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Comment: A Few Notes (Score 5, Informative) 206

by routerl (#39555959) Attached to: Rybka Solves the King's Gambit Chess Opening
First, the King's Gambit has not technically been "solved", for the most rigorous definition of "solved". Unlike, say, checkers, there are still lines (i.e. series of moves) within the King's Gambit that have not formally been examined.

Second, we are strictly speaking about the King's Gambit Accepted. That is, white begins with e4 (King's pawn forward two spaces), black replies classically with e5 (King's pawn up two spaces), white then gambits the f-pawn (King's bishop's pawn up two spaces), and black captures the f-pawn, accepting the gambit. As TFA mentions, the King's Gambit Declined has not been examined nearly as thoroughly.

Third, all of this is only somewhat relevant to actual chess playing, and only at the very highest levels of play; the average FIDE Master (i.e. a well above average tournament player, though nowhere near being among the 1,000 best players in the world) need not remove the King's Gambit from his repertoire because it has been "solved". This has, historically, been one of the most dynamic openings in chess, with tons of opportunities for tactical tomfoolery and psychological pressure. When we talk about "perfect play", or "near perfect play", we're already reaching beyond the level of world champions.

Fourth, while not every line has been thoroughly analysed, the ones that haven't are irrelevant. An advantage, in chess, is calculated on the basis of a difference of pawns. So, if the black player has all the same pieces as his opponent, save for an extra pawn, all other things being equal, we evaluate the position as -1 (i.e. from the perspective of white, the position is minus one pawn). Pieces other than pawns are weighed differently, even when we are solely looking at material differences. Traditionally, knights/bishops are said to be worth three pawns, rooks are worth five pawns, and the queen is worth nine pawns. However, the actual position of the pieces affects their worth; a knight very near the centre of the board is, often, worth more than a rook (i.e. A knight near the centre can have up to eight possible moves, whereas a knight in a corner can only have two possible moves). Thus, a position that has been evaluated as +/- 5.12 means that one player has more than a rook's worth of advantages over his opponent. Even in low level tournament play, it is very reasonable to assume that the advantaged player will win the game; at grandmaster level, this is so certain that it is considered impolite, even downright offensive, if the disadvantaged player refuses to resign.

Fifth, while different computer chess engines do evaluate positions differently, I have yet to come across a position about which the analyses of different engines have diverged by more than 2 pawns. An evaluation of +/- 5.12 by a top-notch engine can safely be assumed to be conclusive, since since most of what I said in the above paragraph also applies to an evaluation of +/- 3.0. Whatever else it may be, Rybka is certainly a top-notch engine.

Finally, it is true that Rybka's having reached its current strength relies on what are at best described as questionable appropriations of others' source code and algorithms. Nonetheless, the presented findings have an intrinsic value that is not dependent or reliant on notions of intellectual property or publicity. I am frankly ashamed by posters who have suggested that this article ought not have been publicized by slashdot because of its source. Knowledge is knowledge, period, and while it is both sensible and necessary to place ethical restrictions on scientific methodology, it is simply insane to deprive oneself and others of data that has, for better or worse, already been gathered.

Comment: Re:Google Scholar (Score 4, Informative) 161

by routerl (#31289372) Attached to: Losing Google Would Hit Chinese Science Hard
Google Scholar is the most comprehensive index of scholarly articles in the world, period. Not only are there no free alternatives, there are no alternatives at all. There are services like JSTOR, which only index a limited number of journals from specific services, but nothing that compares to the completeness of Google Scholar (AFAIK). The only real alternative to Scholar is going to individual sites of individual journals and searching for what you're looking for dozens of times in different places. This quickly becomes a day-long project, compared to a 2 minute search.

Comment: Re:Here is video of the battle... (Score 4, Insightful) 308

by routerl (#30652356) Attached to: <em>EVE Online</em> Battle Breaks Records (And Servers)
That really looks terribly boring. After decades of big budget sci-fi movies, not to mention epic space battle video games like Homeworld, this is the best space combat system that EVE can offer? There didn't seem to be any maneuvering involved at all... might as well be a text based game.

Comment: Re:Limited Use (Score 1) 178

by routerl (#29636287) Attached to: Learning About Real-World Economies Through Game Economies
Good points, though I doubt those issues would escape people whose day-job involves economic analysis. To me, this entire trend of studying MMO economies to somehow derive real-world conclusions smells of professional self-doubt regarding the status of economics as a science.

I know that some economists have, over the past decade or so, started performing little experiments, in the hope that this would lend more empirical credibility to their field. Of course, the main problem is scale, since getting a few million people to participate in an experiment is just a tad inconvenient. It seems that some researchers expect to overcome the problem of experimental scale by turning an eye towards already existing, large-ish, and confined economies (i.e. MMOs), although this endeavor is faced with far too many problems to be taken seriously. Which is why it seems desperate.

