For instance, I think Wyvern would be an appropriate name for 114p6h1v0, as the only named c/6 orthogonal spaceship is named Dragon. Who decides if this is an appropriate name?
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Macbi
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Re: Naming Conventions?

Post by Macbi » November 1st, 2009, 1:31 pm

No-one, naming conventions are just that: Conventions. I think names catch on that are pronounceable though, so Wyvern stands a barely higher chance than 114p6h1v0.

H. V. McIntosh
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Re: Naming Conventions?

Post by H. V. McIntosh » November 1st, 2009, 3:41 pm

Axaj wrote:How are official names decided?
By a sort of osmosis, it would seem. The instigator of Life apparently loved puns. Anyway it was a great opportunity to give fanciful names to interesting artifacts. Some of them carried over to Martin Gardner's reportage, which also announced the Lifelines project. For the time of its existence, there was as much a competition to create names as to report artifacts. Later on, communities on Usenet and later Internet continued this practice.

Much naming is uninspired: x is adjectived by long, longer, ... trans, cis, para, and other greek and latin terms. There have been suggestions to follow in Linaeus' or Mendeleev's footsteps; after all botanists, chemists, and others have extremely well developed naming systems.

Speaking of short and pronouncible names, I have been searching Google for better names for L-tromino, aka preblock. Such a useful pattern deserves a better name; wouldn't a carpenter, draftsman, farmer, or someone have a name for such a simple three-cornered object?
-hvm

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calcyman
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Re: Naming Conventions?

Post by calcyman » November 2nd, 2009, 2:56 am

Carpenter is already reserved for Dean Hickerson's 6-engine Corder-puffer, which creates a pair of tables every 96 generations.
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PM 2Ring
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Re: Naming Conventions?

Post by PM 2Ring » November 2nd, 2009, 4:38 am

H. V. McIntosh wrote:Much naming is uninspired: x is adjectived by long, longer, ... trans, cis, para, and other greek and latin terms. There have been suggestions to follow in Linaeus' or Mendeleev's footsteps; after all botanists, chemists, and others have extremely well developed naming systems.

Speaking of short and pronouncible names, I have been searching Google for better names for L-tromino, aka preblock. Such a useful pattern deserves a better name; wouldn't a carpenter, draftsman, farmer, or someone have a name for such a simple three-cornered object?
Carpenters refer to such objects as a carpenter's square, a set square, or simply a square.

I like the idea of borrowing name systems from other disciplines. One idea I've had for naming elementary objects is based on the traditional categories of animal, vegetable and mineral. Still lifes are the simplest objects and correspond to minerals. Oscillators are like plants in that they aren't static, but they aren't exactly mobile either. Spaceships move, so they correspond to animals. This scheme may be a good way to generate common names, but I suspect it has it's limitations if it were to be used for generating technical names.

A related scheme would involve connections to a much broader range of scientific naming systems. At the most basic level we have particle physics, so the simplest Life objects can borrow and / or modify names from subatomic particles. Next, we have chemistry, and so more complex objects can be named after atoms and we can use molecular nomenclature to refer to compounds of such Life atoms. Names borrowed from biology can correspond to complex patterns like the Unit cell, universal constructors & computers, the Caterpillar, etc. I suppose names from astronomy could be useful as well, but I'm not sure how to slot them into this scheme. I suppose astronomical names could be used for really large objects that don't have a lot of structural complexity, relatively speaking.

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calcyman
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Re: Naming Conventions?

Post by calcyman » November 2nd, 2009, 3:19 pm

Spaceships move, so they correspond to animals.
Are you suggesting that a toad (p2 oscillator) is a type of plant?! :lol:
I suppose names from astronomy could be useful as well
We already have a pulsar, quasar, star and Kok's galaxy. And they are all dwarfed by the Caterpillar.
At the most basic level we have particle physics, so the simplest Life objects can borrow and / or modify names from subatomic particles.
Again, there are already names related to particle physics. The pi orbital oscillator is one example.
like plants in that they aren't static, but they aren't exactly mobile either. Spaceships move, so they correspond to animals.
What about wickstretchers? Should we call them amoeboids, since they extend a 'pseudopod'? Glider guns are akin to fungi emitting spores periodically.



By the way, the current macaronic classification system is perfect. For really common objects we have common names, whereas rarer and more complex objects have latinate and systematic names. Some even have the reference codes, which are practically impossible to memorise. I believe that any pattern notable enough to deserve its own page on the LifeWiki should have a proper name assigned to it. Even Nicolay's p37 would be better than the current name for this oscillator. By the way, forenames are used for some reason when naming objects. Surnames would be less ambiguous, especially since there are no less than *five* Life enthusiasts called David!
What do you do with ill crystallographers? Take them to the mono-clinic!

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Re: Naming Conventions?

Post by H. V. McIntosh » November 2nd, 2009, 3:56 pm

PM 2Ring wrote: ... Carpenters refer to such objects as a carpenter's square, a set square, or simply a square. ...
I've known that for a long time, since my father had one in his shop. The trouble is that its arms are much too long for comparison with the preblock, and saying "square" sounds too much like "block," in the sense that they're practikcally the same thing, and that would surely be inextricably confusing.
calcyman wrote:Carpenter is already reserved for Dean Hickerson's 6-engine Corder-puffer, which creates a pair of tables every 96 generations.
Can you reserve a name, or is it an automatic process? There was a time when objects were named after professions or trades, such as chemist, mathematician, baker, and so on. It was hard to see any connection, except maybe for the baker. This example is at least plausible.
-hvm

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calcyman
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Re: Naming Conventions?

Post by calcyman » November 2nd, 2009, 5:02 pm

Can you reserve a name, or is it an automatic process?
In general, it is a bad idea to rename an object, or to name a different object with the same name. Wing, for example, refers to three separate patterns.


especially since there are no less than *five* Life enthusiasts called David!
I've just noticed a new addition to the LifeWiki (who has broken Mitchell's record of being the youngest ever Life enthusiast), whose name also happens to be David. Is there some inexplicable connection between GoL and Davids?! :lol:


I think that 'Paul' is the second commonest name among Life enthusiasts, with three instances (Rendell, Chapman and Callahan).
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Macbi
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Re: Naming Conventions?

Post by Macbi » November 3rd, 2009, 3:31 am

H. V. McIntosh wrote:
PM 2Ring wrote: ... Carpenters refer to such objects as a carpenter's square, a set square, or simply a square. ...
I've known that for a long time, since my father had one in his shop. The trouble is that its arms are much too long for comparison with the preblock, and saying "square" sounds too much like "block," in the sense that they're practikcally the same thing, and that would surely be inextricably confusing.
Aren't they also called tri-squares, which would be a good name anyway as it indicates the three-ness.

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Re: Naming Conventions?

Post by Sokwe » November 3rd, 2009, 3:48 am

I think we should probably go over the various naming "rules" that have been created and see what we can learn from that. There are certainly problems with the current naming conventions, especially concerning still lifes and period-2 oscillators. Also, I don't think currently established names are going to change, especially for really small or common patterns.
calcyman wrote:forenames are used for some reason when naming objects
The only exceptions to this that I can think of are Elkies' p5, Silver's p5, and Coe's p8 (unless you count "Coe ship", "Schick engine", "Kok's galaxy", and the like).
calcyman wrote:I think that 'Paul' is the second commonest name among Life enthusiasts, with three instances (Rendell, Chapman and Callahan).
What about Paul Tooke and Paul Schick?
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PM 2Ring
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Re: Naming Conventions?

Post by PM 2Ring » November 3rd, 2009, 8:35 am

Are you suggesting that a toad (p2 oscillator) is a type of plant?! :lol:
It could be...
We already have a pulsar, quasar, star and Kok's galaxy. And they are all dwarfed by the Caterpillar.
Indeed. But I'm talking about the possibility of a new naming system. As I said earlier, it may not be a good idea to do this, since it could cause confusion with the existing names. Still, I think it's an issue worthy of discussion.
What about wickstretchers? Should we call them amoeboids, since they extend a 'pseudopod'?
That sounds fine by me.
By the way, the current macaronic classification system is perfect.
Perhaps... I think a more systematic scheme could make it a lot easier for newbies to become familiar with the known Life objects.
For really common objects we have common names, whereas rarer and more complex objects have latinate and systematic names. Some even have the reference codes, which are practically impossible to memorise.
Which is why I suggested that we could retain the existing names but also come up with a new set of systematic names.

