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16-Year-Old Creates Scientific/Graphing Calculator In Minecraft

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the holy-smokes dept.

Math 160

New submitter petval tips another amazing Minecraft project: a functioning scientific/graphing calculator. "On a virtual scale, the functional device is enormous — enough so that anyone in the real world would become a red blot of meat and bone staining the road if they fell from the very top. Honestly, his virtual machine looks more like a giant cargo ship ripped from a sci-fi movie than a working calculator. Yet type your problem out on the keypad, and the answer appears on a large white display mounted on the side of the monstrous brick structure." The creator says it can do "6-digit addition and subtraction, 3-digit multiplication, division and trigonometric/scientific functions ... Graphing y=mx+c functions, quadratic functions, and equation solving of the form mx+c=0." We've previously discussed the creation of a 16-bit ALU in Minecraft.

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160 comments

16-year-old kids have too much free time (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39479339)

should be prepping for psat or sat...

Re:16-year-old kids have too much free time (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39479413)

Now we know what the /. editors did during high school english class.

Re:16-year-old kids have too much free time (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39479451)

I don't think a kid who has the ability to create this in Minecraft will be having too much trouble with their SATs...

Re:16-year-old kids have too much free time (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39479669)

Well, not the math part anyhow. That english stuff..man, he's fsck'ed!

Re:16-year-old kids have too much free time (0, Offtopic)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#39479779)

No crap but I bet he is bored to tears in class every damned day! I absolutely HATED public school because it was strictly lowest common denominator, I even had a teacher accuse me of cheating simply because I was better at basic math than he was without having to go through all those stupid steps. the best thing that ever happened to me was a damned dog getting into the spokes of my motorbike at 60MPH because it got me home tutors through the junior HS years because the tutor took one look at the books I was reading like the wonderful "Best sci/fi and horror writers of the year" series and instead of the stupid crap they were teaching in school Ms Edwards had me discussing the pros and cons of grandfather paradoxes and skipped the whole stupid "show your work" crap which just slowed me down.

Sadly some administrator decided 'its not good for him to be isolated like that" and forced me to go to HS. What happened? the first day i got sent to detention because some jarheaded teacher said "Anybody not will to run 10 laps just get out of my class' so myself followed by half the class promptly left, and the football coach took one look at the books I was reading in his detention and for the next 4 years i was given all As even though I never actually attended any classes, how did I do that? simple the coach took me to each class and said "He is in your class, mark him as present and give him an A on all work as he'll be on "special assignment"" which turned out to be running my own class for 4 years teaching jocks how to pass the minimums required to play ball. Turns out over the years I've met several from neighboring "football schools' that had the same "special assignment" as me and all were very bright students that the schools basically didn't know what to do with. I figure I learned more teaching those jocks than the dumbed down classes they taught anyway.

So while this kid will probably have a kick ass career I do NOT envy him ATM, his life is probably equal parts boredom and frustration if he is in the public school system. I ended up giving my two boys home schooling after seeing that public schools had gotten even worse than when I was there, there was bigotry, indifference, and even religious whackos, and we are talking about the teachers. Frankly I wouldn't wish the US public school system on my worst enemy as if you are not lucky enough to be in one of the few upper class ritzy neighborhoods frankly the schools just suck. Good luck kid, just keep your head down and remember that college is just around the corner where the smart CAN get ahead.

Re:16-year-old kids have too much free time (5, Insightful)

Pseudonym Authority (1591027) | more than 2 years ago | (#39480367)

skipped the whole stupid "show your work" crap which just slowed me down

You really do need to show your work. It's not an issue for 25+13, but for any real problem it is essential. Try doing vector calculus without showing any work. It doesn't make you smart if you can, it makes you stupid to try. The work is a proof that validates your answer. Not showing the work in math is like not supporting any of your conclusions with arguments in philosophy. That's why they try to train kids to do it early.

Honestly, if your tutor didn't realize that, then she was a pretty terrible teacher.

Re:16-year-old kids have too much free time (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39480451)

Not really. You are making an implicit assumption of the degree of triviality required for an atomic step. If your brain is significantly better at making logical jumps than that of the mean, you will find it insulting, tedious, and intellectually-destructive to do a 12 line 'proof', where a 3 line proof would meet the needs of you, a mathematician, but not an unqualified teacher or curriculum.

