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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Rock, Paper, Scissors in today's New York Times.

The NY Times published an online article that lets you play Rock, Paper, Scissors against an AI opponent.

Fantastic. Thinking that the best way to play this thing was by being completely random about it, I immediately went to the nearest shelf of board games to find a six-sided die. Out of eleven board games, only one of them had a six sided die, and that box was still shrink-wrapped.

The computer can perform in a novice mode, where it learns as it plays, or in advanced mode, where it uses 200,000 previous games to inform its predictions on what I would do. Would the die result in a tie game?

Not really. In advanced mode it was looking to predict my moves based on prior moves, and my random element confounded it:

After 20 rounds: 9 W 6 T 5 L
After 30 rounds: 12 W 11 T 7 L
After 40 rounds: 16 W 14 T 10 L

Then I went ahead and tried this against the novice, but limited it to 20 rounds (I have to work at some point.) I was surprised to see that I had a very early lead, though with a majority of ties. By round 16 I was winning 6W 9T 1L, but then it won the last four rounds ending with 6W 9T 5L.

Not statistically significant, but I want to push more data through. That each round takes a couple of uninterruptable seconds didn't help much. The application also only shows the last few rounds, whereas I had hoped it would allow me to export game's full history.

But it certainly has me thinking about how I can inject some form of randomness into my gameplay.


Steve McLeod said...

In poker we often use a watch to introduce that randomness you need to confound other players looking for patterns. The "seconds" count is conveniently random and divisible by lots of numbers.

More convenient than looking through 11 board games!

Bryan Buckley said...

Did you try it in advanced sans random? I got demolished... I suppose I play like the rest of the humans.

Robert Konigsberg said...

@Steve, that is true. I could have also set up a small program to spit out 40 random numbers. But rolling a die was much more fun.

@Bryan, I didn't, hoping others would do that for me. ;)

Pete Mock said...

HEADLINE: "TOY RECALL - Double Happiness Toy & Game Co announced today that it was recalling all the plastic dice made by the company since 1968. A statement indicated that the dice may contain lead that could be ingested by children handling the products. A spokesperson for the company also said the dice may be defective, due to the extra weight of the lead paint used to make the dots on sides 4, 5, and especially 6, of each die, leading to an inordinate number of rolls of 3, 2, and especially 1..."