Puzzle Theory 102


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Puzzle Theory 102

  1. 1. Puzzle Theory 102 <ul><li>Scott Blomquist (Team Shark Bait) | GC Summit (Feb 18, 2010) </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul>
  2. 2. Agenda <ul><li>What is Puzzle Theory? </li></ul><ul><li>Recap from last time </li></ul><ul><li>Overview of confidence and acceleration </li></ul>
  3. 3. Puzzle Theory <ul><li>Provides a structured framework within which to study construction and solving of puzzles. </li></ul><ul><li>Not quite math yet. </li></ul><ul><li>Needs your help to develop! ( http://groups.google.com/group/puzzletheory ) </li></ul>
  4. 4. What do we know so far? <ul><li>Information Reduction Puzzle (IRP) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Describes most Game puzzles (as well as Mystery Hunt, Puzzle Hunt, etc.) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>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 </li></ul></ul><ul><li>IRPs consist of Layers (or steps) of Transforms applied to Information Streams </li></ul>
  5. 5. New stuff <ul><li>Information: less refined info, usually provided explicitly by the puzzle </li></ul><ul><li>Knowledge: more refined info, usually obtained by Transforming Information </li></ul><ul><li>Fact: an atomic bit of Knowledge (e.g. a word in a crossword, or a digit in Sudoku) </li></ul><ul><li>Confidence: The amount of trust that you put in a particular Fact </li></ul><ul><li>Acceleration: Emerges from later Facts being partially determinable from earlier Facts, and thus easier and quicker to fall </li></ul>
  6. 6. The story of a crossword <ul><li>Empty grid: no “Knowledge”, only “Information” </li></ul><ul><li>Seeking answers to clues which yield “Facts” </li></ul>
  7. 7. The story of a crossword <ul><li>Start by filling in “the easy stuff” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Usually means “high confidence stuff” </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. The story of a crossword <ul><li>Fill in more Facts, building on earlier Facts </li></ul><ul><li>Look, a sled! (probably) </li></ul><ul><li>Bonus points: guessable Facts? </li></ul>
  9. 9. The story of a crossword <ul><li>Oh, crap. No sled. </li></ul><ul><li>Tie broken by comparing approximate Confidence. </li></ul><ul><li>OAF is probably not OAS, and the O and A are Locks from the down clues. </li></ul><ul><li>So must be FLED, a totally reasonable word. </li></ul>
  10. 10. The story of a crossword <ul><li>Fill in still more Facts, probably getting down further in Confidence </li></ul><ul><ul><li>(i.e. wth is GSA? LAC?) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Might have enough Knowledge to apply the next IR Transform </li></ul><ul><ul><li>(How many of you have a teammate who like to get 100% on each Layer?) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>(How many of you are that teammate?) </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. The story of a crossword <ul><li>Almost done--one pesky letter remains.. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>This means we failed to resolve two clues. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Beware puzzles where there’s only one way to get critical information. </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. The story of a crossword <ul><li>Done! </li></ul><ul><ul><li>We now have 100% of the Knowledge for this Layer. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>All Facts are gettable two ways. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Crossword constructors call that a “fully checked grid”. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>(Cryptic crosswords get a partial hall pass on this because each clue reads two ways.) </li></ul></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Applying these topics <ul><li>Construction </li></ul><ul><ul><li>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.) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Solving </li></ul><ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Communicate Confidence explicitly to your teammates. </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. Puzzle Theory awards <ul><li>Best self-appointed lab rat: http://solvingpuzzles.tumblr.com / </li></ul><ul><li>Best recent puzzle construction advice: http://foggyb.livejournal.com/2010/01/ </li></ul>
  15. 15. Contact me <ul><li>http://puzzlepro.com </li></ul><ul><li>http://twitter.com/puzzlepro </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul>