Sequential Search of Unsorted Array in Java

Let’s imagine we have mountain climbers. They are climbing Mount Sobo and can be at a unique height along this mountain. Let’s say there are five locations at which there exist fauna at any given time. These positions along the height axis are chosen at random. If you then type the correct randomly-selected height, you will have found fauna.

This is how we set up the MountSobo class with two array instance variables:

  • An array of ints that holds the heights which are populated with fauna sought
  • An array of Strings that holds the corresponding fauna

Both arrays have five elements and there is a one-to-one correspondence between the two arrays. The populated location #1 will have fauna #1,  populated location #2 will have fauna #2, and so on. This programming technique is called parallel arrays.

We fill the populated heights array with heights chosen randomly from entries. We fill the fauna array with Strings representing fauna descriptions. When we enter a climber’s height along the mountain, we can look through the populated heights array for the climber’s position. If the climber’s position up the mountain is in the populated heights array, you use its array index in the fauna array to retrieve the fauna that the climber found. If the height was not found in the array, you know the climber is not in a position where fauna currently are.

Here is the MountSobo class:

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The constructor randomly generates values to fill the array by calling the utility method, fillPopulatedheights (lines 25–32). The fillPopulatedheights method does not necessarily generate different numbers; however, the likelihood of two numbers indicating the populated position being equal is very small. We declare the fillPopulatedheights method as private because it is designed to be called only by the methods of this class. The indexOfHeight method (lines 52–60) performs a Sequential Search, which compares the climber’s position up the mountain to each element in the array one by one. The indexOfHeight method accepts a parameter, travelerHeight, which is searched for in the array. If travelerHeight is found, indexOfHeight returns the index of that array element. If travelerHeight is not found, that is, if none of the elements in the array matches the value of travelerHeight, indexOfHeight returns −1. Since −1 is not a valid array index, it’s a good value to use to indicate that the search was unsuccessful. Notice that if the current array element matches the travelerHeight, the indexOfHeight method returns immediately to the caller (line 57); that is, the method stops executing. The return value is the index of the element that matched travelerHeight. If, however, the method finishes executing all iterations of the for loop, then the method has looked at every element in the array without finding a match. In that case, the method returns −1 (line 59), indicating that travelerHeight was not found. Our getFauna method (lines 39–46) calls indexOfHeight to check if its travelerHeight parameter is a winning number; if it is, it uses the array index returned by indexOfHeight in order to return the corresponding element of the array fauna (line 45).

Here is a client application that uses our MountSobo class:

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We instantiate a MountSobo object reference named inhabitedHeights (line 14). We then prompt for a traveler’s height up the mountain (lines 17–19) and call the getFauna method (line 25) in order to output any fauna that may have been found at the current height.

 

 

Java Inheritance Design

We say that an “is a” relationship exists between a subclass and a superclass; that is, a subclass object “is a” superclass object. If you have been following the series, in our example we could define a statistical divergence class hierarchy with a StatisticalDivergence superclass and derive a Variance subclass. A variance “is a” statistical dispersion, but actually a special type of statistical dispersion.

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We could also define a King of the Anglo-Saxons class hierarchy with an EdwardTheElder superclass and derive ChildEdwardTheElder and LaterLifeEdwardTheElder.

ChildEdwardTheElder and LaterLifeEdwardTheElder are subclasses, because childhood and later life are both special types of Edward the Elder. To design classes for inheritance, our superclass should define fields and methods that will be common to all classes in the hierarchy.

If you want ChildEdwardTheElder and LaterLifeEdwardTheElder to have a sword, you code the sword into EdwardTheElder.

Each subclass will provide specialization by adding methods and fields. Where appropriate, subclasses can also provide new versions of inherited methods. Maybe you want ChildEdwardTheElder to have a wooden sword and LaterLifeEdwardTheElder to have an iron sword. This is called overriding methods.

Let’s get back to building our statistical divergence class hierarchy, which is much easier than building persons. We start by defining a generic StatisticalDispersion superclass. The StatisticalDispersion class will contain the fields and methods that are common to all kinds of statistical dispersion. Then we will define a Variance class that inherits from the StatisticalDispersion class. The Variance class will add instance variables and methods that specifically relate to the measurement of variance. The class hierarchy is shown in the UML diagram in the figure below.

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In this diagram, the instance variables are displayed in the box immediately below the class name and the methods in the next lower box. A “+” preceding a class member indicates that the member is public, while a “–” indicates that the member is private.

Each method’s signature is given with each parameter and its type within parentheses. The return type is not considered part of the signature and is placed after the colon.

The Object class has more methods than are indicated on the UML diagram. That is why this is used: (+…()).

Java Inheritance Part 2

The syntax for defining a subclass class that inherits from another class is to add an extends clause in the class header:

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The extends keyword specifies that the subclass inherits members of the superclass. That means that the subclass begins with a set of predefined methods and fields inherited from its hierarchy of superclasses.

JFrame allows us to create graphical applications. So we can use that to create our subclass of StatisticalDispersion and all of its inheriting subclasses.

Here, StatisticalDispersion is the subclass under JFrame. And it inherits from all the classes that JFrame inherits from, all the way back to the Object class.

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The StatisticalDispersion Class Hierarchy

We are coding a class named StatisticalDispersion that extends the JFrame class, so we use the following header:

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Because our StatisticalDispersion class extends JFrame, it inherits more than 300 methods and more than 30 fields. That’s because the JFrame class is a subclass of Frame, which is a subclass of Window, which is a subclass of Container, which is a subclass of Component, which is a subclass of Object.

A hierarchy is composed of subclasses which inherit methods and fields. Here, we make all of them available to the StatisticalDispersion class.

Subclasses do not necessarily need to use their inherited methods, but these are available if needed. The programmer does not need to write methods and define fields in classes which have already inherited them.

JFrame is the direct superclass of our StatisticalDispersion class. As you can see in the image, StatisticalDispersion refers to it. And as you can see in the code, JFrame follows the extends clause.

A class can have multiple direct subclasses but only one direct superclass. One can have many offspring but yet can only develop from one zygote.

Inheritance In Java

Sometimes in programming we want to reuse a class. One of the most common ways to reuse a class is through something called inheritance.

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A program can contain many classes. Some of these classes can be organized into ordered levels of functionality. When we have an ordered level of functionality, this is called a hierarchy. In fact, you are in such a hierarchical program at this moment:

Da4CTWDVwAAne0M

So say we want to create a hierarchy of our own. How do we do it?

We begin by defining a class that contains methods and fields that are common to all classes in the hierarchy. Methods are the verbs and fields are the nouns. Fields come in two flavors: instance variables and class variables. Java Concept Of The Day has a great explanation of the difference between these two kinds of variables.

Then we define new classes at the next level of the hierarchy, which inherit the behavior and fields of the original class. Some books call these inheriting levels ‘lower levels’ but that is just… well… idiotic. What should be called lower level are the quarks, and the stars that inherit their behavior are higher level in the hierarchy.

Yes. I am openly defying whoever in computer science decided to invert what we call up and down. I think the guy should die and his followers too. In every other science the emergent properties are called higher, not lower.

Okay, back to the task.

In the new classes, we define additional fields and more specific methods.

One will not find writ in the Standard Model of Particle Physics a single mention of late 20th-Century German Socialism. And yet, the motions and thoughts of Günter Herburger and all the other highly specific actors of the human stage inherit the burden of obeying the Standard Model. We are made of its fields and play by its methods. …As in nature, so in Java.

The original class is called the superclass, and the new classes that inherit from the superclass are called subclasses. Biology inherits from chemistry and chemistry inherits from physics. Physics would be the superclass in an academic department. That is, until the mathematician gets word.

Some object oriented programming developers call a superclass the base class and call a subclass the derived class. As in science, a superclass can have multiple subclasses, and each subclass can be a superclass of other subclasses and so on. Physics has thermodynamics and biophysics, and these in turn spawn more specialized sub-disciplines. Thus, a class can be both a subclass and a superclass. In contrast to science, however, Java subclasses inherit directly from only one superclass.

A subclass can add fields and methods, some of which may override, or hide, a field or method inherited from a superclass. In real life, the best example of this is the Born Rule of quantum mechanics. Our observed reality is a subclass of the universal wavefunction which, by the Born Probabilities, masks the rest of the program (i.e. infinite madness).

So let’s look at an example. One of the most important things in the world (at least for those of us who want to be effective in the world) is to understand statistics. So lets use a statistics example.

An important concept in both the truth-seeking enterprise of science and the money-seeking enterprise of capitalism is statistical dispersion. There are several kinds of statistical dispersions used to extract insights from data. One kind of statistical dispersion is variance, and another is standard deviation. Standard deviation can be further subdivided into corrected-sample standard deviation and uncorrected-sample standard deviation.

So lets turn the statistical dispersion types into classes and construct a hierarchy. We define a StatisticalDispersion class as a superclass. We then define a Variance class that inherits from StatisticalDispersion. We also define a StandardDeviation class, which also inherits from StatisticalDispersion. We further refine our classes by defining an UncorrectedSampleStandardDeviation class and a CorrectedSampleStandardDeviation class, both of which inherit from the StandardDeviation class. The figure below depicts a subclass and superclass relation.

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Arrows pointing from a subclass to a superclass indicate that the subclass refers to the superclass for some of its methods and fields. What is at bottom is StatisticalDispersion. It is from this class that all the other classes inherit code. Don’t allow the direction of the arrows to confuse you.

The entire hierarchy can be represented using a UML (Unified Modeling Language) diagram. The boxes below the class name are available for specifying instance variables and methods for each class. For simplicity, I will leave those boxes blank. Later, I will illustrate UML diagrams complete with fields and methods.

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StatisticalDispersion Class Hierarchy

The Java Class Library contains many class hierarchies. At the root of all Java class hierarchies is the Object class, the superclass for all classes. Thus, all classes inherit from the Object class. The most important advantage to inheritance is that in a hierarchy of classes, we write the common code only once. After the common code has been tested, we can reuse it with confidence by inheriting it into the subclasses. And when that common code needs revision, we need to revise the code in only one place.

 

 

 

Don’t Let Ada Learn Quantum Mechanics! Part 2

That morning, there were old fantasies in the bathroom and a yearning for some future already lost, something without form or definition.

I had late breakfast and almost believed that I could slip back into a normal day. Wasn’t that what I was supposed to do?

When Ada arrived I was already waiting outside the theatre next to the high-rise building we would climb, tying my shoes in a rigorous attempt to constrain my mind.

Ada’s eyes widened with stunned disbelief that I had asked her to meet me here without the rest of the crew, “Dante, what the hell are we doing?”

My mind could do nothing but rehearse scratchings of physics calculations I remembered from school to the point of nausea. The acceleration due to gravity: 9.8 meters per second squared, the height: 380 meters. Ignoring air resistance: a little less than 9 seconds, a little less than 9 seconds, a little less than 9 seconds.

As always, that girl’s dress was asymptotic to her beauty. Skirt and sneakers, and a long-sleeved shirt something like cut up Theravada Buddhist robes to cover the masterpiece of her breasts. I was surprised that girl’s brain could contain such an edgy concept of fashion and simultaneously know she was smarter than almost all other girls she had ever met. That kind of genetic fitness profile was overkill.

“Very good,” I said. “This should work for the plan.” It was indeed good sense of fashion: youthful enough that they wouldn’t think to suspect us of intruders looking for data or somethingnot garments she would particularly worry about getting dirty, if she had to get down on her knees and elbows to crawl.

Ada’s eyes became glaring underscores. “What plan?! What is this ‘place’ we’re -”

I looked at my phone.

“In just 2 minutes we’ll be behind schedule.”

What schedule?” stormed Ada.

I began to move toward the entrance to that fallen angel sword, the skyscraper, the tallest building in this city. The bitter sun oiled the glass, and digitized everything like an intelligent battery painting the lines and units of the building.

Ada followed, setting up her environment next to my ear and instantiating an array full of murderous threats in an attempt to obtain information.

I was inept at romance. Even in my fantasies I would fear being rejected by the girl. And so these always ended up as scribbled-over strangling attempts. Now, at so great a distance from mere fantasy, the limitations of my studness had become apparent.

Courage. Courage. No. I didn’t need a mantra. I was going to save the world and saving the world involved a date with Ada.

“Follow my lead,” I instructed Ada mashing my words with numbers perhaps, “and don’t say anything suspicious once we’re inside.”

Ada was outraged at my insolence. She did not, however, seem bored. Sometimes I thought I understood how to handle this girl.

We stepped through the electronic obelisk doors of the skyscraper.

“Ah,” I said uncertainly as we came to the entrance desk. “We have an appointment to see… Peter Shinseki on the 60th floor?”

With a bored expression, the salaryman at the desk picked up a phone, dialed, spoke. He asked for our names, and I provided the aliases that Wilhelm had given me to memorize. He awoke from his bored daze at noticing our non-corporate fashion and age. But the softly effervescing motion of duty dissipated back into calm boredom. He slowly began typing up our visitor tags.

Thanks Mary. I probably couldn’t have gotten through even the first stage if you hadn’t scouted the hour with the most incompetent shift worker at the front desk.

Then we were directed over to a security guard standing in front of an elevator.

“We’re here for a meeting with Peter Shinseki.”

“Uh. Uh. H-hi,” Ada said.

The guard grinned evilly behind his wraparound sunshades, “This cutie your girlfriend?”

Despite the terror of my own imminent plan’s execution looming over me, I managed to turn crimson and barked out, “She’s not! We just know each other from school.”

He glanced at me from behind some chasm of darkness.

I was losing peripheral vision as it was, and then to so carelessly seal the whole plan’s failure. I felt like closing my eyes.

But I glanced over at Ada to see how she was doing. In accordance with her superior intelligence, she was bulging out her lower lip just enough to own any man.

“We’re just here to visit our daddy,” the tip of her nose tinged with pink, faking shame.

“That’s weird.” He coughed through his thick brown throat. “I should hold you up and check why an employee would have his brats come to a place like this…”

Ada clasped her own wrist and tucked it over her crossed legs.

He savored squeezing every ounce of anxiety from innocent Ada. “But since he’s in one of the upper floors, your daddy must be a big boss anyway. I’m sure he has his reasons.”

He clicked the corner of his smile and we were let through into the elevator.

Even without knowing why we were here, she was still dancing one step ahead of me. When she saw that I was looking at her, she let her eyes widen just once in incredulity before relaxing them again.

I would be a lying bastard if I claimed that I wasn’t suffering two-dimensional jealousy.

And wait: Didn’t he realize I said I had met her in school? Didn’t she realize? That was of no importance anymore. The elevator took us up to the 60th floor, and we got off. The elevator closed behind us, and went on its way –

Then, rather than moving toward Shinseki’s office, I stepped over to the elevator button, and pressed it.

Ding! Another elevator had arrived, and Ada followed me in, shooting me another look of incredulity.

“Dante!” Ada whispered. “Why are we just going back into -”

I took a small, white cube out of my pocket and held it up to the elevator’s reader; it beeped, and a red light flashed to green. A new panel appeared. I punched the button for 80, which was as high as the elevator went, and we started rising.

“We had to get off at 60 earlier,” I explained, “because the security might have noticed if we didn’t stop at the original floor. Don’t worry, Peter knows we’re not really coming.”

“Dante!” exclaimed Ada. “What was that? Where did you get it!”

“Not just anyone can get to the floors past sixty, they hand this device only to people with special clearance” I said blandly. “Someone who really wasn’t supposed to lend it to me did, so I know you’ll understand that I can’t tell you the name.”

(The kindly-natured Deanna had wanted to do something to help. I have no idea how she got a hold of it, and that’s perhaps for the best.)

Dante?” said Ada in a tone of shock.

“The next part is tricky,” I warned her. “Once we get off, keep silent and follow me until I tell you otherwise. Be sure to stay calm. Oh, and try to walk quietly.”

Ada opened her mouth to say something, and at that moment, the elevator dinged. At once she closed her mouth.

I finally found a way to make that girl shut up! In a posthuman library of babel containing a selection of the best possible experiences, right next to the fourth jhana, firdaus, nirvana, and heaven, would be what I felt after having Ada, Ada the indomitable, silenced at my orders with that look of helpless indignation in her eyes.

The elevator doors opened, and we stepped out onto the 80th and highest floor into a small entrance vestibule with four doors. Thankfully there was no one else present. I went to the third door, without opening it, and held up a finger to Ada to indicate that we should wait.

After a short while, I heard faint footsteps from the other side. I silenced my phone and set its timer. I was certain the concept of time hadn’t been so painful ever since British mathematician William Shanks famously took 15 years to calculate π to 707 digits, but made a mistake in the 528th digit, rendering all subsequent digits incorrect.

23 seconds after the footsteps passed, I pressed the rectangular button – the code compiled, indicating that Mary had successfully dealt with that security system – and carefully opened the door to reveal a clean, purple corridor studded with smoke-tone doors.

I walked through, trying to let my shoes hit the floor with little force. It still made a little noise, but not so much that the security guards would hear, I thought. I softly closed the door behind us – glancing down at my phone again as I did so. Then I walked off in a certain direction, Ada following behind me. In accordance with the natural laws governing this type of situation, that girl walked much more quietly. Not because I was all that much heavier, but because physics favors ninjas.

I counted off the doors as we passed, glancing at my phone the while. The ninth door had a keypad next to it. I tapped code 3415192 into the keypad. Then I painstakingly opened that door, and let Ada pass through before stepping through myself and carefully closing the door behind.

We now stood in a stairwell, wide and windowless and strictly utilitarian with white paint. There were no stairs down, and the top of the stairwell was around one and a half stories above us, separated by two flights.

Rather than continuing forward, I held up my finger again for another wait, looking intently at my phone. In a short while we heard footsteps passing the door to the corridor. I kept my finger up for another 30 seconds after that, then moved toward the stairs.

Ada followed. As for the expression on her face, it was indescribable in ordinary language. If it was the duty of painters to paint beautiful things, they had been mislead in representing myth and allegory, as it was merely necessary to fill their canvases with a confused Ada Soryuu before rolling over to die.

At the top of the stairs was a door with signs saying things like “Keep out” and “Danger” and “Alarm will sound”. I pushed it open without a qualm, mentally thanking Mary again.

We stepped out, and just like that, we were there – in the location which was the best possible place for me to do this.

The roof of the skyscraper was a pearly tessellation, like a boss-fight stage with pale, glassy fluorescence. There was a short raised ledge to mark the border with the air, so that from where we were standing in the middle, you couldn’t see the lower world at all.

I had worried about winds, since winds are faster as you rise higher. The air at ground level had been calm, but up here there was a steady wind that blew against my skin, and now and then a sudden gust – still, nothing that would knock a person over. There were no clouds at all in the terribly pure, sapphire-blue sky. Really, you would have to call these ideal conditions.

I glanced over at Ada to make sure she was all right and still amused, and then I began to walk toward the nearest boundary of the roof.

“I don’t think you should be standing up right next to the edge,” I said, “but if you crawl on your hands and knees when we get close, you should be safe from vertigo or a gust of wind.”

“Dante,” Ada said.

There was a note in her voice that I had heard before, but only very rarely.

It was the emotion that a casual acquaintance would think was unknown to Ada Soryuu, that concept called “concern”.

Ada looked serious.

“This doesn’t seem like something you would do. Isn’t a place like this a little dangerous? What are we doing here?”

I stopped walking for a moment, and looked at her.

“Ada,” I said, “it can be hard to talk to you sometimes, did you know that?” I had to pause then, and take a deep breath, and exhale, and then do it again. Certain words had been cached in my neurons for an endlessly long time now, and the process of finally expelling them into the vacuum, that they may reach the distant space object of Ada’s true self, was not relieving any tension.

“I mean,” I said when I could speak again, “if right now, in this serious situation, I were to just completely ignore you, and laugh, and go on doing whatever I was doing, you would be a little put out about being ignored like that, wouldn’t you?”

Ada’s eyes were wide. I guess the amount of pent-up anger in my voice was so great that even the greatest actress would have a micro-expression slip past the fourth wall.

“Because that’s what you do, Ada, all the time. You just go ahead and do whatever you please, and you don’t accept any requests from the people you drag along with you. Like our existence isn’t worthy of your notice.”

I had to stop, then. I was aware that my hands were shaking. I felt a sense of distant surprise; I had no idea there was so much bottled up inside me.

This wasn’t how I’d meant things to go. Not at all.

Ada opened her own lips again. She had a cautious look on her face.

“I’m sorry,” Ada said.

My jaw dropped open. Completely literally, I would have expected the world to end before I heard Ada say those words.

“I had no idea Dante felt that way. Why didn’t you say something earlier?”

“Say something?” I said. “And you’re referring to me in third person… that’s just, just, weird.” There was still a lot of tightness in my voice.

“Well, actually the Japanese…” she started.

“Ada! You’re doing it again.”

“Doing what?” her eyes unwilling to submit.

“What good would it have done to say something? Under ordinary circumstances, it’s impossible to have a serious conversation with you.”

Ada looked at me. Then, “Maybe I should just keep apologizing,” she said, “but that would be giving up my own pride. I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings, but the fact remains that you never said anything.”

“I complained about your behavior many, many times! I couldn’t count the number of times using exponentiation, tetration, or up-arrow notation! You never listened to a single thing I said!”

“You didn’t indicate you were being serious!” said that girl in a tone of indignation.

“I SAID that I was serious! I said, ‘Seriously, Ada’ and ‘I’m being serious now, Ada’ and many similar phrases!”

“That’s just a figure of speech! You can’t assume we all have Asperger’s syndrome like you and therefore don’t understand play speech.”

“For the record, I don’t have Asperger’s… but you’re throwing this conversation way off course.”

A mental double-check assured me that we were alone up there, and there was no realistic way that anyone could hear us no matter what happened, so I threw back my head and screamed “AAAAARRRGGGHHHHHHH!”

When I was done, I felt a little better.

Ada was staring at me. “Is that why you wanted to have this conversation on top of a skyscraper?”

“No. That was just an unplanned side benefit.”

“Then why are you doing all this? This isn’t the sort of thing you do!”

My mouth twisted. “You know, Ada, I really used to lead a boring life before I met you. Just like all those people.”

“All those -?”

I turned and began walking again, toward the boundary of the skyscraper. Conditional probabilities told me to crawl, but safety considerations now had a peculiar foolishness to them considering what I was eventually going to do anyway…

I reached the edge, controlled my breathing, stuck my head out over the border ledge, and looked out on everything.

Of course it wasn’t everything. Nothing really. It was only a tiny, tiny fraction of reality. And yet there were so many more cars, so many more houses, so many more buildings, and the tiny people – little living electrons, buzzing in the circuitry of civilization. How long would it take just to talk to all the tiny dots that were visible from here, and hear out their stories?

I looked over at the vast panorama. Then I looked at Ada, always wearing that cute choker on her neck. My imagination couldn’t help but remember that I could slit all their necks with just hers.

I drew back my head from the slight ledge. I swallowed hard, and tried to suppress the feeling that I was going to throw up. I had the feeling I was a little more afraid of heights than I had realized.

So I drew back, and watched Ada look out over the world…

As she looked, some of the concern eased from her face. Soon Ada was relaxed, smiling, delighted by the view.

Even without knowing about her own quantum immortality of course that idiot goddess wouldn’t be afraid of heights.

Finally Ada turned her head away from the world, and looked at me. She said, “It really is much more beautiful like this than just looking out a window from high up.”

My own lips opened. “I have a lot of things I want to talk with you about, Ada,” my voice said. I was surprised by how gentle I sounded. “This conversation may not go like you expect. Even so, can you please take this seriously, listen to me seriously, and reply to me seriously, if it’s just for one small hour?”

“Sure.” said Ada.

Goddamn it, that ‘sure’ didn’t sound promising. “I mean it, Ada.”

“If I say I will, I will,” Ada asserted. She shot me a look as if to say ‘Stop questioning me.’

Sigh. Why, of all people, is she the main character?

I swiped my hand as if smoothing the panorama with my palm, and began.

“There is another world, but it is in this one. Perhaps it is a blessing that we do not often see how it all correlates. We just go to school, and live in our world with trees and apples. Every morning and every afternoon that we spend in thought takes place on this childish playground with all the little handles provided by our inherited language.”

Ada was looking a little surprised, as though shocked that I was capable of philosophy deeper than ankle-deep. Still, she opened her mouth about to interrupt and derail my speech though it had only began.

But I stopped her by rushing to thrust forward the rest of what I had to say. “I am going to talk about something which surely interests you, something similar to the subject that you introduced the day before yesterday.”

Ada blinked at this. “New costumes for Deanna? Oh! You mean the topic of the multiverse.”

There was a moment of silence. Ada was looking puzzled, and as for me, the words were spheres of molten iron in my throat again.

“Well?” Ada said. “What does theoretical physics have to do with this?”

Breathe, I told myself. “I remember I once saw an online debate between an atheist on the one hand, and a theologian on the other hand. The debate was about faith. What do you think about the concept of faith?”

Ada looked puzzled. “Well, on the one foot, I feel like kicking them because it’s obviously a crutch for weak-minded people who don’t understand science. But on the other foot, all they’re doing is taking Box B in Newcomb’s Paradox. Choosing to win instead of losing reasonably.”

Her eyes outpoured with cadences. “The chooser is the chosen!”

Suddenly realizing she’d given faith too much credit, her eyes darted viciously again from corner to corner, as if absorbing little people into the black hole of her pupil. “But I couldn’t say who I’d vote for if Stalin was running on an extermination ballot…”

I coughed and tried to suppress a grin. No better statement to paint the chiaro-oscuro person of Ada, holding deep wisdom, but preferring to be a bitch.

“I want to know what is true,” Ada stated firmly, “not choose what favors me. Rather than resting on faith, I try to test my beliefs and obtain evidence. Therefore, my attitude is scientifically correct.”

I tried my best not to reveal cynicism and continued. “The atheist in the video asserted that the concept of ‘faith’ had been invented by religion to protect beliefs that could not be defended by any other means. If you had to keep on defending a lie for long enough, you would eventually invent the doctrine of ‘it is virtuous to believe no matter what’.”

Not surprisingly, Ada approved of the atheist’s stance.

“But,” I continued, “the theologian shook his head sadly, and said that the atheist was naive about the emotional depth of the experience of faith. The theologian said that being told God doesn’t exist is like being told that their lover has been unfaithful to them.   This, the theologian said, was the emotional experience at the root of faith, not just a trick of argument to win a debate. That’s what an atheist wouldn’t understand, because they were treating the whole thing as a logical question, and missing out on the emotional side of everything. Someone who has faith is trusting God just like you would trust the one you loved most.”

Ada’s gaze was like that of Darwin himself, looking for hidden meanings in the tiny barnacles between my words. “And what did the atheist say to that?” she asked.

“Oh,” I said, “I think he shook his head sadly, and commented on how wretched it was to invent an imaginary friend to have that relationship with, instead of a real human lover.”

Ada squealed like a full harem. “I think the atheist won the debate.”

I wonder if the theologian would have blushed had he been here in the presence of God’s manifest reaction – or the atheist, for that matter.

But the fun was over. It was time to begin worrying her pretty little head.

In my mind I visualized our world as seen from the most realistic perspective possible, an infinite-dimensional Hilbert space, a glowing fragmented chandelier with many branches in which everything that happens has already happened. In my mind I visualized the stars. Slowly turning, the Earths; forever shining, the stars. I tried to draw strength from that image, since I couldn’t exactly pray to the girl in front of me.

The MOON squad only ever thought of protecting this world. But I was ready to risk something I already had.

I muttered something about needing to get down from the ledge, and walked away from the ledge a little.

I turned back to Ada, and said:

“But trusting a friend who turns out to be imaginary isn’t the most awful thing that could happen to you. Not by any means.”

Ada furrowed her brow. The awful tension was coming out into my voice, now.

“I mean,” I said, the words losing control, “what if you believed in God, and trusted God, and it turned out that God wasn’t worthy of that trust?”

Ada was starting to bleed anxiety. Anxious and confused at my tone.

Suddenly the phone in my pocket gave two silent buzzes, the signal for repeated or highly abnormal black-swan events forming – this was bad, but not the end, not yet.

“Dante,” Ada said – her voice was no longer a sing-along – “what are you talking about?”

Besides her losing bounciness, I also saw that Ada was squinting as she tried to look at me, since the morning sun was behind me. So I stepped a little to my left, so that my shadow would fall on Ada. From her perspective it must have looked like I was a darkness blocking out the Sun.

“I’m talking about the Riddle of Epicurus.”

And I spoke the words which I had emblazoned into my memory.

“Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then she is not omnipotent.
Is God able, but not willing? Then she is malevolent.
Is she both able and willing? Then whence evil?
Is she neither able nor willing? Then why call her God.”

Ada stared at me.

“I mean,” I said, my voice trembling, “this world – where for billions of years the creatures of natural selection have known only tooth and nail, where miserable people drown in grey every day because of the way their brain is wired, where children go hungry and die, where children are raped and their flesh can burn – this world can’t be forgiven, Ada. Now think of this happening for all eternity and across all life-bearing planets!”

