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The Adventures of Dakota Smith Due: Thursday, March 15, 2012 Dakota Smith, Mathematician/Adventurer, finished decrypting ancient

tablets containing a map to a lost Greek temple storing centuries of mathematical knowledge. She packed her bags, begged Lucky McDuncan (a pilot friend) to take her, and within hours was on a plane to Acropolis to begin her hunt. She trekked along mountain paths for many hours until she came upon the hidden temple. She lit her torch, stepped through the entrance, and headed down the hallway. Suddenly, there was clicking sound as she stepped on a stone - and dove into a pit just as poisonous darts whizzed by where she had been standing! She pulled herself to her feet again, and looked around, only to realize that she was surrounded by snakes. To be precise:

25% Cobras 25% Boa Constrictors and 50% Brown Tree snakes

Idly, as she froze in abject terror, she pondered these numbers. a. What is the entropy of this system of snakes? Looking more carefully, Dakota realized that there were only 15% Boas; the other 10% which she had put in this category were actually Anacondas. She reminded herself to brush up on her serpentology as the snakes drew near... b. With these new numbers, what is the actual entropy of this system? Dakota pulled out her whip, secured it on an overhead beam and climbed to freedom - almost. She dropped her torch at the last moment, as one of the snakes started wrapping around her ankle. The light faded and the torch went out, but the quick glimpse told her that the snake was either a Boa, an Anaconda, or a Cobra. She held still as she tried to determine its size...

Half of the Cobras were medium sized, and the other half were large. One third of the Boas were small, one third of them were medium sized, the final third were large. All of the Anacondas were medium sized.

c. What is her initial uncertainty about the size of the snake wrapping around her? What is the mutual information between the type of the snake and its size? As Dakota reached the top of the beam, she pulled out her hunting knife, and pried the snake from her leg. She sighed with relief that it had not bitten her ("Guess it wasn't a cobra" she thought...). She jumped back over to the corridor, and continued down it. The corridor ended in a huge room. As she was about to enter it, she pulled a trip wire and heard a *clunk* *grbrrr* and a huge stone door started descending from the ceiling, locking her in this room. Looking around, she saw many spears on the floor, and realized that her only chance to get through the door would be to throw a spear and wedge it open. Unfortunately, she only had a 50% chance of hitting the door properly with each throw...

d. On the average, how many spears would Dakota have to throw in order to wedge open the door? What is her uncertainty about how many spears would need to be thrown? Dakota wedged open the door without a problem, and strode through. The spear shattered as she went, allowing the slab to slam shut, trapping her there. She barely noticed this, however, for in the middle of the room, was the object she had been hunting for, the great sculpture of Pythagoras - with mathematical principles hidden in every chisling. Dakota carefully wrapped the small sculpture in a cloth, and set out to find an exit. Searching a bit, she found a trap door in the floor of the room, and descended into a large labyrinth with her prize. She was quite good at mazes, and worked her way to the center in no time - only to find a sleeping Minotaur lying on the ground there! He was going to wake up, so she had to act quickly. Lying on the other side of the field were three weapons which the Minotaur liked to use; an Axe, a Spear and a Club. From what she knew about these creatures, they used their axe 80% of the time, their spear 12%, and their club only 8%. Dakota had no delusions about being able to beat a Minotaur in a fight, but she knew that he, being a naturally indecisive creature, would take time to pick out a weapon to use - so she could maximize his uncertainty about which weapon to take! e. Which (if any) weapons should Dakota steal to maximize the Minotaur's uncertainty about which weapon to use to kill her? As the Minotaur awoke, Dakota raced off. Fortunately, she did indeed give herself enough of a head start, and made it out of the maze to freedom before she could be caught. Unfortunately, she missed the last trap, and found herself with a poisoned dart sticking out of her arm. Dakota decided she must somehow send a message to Lucky to pick her up, making sure he brings a cure for the dart's poison. And fast! Considering her options, Dakota came up with the following possible methods of sending her message:

Smoke Signals: A binary channel with a transmission rate of 1 bit/5 sec, but only a 5% error rate. Reflecting light off a mirror: A binary channel, with a transmission rate of 1 bit/sec, but because it was a particularly bright day, it was hard to see, and hence had a 20% error rate. Radio: Normally, the best method of communication being a binary channel with a transmission rate of 100 bits per second, but the mountains cause a lot of static creating a 49% error rate. Flares: She had 8 colors of flares in huge supply, but the transmission rate is very slow due to the time it takes to set up a flare - 1 bit/15 seconds. The flares are quite bright and distinct, so there will only be a 0.5% error rate. Pigeon: Dakota thought she could manage to catch a pigeon. She could tie a note to its leg using a channel of as many symbols as she likes, and with near zero error rate. Unfortunately, the pigeon is likely to just fly off to wherever it likes so the transmission rate is 0.

Lucky has been briefed on all of these methods, and will assume Dakota is using optimal coding schemes for each. f. Which method should Dakota use for fastest transmission of her message? Fortunately, Dakota was able to quickly calculate her best communication method and escaped (barely conscious) at the last moment. Lucky administered the antidote and she was saved.

Extra Credit: When Dakota relayed her adventures to Lucky, he asked her just how many throws it did take her with the spear to wedge the door open. Being as mischievous as ever, she made Lucky guess. g. What is the optimal series of yes/no questions Lucky should use to guess how many throws it took? <To be continued...?>

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