A dynamical systems approach to the game of Clue

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In "Advances in birdsong modeling", 4/1/2017, I discussed Eve Armstrong's brilliant research report "A Neural Networks Approach to Predicting How Things Might Have Turned Out Had I Mustered the Nerve to Ask Barry Cottonfield to the Junior Prom Back in 1997". Now, a year later, Dr. Armstrong has followed up with "Colonel Mustard in the Aviary with the Candlestick: a limit cycle attractor transitions to a stable focus via supercriticalAndronov-Hopf bifurcation".

The abstract:

We establish the means by which Mr. Boddy came to transition from a stable trajectory within the global phase space of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to a stable point on the cement floor of an aviary near the west bank of the Schuylkill River. There exist no documented murder motives, and so the dynamical interaction leading to the crime must be reconstructed from circumstantial data. Our investigation proceeds in two stages. First we take an audio stream recorded within the aviary near the time of death to unfold the local embedding dimension, thereby enumerating the suspects. Second, we characterize Mr. Boddy’s pre- and post-mortem behavior in the phase space in terms of an attractor that undergoes an abrupt change in stability. A supercritical Andronov-Hopf bifurcation can explain this transition. Third, we uniquely identify the murderer. Finally, we note long-term plans to construct an underlying dynamical model capable of predicting the stability of equilibria in different parameter regimes, in the event that Mr. Boddy is ever murdered again.

What is the connection to linguistics? The same kind of modeling is relevant to the phenomena of vocal creak and fry, about which more later as well as earlier.

Update — There's an interview with Eve Armstrong about this article on Retraction Watch: "Clue fans, here’s scientific proof that it was Colonel Mustard with a candlestick".



  1. Markonsea said,

    April 1, 2018 @ 2:53 pm

    Oh God it's That Day again, isn't it?

  2. Boudica said,

    April 1, 2018 @ 6:35 pm

    Is this an updated version of Clue? There was no aviary in the original.

  3. Viseguy said,

    April 1, 2018 @ 8:10 pm

    "… two stages … First … Second … Third…." — cf. the third half of the show on Car Talk.

  4. James Wimberley said,

    April 2, 2018 @ 8:40 am

    If you change the aviary to an apiary, Colonel Mustard gets another murder weapon.

  5. Chris C. said,

    April 2, 2018 @ 5:23 pm

    @Boudica Depending on which edition of the game under discussion, the Conservatory might be artistically interpreted by the board designer as either a music room, a greenhouse, or an aviary.

  6. Adam F said,

    April 3, 2018 @ 6:11 am

    Obligatory Unix geek joke: kernel panic in the shared library with a broken pipe.

    (I've heard other variants of library and pipe.)

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