A system based on reference / hash codes is probably more practical. And such codes can be made pronounceable: simply encode them as a string of consonants (eg using base 20), then insert vowels & spaces where appropriate to make the code into a pronounceable word or phrase.

I think this issue of names is very important. A vast amount of information has been generated about Life, but a lot of it is disorganized, making it hard to correlate and making it hard for newcomers to learn about the current state of the art. The Life Wiki is certainly a great step forward in improving this situation, but I think we need to do more than to merely gather the information into one central location.

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calcyman
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Re: Naming Conventions?

Post by calcyman » November 3rd, 2009, 12:23 pm

What about Paul Tooke and Paul Schick?
Oh yeah, I temporarily forgot about them; thanks for reminding me. Anyway, that substantiates my argument that 'Paul' is the second commonest name among Life enthusiasts.

And such codes can be made pronounceable
That's not the only criterion. The name needs to be memorable and, in most cases, relevant.



Another avenue that has not been explored much is to name certain objects after their symmetry. I proposed 'octosymmetric p37' to name one of Nicolay's recent discoveries.
What do you do with ill crystallographers? Take them to the mono-clinic!

Eylrid
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Re: Naming Conventions?

Post by Eylrid » November 12th, 2009, 6:30 pm

Life Hashing System:
-Each pattern has a binary number.
-Start at top left of bounding box. Go left to right, top to bottom (like reading).
-Example:0x0
00x
xxx is 010,001,111

-Patterns are oriented and filpped to have the lowest possible binary number.
-Oscilators and spaceships use phase with lowest binary number.
-Convert binary to base 20 (consonants). (As suggested by PM 2ring)
-Fill in vowels to make pronouncable. (As suggested by PM 2ring)

Examples:
-Block "T"
-Blinker "K"
-Beehive "FMJ"
-Glider "HK"

Things that don't yet have names (that I know of):
xxoooxx
xoxoxox
ooxoxoo
xoxoxox
xxoooxx "CBXBNRJVF"

oooxooo
oxxxxxo
xooooox
xxooxox
ooooxxo "CTQCFDLJ"

And a script to convert a number into consonants:

Code: Select all

#A script for turning a number into a string of consonants.
#Written by Amos Bairn 11-12-2009

def consonants(num):
    consonantlist='BCDFGHJKLMNPQRSTVWXZ'
    hashname = ''
    while num>=20:
        hashname = consonantlist[num % 20] + hashname
        num = int(num/20)
    hashname = consonantlist[num] + hashname
    return hashname
calcyman wrote: That's not the only criterion. The name needs to be memorable and, in most cases, relevant.
Yea, I guess that's true...

Speaking as a relative newb to Life, I think most names are fine as they are. I didn't have too hard a time learning the names of most of the basic stuff. I think the "casual" names are easier to remember than any kind of fancy "scientific" name. I suppose it depends on what you want to use the name for, i.e. casual conversation, a doctoral thesis, or something in between.

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methodood
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Common names

Post by methodood » November 17th, 2009, 5:42 pm

Most common patterns bear the name you would give to a newborm pattern - it has looks, it has a father, it has siblings. What I want to find is the origin of some terms as Herschel, agar as they do not, for me, seem so natural. Am I the only one ? Is there an obscure history that someone could put in the light ? Thank you.

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Re: Common names

Post by H. V. McIntosh » November 17th, 2009, 9:53 pm

methodood wrote: ..... Is there an obscure history that someone could put in the light ?
There are all sorts of alchemical and astrological symbols which some of the polyominoes are thought to resemble.
-hvm

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methodood
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Re: Naming Conventions?

Post by methodood » November 19th, 2009, 6:11 pm

Thank you, things are getting in place ...
Herschel : commonly ascribed to an heptomino similar to a planetary symbol (should be Huyghens o-)
Agar : this looks like a trope, specifically a synecdoche, where the grown pattern is equated to its nourishing space. Unless someone proves that something can grow inside it ?
The new contest is to find the most unexplainable name ... Try it.

P.S.
Must an agar be stable or of period 2 ? Are there some of per. 3, more ?

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Re: Naming Conventions?

Post by Axaj » November 19th, 2009, 7:48 pm

methodood wrote:P.S.
Must an agar be stable or of period 2 ? Are there some of per. 3, more ?
Actually, a p300 agar was recently constructed (look in the patterns forum).
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