Heyting Smullyanesque problems

Raymond Smullyan brought Knights and Knaves puzzles to a high art in his books. Here’s the setting:

On Smullyan’s islands there are Knights, who always tell true statements, Knaves, who always lie, and sometimes also Normals, who sometimes tell the truth and sometimes lie.

(image credit MikeKlein)

Problems of this sort can be solved by classical propositional logic, replacing every sentence $P$ told by inhabitant $A$ by the formula $k_A \leftrightarrow P$ where $k_A$ is the sentence “A is a Knight”.

Some time ago I asked for Smullyanesque problems in a non-classical logic, where we replace the usual truth-values $T$ (true) and $F$ (false) of propositional logic by elements of an Heyting algebra.

Jason Rosenhouse wrote a paper Knights, Knaves, Normals, and Neutrals for The College Mathematics Journal, containing more information than in his blog post, as well as some nice challenging puzzles. Here’s Rosenhouse’s setting:

Apart from Knights, Knaves and Normals there’s also the tribe of Neutrals (which he describes as a sort of trans-Knights or trans-Knaves) who can only tell sentences with truth value $N$ in the Heyting algebra $\{ T,N,F \}$ with logical connectives

A typical sentence of truth value $N$ is “A is a Knight” or “A is a Knave” whereas, in reality, $A$ is Neutral. Here are the truth values of sentences about a person (the column headings) with respect to the actual situation (the row headings)

A good way into such problems is to focus on sentence like “A is a Neutral” as they have only classical truth values $T$ or $F$ and to remember that Neutrals can never say a sentence with classical truth value. Here’s an example (only Knights,Knaves or Neutrals present):

Problem 1: Suppose you meet three people, named Dave, Evan and Ford. They make the following statements:

Dave: Evan is a knight.
Evan: Ford is a knave.
Ford: Dave is a neutral.

Can you determine the types of all three people?

Solution: Ford’s sentence has value $T$ or $F$, so Ford cannot be Neutral so must be a Knight or Knave. But then Evan’s sentence also has classical truth value, so he can’t be Neutral either, and by the same reasoning also Dave cannot be neutral. So, we know that all three people must be either Knights or Knaves and then it follows at once that Ford is a Knave (because he lied) and that Evan and Dave must be knights.

These puzzles become more interesting once we use logical connectives.

Problem 2: What can you conclude from this dialog?

Mimi: Olaf is a Knight and Olaf is not a Knight.
Nate: Olaf is a Knave or Olaf is not a Knave.
Olaf: Mimi is a Knight or Nate is a Knave or I am Neutral.

Solution: Mimi’s sentence can only have truth value $F$ or $N$ so she can’t be a Knight. Nate’s sentence has value $T$ or $N$ so he cannot be a Knave.
The two first parts of Olaf’s line cannot be $T$ so must be either $N$ or $F$. So, Olav’s line has total value $T$ only if the last part ‘I am Neutral’ is $T$. So, Olaf can neither be a Knight (because then the last part is $F$) nor Neutral (because then the line would have value $T$ and Neutrals can only speak $N$-sentences). So, Olaf must be a knave. Nate must then be a Knight and Mimi a Knave (because the first part of her line is $F$ and so must be the whole sentence).

The situation becomes even more complicated when we allow Normals (who sometimes lie and sometimes tell the truth but never say sentences with value $N$) to be present. Here’s Rosenhouse’s ‘Grand Finale’:

Problem 3: One day a visitor encountered eight people, among them exactly two Knights, two Knaves, two Normals and two Neutrals. What can you conclude from this dialog:

Sara: Walt is a Neutral or Vera is a Neutral.
Todd: Xara is a Knave and Yoav is a Knave.
Ursa: If Sara is a Knight, then Todd and Yoav are Normals.
Vera: I am not a Neutral.
Walt: If Vera is not a Neutral, then neither is Todd.
Xara: Todd is a Knight if and only if Zack is a Neutral.
Zack: Xara is a Neutral if and only if Walt is not a Normal.

You will solve this problem much quicker than to read through the long explanation in Rosenhouse’s paper.

These puzzles beg to be generalised to more complicated Heyting algebras.

What about a book on “Knights, Knaves and Knols”? A Knol (or $X$-Knol) has knowledge limited to sentences with truth value $X$, an element in the Heyting algebra.

Knights and Knaves, the Heyting way

(image credit: Joe Blitzstein via Twitter)

Smullyan’s Knights and Knaves problems are classics. On an island all inhabitants are either Knights (who only tell true things) and Knaves (who always lie). You have to determine their nature from a few statements. Here’s a very simple problem:

“Abercrombie met just two inhabitants, A and B. A made the following statement: “Both of us are Knaves.” What is A and what is B?”

