An Open Letter to NAQT

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Re: An Open Letter to NAQT

Post by Auks Ran Ova »

sunh wrote:The only thing I don't understand is the social science category, which I assume includes economics?
Maybe change that into a math theory category?
Not quite, whoever you are. Social science includes economics, psychology, anthropology, law, and a variety of other, smaller areas. Math theory is grouped under science, as the standard breakdown for science is 1/1 chem, 1/1 bio, 1/1 physics, and 1/1 math theory/computer science/astronomy/earth science.
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Re: An Open Letter to NAQT

Post by Blackboard Monitor Vimes »

Nina has a valid point about teams wanting to miss trash, etc. over "academic" subjects, but I think that, in games where it is extremely likely that all questions will be read (e.g. the finals and maybe the semis), question placement should be done a bit more carefully. It's very frustrating to lose because of trash; we lost a game at a college tournament once due to a Desperate Housewives bonus.
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Re: An Open Letter to NAQT

Post by Sir Thopas »

closesesame wrote:In all honesty, Guy et al., when next year rolls around, are you seriously going to not go to NAQT? As a fellow quizbowler with a very large ego, I can tell you that what you have predicted will not happen.
I already admitted that this was hyperbole; at the same time, people have been threatening to do this at the college level for years. I don't see it happening on either stage yet, but as Matt said, as HS quizbowl gets more in tune with the college game, similar gripes and grumbles will appear in both places. I'm not at all considering not going to HSNCT next year; I don't think the grumbler talking to me was either. At the same time, I would much rather that the issues with the set with which many of us seem to be taking exception gets fixed.
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Re: An Open Letter to NAQT

Post by theattachment »

I don't find it fallacious to think that packet placement of questions can throw a game in either direction. If 24 of 26 questions have been read with 20 seconds left and it's tied, either team would have had the equal chance to pull ahead by over 45 points earlier on in the packet on academic or trash subject matter. In the same vein, unless you're playing a single-subject tournament the reality is that you're at the mercy of the packet. I don't find there being any problem with the placement of academic subjects in relation to themselves (i.e. a team that sucks at history getting a history bonus on number 20). When packets are semi-normalized to have around the same distro (something we can complain about with NAQT later, though in HSNCT I didn't find it to be that out of whack) you can't really find too many problems with where questions fall.

This diverges a little bit, but there's been talk of finding a way to program a packet to not have multiples of topics in random distributions that avoid having two distributions with a question right after one another. For example, this theoretical packet wouldn't have two lit questions together and could be set to not have a history question from the Civil War and stuff that happened in Russia in the mid-1800s in the same packet. This would be an amazing development.

Aside over, to me the problem with having a computational math question at the end of a packet or in a position to sway the momentum of a game is that the computational math question was even written. From my experience around 20% of the computation questions I've heard in three years playing sounded at all pyramidal to a person that got a C in Algebra II. The computation players on my team all just solve it given whatever method they know at the beginning of the question instead of using the tricks that NAQT throws in as the questions progress. They're by default anti-pyramidal because there's no real reason to listen in after the first line.
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Re: An Open Letter to NAQT

Post by Sir Thopas »

Of course, NAQT has flat-out admitted that their comp math tossups are not intended to be pyramidal.
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Re: An Open Letter to NAQT

Post by sunh »

theattachment wrote:From my experience around 20% of the computation questions I've heard in three years playing sounded at all pyramidal to a person that got a C in Algebra II. The computation players on my team all just solve it given whatever method they know at the beginning of the question instead of using the tricks that NAQT throws in as the questions progress. They're by default anti-pyramidal because there's no real reason to listen in after the first line.
Then shouldn't we make the math questions significantly harder?
Instead of these silly word problems that deal with algebra computation and geometry computation, let us throw in calculus computation and linear algebra computation.
These can be made to be pyramidal by providing the players with hints on how to solve them as the question progesses.

I mean it is true math computation is unlike the other subjects in quiz bowl. It is because math computation can be easily mastered in high school compared to other subjects. If all players had similiar mastery in other subjects such as literature or history, math computation wouldn't be so criticized as it is.

Using the logic that computation players only need the first line of a question, then a literature or history player with equivalent mastery of his/her's subject would also only need the first line. Also using the logic that a player with a C in Algebra II believes these silly NAQT word problems are pyramidal, then a player with a C in a history class would also feel that a question about the Boer War with a leadin clue of Transvaal would be pyramidal. Clearly this is due to American public schools concentrating on math classes instead of on humanities classes. This results in American students that are considered great at math computation to have a higher mastery of it compared to American students that are considered great at history. The level of mastery is completely different. The math computation player could very well finish college in a year if he/she were majoring in math. The history student would have a much more difficult time finishing college in such a short amount of time.

What is needed for math computation to become a serious category of quizbowl is to expand its canon. Go beyond the high school curriculum (similar to what has happened to the other subjects of quizbowl). Make the questions harder. Alot harder but still pyramidal so that by the end of the question, anyone could get it (at least anyone who has the slightest idea how to do high school math)
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Re: An Open Letter to NAQT

Post by Sir Thopas »

sunh wrote:stuff
The problem with what you say is that it is inherently impossible. Whatever it boils down to, math computation will primarily be about computational speed---as it is pretty much designed to be. The problem with your analogy is that lit and history always grow outwards, but the computational math canon is restricted by the use of pencil and paper, the amount of time necessary, and the structure of a tossup. I don't see why all the wasted effort you suggest putting into expanding the math computation canon wouldn't be much more effective if put into working on math theory. This legitimizes math as a subject, but it doesn't test something entirely different from the rest of QB---computation speed, rather than recall. Please, I defy you to tell me how a tossup on "Calculate the gamma function at 1/2" is better than a tossup on the gamma function and its uses.
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Re: An Open Letter to NAQT

Post by closesesame »

sunh wrote: Clearly this is due to American public schools concentrating on math classes instead of on humanities classes.
False. The problem with American education today is that too many people are ending up majoring in art history or international relations, and not enough in math, science, or engineering. This is very dangerous for a nation that prides itself on technology, and will also likely prove the downfall of the US to India or China UNLESS we do something about it. Seriously, we banned stem-cell research because we found it more ethical to put unused embryos in the trash rather than to use to save lives. So I suppose these warped ethics show a crisis in humanities education, too. Fine, American education is currently on a path to self-destruction.