Re:16-year-old kids have too much free time (5, Funny)

TheLink (130905) | more than 2 years ago | (#39481971)

I have a truly remarkable rebuttal to your argument that your mind is too small to contain.

Re:16-year-old kids have too much free time (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39482427)

I'm sure that whoever ends up supporting the systems you didn't bother to document properly because "it's obvious" will wish you eternal damnation.

PS: It'll be you, 2 or 3 years after you made the system.

Re:16-year-old kids have too much free time (1)

Intropy (2009018) | more than 2 years ago | (#39480803)

Lowest common denominator or greatest common divisor?

Re:16-year-old kids have too much free time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39479899)

He will forever be a virgin though.

Re:16-year-old kids have too much free time (3, Funny)

ae1294 (1547521) | more than 2 years ago | (#39480229)

But in minecraft HE IS GOD!

Re:16-year-old kids have too much free time (5, Funny)

frup (998325) | more than 2 years ago | (#39480679)

Next step: Minecraft fleshlight.

Re:16-year-old kids have too much free time (3, Insightful)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 2 years ago | (#39480433)

Agreed... however, it's a sad fact of life that only 16 year olds have enough free time to do stuff like this.

Re:16-year-old kids have too much free time (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39481011)

But they usually get burned out in College. They are so used to having everything easy that when they start taking hard classes they don't know how to deal with failure.

Amazing stuff (3, Informative)

mmcxii (1707574) | more than 2 years ago | (#39479381)

This is a really fantastic accomplishment. More than I've ever done in Minecraft.

Re:Amazing stuff (1)

The Archon V2.0 (782634) | more than 2 years ago | (#39479829)

More than most have done. More, indeed, than a billion flaming wool wangs.

Re:Amazing stuff (1)

blackpaw (240313) | more than 2 years ago | (#39480517)

Indeed. I don't know if I'll ever be able to play Minecraft again now :(

Re:Amazing stuff (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39480537)

This is a really fantastic accomplishment.

True. And yet... #foreveralone

Nicely done sir (5, Insightful)

schrodingersGato (2602023) | more than 2 years ago | (#39479411)

Well, if these games can get younger people interested in the concepts of programming, I'm all for it. I'm not a fan of most online games, but I have to say this is really cool. I think more games should provide an environment to explore programming (optionally of course)

Re:Nicely done sir (4, Informative)

nschubach (922175) | more than 2 years ago | (#39479801)

Just to clear something up (in case someone else has never played it)... Minecraft is not an online game. It's a Java based game with a massive procedural generated world full of blocks that can be moved around. It has multiplayer aspects and a dedicated server, but they are not required for play.

For those of us who don't know... (3, Interesting)

Zapotek (1032314) | more than 2 years ago | (#39479447)

...what Minecraft is, can someone explain why that calc is an accomplishment?
What's the difficulty of doing something like that? What elements do you have available? Do you have logic-gates, math functions, full-blown scripting, or what?

Re:For those of us who don't know... (5, Informative)

ocdude (932504) | more than 2 years ago | (#39479499)

Minecraft is a sandbox type game where you can build stuff out of the environment. It has no scripting or math functions built in, nor does it really have any sort of logic gates built in. However, it does something called "redstone dust" which you can use as wires. The wiki explains more, but you can hand-craft logic gates out of it: http://www.minecraftwiki.net/wiki/Redstone_Dust [minecraftwiki.net]

Re:For those of us who don't know... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39479509)

In the basic game, which it looks like he is using, you get NOT gates. From which, as we know, all of computing is derivable. By arraning the "wires" and "torches" you build NOTs, then ANDs, then NOR etc etc etc

There is a form of cheating everyone uses in these endeavors which is a copy/paste mechanism for duplicating substructures, as well as unlimited resources (whereas in the survival game you have to collect ores while fending off zombies and skeletons and farming for your dinner).

Re:For those of us who don't know... (1)

interval1066 (668936) | more than 2 years ago | (#39479731)

By arraning the "wires" and "torches" you build NOTs...

