ACF Regs discussion

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dtaylor4
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ACF Regs discussion

Post by dtaylor4 » Sun Feb 05, 2006 1:55 am

as I figure that people will want to comment on it, I will post my personal thoughts about the tournament.

As a freshman, I felt that it was hard, but not insanely hard. I felt there was a good balance in the difficulty.

In terms of distribution, I did hear complaints about the history distribution, but other than that I had no complaints about the questions. Much kudos to the editors on both accounts.

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Post by Rothlover » Sun Feb 05, 2006 1:56 am

This should probably be in discussion, dude.
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Post by AKKOLADE » Sun Feb 05, 2006 1:57 am

Rothlover wrote:This should probably be in discussion, dude.
Which is why I just moved it :)

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Post by MLafer » Sun Feb 05, 2006 4:36 am

Just a few brief things before the discussion gets underway:

Our sincerest apologies to Maryland B: they did have several of their questions used in the packet credited to Texas, but somehow their names did not end up on the final packet.

Yes, we know that Raphael did not paint Innocent X.

As for history distribution, I was in charge of history questions, and I agree that it did tend to skew in certain odd ways (an abnormal number of questions on popes, for example). To put a positive spin on the issue, this was a result of me trying to use as many of the excellent tossups that were submitted as I could; that is just what people happened to write. I want to give a big hand to all of the teams that submitted packets to us; this was uniformly the best set of submissions I have ever seen for a tournament, and it made our job as editors much easier.

Thanks also to my co-editors, Mike Sorice and Chris Romero, who I immensely enjoyed working with, to Zeke Berdichevsky for writing us a packet and for reading over some of the questions at odd hours of the day, and to Subash Maddipoti for also reading over some questions.

As this is the first time I have helped edit an ACF tournament, or in fact any packet submission tournament, I would appreciate any comments you may have. If you have a specific question about history or fine arts questions (or any question in Editor's packet #1) please e-mail me at goatsong@gmail.com. General comments should be kept to this thread.

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Post by DanTheClam » Sun Feb 05, 2006 10:30 am

I thoroughly enjoyed this year's ACF Regionals set. No set is perfect, and this was of course no exception, but it seemed to me that this is about as good as you can possibly make any tournament. I noticed no repeated answers and no more than ten or so questions that made me wonder what the writer was thinking. Out of such a large number of questions, that is an impressive feat. This was a job well done by both the submitters of the questions and especially the editors. Thanks for a great tournament.

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Post by grapesmoker » Sun Feb 05, 2006 1:00 pm

I really enjoyed the tournament, and overall I thought it was great. I have one complaint, though: this set seemed extremely heavy on classics (i.e. Greek and Roman), like classical antiquity, classical myth, classical philosophy. It didn't really hurt my team, but it was annoying. Other than that, excellent set.
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Post by Nathan » Sun Feb 05, 2006 5:04 pm

There was one noticeable repeat (Akiba Ben Joseph as clue in the Bar Kocheba tossup followed by a bonus in another round on Akiba Ben Joseph that included a Bar Kocheba clue).

There may have been too much Longfellow and Whittier.

These are the only negatives that I noticed which is, imho, an extraordinary compliment to the editing staff and packet writers. It reached the level of excellence that we have come to expect from ACF. Kudos to all involved.

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Post by NatusRoma » Sun Feb 05, 2006 5:44 pm

I found this year's questions to be pyramidal without exception, which was impressive. The tossups seemed to be a line or so shorter than last year's ACF Regionals set, and in a good way. The questions were clue-dense without dragging on.

I enjoyed hearing the Brown packet, perhaps because it was slightly more suited to my areas of knowledge than some of the other packets, but primarily because it was very well written. I especially liked the references to specific verses in the transubstantiation tossup.

I really liked the "Jebus" tossup in the VCU packet. I knew it from the Bible clue, but I was glad that I sat on it long enough for the Simpsons clue to be read.

I am told that in one of the rooms at Rutgers, during the round in which the Princeton A/Texas A&M packet was read, the moderator read one clue as "Romero and Juliet". I'm personally unfamiliar with this tragedy, but I am told that it is a tale of much grief and woe.

I thought that there were far, far too many questions on organic reactions. The majority of rounds included a tossup to which the answer was the name of a reaction. These included SN1, SN2, Friedel-Crafts, Hofmann elimination, and, I believe, Claisen condensation, to name just a few. There is more to chemistry than organic reactions.

The social science questions were surprisingly limited in scope to sociology and anthropology. There were no tossups on economics or linguistics, and only one bonus on each. There were, I believe, only two bonuses on archaeology, and scant few tossups.