That random aside being said, I am fully in support of linear algebra and calculus theory questions. Perhaps some calculation questions about eigenvalues or something could be thrown in, or some application of the derivative to solving a physics problem, if people insist on having some form of math calc. The college canon has a wonderful addition in its usage of math theory instead of computational math, and if people realized just how interesting math theory tossups were by hearing some in rounds, they would no longer lobby for useless tossups testing how quickly one can recall a desired Pythagorean triple. It's much more fun to power something about the Cauchy-Schwarz inequality. Mmmm...

Also, sunh, would you do us a quick favor and put your name and affiliated school in your signature? Thanks man.
Last edited by closesesame on Mon May 26, 2008 10:33 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: An Open Letter to NAQT

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Re: An Open Letter to NAQT

Post by Captain Sinico »

sunh wrote:...shouldn't we make the math questions significantly harder?
No. A lot of math questions, even at their current modest difficulty, already go dead. Interesting, non-trivial computations aren't meant to be done in under 10 seconds. Making them any harder is highly inadvisable.
My stance is that computational questions aren't good quizbowl because they are limited by the nature of quizbowl (i.e. by having to be short in statement and tractably done very quickly via a well-known method) to tests of arithmetical operation speed. Please refer to this post for my reasoning.

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Re: An Open Letter to NAQT

Post by sunh »

metsfan001 wrote:
sunh wrote:stuff
The problem with what you say is that it is inherently impossible. Whatever it boils down to, math computation will primarily be about computational speed---as it is pretty much designed to be. The problem with your analogy is that lit and history always grow outwards, but the computational math canon is restricted by the use of pencil and paper, the amount of time necessary, and the structure of a tossup. I don't see why all the wasted effort you suggest putting into expanding the math computation canon wouldn't be much more effective if put into working on math theory. This legitimizes math as a subject, but it doesn't test something entirely different from the rest of QB---computation speed, rather than recall. Please, I defy you to tell me how a tossup on "Calculate the gamma function at 1/2" is better than a tossup on the gamma function and its uses.
What percentage of high schoolers could even do that?
They wouldn't because they would need a step by step process, this is where a pyramidal format would work
Pyramidally this would work because all players would get a chance since relatively few if any know how to find the gamma function at 1/2. You could reduce the problem gradually somehow into something a high schooler would be able to do.

I'm also not saying math computation is better than math theory
Math theory is clearly better.
Math computation by all means should be kept at a minimal

Math questions should not go dead because a proper pyramidal question at the end has to be a giveaway
Last edited by sunh on Thu Jun 12, 2008 1:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: An Open Letter to NAQT

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closesesame wrote:That random aside being said, I am fully in support of linear algebra and calculus theory questions. Perhaps some calculation questions about eigenvalues or something could be thrown in, or some application of the derivative to solving a physics problem, if people insist on having some form of math calc. The college canon has a wonderful addition in its usage of math theory instead of computational math, and if people realized just how interesting math theory tossups were by hearing some in rounds, they would be converted from math comp questions in my opinion.
I'm going to have to agree with Naren here. Sure, not everyone knows about eigenvalues, but not everyone knows about Czech composers either. One of the problems with Math Calc is that not everyone knows how to handle it. As an (bad) example, how quickly can you multiply 68 by 72? You could do pencil and paper, or you could realise that it's just (70 + 2)(70 - 2) = 70^2 - 2^2 = 4900 - 4 = 4896. I can almost guarantee you that anyone who knows this method will get the answer answer before anyone who does it longhand. Yes, there is speed (but is that not what buzzer races are about?), but there is also a requirement that you know how to solve the problem.

Also, as an aside, I've always felt that PACE-style distributions favour fine arts, lit, and the like too much and not enough practical sciences. But that's just me.
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Re: An Open Letter to NAQT

Post by vcuEvan »

hwhite wrote:Yes, there is speed (but is that not what buzzer races are about?), but there is also a requirement that you know how to solve the problem.
Generally the point of good quizbowl is to avoid buzzer races, not cause them.
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Re: An Open Letter to NAQT

Post by sunh »

Would a compromise for NAQT be to ask math theory questions on formulas?
Formulas are almost always used in real computation questions
Formulas also test depth of knowledge

I will quit trying to explain why I believe calculus questions would be a better fit for pyramidal, since computation of any kind bothers alot of people that play quizbowl.
I understand your perspectives now.
Memory skill > Computation skill.
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Re: An Open Letter to NAQT

Post by First Chairman »

I'll let Matt answer to the distribution of PACE sets, but I wanted to comment that PACE has always had an unofficial policy to eschew calculation tossups (because they are not pyramidal and wind up going dead more often than not). Instead we have a calculation one-part bonus that teams can elect to choose in the category quiz section.
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Re: An Open Letter to NAQT

Post by Whiter Hydra »

Adamantium Claws wrote:
hwhite wrote:Yes, there is speed (but is that not what buzzer races are about?), but there is also a requirement that you know how to solve the problem.
Generally the point of good quizbowl is to avoid buzzer races, not cause them.
In a good pyramidal Math Calc question, doing the math faster would most likely take the place of reaction time in pressing the buzzer. Or at least that was what I was trying to say.
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Re: An Open Letter to NAQT

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hwhite wrote:
Adamantium Claws wrote:
hwhite wrote:Yes, there is speed (but is that not what buzzer races are about?), but there is also a requirement that you know how to solve the problem.
Generally the point of good quizbowl is to avoid buzzer races, not cause them.
In a good pyramidal Math Calc question, doing the math faster would most likely take the place of reaction time in pressing the buzzer. Or at least that was what I was trying to say.
Yes but its the same series of tricks on the same questions over and over. Anyways this topic has been debated in much better depth plenty of times and that's not what this thread was made to discuss anyways. Since this thread was created to discuss placement within rounds, I will say that I'd much rather lose a game on a history TU or science or lit or something than because someone knew more about The Joy of Cooking or could robotically crunch numbers faster than me. Even if it is just psychological.
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Re: An Open Letter to NAQT

Post by Quantum Mushroom Billiard Hat »

sunh wrote:Memory skill > Computation skill.
I think that most people do not think this; however, practical computation skill is not something that can be tested in a reasonable quiz bowl format. As an engineering major, I would think that various material properties would be a great thing to test people on. However, application of these properties would be extremely hard to turn into a QB question, and any worthwhile calculations should probably just be punched into a calculator. History, Lit, and much of science are made of concrete facts that are expressed in words, which people can remember. Learning important parts of history could be useful for someone, so that he can either avoid a mistake or repeat someone's great idea. Learning, say, the ductility of an aluminum alloy would not be especially useful, since it is much more practical to look up in a table.
Math, though an extremely useful subject, does not usually come in pythagorean triples when seen in real life. Like memorizing specific properties of some material, most of the tricks tested in QB math are not especially relevant or important to do by hand. More complicated math questions would take far too much time during a match, and realistic applied math is unlikely to be pyramidal or possible to calculate by hand.

EDIT: going back to the original topic of this thread, I would like to know what objections people have to the idea of a strictly academic (with or without math) finals and perhaps semis packet for the HSNCT. If NAQT asked the top (5-10, perhaps) teams from the last few years, what kind of response would they give to this idea? If an overwhelming majority asked for strictly academic questions, what kind of response from NAQT would that generate?
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Re: An Open Letter to NAQT

Post by cvdwightw »

sunh wrote:Having practiced large amounts of NAQT questions at school and read large amounts of ACF Fall questions at home, are there ACF Fall writers that also write for NAQT?
Yes. There are a lot of people that play in college and write for NAQT. A lot of these people want to play ACF Fall, so they send in a packet. There's no mysterious barrier between writing ACF questions and writing for NAQT.
sunh wrote:In the case that it is true that ACF Fall writers also write for NAQT, does this mean the blame should be pointed the NAQT editors?
No. Andrew Yaphe is the greatest player in the history of the game and probably one of the best writers/editors in the history of the game. Jeff Hoppes is a master of history, and the rest of the editors are, at worst, competent in the subjects they edit.
sunh wrote:Also NAQT should adopt ACF's distribution
No, they shouldn't. ACF caters to a much smaller audience composed of people who like the game so much that they continue to play in and after college despite having no real incentive to do so. These people self-select and are pretty much there for the game first and the camaraderie second. There are a whole lot of reasons why high schoolers play quizbowl, and sure, a lot of the top teams are made up of people who love the game, but there are also a whole lot of teams for which the game itself is not the primary reason to play. NAQT tries to cater to everyone from the TJs and Dormans of the world to random teams in New Mexico that have never played quizbowl before, and they do a fairly good job of it. However, in trying to please the largest possible group of people they inevitably fail to please somebody. NAQT includes a disproportionate (compared to other formats) amount of geography, current events, and trash, and computational math at the high school level, because they feel that those subjects are also important to know. Obviously there are people fundamentally at odds with this philosophy, and a fair number of them are in charge of setting packet guidelines for various ACF and mACF tournaments. Telling NAQT to become ACF is as ludicrous as telling ACF to become NAQT.

The only people who should decide what NAQT's distribution is are the people who run NAQT, and I have faith that their intentions are in the right place. If there's enough pressure for NAQT to change, then it will change. But right now NAQT dominates the regular-season market in a whole lot of states, and this whole large amount of "non-academic stuff" is popular with a lot of lower-echelon teams that probably won't have anyone playing in college. From a sheer business perspective, it makes sense for NAQT to fail to please the top several teams than an entire "silent majority" of bottom-tier teams. But by the same token, these teams make up a large portion of the HSNCT and almost all of the HSNCT contenders; as HSNCT is NAQT's flagship tournament, one would think NAQT would respond if enough high-quality teams are dissatisfied with the HSNCT product.

For what it's worth, my stance on computational math is, and probably always will be, that it is an important part of a high school knowledge base and as such deserves to be tested in a quizbowl environment. However, it is by nature anti-pyramidal and it would be better if the underlying concepts were tested in bonuses ("For 10 points each, compute the derivative of...") rather than word problem tossups.
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Re: An Open Letter to NAQT

Post by sunh »

Ok thank you cvdwightw on answering some of my questions

Ignoring the trash questions:
Is there a reason why NAQT "lacks" in quality to ACF even though both feature some of the same writers and even sometimes the rare repeat?
Or do NAQT and ACF Fall have equal quality?
Or does NAQT have certain limits on question length?