Which leads to my question, this appears to show that he's using pure binary logic; meaning this calculator is not an analog machine like the ALU (if you saw that vid it looked to me like the operator had to run to each part of the logic and flip a lever or light a torch or something), in this it looks like he's using the "wires" to carry actual signals around the logic. This look like a minecraft model of actual signal-bit operations. Am I getting this right?

Re:For those of us who don't know... (4, Informative)

nschubach (922175) | more than 2 years ago | (#39479853)

It's binary... the redstone has a delay when you go through some of the gates and repeaters which makes it look a bit analog, but the logic is all binary. The torches can be used as repeaters (torches power redstone up to 16 blocks) and/or carry a bit signal up or down in elevation in the world. You cannot put redstone wire on the side of multiple block so you have to use stairs (space intense) or torches (compact) to change elevation.

Re:For those of us who don't know... (1)

interval1066 (668936) | more than 2 years ago | (#39480187)

Ok, THAT is pretty cool. The ALU took a looong time to get it to do an anything, honestly I wasn't impressed with it. Anyone can take a collection of objects (rocks, twigs, small pets) and use them as place holders and perform logic operations with them. This however is a true digital calculator.

Re:For those of us who don't know... (4, Informative)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 2 years ago | (#39482355)

It takes a long time because the game is essentially a 3D cellular automation. When you flip a switch, for example, the block it sits on is "powered" - then it takes one update cycle for that "power" to travel up to 16 blocks, then at least one more update cycle for the next 16 blocks, etc. Any object that's not wire (like the components in a logic gate) adds at least one more cycle worth of delay. It adds up quickly.

Redstone was really intended for simple mechanisms like switch activated doors and other very simple, local interactivity. But people have really taken it to the limits of the game. Basically you're building logic gates and digital circuits out of discreet relays!
=Smidge=

Re:For those of us who don't know... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39479871)

It would kind of suck for a zombie to explode in the middle of this thing, yes...

Re:For those of us who don't know... (1)

rjames13 (1178191) | more than 2 years ago | (#39482395)

Not a Zombie a Creeper.

Re:For those of us who don't know... (4, Informative)

SimonTheSoundMan (1012395) | more than 2 years ago | (#39479873)

Basically, he's created an ALU found on a CPU, but operates like something Charles Babbage would have made. Even the gates for memory are mechanical, the input and output are all mechanical too. Truly amazing!

Re:For those of us who don't know... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39480765)

"NOT gates. From which, as we know, all of computing is derivable"

We don't know that, because it's not true. Could you dweebs at least pretend to be somewhat humble and *verify* your awesome pronouncements from above?

http://www.allaboutcircuits.com/vol_4/chpt_3/9.html

Re:For those of us who don't know... (2)

_Shad0w_ (127912) | more than 2 years ago | (#39481525)

You're thinking of NAND gates (or NOR gates, which have the same property).

Re:For those of us who don't know... (1)

mmcxii (1707574) | more than 2 years ago | (#39479511)

Basically logic gates [minecraftwiki.net]

Re:For those of us who don't know... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39479581)

from the video I would have to assume this is basically a mechanical calculator, equivalent to a scientific calculator made out of basic legos, no mindstorms or anything electrical.

Re:For those of us who don't know... (2)

Bucky24 (1943328) | more than 2 years ago | (#39480043)

.What's the difficulty of doing something like that? What elements do you have available? Do you have logic-gates, math functions, full-blown scripting, or what?

It really depends on the mods you have installed. There is a mod out there that has single blocks for all the basic logic gates. But it's much harder then scripting. If you want to script something first you have to build a chip that understands the script, THEN write the script.

Transcendental functions (3, Informative)

Ambitwistor (1041236) | more than 2 years ago | (#39479457)

Anyone know how he did functions like logarithms, trig, etc.? I didn't watch the whole video.