This self-consciousness if, of course, thrown into high gear given the utter failure of economics (qua predictive science) that we're all quite familiar with at this point.

Comment: Re:Incoherent Propoganda (Score 5, Funny) 143

I heard this story once and I absolutely love it. Sadly, no sources, so it may be apocryphal.

The story goes that Greenpeace's latest publicity stunt was to try and protect seals in the arctic from getting poached, so they decide they would make their skins worthless to the poachers by spraying the seals with bright green paint. As it turns out, however, the main defense of arctic seals against their natural predators (polar bears) is to lay perfectly still, with eyes closed, hoping to blend into the snowy/icy background to evade detection. Thanks to Greenpeace, these seals were now visible from miles away and, not knowing they were now targets, would just lie perfectly still while polar bears raced towards and devoured them.

Hooray for Greenpeace.

Comment: Re:I know this isn't the point.... (Score 5, Insightful) 188

by routerl (#28387011) Attached to: Newspaper Crowdsources 700,000-Page Investigation of MP Expenses

But I'm pretty sure that almost ANYONE in their shoes would have done the same...it's called the human condition. You are given the power to abuse something and you think nobody will notice....so you do. Flame away but i probably would have.

Categorize this as flaming if you wish, but that is exactly the kind of reasoning unscrupulous people use to justify continuing violation of moral and legal conventions. Other variations include but are not limited to "don't hate the player, hate the game" and "screw or be screwed". All amount to the same thing, and all are inexcusable. Believe it or not, the majority of people entrusted with power over the lives of others live up to the minimal expectation that this trust will not be broken. The word that describes this is integrity, and no amount of fallacious reasoning will erase the fact that you lack it.

Comment: Re:Bad Patent for a Bad Invention (Score 3, Informative) 110

by routerl (#27946407) Attached to: Dean Kamen Awarded Patent For Robot Competition Rules
LOL

It's interesting to see someone having the exact same memory. In my final year of High School, my FIRST team found itself on both sides of that humiliation. In different matches, we both had to score points for our opponents, and found our opponents scoring points for us.

As I see it, the most serious imbalance in FIRST are those of the sponsors. How can a public school team sponsored by local transport and engineering companies seriously compete against, say, a team sponsored by both Microsoft and Delphi? For those who never competed, you should be aware that sponsorship, in FIRST, is not limited to supplying equipment and access to manufacturing facilities, but also employee-mentors, who provide varying (often unequal) levels of assistance during the design/build phase.

No scoring system can regulate that sort of unbalance.

Comment: Nothing... (Score 2, Informative) 753

by routerl (#27149989) Attached to: What Has Fox Got Against Its Own Sci-Fi Shows?
Tivo recording numbers is why they would do this. I've recently read an article about this, and it is clearly a good decision. Shows like Sarah Connor Chronicles (bleh) have small but dedicated followings, and the Tivo recording numbers (also kept and recording by Nielsen) are considerably higher than live-showing numbers. Hence, schedule is irrelevant, since the people who watch these shows will continue watching them regardless of the schedule.

Comment: Re:Monkey (Score 1, Informative) 133

by routerl (#26479233) Attached to: New York Bill Aims To Restrict Games Containing Profanity

"It also suggests that children who are exposed to in-game crimes are more likely to participate in real-life crime. "

I'm fairly certain there are studies directly contradicting this conclusion. Alas, I'm so bored of hearing this B.S. that I won't even go through the trouble of looking up the reference.

Comment: Re:I don't get the "50% reduction in failures" (Score 1) 317

by routerl (#26436597) Attached to: MIT Moves Away From Massive Lecture Halls

Why is a 50% reduction in failures a useful stat? The schools want a certain amount of failures in these large "weeder" classes, because giving a diploma to everyone who pays waters down the value of the diploma.

It is a useful stat because it means that more people are actually learning the material (given an unchanged curriculum), rather than that the material has somehow become easier. Schools such as MIT are not considered elite because a lot of students fail, but because they produce high quality graduates.

If they wanted to reduce failures, they only needed to move the curve (which was set where it was on purpose in the first place).

Again, the point is to actually teach better, not just give the impression of doing so.

Honestly, by the time you get to college, especially ones like MIT, if you can't learn because the environment isn't as cozy as it could be, I'm not sure it is completely the school's job to fix that for you.

Visit the campus of any university with a sufficiently high endowment and you'll see that vast rivers of money are spent ensuring that the environment is as conducive to good academic performance as they possibly can be. It is exactly the school's job to make sure their students receive as much help learning as possible, regardless of how much they choose to study. MIT is not at risk of becoming a "pay to pass" school, it is trying to maintain its dominance in the fields for which it is best known.

It's not so hard to lift yourself by your bootstraps once you're off the ground. -- Daniel B. Luten

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