I swept my arm as if to remove the makeshift heavens veiling the stars.

“Imagine you really had knowledge of all the suffering in the multiverse, some kind of generalisation of mirror-touch synesthesia…”

I didn’t want to look in her eyes. I might have seen straight to her soul.

“If someone deliberately made this world like that, then she couldn’t be forgiven either. For the longest time I didn’t think about that. I just went to school on weekdays. Maybe I’m expected to laugh along at her demented machinations. To be glad that I don’t suffer, that I am not being tortured or have some terrible disease, just because she decided to love me on a whim.”

“If,” I swallowed, “if you do have an answer for why God is cruel, I’m willing to hear it out.”

Ada, who was beginning to look frightened by the way I was acting, shook her head.

“I didn’t think so,” I whispered, “I didn’t think there could be an answer to that.” Then, rage marking my words again, “So where does that leave us? If you eliminate the atheistic answer to the Riddle of Epicurus – that there is no being of omnipotent power – then that leaves the possibility that God is…” I paused at the hideousness of my accusation “… malevolent.”

Something seemed to be blocking my throat. “The gnostic view. That God created the whole universe as a dream to entertain itself, just because it was bored; and it doesn’t mind when the people in the dream suffer. Maybe God is entertained by the suffering, or maybe God just doesn’t care one way or the other. Wouldn’t that be the most terrible betrayal of all? If you trusted God like trusting the one you loved most, and it turned out that God was a monster that created the world out of boredom to divert itself, absolute power and absolute callousness? If God’s true heart is like that, some alien uncaring thing, then we’re all doomed anyway, and the world might as well end sooner rather than later. I don’t want to live if God is like that!”

“Dante!” Ada’s own voice was breaking now. I looked at her, and she looked just like an ordinary school girl, dressed prettily in a skirt and sneakers and loose saffron cotton thrown across her shoulders. Not alien, or cold, at all. “What – what is this -”

“But,” I whispered. My voice strengthened. “But, the Riddle of Epicurus doesn’t exhaust all the possibilities. Like Wilhelm might suggest, the truth could be outside the conventional categories. I mean – what if God were omnipotent, but not omniscient? What if she could do anything, and didn’t know it? What if she honestly didn’t know that she had the power to do something about the world? What if she wasn’t even thinking about all the horrors of the world, just like I wasn’t thinking about them for so long? Then God might, might, she might even be a good person after all. Someone who would save people and take care not to shatter the Earth, if she knew that she was God.” I was shouting freely now, casting a few tears into the wind. “She might really truly be, a good person.”

“So I’ve decided to take Box B in Newcomb’s Paradox,” I said, and now I was smiling even through the tears. “I will believe in God with all my power. Because I have faith in you, Ada Soryuu.”

Ada stood up. She walked closer to me. A scene frame of her arms flashed for a moment, like she wanted to reach out to me. “Dante,” she said, her voice wavering, “please stop. Please explain. I don’t understand what you’re talking about.”

“I’m talking about you. You’re God.”

The wind blew across the deserted rooftop of that skyscraper. It felt like just us two existed – as though we had been reborn in endless plains just to meet here. The galaxy stopped spinning, waiting for God to respond.

“I still don’t understand,” said Ada. “Is it a metaphor for -”

“It’s not a metaphor for anything. You’re God, Ada. It’s not a figure of speech or a koan, it’s a plain fact. The answer to the great question of theology is ‘God is Ada Soryuu’.”

Ada’s face twisted. She looked as if she was trying not to burst into tears.

In my pocket, my phone vibrated three times. Well, you would expect a girl to be upset if the boy she liked had gone insane.

“You’re thinking I’m crazy,” I said. “You might find the idea a little odd, but it’s not something I just made up. I was also surprised when the first signs appeared, but we’ve seen unmistakeable things in the last year. It would only have been more obvious if a window popped out in front of us, and said ‘This is Ada, the creator of the simulation, and you bunch of losers are my consecrated apostles.’ There’s no doubt that it’s the truth. Quantum decoherence always yields a macroscopic system that disproportionately favors your special destiny and dreams -” And I took a step closer to her, so that I was almost touching her, and leaned forward slightly –

“Don’t!” Ada said fiercely, and she took a step back from me. She was starting to cry, now. “Don’t you dare kiss me, Dante! A kiss isn’t evidence! I won’t let our first kiss be so sad! I won’t let our first kiss be wasted like that!”

I took a deep breath. This was it.

“Our first kiss already happened, beneath an unfamiliar sky, within a strange isle of matter your particles were entangled with. If the largest measure of your identities remained there, the world as we know it would have never returned.”

Ada paled. This was less a figure of speech and more that the vector of sentences had punctured her jugular and drained the rosiness from her cheeks.

I stepped closer to her again:

“Though you may not know it, we are not just a generic group of friends. We are very concerned about you. It’s not ridiculous to say that our world literally revolves around you. Everyone in the MOON squad knows you are a very special person, and they’ve ensured that you continue in a good path by keeping watch over you. You may not know it, but they took it upon themselves to be your guardian angels and reign you back into this common-sense world when you start to slip.”

Ada was utterly frozen, now. Then her lips fluttered a little and she whispered, “What now…”

“I like you, Ada, and I want to date you. But before that there’s one last thing I have to do first. I have to awaken you. I want you to wake up, Ada. The rest of the squad just expected you to be reigned in. But I expect more. I know you are capable of good in the world, and all the prayers that no one is answering right now. I want you to wake up, Ada, for the sake of the ones who are screaming and who would give anything for it to stop, and for the sake of all the countless people in the world who are quietly unhappy. And maybe I’m even doing this, because faith can only last for so long before you need evidence, and I want to be sure of you, Ada.”

My throat closed. The wind blew through the slight girl standing next to me.

Nothing happened. Ada’s face didn’t suddenly light up, she didn’t suddenly say, ‘Oh, I am God!’ Besides the tears, her return value was void.

“What happens if I believe all this?” at last Ada said, her voice trembling. “Am I supposed to try and create… a garden or something?”

I had been afraid it would come to this.

“No,” I said. “I don’t want you to try that. Up until now the Born Rule has been sustained by your epistemology, that you don’t believe things like that are possible. I suspect that if you just tried to make a garden or something, your common sense would prevent you from doing it, and then you would become even less confident and the whole task would become harder. You might even acquire the belief that you can’t do anything, and I don’t know what would happen then.”

I slowly circled wolfish radians around Ada. She turned herself to track me. Soon it was me who was facing Ada and the Sun, and Ada who was looking toward me on a line toward the edge of the skyscraper’s roof.

“So you’re not going to try to create a garden,” I said. “There’s no reason for you to think so pedestrian and human. The multiverse teems with infinite living minds, which works out to epsilon difference that anyone can make, but now we can make a difference. I think that trying to hesitantly dream up new pieces of the world would just worsen the chances of success, anyway. Instead you’re going to wake up and realize your capacity as God in one shot. I believe in you, I trust you, I have faith in you, and that’s how it’s going to be. This was why I had brought us here in the first place.”

“And you know, I really like you with red hair,” I recited as I entered perihelion.

“What?” Ada whispered the appropriate reply.

“I don’t know when, but since then, I can’t stop thinking of your new look. I think that suits you best…”

“What’s gotten into you?”

