Puzzle Theory 102
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Puzzle Theory 102






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Puzzle Theory 102 Puzzle Theory 102 Presentation Transcript

  • Puzzle Theory 102
    • Scott Blomquist (Team Shark Bait) | GC Summit (Feb 18, 2010)
    • [email_address]
  • 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.
    • Needs your help to develop! ( http://groups.google.com/group/puzzletheory )
  • 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
    • http://twitter.com/puzzlepro
    • [email_address]