Are the academic questions of NAQT good or does lateral thinking make them lesser in quality?
Does lateral thinking also happen in ACF Fall questions?
Last edited by sunh on Mon May 26, 2008 11:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: An Open Letter to NAQT

Post by evilmonkey »

cvdwightw wrote:For what it's worth, my stance on computational math is, and probably always will be, that it is an important part of a high school knowledge base and as such deserves to be tested in a quizbowl environment. However, it is by nature anti-pyramidal and it would be better if the underlying concepts were tested in bonuses ("For 10 points each, compute the derivative of...") rather than word problem tossups.
Y'know, I could live with that.

I don't think that EVERY math computation probably is inherently anti-pyramidal (even as a math specialist for my soph and junior years, there would be times when I would hear a question, and go "how the *expletive* am I supposed to solve this?", then wait til line two and learn how. I eventually learned the tricks, and could thus answer the tossup without needing to hear the second line. However, I do understand now that it is difficult (nay, impossible) to come up with 15-30 DIFFERENT pyramidal mathcomp tossup in each packet.
squareroot165 wrote:I would like to know what objections people have to the idea of a strictly academic (with or without math) finals and perhaps semis packet for the HSNCT.
None. That is, I would not object. Perhaps even a reduced trash playoff, and no-trash final 3 rounds. And if a computational math tossup existed, it would have to be pyramidal.
Too many people wrote: blah blah blah MATH THEORY IS BETTER THAN MATHCOMP blah blah blah
Obviously. The problem is there is not much math theory that you can, in fact, ask about in high school. The reason that computational math is eliminated in college is because there are many more theorems to ask about. In high school, you are confined to Introductory Calculus, at hardest.

But back to my initial point - we can all sit here and complain. Or, we can all get off our behinds [almost violated the language rule there] and write letters to R making ourselves heard by him. But, we must do it politely. We must do it rationally. It would be best if we could all rally behind common points, but I think that that is too much to ask.
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Re: An Open Letter to NAQT

Post by jbarnes112358 »

I am sorry for whatever role I had in getting this thread too stuck on the math computation issue. Some of the same complaints can be made toward trash and random trivia. I think that the bottom line here is that the more serious competitors want questions that test depth of knowledge in more serious academic and intellectual areas. Trash and random trivia, as well as the number crunching questions, work against the desired objective as, of course, do buzzer races. When people work really hard to master the academic material and then are beaten because an opponent is a faster number cruncher, watches more TV, follows ice hockey, listens to more pop music, or has a faster trigger finger on obvious clues, it frustrates the desired objective. These kinds of questions are a contributing factors in the unpredictability of outcomes in my opinion.

Having said that, I am also of the opinion that the large majority of NAQT questions are of high quality, and as long as I am associated with quizbowl I plan to continue to be a customer. Hopefully they will listen and make adjustments. They are a class organization that does an amazing job putting on tournaments. They organize them well, get good readers, keep on schedule, and give out tons of trophies. When there are problems one year they try to fix them the following year. They are also having a large positive impact by spreading better quizbowl throughout the country.
Last edited by jbarnes112358 on Tue May 27, 2008 12:03 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: An Open Letter to NAQT

Post by Tegan »

metsfan001 wrote:Whatever it boils down to, math computation will primarily be about computational speed---as it is pretty much designed to be.
I will agree that there are questions that do this, but I must disagree with this assertion. I can ask a math question, and two players listening to it aren't automatically computing, they are thinking about how to solve the problem. This is knowledge .... recalling an algorithm .... a relationship ... .a formula. True, after this, there is some element of how fast you can arrive at an answer, though I am just of the opinion that in nearly all (good question) cases it is the "can you remember how" that determines who is getting this question.

In a non computation question, we all sit there and try to put clues together to find an answer. I find this somewhat similar to solving a problem. I will fully acknowledge that this is not an exact parallel, but I truly believe that it is not as disparate as some believe. The person with the most confidence in their knowledge of how to solve, will finish faster ... just as the person with the most confidence in putting clues together will hit the buzzer first. I suggest that a well written computation question is not simply a test of computation speed, but more a test of the recall as to how to solve.
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Re: An Open Letter to NAQT

Post by Maxwell Sniffingwell »

Coach, I've gotta disagree with you on this one. For the two years I played HS quizbowl, I was almost always racing MS math guy Brian Enders to the buzzer on math questions.

This is what usually happened (first x is decision of how to do problem, second x is buzz:)
Me: ........x.................x
Brian: .....x............................x

...or against Greg Gauthier from Wheaton North:

Me: ........x.................x
Brian: .....x............................x
Greg: .....x................x

The fact is, most math players make the decision of how to solve a problem in about the same time (barring the rare cases where a backdoor shortcut is there but complicated, the problem is puzzly enough that the method is tricky, or two methods are equally apparent.) It's almost completely computational speed that decides a question.
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Re: An Open Letter to NAQT

Post by Frater Taciturnus »

MLWGS-Gir wrote:It's very frustrating to lose because of trash; we lost a game at a college tournament once due to a Desperate Housewives bonus.
Oh hey i remember that....

But seriously deciding games on trash seems pretty iffy.
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Re: An Open Letter to NAQT

Post by ClemsonQB »

I've been home for several hours but just now read this thread.

Note: While not necessarily intended on doing so, this post will almost certainly offend two quizbowl teams (and possibly more).