For the second time in my life, I leaned over and kissed Ada. I kept my eyes open, this time. She was crying, and perhaps I was too but I don’t think it was a sad kiss.

This was when I had woken up last time, but today this world was still here. The script from before had run out. Now it was time to continue and move forward.

I hugged her desperately, and inhaled the scent of her hair.

Then I stepped back, and stepped back again.

“You have 8.9 seconds.”

I whirled and dashed for the edge of the roof.

Her scream came just as my foot was launching me off the ledge.

“DAAAAANNNtteee-”

But the sound of her voice dwindled rapidly.

I’d imagined myself looking back up toward her as I fell, but in retrospect that couldn’t happen; the world whirled crazily about me and I had to close my eyes almost at once. If there was a grey wave sweeping across the world, I didn’t want to see it, anyway.

Trust in Her –

Don’t Let Ada Learn Quantum Mechanics!

With a hard exhale, I crumpled into my seat in the back alley. Across from me, Wilhelm did the same without the sigh. Wilhelm looked rasp, like a constellation that had lost its integrity after being renamed too many times.

Summer vacation was near its end, the summer of our fourth and final year in Clock High School, and, at least for me, the loathed summer projects – by which many-a-student’s whole last week is ruined – were deteriorating the air like irregular rod bacteria exponentiating out of the walls.

Of course Wilhelm wasn’t anxious about doing well on his project. Unlike myself, Wilhelm shines in all cerebral aspirations – with the exception of music composition, at which he loses to humming elephants and drone orchestras.

Wilhelm was frayed from deficit of sleep. But since school projects were a trivial matter to him, then it must mean Wilhelm had been very busy saving the world.

He obviously woke up in the middle of the night to deal with the mass of Hilbert-space branches that had been shifting. Not many people know the most fundamental truth about our existence: that there are uncountable alternative realities adjacent to us and we experience whatever the largest measure of our copies experience. And well, the mass of branches corresponding to the largest infinity had been shifting dangerously outside of normality because the main character of the universe, Ada Soryuu, was under pressure herself. The Born Rule which determines our reality is a hidden extension of Ada’s beliefs, you must understand.

Wilhelm, Mary, Deanna, and myself compose the circle of Ada’s closest friends, a.k.a, the MOON Squad, as Ada termed us. I admit it’s a bit embarrassing to wear insignias, matched costumes, and use weird lingo that Ada inconsistently invents on the fly, being high school students as we are. But we tolerate Ada’s leadership and outright bullying because she is God.

It is Wilhelm, Mary, and Deanna who have discovered some way of bringing the integral of her minds back to common-sense reality, ensuring that we all experience a common-sense reality. They have never told me how they do it. But by the looks of Wilhelm, the method is exhausting.

Recently, more black-swan events had been forming. Black-swan events are strange things that happen in observed reality when the mass of those weird worlds outnumbers other alternatives, and hence the boat of our self finds itself in a strange ocean by the anthropic principle.

The recent increase in strange phenomena couldn’t be because of the school project. Ada too, out stood me at scholastic arts, and someone with merely an hour’s knowledge of Ada would realize that she was far too confident to be afraid of a project. If Ada were confronted with the epic odyssey to slay all Mount Olympus, she would storm in ahead with the necessary equations.

It followed with the certitude of mathematical proof that Ada was perturbed by something else, and it was easy for me to understand what.

Entropy. Randomness. In a word, change. These are the fountainheads of agitation.

All of us in the MOON Squad would have to select which entrance exams to take, which meant selecting our universities, which meant choosing our futures.

And Ada, who wouldn’t show regret or hesitation in steering her own life, would still be worried about whether the others of the clique… no, I have come to acknowledge it. I am past the point where Wilhelm has to patiently explain it to me yet again. I will say it clearly: Ada is concerned about myself. She does not want to be separated from me.

The problem being that Ada doesn’t know about any of this.

So there was an unsettled expression in Ada’s eyes, even as she kept up her customary intimidation of the rest of us. Today Ada had chosen to make the submissive Deanna a participant in her own displeasure – that is, Ada had sat her next to a computer, to find provocative costumes for the shy girl, and she had been forcing Deanna to watch and “give her opinions”, which consisted mostly of small, adorable screams.

Finally the costume-shopping expedition ended with a satisfied click from Ada and a wail of total despair from Deanna. In moments, the costume was 3d-printed at the local shop were Deanna ran to change. Ada stood up from the computer and fluttered herself down at the table, next to Wilhelm and myself, a meter distant from where Mary was reading yet another book.

Ada tapped the table impatiently, giving Deanna a solar glance. “Tea,” Ada said annoyed, and Deanna hastened off in her Ada-mandated maid costume to obey, still whimpering.

I don’t understand how Ada executes this sort of behavior without creating an undercurrent of carnal domination.

Then Ada turned her fearsome gaze on Wilhelm and myself.

If there’s one thing Ada was unequivocally committed to, it had to be the First Noble Truth of Buddhism, namely: ensuring that dissatisfaction was perpetuated at all times. No matter how dim its buzz, she had to inflict some level of stress on us.

Ada’s eyes moved to me directly.

She gave me a searching look.

Then she turned away and looked through a shattered window, staying silent.

I went back to working on the school project with Wilhelm.

It wasn’t until minutes later, after sipping some of the tea poured by the obedient Deanna, that Ada turned back to Wilhelm and I. She set down her teacup on the table and asked:

“Do you believe in the multiverse?”

What the hell kind of question is that for the main character of the multiverse to ask you?

If I had been drinking tea myself I would have spit it all over the tablet. At this point in my disastrous high school education, I didn’t need anyone to explain the terrifying possibilities if Ada got quantum mechanics.

Ada created the MOON Squad out of her desperate boredom with the tedium of a common-sense universe and forcibly enlisted us to search for Jesus, Iran, and Tripteridia leucocarpa’s. We’re pretty sure that she was the one who effectively seemed to collapse our wavefunction so that we did find Jesus walking around, visited Iran, and found Tripteridia leucocarpa’s out of region as well. While making a business plan in industrialism class, Ada became so obsessed with making us money that Deanna inherited an estate from an unknown relative, we found ancient Greek pottery just laying around outside the theatre and her stock in Amazon made millions. For a year we’ve run ourselves ragged trying to hide Ada’s specialness from Ada, so that she goes on trusting her invincible common sense. Our school life is unstable enough because of Ada’s blameless fantasies. If Ada began to believe that improbable things are possible, the probability distributions might make the universe unrecognizable.

And if there’s one terrifying factor that could destroy Ada’s common sense even with all the evidence carefully hidden away from her, that factor would have to be learning the fact of the Many-Worlds interpretation. When you put it that way, it’s such a dreadful menace that… that it’s astounding we never had to deal with it before now.

I couldn’t even speak, I was so horrified by the thought of what might happen if the person who’s branches have the most weight developed a firm understanding of quantum mechanics.

Thankfully, even in his sleep-deprived state, Wilhelm grabbed up the thread of the conversation and the burden of saving the universe.

“Which multiverse?” asked Wilhelm. “There are tons of hypotheses, whether many-worlds of QM, Chaotic Inflation bubbles, or merely the infinite ergodic universe. So again I ask, what do you mean by multiverse?”

Ada made an annoyed gesture. “You know what the word multiverse means!”

Sadly, we did.

“How can I know what you would consider to be the multiverse?” countered Wilhelm. “If the universe is not composed of merely what we can see and touch, but is instead described by complex mathematics then wouldn’t all possible objects exist?”