Re:Transcendental functions (3, Insightful)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 2 years ago | (#39479593)

Video doesnt explain, but probably he uses taylor series. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Transcendental functions (5, Informative)

MickLinux (579158) | more than 2 years ago | (#39480381)

For logs, it is easier and faster to [1] convert the number to binary (2^x) (1.yyyy). Save the power x for later. For the other number 1.yyyy, break the number down to [binary] (1+0.a)(1+0.0b)(1+0.00c)... Where a, b, and c are binary digits. There is an algorithm like a single binar divide that will generate a,b,c all at once . Then for every nonzero a, b, and c... you look up the log-base 2 and sum those together. That will give you the binary digits to the right of the decimal. The number to the left is the power of 2 from the first conversion.

During trig/calc class... (4, Funny)

TWX (665546) | more than 2 years ago | (#39479459)

...I created games on my TI-82 graphing calculator, so I guess turnabout is fair play...

Re:During trig/calc class... (4, Funny)

cervesaebraciator (2352888) | more than 2 years ago | (#39479579)

Now the challenge is to go back and recreate Minecraft for your TI 82. Then try creating a graphing calculator within that.

Re:During trig/calc class... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39479973)

Yo dawg, I heard you liked graphing calculators.... nah, nevermind.

Did it without RedPower2 addon (5, Interesting)

uigrad_2000 (398500) | more than 2 years ago | (#39479473)

There are lots of addons that help with redstone wiring. The premiere one is probably RedPower2. In addition to giving unit-sized gates, latches, and flip-flops, it also gives buses, which can carry 8 bits of data along a single line.

I just can't believe that this is all done without addons. Even building a BDD (Binary to Decimal Decoder) is difficult in Minecraft, and translating that to display the correct digits is complex. I don't mean "complex so that a child couldn't understand it", but complex as in taking a lot of clock cycles. There are only 20 ticks per second in Minecraft, so all these operations quickly add up to a lot of time.

In addition to binary/decimal conversions, and the logic for doing complex operations (dividing is very hard), this calculator even has typesetting. When you have a power, it places the the displayed value as a superscript! Radicals are drawn over values for the SQRT operations!

In essence, I'm a bit skeptical about this. I believed it when I first saw it a few days ago, but the more I think about it, I think it's all staged. I'm curious to see what others think.

As far as my own redstone experience: I've done far more than the average minecraft player, including building adders and counters, but haven't ever attempted any mega projects.

Re:Did it without RedPower2 addon (1)

SaroDarksbane (1784314) | more than 2 years ago | (#39479643)

He must have used some kind of addon, though, since the numbers on the "buttons" and being able to "push" them by stepping on them as he did aren't from the vanilla game.

I'm skeptical as well, but I'd certainly be happy to be proved wrong, because that's quite an accomplishment if it's legit.

Re:Did it without RedPower2 addon (3, Informative)

ZiZe (879964) | more than 2 years ago | (#39479751)

This is explained in the video, the "buttons" are re-skinned wooden pressure plates, so he has to walk on the to activate.

Re:Did it without RedPower2 addon (2)

TheCouchPotatoFamine (628797) | more than 2 years ago | (#39479975)

er, shouldn't that be: the "buttons" are "wooden pressure plates" he has to "walk" over in the "activate"? Nothing in this demo/conversation should lack quotes!

Re:Did it without RedPower2 addon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39481949)

what did you add today other than CO2 and other excretions?

Re:Did it without RedPower2 addon (4, Informative)

quiet down (1795010) | more than 2 years ago | (#39479753)

The description states that he used a custom texture pack, nothing more. In this pack he made a bunch of iron blocks with text on them. He also made Wooden pressure plates invisible, and had placed them over the 'buttons'. Pretty ingenious.

Re:Did it without RedPower2 addon (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39479653)

the wiki clearly states how to make assembly code gates. how to extend using repeaters etc... and 16 year olds usually have a large amount of free time.
http://www.minecraftwiki.net/wiki/Redstone_Circuits [minecraftwiki.net]
using an addon might make it easier but i have seen people waste more time.

Re:Did it without RedPower2 addon (1)

rjames13 (1178191) | more than 2 years ago | (#39482433)

It's not fake, I have seen people build simple CPU's in Minecraft before. This is just an extension of those efforts. The only barrier to creating it is the simulation limit of the redstone in Minecraft itself. Which is why the machine is 3D and not 2D.

