1488: Flowcharts

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Revision as of 09:39, 18 February 2015 by (talk) (List of Items in Flowchart)
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Whoa, and if you overlay a Fibonacci spiral on a golden spiral it matches up almost perfectly!
Title text: Whoa, and if you overlay a Fibonacci spiral on a golden spiral it matches up almost perfectly!


Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Improve the explanation, specifically on the point of the scatterplot, and finish the table please.
If you can address this issue, please edit the page! Thanks.

This comic is a flowchart style. Interestingly, the first option, "Do you like flowcharts?" loops back to itself until you choose NO. This is probably because the reader will keep choosing "yes" until they are annoyed and do not like flowcharts anymore.

After asking about flowcharts, the reader is asked whether they like line graphs. If they follow one line, it becomes a line graph where "Time" is the x-axis and "Your Happiness" is the y-axis, and shows that your happiness increases with time. If they follow the other line, they are asked "Charge a battery?" If the follow one line (probably "yes" but it's not marked) they are asked whether they are A/C or D/C (the only choice is A/C) and are led to a drawing of a battery.

If the reader follows the "no" line, they are asked if they like spirals. If they choose "no" they are told to take the path of least resistance. This part of the flowchart resembles an electric diagram, and the word "resistance" is a pun because resistance in electricity is an electrical quantity that measures how the device or material reduces the electric current flow through it. Thus, whether they choose "Yes" or "No", they arrive at "Do you like when people find the golden spiral in random images?" If they choose "yes" the line fades into a drawing of a golden spiral, and we see that the flowchart is structured around it. If they choose "no" they are asked if they are tired of flowcharts. If not, they are taken to the beginning to start over again. If they are tired, the line points to the "random" button on the xkcd website.

The title text and the faint image of a golden spiral parody the fact that the golden spiral is superimposed on nearly everything. The golden spiral is a spiral that has the growth rate of the golden ratio, a number that has inspired both artists and mathematicians alike. However, people try to find the golden ratio in seemingly random objects, and they fall to confirmation bias when drawing a golden spiral on top that seemingly fits. The comic links to [1], where one can see exactly that- golden spirals Randall "found" in random photographs. The title text is funny because the mathematics of the famous Fibonacci sequence and the golden ratio are actually one and the same- the limit of the ratios of each successive term in the sequence is equal to the golden ratio. So it matches up perfectly, not "almost" perfectly like the pictures in the mobile site link.