My team and I, for reasons unknown, had one of its worse, if not the worst, days of quizbowl all year (I don't know if using that many commas in one sentence is grammatically correct, but I digress). While I was pleasantly (not so pleasantly at the time) surprised by the extremely deep science knowledge of one player (maybe Watson Ladd?) during the first playoff game for my team, defeating notable Goldfish National Champions Bergen County by only 5 points was despicable. The game should not have been close at all (I believe I negged atleast three times), but what it should have done is woken up my team; this didn't happen. The second playoff game ended in tragedy, with my team losing to LASA by over 150 points. At halftime the score was around 250-40 LASA and a late run by us might have been successful had we been playing better or had the questions fallen our way. Without sleep deprivation or really any other plausible reason, Dorman A lost the number one card to a team that totaled 3 more powers than I (far from a one man team) the day before. Our second game against LASA felt much closer to how the way the first one should have happened, with us up 270-40ish at half. This said, my only knowledge of LASA encompasses the two games between us and their 3 games vs Dorman B (1-1 at HSNCT and 1-0 Dorman B at WoQB). Although the trash and comp math certainly did not help my team, a lack of focus, poor play and packets that didn't play to our strengths are the main reasons for our three losses. Another key factor to our losses and the whackiness of the entire tournament is probably the insane varying that using a per tournament distribution instead of a per game distrib entails.
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Re: An Open Letter to NAQT

Post by Jeremy Gibbs Paradox »

closesesame wrote:

Where I disagreed was in that argument that these factors were what caused Dorman's unexpected performance at NAQT. Whatever happened, happened. Like Evan Adams said, they will probably thrash the field at PACE. What I was sick and tired of hearing were such arguments that NAQT's faults were so bad, and the fact that Dorman did not make top 4 so inexcusable, that HSNCT and NAQT in general should be boycotted or its legitimacy questioned. You were definitely not among those making that argument, Matt. Trust me, I believe NAQT has things wrong with it and that they should change, but that "top high school quizbowlers" should seriously consider not going to NAQT next year just because of these issues? Give me a break.
I personally witnessed the match in which Dorman A was eliminated. They legitimately were outplayed. Indeed, it does happen that upsets occur. Deal with it y'all.
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Re: An Open Letter to NAQT

Post by First Chairman »

evilmonkey wrote:
squareroot165 wrote:I would like to know what objections people have to the idea of a strictly academic (with or without math) finals and perhaps semis packet for the HSNCT.
None. That is, I would not object. Perhaps even a reduced trash playoff, and no-trash final 3 rounds. And if a computational math tossup existed, it would have to be pyramidal.
I'm going to surprise you guys: I would object. You've made the game different than the entire rest of the competition. Thus you exclude teams from contention because of the knowledge you decided to include in earlier rounds but not in later rounds. That's not fair. Every packet SHOULD be the same in terms of distribution at a tournament, and skewing the distribution in the last two or three rounds is no better than having harboring every list bonus to the final two rounds.

Not to keep pushing PACE, but if you want almost all academic (we reduced it to less than 10% of possible points I think), you know where to find a national tournament with strictly (or just about strictly) academic questions. NAQT has a product, and to have them completely change their product at a national tournament to be so dissimilar in distribution/content to their regular-season products would NOT be smart business-wise.
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Re: An Open Letter to NAQT

Post by Matt Weiner »

hwhite wrote:As an (bad) example, how quickly can you multiply 68 by 72? You could do pencil and paper, or you could realise that it's just (70 + 2)(70 - 2) = 70^2 - 2^2 = 4900 - 4 = 4896. I can almost guarantee you that anyone who knows this method will get the answer answer before anyone who does it longhand. Yes, there is speed (but is that not what buzzer races are about?), but there is also a requirement that you know how to solve the problem.
See, by endorsing math questions like that, you're endorsing literature questions like this:
theMoMA wrote:This work's title is an anagram of "Add Louses." To find the name of this title, it might help to know that the second word is plural, five letters long, and starts the nineteenth letter of the alphabet, and that the first word starts with a "D." For 10 points, name this title that rhymes with "Bed Poles."
ANSWER: Dead Souls
Furthermore, in the real world, many questions that NAQT was forced to rely on for the HSNCT set did not state what the question was until the last words of the tossup, making them not only unpowerable but unpyramidal. If I give you three methods of solving a problem, allegedly in decreasing order of difficulty, but I don't tell you which numbers in the question you're supposed to use or what your answer is supposed to look like, then there's an element of not only robotic number-crunching, but outright random guessing if you're trying to buzz in early.

On top of that, we have the previously restated issue which is that math specialists at the HSNCT level are just going to start doing the problem with the information given and are not going to start over when these "alternative methods" come flying at them at timed-game speed. Even when present, they are effectively filler in the question and provide nothing more than additional time to complete the original problem.

Calculation tossups need to go; in fifteen years of arguing about this, no one has presented a legitimate argument in opposition to that premise, and I suspect (by noted mathematical concept induction) that such an argument will never materialize.
hwhite wrote:Also, as an aside, I've always felt that PACE-style distributions favour fine arts, lit, and the like too much and not enough practical sciences. But that's just me.
ILoveReeses wrote:I'll let Matt answer to the distribution of PACE sets
The current distribution for an entire PACE NSC round, excluding the tiebreakers, and expressed in percentage form, is:

Arts 13.79
Current Events 3.45
General Knowledge 3.45
Geography 5.17
History 17.24
Literature 17.24
Popular Culture 3.45
Religion, Mythology, and Philosophy 10.34
Science 20.69 (includes 1 math calculation bonus in category quiz)
Social Science 5.17
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Re: An Open Letter to NAQT

Post by Quantum Mushroom Billiard Hat »

ILoveReeses wrote:
evilmonkey wrote:
squareroot165 wrote:I would like to know what objections people have to the idea of a strictly academic (with or without math) finals and perhaps semis packet for the HSNCT.
None. That is, I would not object. Perhaps even a reduced trash playoff, and no-trash final 3 rounds. And if a computational math tossup existed, it would have to be pyramidal.
I'm going to surprise you guys: I would object. You've made the game different than the entire rest of the competition. Thus you exclude teams from contention because of the knowledge you decided to include in earlier rounds but not in later rounds. That's not fair. Every packet SHOULD be the same in terms of distribution at a tournament, and skewing the distribution in the last two or three rounds is no better than having harboring every list bonus to the final two rounds.
Thank you. That is what I was wondering.
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Re: An Open Letter to NAQT

