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# Puzzle Theory 102

## on Feb 19, 2010

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## Puzzle Theory 102Presentation Transcript

• Puzzle Theory 102
• Scott Blomquist (Team Shark Bait) | GC Summit (Feb 18, 2010)
• Agenda
• What is Puzzle Theory?
• Recap from last time
• Overview of confidence and acceleration
• Puzzle Theory
• Provides a structured framework within which to study construction and solving of puzzles.
• Not quite math yet.
• What do we know so far?
• Information Reduction Puzzle (IRP)
• Describes most Game puzzles (as well as Mystery Hunt, Puzzle Hunt, etc.)
• Solver is provided with an initial set of data and the goal is to reduce the information content of this data to a word or short phrase
• IRPs consist of Layers (or steps) of Transforms applied to Information Streams
• New stuff
• Information: less refined info, usually provided explicitly by the puzzle
• Knowledge: more refined info, usually obtained by Transforming Information
• Fact: an atomic bit of Knowledge (e.g. a word in a crossword, or a digit in Sudoku)
• Confidence: The amount of trust that you put in a particular Fact
• Acceleration: Emerges from later Facts being partially determinable from earlier Facts, and thus easier and quicker to fall
• The story of a crossword
• Empty grid: no “Knowledge”, only “Information”
• Seeking answers to clues which yield “Facts”
• The story of a crossword
• Start by filling in “the easy stuff”
• Usually means “high confidence stuff”
• The story of a crossword
• Fill in more Facts, building on earlier Facts
• Look, a sled! (probably)
• Bonus points: guessable Facts?
• The story of a crossword
• Oh, crap. No sled.
• Tie broken by comparing approximate Confidence.
• OAF is probably not OAS, and the O and A are Locks from the down clues.
• So must be FLED, a totally reasonable word.
• The story of a crossword
• Fill in still more Facts, probably getting down further in Confidence
• (i.e. wth is GSA? LAC?)
• Might have enough Knowledge to apply the next IR Transform
• (How many of you have a teammate who like to get 100% on each Layer?)
• (How many of you are that teammate?)
• The story of a crossword
• Almost done--one pesky letter remains..
• This means we failed to resolve two clues.
• Beware puzzles where there’s only one way to get critical information.
• The story of a crossword
• Done!
• We now have 100% of the Knowledge for this Layer.
• All Facts are gettable two ways.
• Crossword constructors call that a “fully checked grid”.
• (Cryptic crosswords get a partial hall pass on this because each clue reads two ways.)
• Applying these topics
• Construction
• The best puzzles give you multiple ways to get each fact, or require less than 100% of the facts. (Good to have an idea what fraction you’re shooting for.)
• Solving
• Be aware of Confidence. Don’t let low Confidence info distract you even if you wrote it down. If you ever reach a Contradiction, focus on low Confidence info first.
• Communicate Confidence explicitly to your teammates.
• Puzzle Theory awards
• Best self-appointed lab rat: http://solvingpuzzles.tumblr.com /
• Best recent puzzle construction advice: http://foggyb.livejournal.com/2010/01/
• Contact me
• http://puzzlepro.com