Ada puckered her eyebrows briefly, and gave a perplexed nod.

“Notice,” Wilhelm continued, “those word games are just the way religions argue for God. And yet someone who values evidence doesn’t listen to the spiel and say that religion has proved God. So people do have something specific in mind when they talk about scientific evidence, a rigorous empiricism that excludes many possibilities. All these unfalsifiable suggestions fall outside the domain of science.”

Ada looked dissatisfied at this, as though suspicious that Wilhelm was trying to give her the runaround, which he absolutely was. In his own mind, he knew that everything he had uttered was absolute bullshit epistemologically.

“But what do you believe?”

A slight smile appeared on Wilhelm’s lips. “I believe that the reality is probably strange enough that no one would ever hit on the truth just by trying to imagine one thing after another.”

“That’s a boring answer,” pronounced Ada in her usual timbre of disaffection.

Wilhelm’s reply was truthful. If you asked a physicist at the summit of academia to enumerate all the possibilities, they would die of old age before they got to ‘The Born Probabilites are explained by the being of Ada Soryuu, a third-year student at Clock High.’

I have never understood why Ada would create a universe that annoyed her so much, though it’s the one aspect of theology that conventional religions guess correctly.

The gaze of the black-chokered deity turned to rest upon my own trembling spirit. “What about you, Dante?”

If I had been at all intelligent, I would have answered “I agree with Wilhelm”. Instead, I foolishly picked that time to try to show off my cleverness.

“For myself,” I said, “I would have to ask about Everett’s quantum immortality -”

“It’s not really immortality,” Wilhelm interrupted.

And he shot me the most alarmed look he could manage with Ada watching.

I was confused.

Wilhelm continued. “Everett abandoned his work in many-worlds, so he wouldn’t have thought to say anything about immortality. It must be a misattribution.”

“But what’s the idea?” Ada asked.

Wilhelm made a careless gesture. “Oh, just something along the lines of, how is it possible to die if there is always a branch with your identity that survives? Of course there are many possible answers to that.”

“I was asking Dante, though,” Ada said. She gave Wilhelm a hard look, then turned to me.

Wilhelm nudged my ankle under the table.

“Ah,” I said through my bewilderment, “that was pretty much it, really. Just that -”

I could only wish that for this reason many-worlds was wrong. That by naturally implying immortality it somehow offended our common sense intuition so much that it had to be a lie.

At this point my thoughts stabbed in on themselves like a team of murderous rats, and I couldn’t think of a single word to say next.

The uncomfortable pause stretched.

“- well, I don’t believe in any theories told by theoretical physics,” I finally finished, striving to make the word ‘theory’ sound unscientific, as normal, ignorant people do. “Anything which sounds so crazy is probably a lie.”

Wilhelm seemed satisfied with this, or at least he didn’t kick me again.

“Mm.” Ada pondered over this. She gave a remiss look over in Deanna’s direction. “What about you, Deanna?”

“Eh,” Deanna stuttered, a cute look of swift panic crossing her face, “I, I would just go with what Wilhelm said.”

Bah. Showing off her superior intelligence like that.

Mary Bryant seemed as always to be wholly stabilized in her book, and Ada didn’t even bother asking. With a few more remarks, Ada left the room to go home for the day, freeing the rest of us.

My own thoughts were still scattered. I looked at Wilhelm. What was that about?

The tired teen seemed to slump further in his crate. “Quantum immortality is a fact which is empowering, not just rationally true.”

“So? It would be disastrous if Ada understood the correct interpretation of quantum mechanics. Shouldn’t we be trying to make her more skeptical with an implication of it which seems so counterintuitive?

Wilhelm shook his head. “That is just bait to get her more interested. Suppose Ada was given a shot to be immortal and change the normality of phenomena. What would happen if she had even an inkling?”

My thoughts stabbed each other some more, like spies cranking out orders during a world war. I got up from my seat and went to stand by the alley, staring out at the wet sky and the few buildings that could be seen from here. “What would happen?”

Wilhelm shrugged wearily. “I don’t know either, but I think we should be aiming to create a state of suspended judgment. We can’t afford for her to believe anything crazy, even if it’s the truth.”

I nodded, not trusting my voice.

“But that girl certainly has changed,” said Deanna in her soft tones, as she put away Ada’s teacup. “A year ago, she wouldn’t have thought to ask our opinions, only told us what they should be.”

I made my excuses then and left. I had something to think about.

///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

It was the next day at lunchtime when I saw Ada taking out that tablet to read. In that low-class school cafeteria where there are too few chairs, Ada and myself had somehow managed to grab a matched pair. I was behind on studying and planned to read through lunch, and so Ada took a tablet out of her own backpack.

I glanced at the screen, interested in what Ada might be reading these days.

It was Theory of the Universal Wavefunction by Hugh Everett.

I choked and coughed on my sandwich as if I had been eating dungeon hair. I couldn’t even imagine how ironic it would be if a brilliant Ph.D thesis rejected by contemporary colleagues turned out to be accepted by the only person that mattered and caused God to awaken in the sleepy eyes of a high school girl, but I knew that it wasn’t what I had in mind for today’s lunch.

It was at this point – I found myself explaining to Wilhelm and Mary and Deanna a few hours later, after Ada had left for the day – it was at this point that I had panicked.

/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

“Tomorrow,” echoed Wilhelm. “You asked her to meet you there tomorrow morning?”

“Tomorrow is Saturday,” I pointed out.

They just stared at me. Even Mary stared at me.

Sweat was forming on my forehead. “In any case, can you do it?”

Wilhelm looked a little worried. “You don’t seem to understand how getting access to an off-bounds high-rise place works. You can’t. Even if I can find out who can allow you and Ada into a sealed-off area, how can I get them to do it?”

“With respect to explaining the purpose of the bribe,” I said, “you could simply tell them that I wanted to take her there on a date.”

Deanna laughed softly.

Mary had gone over to the computer and begun typing. With everyone present already knowing her nature, her fingers doled out commands with such ease that the sound of her typing was like picking a lock. After a ridiculously short time as always, Mary looked up and said, “I believe I comprehend the building’s security systems.”

That wasn’t the ideal solution I was hoping for, but with luck it would work. Thank you, Mary.

“However,” Mary added after a moment, “I do not understand why this undertaking is necessary.”

How could I explain my extraordinary request? “That girl is the one who said, ‘love is a mental illness’. This rules out certain strategies. I can’t take her to a fancy restaurant because she has no interest in something as ordinary as that. She would stab me with the butter knife, to put it frankly. I also estimate that Ada would not react well to flowery professions that another girl might consider ‘romantic’ – Again, the butter knife came to mind. – but she still desires romance in her heart. Thus the place itself has to speak for me.” I waved my hands helplessly. “But it can’t be an ordinary romantic place, because that girl would never even go there. So I thought I should take her somewhere strange – though not too strange -” I shut my mouth, aware that I was babbling out too many excuses.

“I believe Mary is asking,” said Wilhelm, “why it is necessary for you to confess to Ada at all. This seems like a serious overreaction to the matter of distracting Ada from a thesis. Shouldn’t we keep this card in reserve for a more critical occasion?”

Deanna gave a small, wistful smile. “Isn’t it obvious, Wilhelm. This is a matter of the heart – no matter how unbelievable that seems with those two -”

Sometimes I wonder if Deanna resents losing me to Ada.