Post by Howard »

jbarnes112358 wrote:I tend to agree with Guy's original premise. The logic of Matt's response is certainly sound. You can lose a close game on a computation or trash question wherever it might fall in the packet. But, you are going to walk away from the game with a worse taste in your mouth if it happens on the last question. Since the presence (or at least the prevalence) of trash and computation questions is so contentious, that is precisely the reason they should be minimized in playoff games, and especially near the end of the packets where their effects will be most apparent.
This is one of the few times when I fundamentally disagree with you, Dr. B. A team that loses by less than a question cannot assign fault to any one particular question or any one particular error. All the missed/negged questions and errors throughout the game added to cause the loss. Teams need to be aware of this and need to be mentally strong enough to play all questions to their maximum advantage. Being the 26th and final question doesn't particularly change the strategy.

At this point, I'm going to steer away from the subject of math's place in quizbowl. I don't think Guy's letter was intended to spark that discussion, but there's an important reason why it has. If we argue that math computation or trash shouldn't decide a match, we're inherently arguing that they don't belong in the match. I.e., any placement will help them decide a match, although I'll concede Matt's point that being later in the set makes it less likely they'll be played in a timed match.
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Re: An Open Letter to NAQT

Post by First Chairman »

Howard wrote:... I don't think Guy's letter was intended to spark that discussion, but there's an important reason why it has. If we argue that math computation or trash shouldn't decide a match, we're inherently arguing that they don't belong in the match. I.e., any placement will help them decide a match, although I'll concede Matt's point that being later in the set makes it less likely they'll be played in a timed match.
That's an important point. If every packet has a particular distribution, and a math calculation tossup is included in the distribution, one should expect the math tossup at any time regardless of when the clock strikes or where the question is in the packet. Teams who record down the answers to questions in-game will get an idea at appropriate breaks if there haven't been as many lit questions read out yet (as an example), or if the trash question was already read out.

But in a championship match, we have now 10 years of experience with NAQT to know that most of those packets in the championship game tend to be completed. Placement early or late shouldn't matter.
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Re: An Open Letter to NAQT

Post by Tegan »

cornfused wrote:I was almost always racing MS math guy Brian Enders to the buzzer on math questions.

This is what usually happened (first x is decision of how to do problem, second x is buzz:)
Me: ........x.................x
Brian: .....x............................x

...or against Greg Gauthier from Wheaton North:

Me: ........x.................x
Brian: .....x............................x
Greg: .....x................x
1. You and Brina had similar math backgrounds. I'm not sure how easy it is to defend this when comparing teammates who went through almost verbatim the same math (I'm not sure .... maybe you and Brian had different math backgrounds)

2. G^2 is a little different. There are people who have such an intuitive feel for art and music that they can quickly determine style, key, etc based on limited knowledge. Greg has exceptional computation speed .... though there are few people with his abilities in the world). I'm not sure that we should be throwing out the water based on a limited number of people.

I think that while we could guess that several good math people could know "how" to do the problem in a limited amount of time, the number of people with preternatural computation speed is relatively small. I still think that most of it is in the recalling of process with confidence and certainty.
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Re: An Open Letter to NAQT

Post by Matt Weiner »

So, uh, to reiterate:

*NAQT has a clock, which means you are more likely to hurry through a question at the end of the game or when you are behind, and less likely to do so at the start of the game or when you are ahead

*NAQT has powers, which means that if you are behind 45 points on question 26, you are going to play that tossup entirely differently than in any other situation

Thus, the premise that "every question matters the same" is objectively untrue, and people should stop restating it.
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Re: An Open Letter to NAQT

Post by grapesmoker »

A few words about some things:

First, I disagree with some of what Dwight has about ACF, but I'm not going to get into it here except to note that if you need "incentives" to play quizbowl at any level, please re-examine your priorities. Second, while there is some overlap between ACF writers and NAQT HSNCT contributors, that overlap is not all that large; the group responsible for HSNCT consists mostly of NAQT members. Third, there is no contradiction or conflict between pleasing the top teams and attracting teams from New Mexico or whatever. Anyone who says that or tries to hint that this is the case is flat out wrong.
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Re: An Open Letter to NAQT

Post by Howard »

Matt Weiner wrote:*NAQT has a clock, which means you are more likely to hurry through a question at the end of the game or when you are behind, and less likely to do so at the start of the game or when you are ahead

*NAQT has powers, which means that if you are behind 45 points on question 26, you are going to play that tossup entirely differently than in any other situation

Thus, the premise that "every question matters the same" is objectively untrue, and people should stop restating it.
I figured there was an understanding that certain score and time (or question number) situations put you in a position to play the game differently. While I agree there's some merit to what you say, it's impact is minimal, less so than -5s and powers. How many games come down to one question left where the score differential is equal to the maximum number of points on a question? It's a relatively low percentage. (I state this from experience. If anyone wishes to take a tournament and run the numbers on this, I'd certainly be interested, especially if it takes a minimal amount of time.) I'd also argue that the other 25 questions as a whole played a larger factor in determining the game than this one question.

Furthermore, if the math question weren't last, it'd have been at some other point in the game. Let's assume team A is poor-- I'll be using the word poor to indicate poor in comparison to the opponent-- at math computation. There are two scenarios where in this case.

In the first, team A has the math computation question earlier and another question which team A is poor at later. In this case, team A is likely to be in a similar scenario, playing a different question for the early buzz in desparation.

In the second scenario, we can replace the math computation with a question from earlier where team A had an advantage. But now, team A is likely to be down more than the value of a question at the end, meaning that desperation would have set in at the penultimate question or earlier.