And there are many more of those

ob xkcd (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39479495)

Lesson two: implement this: http://xkcd.com/505/

That is infskcredible (2)

alexborges (313924) | more than 2 years ago | (#39479503)

Really. That is one smart kid with a lot of time, talent, willpower and attention for detail. Kudos to the guy/gal that accomplished it.

Turing on Turing is Turing. Film at 11. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39479523)

Turing on Turing is Turing. Film at 11. Yawn. I'll be lucky if I make it through Jay's monologue after this.

Autism simulator. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39479551)

Definitive proof minecraft = autism simulator.

Re:Autism simulator. (1)

Beelzebud (1361137) | more than 2 years ago | (#39479617)

And your lame nerd bashing AC post is yet more proof that /. is becoming a mere shadow of its former self.

Re:Autism simulator. (1)

Bucky24 (1943328) | more than 2 years ago | (#39480065)

Not really... Just a kid with a TON of time on his hands. To be honest I could probably make something SORTOF like this (ie, basic calculator) in redstone if I had the time. It's just circuits. The higher math is impressive though, but again, just takes a basic understanding of circuits, how math works, and a lot of time. Hardly autism.

On the other hand, what if he is autistic? Clearly he's capable of doing some pretty amazing things regardless.

Touring complete? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39479553)

So I can assume Minecraft is touring complete as a programming language, huh?

Re:Touring complete? (1)

interval1066 (668936) | more than 2 years ago | (#39479609)

"Turing", as in Alan Turing [wikipedia.org] , British Mathematician, not "touring", as in a sedan.

Level editor? (1, Interesting)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#39479561)

Is there a level editor for Minecraft or did this guy just waste a few years of his life? Also, this is not really different from other CA circuits of which there are far more awesome [quinapalus.com] .

Re:Level editor? (4, Informative)

Surt (22457) | more than 2 years ago | (#39479591)

There is an editor. Nobody does these projects in game, it's literally impossible (not enough game ticks per second * time minecraft has been out to accomplish the builds).

Re:Level editor? (1)

omglolbah (731566) | more than 2 years ago | (#39482389)

A common tool is to use WorldEdit while in-game.

It allows loading 'schematic' files into game directly, copy-pasting and all sorts of things for building complex stuff.

1222221? (3, Funny)

Like2Byte (542992) | more than 2 years ago | (#39479567)

Calculating something that said '5318008' would have been so much cooled. sigh.

Seriously, this is simply freakin' awesome! Nice job, MaxSGB.

Cute, now go learn FPGA design (2, Insightful)

billcopc (196330) | more than 2 years ago | (#39479585)

It's impressive in the sense that this guy created a fairly simple "computer", using a limited game environment (Minecraft), running on a virtual machine (Java), running on a physical machine (PC/Mac). In other words, he's spending a million CPU cycles to simulate a single gate in the most roundabout way possible.

I'm impressed that someone with that much patience and functional intellect is wasting so much time in Minecraft, when they could be learning actual chip design. I'm impressed that bragging rights in a game are more important than actual worthwhile accomplishments. I'm impressed that Soulskill wasted so many more of our CPU and brain cycles sharing this pointless feat.

Get. Off. My. Fucking. Lawn. Bitches.

Re:Cute, now go learn FPGA design (1)

Deltaspectre (796409) | more than 2 years ago | (#39479601)

This this this. If you're going to go through all the trouble to do it in minecraft, why not do it on some CPLDs. You probably won't get as much internet fame, but you'll e able to show that off on the job/college hunt!

Re:Cute, now go learn FPGA design (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39479611)

I bet he can still show this off on the college/job hunt.

Re:Cute, now go learn FPGA design (1)

SaroDarksbane (1784314) | more than 2 years ago | (#39479621)

The guy who made the 16-bit ALU in Minecraft supposedly received a job offer over his video. I wouldn't assume that this kind of project is useless for finding a job\college.

Re:Cute, now go learn FPGA design (1)

Deltaspectre (796409) | more than 2 years ago | (#39479703)

I seem to remember it was for a generic "We're making an MMO" type place, not anything related to hardware design though

Re:Cute, now go learn FPGA design (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39479875)

Yeah, this isn't surprising.

I wrote a simple VM on my old BBC around 1990 at the age of 10 - no-one cared, because it wasn't cool.

