Month: November 2014

An introduction to the theory of infinite games, with examples from infinite chess

Joel David Hamkins

5 Dec, 2pm-3:30pm, LH 201

I shall give a general introduction to the theory of infinite games, with a focus on the theory of transfinite ordinal game values. These ordinal game values can be used to show that every open game—a game that, when won for a particular player, is won after finitely many moves—has a winning strategy for one of the players. By means of various example games, I hope to convey the extremely concrete game-theoretic meaning of these game values for various particular small infinite ordinals. Some of the examples will be drawn from infinite chess, which is chess played on a chessboard stretching infinitely without boundary in every direction, and the talk will include animations of infinite chess positions having large numbers of pieces (or infinitely many) with hundreds of pieces making coordinated attacks on the chessboard. Meanwhile, the exact value of the omega_one of chess is not currently known.

Epistemic biases in Polar Questions. The case of Italian “mica”

Ilaria Frana

7 Nov, 2pm-3:30pm, LH 201

(Joint work with Kyle Rawlins, Johns Hopkins University.)

In this work, we focus on epistemic biases induced by the Italian particle mica in negative polar questions. Simple negative polar questions in Italian, just like their English counterparts, convey a positive epistemic bias on the part of the speaker, i.e. by asking a negative polar question (Non fumi?/Don’t you smoke?) the speaker indicates that (s)he previously expected the positive answer to the question to be true. Negative polar questions with mica (Non fumi mica?), on the other hand, reverse the polarity of the bias, thus conveying that the speaker previously expected the negative answer to the question to be true. Following the literature on polar questions, we propose that mica is an N-word that introduces an epistemic conversational operator (along the lines of Romero and Han (2003)’s VERUM operator). The different epistemic biases are then derived on the basis of the relative scope of negation and VERUM operator(s), and pragmatic (gricean) reasoning.