In his writings on the theory of automata, John von Neumann defines a complex system as one where the best model is, in fact, the system itself, and specifically mentions cats as an example of such complexity (thereby demonstrating not merely sagacity but taste). Since then, I am sorry to say, there has been a sad lack of interest in feline behavior within complex systems theory; but no longer. Going to the pet store the other day, I blundered into an aisle of motorized cat toys. Mindful of Abbas Raza's post on 3QD, I actually looked at them; and of course when I came to one that boasted an Amazing Chaos Wand, I had to look at it; and of course I had to buy it when I read the following ad copy on the side of the box (my links):
CHAOTIC TOYS FACTORY, LTD.
The Cat Attack uses the latest research in chaos theory and complex systems to emulate the movements and personality of a cat's favorite prey. This "virtual mouse" technology utilizes algorithms based on a six-dimensional coupled nzmap system modeled on the neural network of a real mouse. What that all means is that the Cat Attack's "virtual mouse" will become your cat's new best friend!
Dr. Nozawa has developed an amazing and practical use for "deterministic chaos". It was Norbert Wiener who pointed out the importance of random noise in the brain and in automatic control systems. However, Dr. Nozawa showed that is was possible to solve the difficult "Traveling Salesman Problem" of optimization faster by using nonlinear dynamics, rather than random noise. The "Cat Attack" toy developed by Dr. Nozawa's company operates using powerful nonlinear dynamics algorithms, and this leading edge of human knowledge is appreciated by, among others, the Nozawa family cats, Tal, Fu and Phi, who seem to think the "Cat Attack" is truly alive.
I have turned this apparatus over to a collaborator who specializes in these issues, and she reports good results while the batteries last.
Posted by crshalizi at September 08, 2006 11:24 | permanent link