Now, this one is simple enough to solve, but for more complicated problems a generic way to solve the puzzles is to use propositional calculas, as explained in Smullyan’s Logical Labyrinths”, chapter 8 “Liars, truth-tellers and propositional logic’.

If an inhabitants $A$ asserts a proposition $P$, and if $k_A$ is the assertion ‘$A$ is a Knight’, then the statement can be rephrased as

k_A \Leftrightarrow P \]

for if $A$ is a Knight, $P$ must be true and if $A$ is a Knave $P$ must be false.

Usually, one can express $P$ as a propositional statement involving $k_A,k_B,k_C,\dots$.
The example above can be rephrased as

k_A \Leftrightarrow (\neg k_A \wedge \neg k_B) \]

Assigning truth values to $k_A$ and $k_B$ and setting up the truth-table for this sentence, one sees that the only possibility for this to be true is that $k_A$ equals $0$ and $k_B$ equals $1$. So, $A$ is a Knave and $B$ is a Knight.

Clearly, one only requires this approach for far more difficult problems.

In almost all Smullyan puzzles, the only truth values are $0$ and $1$. There’s a short excursion to Boolean algebras (sorry, Boolean islands) in chapter 9 ‘Variable Liars’ in Logical Labyrinths. But then, the type of problems are about finding equivalent notions of Boolean algebras, rather that generalised Knights&Knaves puzzles.

Did anyone pursue the idea of Smullyanesque puzzles with truth values in a proper Heyting algebra?

I only found one blog-post on this: Non-Classical Knights and Knaves by Jason Rosenhouse.

He considers three valued logic (the Heyting algebra corresponding to the poset 0-N-1, and logical connectives as in the example on the Wiki-page on Heyting algebras.

On his island the natives cycle, repeatedly and unpredictably, between the two states. They are knights for a while, then they enter a transitional phase during which they are partly knight and partly knave, and then they emerge on the other side as knaves.

“If Joe is in the transitional phase, and you say, “Joe is a knight,” or “Joe is a knave,” what truth value should we assign to your statement? Since Joe is partly knight and partly knave, neither of the classical truth values seems appropriate. So we shall assign a third truth value, “N” to such statements. Think of N as standing for “neutral” or “neither true nor false.” On the island, vague statements are assigned the truth value N.

Just to be clear, it’s not just any statement that can be assigned the truth value N. It is only vague statements that receive that truth value, and for now our only examples of such statements are attributions of knight-hood and knave-hood to people in the transitional phase.

For the natives, entering the transitional phase implied a disconcerting loss of identity. Uncertain of how to behave, they hedged their bets by only making statements with truth value N. People in the transitional phase were referred to as neutrals. So there are now three kinds of people: Knights, who only make true statements; Knaves, who only make false statements; and Neutrals, who only make statements with the truth value N.”

He gives one example of a possible problem:

“Suppose you meet three people, named Dave, Evan and Ford. They make the following statements:

Dave: Evan is a knight.
Evan: Ford is a knave.
Ford: Dave is a neutral.

Can you determine the types of all three people?”

If you know of more of these Smullanesque problems using Heyting algebras, please leave a comment.

a SNORTgo endgame

SNORT, invented by Simon NORTon is a map-coloring game, similar to COL. Only, this time, neighbours may not be coloured differently.

SNORTgo, similar to COLgo, is SNORT played with go-stones on a go-board. That is, adjacent stones must have the same colour.

SNORT is a ‘hot’ game, meaning that each player is eager to move as most moves will improve your position. In COL players are reluctant to move, because a move limits your next moves.

For this reason, SNORT positions are much harder to evaluate, and one needs the full force of Conways’s ONAG.

Here’s a SNORTgo endgame. Who has a winning strategy?, and what is the first move in that strategy?

The method to approach such an endgame is similar to that in COLgo. First we remove all dead spots from the board.

What remains, are a 4 spots available only to Right (white) and 5 spots available only to Left (bLack). Further, there a 3 ‘live’ regions: the upper righthand corner and the two lower corners.

The value of these corners must be computed inductively.

Here’s the answer:

For example, Right’s best option in the left-most game (corresponding to the upper righthand corner of the endgame) is to put his stone on N12, resulting in a game in which neither player can move (the zero game).

On the other hand, Left can put a stone at either N11, N12 or N13 leaving a game in which she has two more moves, whereas Right han none (the $2$ game).

The other positions are computed similarly.

To get the value of the endgame we have to sum up all these values.