I built parts of a CPU out of discrete components in my teens - no-one cared, because it wasn't cool.

I did well in easy, meaningless school exams and got offers from various top universities - because it /was/ cool.

I wrote a toy protected-mode multiprocessing OS in 1997/8 - no-one cared, because it wasn't cool.

Then I coded up a few web sites using basic HTML and Perl and suddenly I was making a lot of money - because it /was/ cool.

My current nerdy project involves building a little box with a software-defined shoftwave radio and an ARM-based computer for a global infrastructure-free peer-to-peer digital experience. But our present economic and sociopolitical system is surely going to remain stable forever, isn't it? so no-one cares, because it's not cool.

Capitalism's about responding to a market, not necessarily doing what's intellectually challenging or innovative. I'm happy to scrape by to survive and spend the rest of my life tinkering now. If the Western world wanted to give people the opportunity to advance for humanity's sake, they'd have been looking to the educational and infrastructure models of the USSR 40 years ago or China today - possibly even the employment security of the former, where every clever, hard-working technical man would be nurtured toward increasing the scientific output of his nation. Instead, we only look to the East for ways we can erode our great heritage of freedom.

Re:Cute, now go learn FPGA design (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39480397)

I worked with a Russian woman who lived in the USSR before the wall fell. I asked her what it was like, as sort of a "was I propagandized" check. Her response was "We pretended to work and they pretended to pay us". If that's the job security you're looking for - you can have it.

Re:Cute, now go learn FPGA design (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39480653)

I worked with a [person from somewhere]. I asked her what it was like, as a sort of "are my prejudices wrong" check. Her response was "no". If that's the sort of anecdote you're looking for - you can have it.

Perhaps one day I'll meet a man with a Soviet high school or undergrad mathematics education who doesn't put a similar Western education (barring the top handful of universities in the West) to shame. There's my anecdote.

Re:Cute, now go learn FPGA design (1)

Issarlk (1429361) | more than 2 years ago | (#39482293)

I participated in a robotic contest in the 90s where a russian team didn't just pretend to totally destroy the competition with a robot that seemed to have been assembled with old 1970s parts. And that remind me of on electronic instructor at the university, a russian, who had written the 200 page book we were using, and who would explain at lunch breaks "I leave you the keys to the lab if you want. You have to work, not eat." So looks like there were hard working people, and lazy people there.

Re:Cute, now go learn FPGA design (1)

Troed (102527) | more than 2 years ago | (#39482169)

Why would you want to reinvent the wheel instead of putting FreedomBox on a Raspberry PI?

(Some things we do ourselves because we want to prove to ourselves that we can, but if you want to change the world it's better to join up)

Re:Cute, now go learn FPGA design (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39482299)

That project is a secure Internet-connected appliance. I admire its goals, but you may be assuming (i) the world can be changed by communicating over the Internet; (ii) the Internet will still exist in useful form during the process of meaningful change.

It's not just that the Internet can be monitored and restricted at the whim of anyone sufficiently powerful, but that the Internet as a noisy, homogenised medium has provided a very stilted outlook on the world where the loudest voice wins and people are less likely to learn through direct experience. We have a generation of people who don't learn the good and the bad in society by going out and getting involved with it but by following a feed on Twitter. You have to understand the scope of the resources you're choosing to exploit.

Re:Cute, now go learn FPGA design (5, Insightful)

Githaron (2462596) | more than 2 years ago | (#39479649)

Considering the amount of research and understanding that it took to build this thing, I highly doubt this was a "waste of time". Also, it is an awesome showcase of his abilities to future employers and colleagues. You could argue that he could have built a real calculator from transistors instead but that would probably take money that a lot of 16 year olds simply do not have.

Re:Cute, now go learn FPGA design (0)

billcopc (196330) | more than 2 years ago | (#39480171)

So then, you get proper circuit design/sim software, something which Minecraft is not.