I cleared my throat. “Besides, the real problem at hand, the cause of these ever stranger observations, is that Ada is uncertain about our future. I can’t just say to her ‘Tell me your choices for university so that I can apply there as well.’ That itself is tantamount to a confession. Therefore I do feel that this may be the correct time. It must happen eventually, at any rate, and putting it off is also a risk.”

Deanna nodded her head in approval. “I think that in the end you two are well-fitted to one another.”

I walked over to the edge of the alley and stared out corner of the building. I think that in the end those two are well-fitted to one another… The terrible weight of what I truly planned to accomplish tomorrow was beginning to sink into me.

“Is Dante nervous?” Deanna said softly to Wilhelm behind my back.

“Naturally I’m tense! Damn!”

“Dante, I… I wish my thoughts and actions had an effect on your life the way her’s do so that I may cure you of this nervousness. But in the end, skittishness is only natural for a boy confessing to a girl.” She beamed an unexpected, shining smile, every bit as attractive as the day I first saw her a year ago. “It’s happened many other times over the course of history.”

I gulped down a chuckle of acid sarcasm that was trying to play a functional role in my tongue. Of course. Oh, I’m sure many other high school boys have been in this situation.

“Wilhelm,” I said immediately. My voice was shaky as I spoke. “If observations deviate from common-sense while I am speaking to Ada, send text messages to my phone. I don’t think that interrupting the conversation will be a good idea, so I will set it to vibrate. One vibration for a small deviation, two for a large one, three for one that is extremely huge, and four vibrations if it seems that Ada is about to erase the comprehensibility of the world. I will do my best to recover the situation.”

There was artsy silence in the back alley.

I stared through the alley at the passersby, closed my eyes and remembered deeply, fully, what happened a year ago.

A year ago.

That was the last time Ada got fed up with this reality.

///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

That night I woke up, dressed in my uniform, finding my throat slit, my head cast back, in an atmosphere the color of the hidden dimensions of Calabi-Yau manifolds.

I knew it couldn’t just be a dream contained in an ordinary quantum branch. It was actually that a tide of weird quantum branches had subsumed the conventional narrative.

I knew this because I encountered new qualia. In the same way that lizards cannot tune into moody Roccocco aesthetics, or chimps cannot feel the valences created in a human by way of Mozart’s music, there are mind configurations that humans cannot access.

In this world, the feeling of existence was longer in duration than anything I’d felt before. There were no other creatures. Or perhaps there were pangolins from a phylogeny without convexity or ellipses.

My cold digits couldn’t fit into the glitchy angel of Ada. To call her a holographic entity would do no justice. She was a vivid transfiguration of blinking phantom-shatter.

I had become entangled with a configuration of Ada’s mind that I didn’t know how to transform back. That was knowledge held by Wilhelm and the rest of the squad; their task was to beat the mass of Many-Worlds back into what we consider probable before something like this happened. But that one time a year ago, the tide had risen and they were locked out. Of course, they existed in some region of the universal wavefunction, but they didn’t exist in the most probable region, the one where Ada’s probability mass resides. In that whole world there was only myself and Ada. The fact that I existed in that world meant that world’s branches outnumbered the ‘normal ones.’

Luckily, this infinity didn’t grow quickly enough to diverge beyond all reach.

In this world, there was no language, but sense-impressions deliriums of ever-self-modulating abysses. Even without words, I tried to persuade Ada that going back to the ordinary world was desirable. But she was finally seeing something interesting happen. She dissolved through the skin of my consciousness, letting me know that she had a good feeling about this new world. I even told her that in the ‘ordinary’ world she was a special person, that the world revolved around her. And she only looked back out at the amorphous orbs of many-flavored non-existences combining into everything, with an unusual delighted look in her eyes.

“Kiss her,” Deanna had told me. The one thought she was allowed to be before flashing away as a brief random Boltzmann brain within my brain.

So at the end, with flesh bodies, however glistening, I told Ada that I had really appreciated she dyed her hair red, and closed my eyes, and kissed her… and then I woke up on the floor of my bedroom.

The next day in school, Ada had dyed her hair red and said that she’d had a nightmare last night.

One years ago. That was the night when I knew that with a few wrong words, I could shatter the glassy skies above – the night of my first kiss.

///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Wilhelm’s hand rested on my shoulder.

“How do you handle it, Wilhelm?”

“I’m not sure I can put it in words,” said Wilhelm. “From the first day I understood my situation, I instinctively knew that to think ‘I am responsible for the whole world’ is only self-indulgence even if it’s true. Trying to self-consciously maintain an air of abnormality will only reduce my mind’s ability to cope.”

“Abandon your ties to this world just for an instance, just for tomorrow,” said Deanna. “You’re only a boy and a girl together. Just do your best, Dante!”

Even Mary spoke, in that flavorless, dead serene voice. “Romantic thoughts are the only thoughts you must have in the present situation.”

Why must I suddenly notice?

…This awkward cross on my shoulders? – The shape of aliens, and artificial intelligences, and our yet-to-mature evolutionary tree.

All these endless days of trying to keep Ada under control, I had managed not to dwell on the stakes at risk.

Why have I suddenly lost that ability?

The fact remains that Ada’s attachment to me was the only covalent bond that held this universe together. Even though Ada might have warmed just a tinsy-little over time, there is no guarantee that she would delete everything and everyone in a fit if it weren’t for me. If I didn’t look both ways before crossing the road and was hit by a passing truck, then Ada might remake the universe to bring me back to life, or reality might just not be there anymore.

Isn’t that an absurd encumbrance to bear while crossing the street? How can it possibly be that one person has to take responsibility for the world like that? If billions of lives hung on it, wouldn’t the government assemble a biochemistry Manhattan Project so that every single cofactor and ligand of my body be tracked? Wouldn’t all hiding aliens ignore conventional game theory, reveal themselves, and convene to decide what to do about Ada Soryuu, so that the matter would long since have been taken out of the hands of this high school student?”

I looked over at Mary, the smartest of us all. She was the one who had gotten brain surgery to have the Neuralink mesh spread over her cortex before it was yet proven safe by common adoption, Mary Bryant. Looking at her, I suddenly realized how weird the standard world was becoming. I kept hearing about the Singularity. And Mary’s rainbow-cat-fishscale eyes were peeled right in front of me.

And yet things could be a billion times as strange, just because Ada’s probability mass decides to push into scary regions of Hilbert space.

“Mary,” I said, “You are the smartest one of us all. Do you have any better idea?”

“The machine learning algorithms scanning your face are telling me that I cannot stop you,” Mary said in her carbon fiber voice. “We are animals of pattern. And there is, in your eye motions, in your voice, a high likelihood that you have precommitted to a fate beyond our reach.”

I couldn’t make out if she was uttering truth harder than diamond, or if she was trying to throw off my plan by causing me to rebel against my own implied lack of free will. I turned to Wilhelm, and Deanna, whom I could look in the eyes without feeling queasy at least…

“Dante certainly has changed,” observed Wilhelm as if I wasn’t there.

I could feel the grainy holoenzymes reverberating all inside my body. What does Wilhelm mean by that?

“Stomping in here with a completely psychotic plan he made up all on his own, and presuming the rest of us will follow along. Does it remind you of anyone else you know?”

“Yes,” said the sweet Deanna, her voice mushy and clean. “I also think that Dante has become just like his lover.”

“I think I’ll go now.”