This can either be done using the addition rule given in ONAG, or by using programs in combinatorial game theory.

There’s Combinatorial Game Suite, developed by Aaron Siegel. But, for some reason I can no longer use it on macOS High Sierra.

Fortunately, the older program David Wolfe’s toolkit is still available, and runs on my MacBook.

The sum game evaluates to $\{ \{3|2 \}|-1 \}$, which is a ‘fuzzy’ game, that is, its value is confused with $0$.

This means that the first player to move has a winning strategy in the endgame.

Can you spot the (unique) winning move for Right (white) and one (of two) winning move for Left (bLack)?

Spoiler alert : solution in the comments.

a COLgo endgame

COL is a map-colouring game, attibuted to Colin Vout. COLgo is COL played with Go-stones on a go-board.

The two players, bLack (left) and white (right) take turns placing a stone of their colour on the board, but two stones of the same colour may not be next to each other.

The first player unable to make a legal move looses this game.

As is common in combinatorial game theory we do not specify which player has the move. There are $4$ different outcomes, the game is called:

– positive, if there is a winning strategy for Left (bLack),
– negative, if there is a winning strategy for Right (white),
– zero, if there is a winning strategy for the second-player,
– fuzzy, if there is a winning strategy for the first player.

Here’s an endgame problem: who wins this game?

Spoiler alert: solution below.

First we can exclude all spots which are dead, that is, are excluded for both players. Example, F11 is dead because it neighbors a black as well as a white stone, but F10 is alive as it can be played by white (Right).

If we remove all dead spots, we are left with 4 regions (the four extremal corners of the board) as well as 5 spots, 3 for white and 2 for black.

That is, the game reduces to this “sum”-game, in which a player chooses one of the regions and does a legal move in that component, or takes a stone of its own colour from the second row.

Next, we have to give a value to each of the region-games.

– the right-most game has value $0$ as the second player has a winning strategy by reflecting the first player’s move with respect to the central (dead) spot.

– the left-most game is equivalent to one black stone. Black can make two moves in the game, independent of the only move that white can make. So it has value $+1$.

– the sum-game of the two middle games has value zero. The second player can win by mirroring the first player’s move in the other component. This is called the Tweedledee-Tweedledum argument.

But then, the total value of the endgame position is

zero, so the first player to move looses the game!

Chomp and the moonshine thread

Chomp is a 2-player game, usually played with chocolate bars.

The players take turns in choosing one chocolate block and “eat it”, together with all other blocks that are below it and to its right. There is a catch: the top left block contains poison, so the first player forced to eat it dies, that is, looses the game.

If you start with a rectangular bar, the first player has a winning strategy, though it may take you too long to actually find the correct first move. See this post for the strategy-stealing argument.

If you label the blocks of the rectangular bar by $(a,b)$ with $0 \leq a \leq k$ and $0 \leq b \leq l$, with the poisonous one being $(0,0)$, then this can be viewed as choosing a divisor $d$ of $N=p^k q^l$ and removing all multiples of $d$ from the set of divisors of $N$. The first person forced to name $1$ looses.

This allows for higher dimensional versions of Chomp.

If you start with the set of all divisors of a given natural number $N$, then the strategy-stealing argument shows that the first player has a winning move.

A general position of the game corresponds to a finite set of integers, closed under taking divisors. At each move the player has to choose an element of this set and remove it as well as all its multiples.

The thread of $(N|1)$, relevant in understanding a moonshine group of the form $(n|m)+e,f,\dots$ with $N=n \times h$, consists of all divisors of $N$.

But then, the union of all threads for all 171 moonshine groups is a position in higher dimensional Chomp.

Who wins starting from this moonshine thread?

Perhaps not terribly important, but it forces one to imagine the subgraph of the monstrous moonshine picture on the $97$ number-lattices way better than by its Hasse diagram.

Click on the image for a larger version.

By the way, notice the (slight) resemblance with the ‘monstrous moonshine painting’ by Atria

Here’s how the Hasse diagram of the moonshine thread was produced. These are ‘notes to self’, because I tend to forget such things quickly.

1. Work though the list of 171 moonshine groups in Monstrous Moonshine, pages 327-329. Add to a list all divisors of $N$ for a group of type $N+e,f,\dots$ or $n|h+e,f,\dots$ with $N=n \times h$. This should give you these $97$ integers:


2. Let $L$ be this list and use Sage:


3. Copy the output to a file, say chomp.dot, and remove all new-line breaks from it.

4. Install Graphviz on Mac OS X.

5. In Terminal, type
dot -Tpng chomp.dot -o chomp.png