My whole point in the previous post was that rather than building useless stuff from scratch, he should be taking advantage of existing tech to further his skills and knowledge. When I started programming, I learned a (shitty) high-level language because that's what was current at the time. Once I knew what I could do with these silly machines, I then learned 6502 assembler for my own curiosity (and later, 286/386). Why do it the hard way if you can reach greater heights the easy way ? Learn the nuts and bolts to satisfy your own obsessive curiosity, sure, but I'd like to think a 16 year old might have more immediately pertinent uses for his/her time.

It really pisses me off to watch such potential go to waste, because it does not fit "the western way". It reminds me of my own childhood, when my brain was very hungry but had little to "eat". I couldn't get the things it craved, so I had to reinvent the wheel to provide them myself. Couldn't afford a graphics editor, so I built one from scratch. Couldn't afford the assembler cart, so I wrote my own damned assembler. Today, things are different. We have much easier access to knowledge and free software to learn on, so to watch someone spend an inordinate amount of time doing things backwards is one of the most frustrating and depressing experiences I can think of.

I don't mean to be all high and mighty about what the kid "should" be doing. I'm just saying it's a sad world if we encourage such futile accomplishments over true growth.

Re:Cute, now go learn FPGA design (1)

MickLinux (579158) | more than 2 years ago | (#39480445)

Funny. In my Apple 2+ days, I just typed the hex code, and skipped the assembler. In my PC days,though, I cheated and used Dos debug plus recursive C code and .bat programs to make a mini assembler.

Re:Cute, now go learn FPGA design (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39479671)

In other words, he's spending a million CPU cycles to simulate a single gate in the most roundabout way possible.

No, "the most roundabout way possible" would involve running that Java virtual machine on a Javascript-emulated 6502 processor [visual6502.org] (and there's really no limit to how many other layers of emulation you could stack on, especially considering that our whole physical universe is most likely a simulation itself).

Re:Cute, now go learn FPGA design (2)

Gryle (933382) | more than 2 years ago | (#39480281)

I'm guessing you're the kind of person who grumbles about people playing rock band when they could be learning to play the actual instruments.

Re:Cute, now go learn FPGA design (2)

bryan1945 (301828) | more than 2 years ago | (#39480597)

Also someone who only approves of hobbies that satisfy his sensibilities. How dare this 16-year-old not go out and buy a breadboard with a bunch of simple TI chips and FPGAs to built a Cray. Madness!

Re:Cute, now go learn FPGA design (2)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 2 years ago | (#39480405)

If you mean designing an FPGA, then maybe that can wait until after college EE/device physics courses, and getting a good start on boolean logic and computer architecture is a enough for a high schooler.

If you mean designing for an FPGA then frankly this is much more impressive -- while designing for the fixed-size logic tables and routing patterns of an FPGA presents its own challenges it's practically utopia for someone who has worked within the limitations of Minecraft. I'm sure he'd have no problems adapting to the constraints of a specific FPGA.

I don't see why doing what would be mathematically equivalent on an FPGA is "actual worthwhile" while this is "bragging rights in a game".

Re:Cute, now go learn FPGA design (1)

hamster_nz (656572) | more than 2 years ago | (#39481019)

I agree - FPGA designing would be easy after Minecraft!

He can even use my quick and dirty course in FPGAs [hamsterworks.co.nz] if he wants...

Re:Cute, now go learn FPGA design (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39481061)

You kids get off my lawn!

Romney 2012

Re:Cute, now go learn FPGA design (1)

strikethree (811449) | more than 2 years ago | (#39481523)

Not everyone has the same values as you. Perhaps he just does not care about doing it in real life. Or maybe his interest in minecraft spurred his interest in creating the calculator. Maybe his next step is indeed doing FPGA design? Just enjoy the creation for what it is. :)

Autism (5, Funny)

firefrei (2569069) | more than 2 years ago | (#39479705)

As per a YouTube Comment:

Autismï is a hell of a drug.

Re:Autism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39480037)

there is a reason I call this game AutismCraft.

Text on iron blocks? (0)

FunkSoulBrother (140893) | more than 2 years ago | (#39479717)

How is this accomplished in Minecraft? I though the only way to place text was to use signs.

Re:Text on iron blocks? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39479987)

He is using pistons to push blocks out a wall, similar to the magenetic pin clocks you may have seen for sale.