In each of these scenarios, the likely outcome of the game is the same. And, if we assume team A is good at math computation, we can create two more scenarios with similar analyses showing a reasonable likelihood to preserve the match result in those cases as well.

I posit that the difference between hurrying through or working for power on a math computation question and another question isn't greater than the difference between the questions in the first place. Furthermore, if we decide that certain questions are more suitable than others for last minute attempts because we believe one is more likely to be powered than another, we're doing nothing more than shifting the odds of the match more toward the team that's behind-- not arguing they have an advantage, just that they have increased odds of winning compared to not using this approach-- or toward the team that's ahead, depending on which way we choose to apply our philosophy. It's for this exact reason, that whatever the distribution, the ordering of the questions should be randomized to prevent favoring, even though such favoring is likely to be small in the first place.

I'd also say that a match that's within 45 points at the last question is between two closely matched teams. Match outcome is more dependent on the specific questions that were asked than anything else. A match this close is an indicator that either team could probably win any particular match.

And last, it's important to note that strategy implementation is just as important in the early game as it is in the late game. As much as this is a game between two teams, it isn't. Ultimately each team is playing against the questions (and I don't mean this in the negative connotation that was used in another thread). No team can do better than its abilities and the questions allow. Each team needs to work to play their best on every question in every game. So, I say, if your match comes down to #26, math computation, you're 45 points behind, and math computation isn't your thing, you needed to do better on the other 25 questions. The fact that it wasn't apparent, say, at question 12 isn't relevant. That doesn't excuse not playing the early questions to maximize in a positive way the differential in the teams' scores.
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Re: An Open Letter to NAQT

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

Howard wrote: I'd also argue that the other 25 questions as a whole played a larger factor in determining the game than this one question.
This is doubtless true. However:
Howard wrote:And last, it's important to note that strategy implementation is just as important in the early game as it is in the late game. As much as this is a game between two teams, it isn't. Ultimately each team is playing against the questions (and I don't mean this in the negative connotation that was used in another thread). No team can do better than its abilities and the questions allow. Each team needs to work to play their best on every question in every game. So, I say, if your match comes down to #26, math computation, you're 45 points behind, and math computation isn't your thing, you needed to do better on the other 25 questions. The fact that it wasn't apparent, say, at question 12 isn't relevant. That doesn't excuse not playing the early questions to maximize in a positive way the differential in the teams' scores.
This is also true, but it reveals the problem in your thinking. Strategy is important both in the early and late game, but one uses DIFFERENT STRATEGIES in both. And so it becomes worse to have computation last than it is to have it first, since your performance on it--and it alone--determines whether you win, because, after all, you make your gametime decisions based on the future and its potential, not on the past. Most losing teams won't, on question 26, sit back and say "well, we should have done better earlier, gang"--instead, they'll buzz for power whether or not they've solved the question. This underscores how awful computation questions are; if they haven't solved it, but want power, they're not even buzzing with an answer space smaller than that of all reals. (It's not just integers any more, folks; we might have to take a square's area and subtract a circle's area or something equally trivial and stupid.)

Make the computation #4 and history #26, and who knows what happens on the math--two teams try to solve it, it's antipyramidal and sucks, whatever--and the team that's down 45 tries to buzz for power on history, having played a normal tossup and thus buzzing from a finite answer space. Antipyramidal tossups suck, but they suck the most at the end of a match where you simply have to power them and for all intents and purposes haven't heard a clue before power's up.
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Re: An Open Letter to NAQT

Post by evilmonkey »

everyday847 wrote:Antipyramidal tossups suck, but they suck the most at the end of a match where you simply have to power them and for all intents and purposes haven't heard a clue before power's up.
This might be putting words in your mouth, but if the math computation tossup was of the sort where the problem is revealed at the beginning of the question, you'd be okay with it being near the end of the game? Because if the problem is revealed, then you have that finite answer space.
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Re: An Open Letter to NAQT

Post by Sir Thopas »

evilmonkey wrote:
everyday847 wrote:Antipyramidal tossups suck, but they suck the most at the end of a match where you simply have to power them and for all intents and purposes haven't heard a clue before power's up.
This might be putting words in your mouth, but if the math computation tossup was of the sort where the problem is revealed at the beginning of the question, you'd be okay with it being near the end of the game? Because if the problem is revealed, then you have that finite answer space.
NAQT has flat-out admitted that their comp math is not intended to be pyramidal. So no, I wouldn't, and I doubt Andrew would either.
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Re: An Open Letter to NAQT

Post by evilmonkey »

metsfan001 wrote: NAQT has flat-out admitted that their comp math is not intended to be pyramidal. So no, I wouldn't, and I doubt Andrew would either.
As I understood it, Andrew's specific problem with mathcomp in the endgame (regardless of what he felt about its place in quizbowl) is that too frequently the actual question is revealed too late to be powered, not just that it was blatantly anti-pyramidal.

Confirm/Deny Andrew?
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Re: An Open Letter to NAQT

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

evilmonkey wrote:Andrew's specific problem with mathcomp in the endgame (regardless of what he felt about its place in quizbowl) is that too frequently the actual question is revealed too late to be powered, not just that it was blatantly anti-pyramidal.

Confirm/Deny Andrew?
Not exactly. An antipyramidal tossup would suck for the last question, but at least it would test buzzer-racing skill, which is part of quiz bowl--though it's a part we'd like to eliminate in ideal quiz bowl, and one that we try to minimize in the status quo. But even though it's one that sucks, it's still something, at least, that is quizbowl-y. Moreover, there's absolutely no reason to buzz before the first clue (and the first clue gives it away) so the outstanding aggression that last-tossup-in-the-game-down-45 might induce won't apply. So ending the game on an ordinary antipyramidal tossup isn't much worse than having one in the middle, and isn't as bad as ending one on computation.