List of Items in Flowchart

Text Explanation Successor(s) Predeccessor
Start Start here Do you like flowcharts? Tired of flowcharts yet?
Do you like flowcharts? Asking whether or not the reader likes flow charts. Recursively returns to itself until the reader is annoyed enough to not like flowcharts and may establish the convention of "Yes" being down and "No" being sideways, unless otherwise indicated. Do you like flowcharts?, Do you like graphs? Start
Data or Axis? This item is duplicated. It is asking which type of graph you prefer Data, line, access Do you like graphs?
Line This forms a line on top of the axis of time and happiness. It is positive slope. Data or Axis?
Axis Leads to A choice Time or your happiness?, X or Y? Data or axis?
Time or your happiness? Choose between your time and your happiness. Presumably, choose whichever you value more. Time, Happiness Data or axis?
Time You value your time more than your happiness. This forms the horizontal axis for the line graph. Time or your happiness?
Your happiness You value your happiness more than your time. This forms the vertical axis for the line graph. Time or your happiness?
X or Y? Which axis do you prefer? X, Y Axis
X Forms the horizontal axis for the scatterplot. X or Y?
Y Forms the vertical axis for the scatterplot. X or Y?
Data Leads to a scatterplot. May be a series of AC current symbols leading into one another Data or Axis?
Scatter plots? A scatter plot is made of not connected points in a graph. This is why there's no line to the second Data or axis option Help charge a battery? Do you like graphs?
Help charge a battery? Are you A/C or D/C?, Like Spirals? Asks whether you have knowledge in AC current or DC current. No output is given for DC,l even though that would be the prefered method of charging a battery. Positive or Negative Phase? Help charging a battery?
Positive or Negative Phase? This is useless, because both choices lead to the same result. Positive or negative DC terminal? Are you A/C or D/C?
Positive or negative DC terminal? This box looks like a Rectifier bridge, which is used to convert AC to DC, but two of the diodes point in the wrong direction, making this a loop directing both inputs to the top. The single output leads to a battery. Since the battery is not connected to the other side of the rectifier, no current can flow. In this way the battery can also be seen as an end-point in the flow chart. Battery Positive or negative phase?
Like Spirals? Well, do you? Take the path of least resistance?, Do you like when people find the golden spiral in random images? Help charge a battery?
Take the path of least resistance? This one is a pun. If resistance is seen as electrical resistance, then the bottom output is correct. Alternatively, the (unlabelled) "No" exit technically sends you through more resistance, and a 'protective' diode, to the next decision box. Do you like when people find the golden spiral in random images? Like Spirals?
Do you like when people find the golden spiral in random images? Yes, even though it's total BS., Tired of flowcharts yet? Like spirals?, Take the path of least resistance?
Yes, even though it's total BS. This option fades out to a golden spiral to which the flowchart is aligned. Do you like when people find the golden spiral in random images?
Tired of flowcharts yet? Are you? Yes, I want to look at something else, Start Do you like when people find the golden spiral in random images?
Yes, I want to look at something else This option leads to the random comic button. This decision literally breaks the fourth wall in travelling through the image's nominal boundary to point at a specific button to look at some other comic. Tired of Flowcharts yet? Random


Ambox notice.png This transcript is incomplete. Please help editing it! Thanks.

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A little bit more of 730? 06:53, 18 February 2015 (UTC)

More along the lines of 94, 210, 518, 627, 844, 845, and 1195, though I see similarities with 730. Mikemk (talk) 07:09, 18 February 2015 (UTC)

How should we do the transcript? Mikemk (talk) 07:09, 18 February 2015 (UTC)

  You could do the transcript as a number list formatted like: "[Title of item] IF YES(GOTO X), IF NO(GOTO Y)" (where "X" and "Y" are the numbers on the list for the corresponding next option). Derek 13:25, 18 February 2015 (UTC)

I would just like to say that I find some of the linked spiral-images very disturbing. Although for some they'd be the same even without the spirals, admitedly. 09:47, 18 February 2015 (UTC)

I believe this will end up being one of the most challenging explanations yet (of those that are completely explicable) - got quite a task up ahead... -- Brettpeirce (talk) 10:35, 18 February 2015 (UTC)

Normally (for a flowchart) the Start symbol should not have an input. The electrical circuit is not a rectifier! Sebastian -- 10:59, 18 February 2015 (UTC)

In the newly corrected version, it is. Knob creek (talk) 16:58, 18 February 2015 (UTC)
But it doesn't need to be, since the rectification is done by the flow chart. Two of the diodes will never be used. (Is it still a rectifier if it's not rectifying?) 21:49, 18 February 2015 (UTC)
Yes it's still a rectifier. It just appears to be out of a job, that's all. Anyone else notice that the bridge rectifier IS a flowchart? The two decision trees feeding it are completely unnecessary. Getting rid of them gives the rectifier back it's job! Also, to give Randall a break, the original diagram of the bridge is actually a ring modulator. It's been decades since I've been in RF so I had to track it down and confirm.ExternalMonolog (talk) 23:24, 18 February 2015 (UTC)

OCD comment: There appear to be two lines missing, 1) from scatter plots to data or axis, 2) from the bottom of positive or negative DC terminal to the negative terminal of the battery. Also, I would be happier if the two left hand diodes of the full wave rectifier were reversed. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Scatter plots don't have lines, that's the joke. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
It wasn't a joke; in the corrected version the lines are there. I suspect Randall uploaded a work-in-progress version of the comic by mistake. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Either I was really tired this morning, or the spiral was not actually present in the first version of this comic. 13:00, 18 February 2015 (UTC)