Re:Text on iron blocks? (1)

Bucky24 (1943328) | more than 2 years ago | (#39480107)

As is mentioned in a comment above, the creator used a custom texture pack for the input keypad. Still impressive though, I'd like to see that texture pack...

I guess it's OK... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39479767)

Kind of cool, but can you do it in survival mode?

Next, VHDL to Minecraft. (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 2 years ago | (#39479771)

I'm kind of disappointed. When I started watching the video, I thought someone had built this with moving parts in Minecraft But it's just a big collection of wired logic. It's not like you can see the parts move.

So hook up a VHDL compiler to the Redstone 2 Minecraft compiler. There are CPU designs available in VHDL. [coledd.com] Generate a real CPU in Minecraft.

The cool CPU I'm waiting for is Babbage's Analytical Engine. [plan28.org] The guy who says he's building a replica hasn't made much progress yet. Babbage's design had about a dozen instructions. [fourmilab.ch] But it was designed with 50-digit arithmetic (unclear why) and 100 memory locations (reasonable). The memory part would have been bulky, but the CPU is comparable to a mechanical desk calculator. It will be expensive to build, but as a CAD modeling job, not so bad, because it's mostly repeated instances of the same components.

Somewhat impressive (5, Interesting)

insecuritiez (606865) | more than 2 years ago | (#39480077)

A friend of mine (who's 15) and myself (I'm 28 with a CS degree) have a nearly working programmable 8-bit computer in Minecraft. ALU is done, all 256 bytes of memory are done, the instruction tape (made out of sand and glass, much like a punchcard) is done, etc. Another 20 someodd hours and we'll have all of the components connected together and the whole CPU completely done. It actually isn't as hard or take as much time as it may sound.

The most impressive thing about this video is that he did all of the math in BCD rather than just running it on a CPU. I already have multiplication (Booth's algorithm) and other operations programmed on our instruction set (we wrote an assembler and emulator outside of Minecraft to work out the kinks). I'd rather do the complex operations in software rather than laying gates and logic in the hardware.

I don't see how he has enough room for displays of that size. You'd need NxM worth of latches to sustain the pistons that drive the pixels as well as the appropriate muxers to select which pixels are turned on. Our 256 byte memory array is bigger than his entire calculator so I'm a bit skeptical that he isn't using some addons.

Re:Somewhat impressive (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39480611)

You are using a tape for instructions. It should be also possible to use a tape for memory - a lot more compact than latches, I would think.

Re:Somewhat impressive (1)

insecuritiez (606865) | more than 2 years ago | (#39480855)

So the CPU is actually a Harvard arcitecture so we have 256 bytes of instruction memory and 256 bytes of data memory.

The tape is a piston-driven loop of sand and glass that is cycled once and all of the instructions in the tape are read into instruction memory. The tape works because non-glass blocks propagate redstone but glass stops it (is an insulator). So we encode zeros with glass and ones with sand. We actually use colored wool instead of sand every 8 places so that it's easy to keep track of where we are in the tape when we have to make adjustments.

The tape is the program to be read into memory. We did this so that we can swap out the program for a different program by replicating the take over a few blocks and encoding something else onto it.

Re:Somewhat impressive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39481057)

made out of sand and glass, much like a punchcard

I'd heard that dropping your punchcards on the floor was bad, but I had no idea.

Cool and all (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39480127)

This is impressive. But then, there's RedGame 2.1 [youtube.com] , which was made by someone who doesn't appear to be much if any older than this kid. I'm impressed by both, but one seems far more complex and mature.

Easier than some... (5, Funny)

FloydTheDroid (1296743) | more than 2 years ago | (#39480811)

The thing to be noted from this is that Minecraft is an easier IDE to use than Eclipse.

Re:Easier than some... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39481845)

Eclipse is a very easy IDE to use. All you need to do is launch it and wait.

Playing Children (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39481747)

Minecraft really wastes an immense amount of energy and time of a generation that should be fighting for thier future. No, because you have some income or your parents can take care of you, that does not mean you should feel secure. At all.

Wow! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39482555)

Have you seen my mushroom house?

Marcus Tee

it doesnt count (1)

xmorg (718633) | more than 2 years ago | (#39482591)

unless you do it in survival mode.

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