This is because on a computation tossup, the answer is immediately handed to the players, but they're prevented from buzzing by the fact that they have to figure the question out for an arbitrary, and quizbowl-irrelevant, period of time. If you fear that your opponent may have more of an irrelevant skill than you do, you may buzz before you've figured the answer out to stop him from getting it himself and to try to come back. Thus, ending the game on a computation tossup--because you play it with that additional desperation--is far worse.
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Re: An Open Letter to NAQT

Post by Howard »

everyday847 wrote:This is also true, but it reveals the problem in your thinking. Strategy is important both in the early and late game, but one uses DIFFERENT STRATEGIES in both. And so it becomes worse to have computation last than it is to have it first, since your performance on it--and it alone--determines whether you win, because, after all, you make your gametime decisions based on the future and its potential, not on the past. Most losing teams won't, on question 26, sit back and say "well, we should have done better earlier, gang"--instead, they'll buzz for power whether or not they've solved the question.
I agree that a team cannot, on question 26, reflect on their earlier performance. That wasn't my point. My point is that they need to be thinking about their current performance on each question as it is read, up to and including the last question. There's also no particular reason to use different strategies late versus early. Current strategy should always be based on the current number of points available, the amount of those points likely to be garnered on each correctly answered tossup, and the current score. I'll concede that the team's general strategy is more likely to change in the second have of the game based on these factors, but it's not specifically the time period of the game that changes strategy. As a counter-example, if a team is down 90 points after question 24, and the math question is 26, question 25 now becomes the important one, and presuming we avoid the unlikelihood that question 25 is powered and 30'd, question 26 becomes irrelevant.
everyday847 wrote:This underscores how awful computation questions are; if they haven't solved it, but want power, they're not even buzzing with an answer space smaller than that of all reals. (It's not just integers any more, folks; we might have to take a square's area and subtract a circle's area or something equally trivial and stupid.)
It's even debatable that this is the best strategy. If I thought there was, say, less than a 10% chance I could get the question in the 10 seconds provided, I'd probably hope the other team negged. At some point, neither scenario has a reasonable probability of a good outcome.
everyday847 wrote:Make the computation #4 and history #26, and who knows what happens on the math--two teams try to solve it, it's antipyramidal and sucks, whatever--and the team that's down 45 tries to buzz for power on history, having played a normal tossup and thus buzzing from a finite answer space. Antipyramidal tossups suck, but they suck the most at the end of a match where you simply have to power them and for all intents and purposes haven't heard a clue before power's up.
And I think this turns the argument back to where I said it was before, whether math computation belongs in the gameset at all. Bad questions (and I'm also laying off the argument of what makes a bad question) are bad everywhere. The fact that it couldn't be powered on question 4 is no different that the fact that it couldn't be powered on question 26. In either case, a team should be trying for the most points with the greatest likelihood of getting them.
evilmonkey wrote:As I understood it, Andrew's specific problem with mathcomp in the endgame (regardless of what he felt about its place in quizbowl) is that too frequently the actual question is revealed too late to be powered, not just that it was blatantly anti-pyramidal.
I think lack of powerability is a separate issue that doesn't have anything particularly to do with math computation. I'll agree I've seen several math computation questions that are impossible to power, but that doesn't mean powerability should be part of the discussion as to where it's appropriate to place math computation. If a math computation question isn't able to be powered, it shouldn't be a tossup, or it should be rewritten so that it's more power-friendly (presuming that we have math computation in the packet to begin with).
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Re: An Open Letter to NAQT

Post by Matt Weiner »

Howard wrote:There's also no particular reason to use different strategies late versus early. Current strategy should always be based on the current number of points available, the amount of those points likely to be garnered on each correctly answered tossup, and the current score.
Dude, are you Joe Morgan? Because your attempt to defend an obviously wrong position for the sake of contrarianism has led you to use Morgan's patented "A is not true. A is true!" rhetorical style.
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Re: An Open Letter to NAQT

Post by aestheteboy »

Obviously it's not true that the position of the question doesn't affect anything. Still, as I said earlier, it's trivial compared to what actually matters: what the question is on and how it's written. As some people have already said, if a question doesn't belong at the end of a packet, it doesn't belong anywhere in the packet. Discussing tossup order is a waste of time.
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Re: An Open Letter to NAQT

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Ike wrote:One problem is that many people in the HS quizbowl community (and out of it for that matter) interpret Quizbowl as a reflection of what is taught at the HS school curricula level; such an interpretation leads to this argument for math distributions - it would really help if coaches and teams recruiting that they mention Quizbowl and HS Academics overlap on the edges - and not to expect HS academics. (I mean who wants more HS?)
It's also important to note that high school academics in, say, history typically focus on analysis, not facts. As many people have already mentioned, we don't run essay competitions here.

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Re: An Open Letter to NAQT

Post by cvdwightw »

everyday847 wrote:I'm still waiting for the driver's ed, sex ed, and agricultural sciences PHYSICAL CHALLENGE bonuses.
If VETO ran high school quizbowl...
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Matt Weiner
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Re: An Open Letter to NAQT

Post by Matt Weiner »

Tegan wrote: All I'm saying is that using the "we don't know it, ergo it should not be in quizbowl" can be dangerous when discussing broad categories.
It seems that only one side of this argument is considering such a claim (eg, Gregory the Great, Orpheus in the Underworld)? I know perfectly well how to do math, I just see a lot of reasons why that should not be part of quizbowl.
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Re: An Open Letter to NAQT

Post by First Chairman »

I have moved the math discussion discourse to Theory.
Emil Thomas Chuck, Ph.D.
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