@MISC{Lamport86buridan'sprinciple, author = {Leslie Lamport}, title = {Buridan's Principle}, year = {1986} }

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Abstract

ither bale of hay within t seconds. Such a range of values of x exists for any time t, including times large enough to insure that the ass has starved to death by then. Thus, there exists a finite range of starting positions for which the ass starves to death. The key assumption in this argument is continuity: the ass's position at a later time is a continuous function of its initial position. Continuity has been a guiding principle in the development of modern physics. Phenomena that appear discontinuous, such as discrete atomic spectral lines, are explained in terms of continuous physical laws, such as Schroedinger's equation. The assumption of continuity is discussed at length in Section 6. For now, let us accept it and investigate its consequences. The general principle underlying the starvation of Buridan's ass can be stated as follows: Buridan's Principle. A discrete decision based upon an input having a continuo