# NavList:

## A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding

**Re: Still on LOP's**

**From:**Trevor Kenchington

**Date:**2002 Apr 19, 12:35 -0300

Thinking about yesterday's messages, Martin seems to have found the key to the whole problem -- or at least parts of it. As he says, only 7 of George's 8 combinations of error directions can actually occur and only one of them causes a true position to fall into the cocked hat. The same is true of the 8 that I suggested (which were differently labelled to George's 8 but were functionally the same once drawn out as Martin suggested). So we have resolved one part: Using the logic that both George and I employed, the chance of the true position falling into the cocked hat isn't 12% or 12.5% but 1-in-7, which is to say a bit less than 14.3%. Martin also wrote: >I have encountered this line of reasoning before, and I think >there's something amiss with it, though I can't exactly quantify what. > >My worry is that I don't think the three bearings are actually independent. >It's not as if we were dropping three long straws at random on a chart - >we're in some sense measuring the same thing all three times. > which brought me back to the point I made on the 16th: > I would suggest that the intersection of any two LOPs gives us an > estimate of position. If a third LOP fails to pass through that > intersection and passes, for example, further east, then it is already > likely (though not, of course, certain) that the third LOP lies east of > the true position. To illustrate what I am groping towards: First off, following George, I assume that LOPs are lines in the mathematical sense of infinitely thin boundaries between areas. Being infinitely thin, there is, as best as I can understand, zero chance of a position lying on one, though a high probability that the true position lies very close. (Rodney: If you can explain how Sir Isaac and his calculus lead to a different conclusion, I'd be glad to hear it.) Given just one LOP, corrected for all known errors and assumed not subject to any asymmetrical errors, we then know that our true position lies on one side of that line or the other, with a 0.5 (50%) probability in each case, but we do not know where along the line it lies. Add a second LOP roughly perpendicular to the first and we expect our true position to be somewhere near the intersection, though it could lie in any of the four sectors delimited by the two LOPs. Each sector is on one or the other side of each LOP so, following George, we would expect that the probability of the true position lying in any particular sector is 0.5 x 0.5 = 0.25. But consider what happens if the two LOPs cut at a shallower angle, say 30�: George's logic suggests that there is still a 0.25 probability of the true position falling into any one sector, yet two of the sectors are much narrower than the other two. Thus, each square metre of sea in the narrow sectors would have a higher chance of being our true position than a square metre (at the same distance from the point of intersection) in one of the wide sectors. That doesn't have to be wrong though: Two LOPs cutting at a shallow angle don't do a good job of telling us where we are but they do confirm that we are somewhere near being along a line that bisects the angle between those two LOPs. Thus, perhaps we should have a higher probability per square metre of being in one of the narrow segments. (That links back to the notion of elliptical confidence limits, with the long axis of the ellipse aligned to bisect the intersection of the LOPs.) But then consider the theoretical case in which the two LOPs lie exactly over the top of each other. The width of the narrow sector between them is now zero and there can only be zero chance of our true position lying there, whereas the wide sectors have expanded to 180� each and there is a probability of 0.5 of our being in each one of them. So, if George's logic were correct, as the two LOPs came nearer and nearer to cutting at an angle of 0� (i.e. lying on top of each other), the probability of the true position lying between them would stay steady right up to the moment that the angle dropped to 0�, at which point the probability would immediately drop to zero while that in the wide sectors would jump from 0.25 to 0.5. Such discontinuities can occur in mathematics but I very much doubt that this one is real. Thus, I suggest that George's logic is wrong. Looking at any one LOP in isolation (and assuming symmetry, as above), there is an equal chance of the true position lying on either side but, with two LOPs together, that is no longer true. The reason, as best as I can make it out, goes back to Martin's: >It's not as if we were dropping three long straws at random on a chart - >we're in some sense measuring the same thing all three times > The two LOPs are each estimates of the same thing -- a locus along which the same true position lies. The first one we plot has an equal chance of having the true position to its left or its right. But once we (with omniscient knowledge of where the true position lies) determine that the first LOP is too far to the right, then we know in advance that a second LOP which almost overlies the first is also highly likely to be too far to the right. [It is analogous to rolling double six with two dice. Before you roll, there is a 1-in-36 chance of getting double six. But if you roll one die and get a six, there is then a 1-in-6 chance that the second die will give you the double.] So, as the angle between two LOPs drops towards zero, so the chance of the true position lying in one of the narrow sectors drops from 0.25 (when the LOPs are perpendicular) to zero (when they overlie one another). I have no idea of the shape of that drop but it won't be linear and it might follow a cosine curve. The more complicated (and more interesting) question is what happens when a third LOP is added. Consider the case in which the three LOPs cut at 60�. With the first two LOPs plotted, the chance of the true position being in each of the sectors that could produce the cocked hat would be a bit less than 0.25 each (since the 60� sectors are narrower than the 120� ones). But the probability that it is in either of those sectors (adding the two together) would still be reasonably high: maybe 0.4. Now, if that true position lies to the right of the intersection of the first two LOPs, it is more likely that the third LOP will lie of the right of the first intersection than to its left -- how much more likely depending on the precisions of the various LOPs and how far off the first intersection the true position lies. So the probability that the cocked hat would be formed on the "correct" side of the first intersection is above 50%, though I cannot say how much higher. Of course, that leaves the question of whether the true position is in the cocked hat so formed versus lying even further from the first intersection than the third LOP does. Since the first intersection exists on the plot, it is more probable that the true position lies close to it than that it is far away, so again this is not a 50/50 chance, though I don't pretend to be able to quantify it. IF this logic is correct (and I would stress that I am groping here), then it suggests that the probability of the true position falling within the cocked hat is a good bit higher than 14.3% but still a lot lower than 50%. It also suggests that there is no fixed probability. As I have noted before, if you chance to get a cocked hat that is small compared to the level of precision of your LOPs, then you are likely not inside it. (In the extreme, if all three LOPs pass through the same dot, you should NOT assume that that is a highly accurate fix unless you have others were unusually precise. Rather, you likely lie outside, though close to, the intersection of your lines.) Can anyone refute or advance any of this? Trevor Kenchington