CosmicOS: a next-generation Contact message
CosmicOS is a way to create stand-alone messages suitable for conversations across large gulfs of time and space. It is a preamble you can borrow to bootstrap up to a decent shared vocabulary, without making too many assumptions. CosmicOS is inspired by Hans Freudenthal's language, Lincos, and Carl Sagan's book, Contact.
The message consists of a long sequence of four basic symbols. Labeling them arbitrarily as 0, 1, 2, and 3, the message begins like this:
00010223300011022330001110223300011110223300011111022330001111110223300011111110 22330001111111102233000111111111022330001111111111022330001111111111102233000111 11111111102233000111111111111102233000111111111111110223300011111111111111102233 00011111111111111110223300011022330001110223300011111022330001111111022330001111 11111110223300011111111111110223300010223300011110223300011111111102233000111111 11111111110223301100100102233011001100110223301100111001110223301100111100111102 23301100111110011111022330110011111100111111022330110011111110011111110223301100 ...see full 272615-symbol message
Or reformatting into Ogham-style script (because: why not?)
The message communicates:
- Basic mathematics and logic.
- Basic elements of functional programming.
- 2D logic circuits and a program to evaluate them.
- A very minimal JVM interpreter.
- A tiny game that runs on the JVM.
The idea is to communicate the usual math and logic basics, then use that to show how to run programs, then send interesting programs that demonstrate behaviors and interactions that get at fuzzier stuff. This is inspired by Freudenthal's idea of staging conversations between Ha and Hb that happen to be about math but which get at ideas like helpful versus unhelpful.
Message in human-readable form
This form of the message is close to the actual “source code” of the message, and should be much easier to read (especially if you are a programmer).
Statistics and structure
Estimate of message entropy in compiled form: 25.3 kB.
There are bugs and rough edges in the message. Please be forgiving. It'll all get fixed in an instant of galactic time. The structure is as follows:
- The message consists of a sequence of statements that can be evaluated, and each statement evaluates to true.
- The message can refer to itself and change its own syntax as it goes.
- A core set of operators are introduced by showing examples of their use.
- Once a sufficient set of operators is available, most new concepts are introduced both by examples and a definition in terms of what is already known.
- The message is more like a programming language than a human language, and is related to Brian McConnell's notion of ACETI. The goal is to transmit simulations whose behavior can be examined and discussed, and to introduce higher-level notions in terms of those simulations.
The generated message currently consists of a sequence of 4 symbols.
number symbol meaning 0 . binary digit zero 1 : binary digit one 2 ( marks beginning of an expression 3 ) marks end of an expression
And two pseudo-symbols coded using the above:
sequence symbol meaning .() / opens an implicit paren, which will close at next paren (A B / C / D) is another way to write (A B (C (D))) This greatly simplifies complex expressions. (()) ; marks end of sentence
Numbers are encoded as binary digits between parentheses, e.g. (:::.) is 1110 base 2 which is 14 in decimal. A set of numbers between parentheses constitutes an expression. Expressions can be nested. Expressions followed by a semicolon should evaluate to be true, once the rules for evaluation have been introduced.
In the human-readable form of the message, decimal numbers can be used. There are converted to binary. Identifiers can also be used. Identifiers are mapped onto arbitrarily assigned numbers. In the message, there is nothing to distinguish identifiers from numbers. The actual language is carefully constructed so that this distinction is never necessary.
I've chosen the GPL for whimsical reasons. If it is a problem for you just file an issue. I'm a license push-over.
||The CosmicOS software is licensed under the CC-GNU GPL.|
||The CosmicOS webpages are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.5 License.|