It seems like the options for the "Do you like flowcharts?" box should be reversed (only putting someone through the flowchart if they say they like flowcharts). I think it makes less sense to have the first option "annoy" someone with a flowchart option until they say they don't like flowcharts, then put them through a flowchart. Derek 13:31, 18 February 2015 (UTC)

I see no evidence that the "time or your happiness" box is asking you to "choose whichever you value more". The graph shows your happiness as a function of time, not "your time" (it's not as if you were asked to choose between, say, more happiness or more spare time for yourself). I think it is just asking you to choose which axis of the graph you want to follow. The flowchart for the line graph and the scatter plot are similar; since "X or Y" is not interpreted as a question about value, why should "time or your happiness" be?

Zetfr 14:00, 18 February 2015 (UTC)

The comment on the Fibonacci and Golden Spirals being the same is not correct. According to Wikipedia[1][2]: "A Fibonacci spiral approximates the golden spiral using quarter-circle arcs inscribed in squares of integer Fibonacci-number side." - Prometheusmmiv (talk) 14:55, 18 February 2015 (UTC)

The title text says "if you overlay a Fibonacci spiral on a golden spiral it matches up almost perfectly." -- Grabadora304 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Randall has uploaded a new version, it fixes some missing lines: The scatter graph is now connected, as is the DC terminal, and the battery is now in a circuit. Some of the explaination above needs updating 15:32, 18 February 2015 (UTC)

Clicking on the image takes you to http://xkcd.com/spiral/ (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Good catch about http://xkcd.com/spiral/ ! --Guest (talk) 17:46, 18 February 2015 (UTC)

NOTE this comic has been changed, oddly. http://xkcd.com/1488/ Halfhat (talk) 18:21, 18 February 2015 (UTC)

How do we change this wiki to have the updated image? The XKCD site is updated, but this page still shows the old image. Djbrasier (talk) 18:59, 18 February 2015 (UTC)

I have uploaded the correct version now. Kynde (talk) 19:30, 18 February 2015 (UTC)
The image is still out of date as it lacks the Yes / Never! markings on the Path of Least Resistance decision box. 21:00, 18 February 2015 (UTC)

Is it a coincidence that a Fibonacci sequence has a link to the golden ratio? I think not: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dTWKKvlZB08 sirKitKat (talk) 21:08, 18 February 2015 (UTC)

Wow - I tried the random button once and got to this comic: 1359: Phone Alarm. For a second I thought he had rigged it - but that is was not the case. But that was not getting to something else ;-) Kynde (talk) 21:19, 18 February 2015 (UTC)

I got 518 and started laughing all over again. He really should rig the random button on this page to point to only flowchart comics. He has enough of them: 94, 210, 518, 844, 851, 854, 1066, 1195, 1359. 15:20, 19 February 2015 (UTC)
Thanks, you found one that wasn't in Category:Flowcharts. Fixed it. gijobarts (talk) 21:31, 19 February 2015 (UTC)
I only got 1100: Vows. The comic was posted yesterday, though. Is it possible that he rigged it, but only for yesterday? gijobarts (talk) 21:36, 19 February 2015 (UTC)

There is a new corrected version. The current one has a "Line or Axis" diamond in the topmost line, instead of "Data or Axis". (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Why Randall use form “are you A/C or D/C”, not “It [battery] is” or maybe “are you on A/C or D/C”? This refer to the typical (not-so-intellectual) quiz/flowcharts propagated in the Internet? 10:57, 25 February 2015 (UTC)

I took it as a reference to "Are you a Mac or a PC?" (not sure if this is a thing...). 04:07, 9 December 2015 (UTC)

I think the "yes" path of "Do you like flowcharts?" is a recursive reference to the flowchart itself (just like other "Do you like ~"? nodes which refer to the respective graphs when the reader follows the "yes" path), not (just) for annoying the readers following it. --Luke1337 (talk) 01:55, 2 July 2016 (UTC)