The lead-ins were good, but some of them were unhelpfully ambiguous ("this mathematical object" in the tossup on the gamma function), or even confusingly so ("this event" in the tossup on Writing on the Wall/Belshazzar's Feast). Apropos of the latter example, "Belshazzar's Feast" was not listed as an alternate answer, though it should have been acceptable until about "Mina, Mina, Shekel, Peres". In fact, in my room, that question was thrown out after a protest.

I would have enjoyed more variety in the bonus formats. In 13 rounds, only two bonuses dared to deviate from the strict FTPE format, one of which only went so far as to ask for two closely connected answers for five points each before giving ten points each for the other two answers. Among the reasonable and legitimate formats that the editors could have used are: 5-5-10-10, 5-10-20-30, 5-10-15, F5PE, 30-20-10, and any number of FTSNOP combinations.

Once again, I enjoyed this set. Thanks to the writers and to the editors for doing a good job with it.

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Post by grapesmoker » Sun Feb 05, 2006 6:15 pm

NatusRoma wrote:I enjoyed hearing the Brown packet, perhaps because it was slightly more suited to my areas of knowledge than some of the other packets, but primarily because it was very well written. I especially liked the references to specific verses in the transubstantiation tossup.
...
The lead-ins were good, but some of them were unhelpfully ambiguous ("this mathematical object" in the tossup on the gamma function), or even confusingly so ("this event" in the tossup on Writing on the Wall/Belshazzar's Feast). Apropos of the latter example, "Belshazzar's Feast" was not listed as an alternate answer, though it should have been acceptable until about "Mina, Mina, Shekel, Peres". In fact, in my room, that question was thrown out after a protest.
Thanks for the compliments. I had some time to spend on it over winter break, so I'm glad it came out well.

I intentionally used the vague "mathematical object" description for the gamma function tossup. The point was to be sure that people knew this was something from math but not that it was a special function (that came later in the question, I think). I guess it doesn't add much to the question, in retrospect.

I also got burned on the "writing on the wall" question but it ended up not mattering and the other team had to go so we didn't bother protesting it.
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Post by Matt Weiner » Sun Feb 05, 2006 6:28 pm

NatusRoma wrote:I would have enjoyed more variety in the bonus formats. In 13 rounds, only two bonuses dared to deviate from the strict FTPE format, one of which only went so far as to ask for two closely connected answers for five points each before giving ten points each for the other two answers. Among the reasonable and legitimate formats that the editors could have used are: 5-5-10-10, 5-10-20-30, 5-10-15, F5PE, 30-20-10, and any number of FTSNOP combinations.
Personally, I appreciate the move towards near-exlusive use of the 10-10-10 format, which I'm seeing not only in ACF but in most independent invitationals as well. It offers the best way to offer consistent bonus difficulty throughout the round/packet. The other formats you listed may have their place once in a while, with the exception of the 5-10-15. I can't conceive of any situation where a 5-10-15 is preferrable to just using the exact same bonus as a 10-10-10.
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Post by cvdwightw » Sun Feb 05, 2006 6:49 pm

NatusRoma wrote:The social science questions were surprisingly limited in scope to sociology and anthropology. There were no tossups on economics or linguistics, and only one bonus on each. There were, I believe, only two bonuses on archaeology, and scant few tossups.
Zeke Berdichevsky's packet contained a tossup on a paper by Coase whose name I forget, and there was also a tossup on the free rider problem. I'm counting both of these under economics, though others may differ. There were at least two economics bonuses and a few questions on psychology.

I understand that, like particle physics, organic chemistry reactions are the default answer space for people who are lazy/don't know much about chemistry. I can understand why they're over-represented.

The Bald Primadonna was not given as an alternate answer for The Bald Soprano in I believe the Texas packet, but this ended up (barely) not making a difference in our game. Other than that, there were no protests I can recall.

I'll add to the compliments on a very well-written, and more importantly, accessible set of questions. Only about 1.5 out of every 20 tossups went dead in the games that I played, and almost all of the tossups were on topics a mid-level player would be likely to have at least heard of.

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Post by yoda4554 » Sun Feb 05, 2006 6:54 pm

The appropriate thing to do for the writing on the wall question was what Steve Watchorn did in our room when one of my guys buzzed with the feast, which was to generously prompt.

A few gripes on the questions, which are minor. "Golliwog's Cakewalk" should not be in the lead-in to any Debussy question. Naming "Desolation Row" in the Highway 61 Revisited tossup that early probably shouldn't have happened either. The origami unicorn is a really well-known (due to its controversiality) bit from Blade Runner, and so probably shouldn't be a lead-in. The Sirens question seemed ludicrously obvious very quickly, so much so that the teams in our room waited for a long time on it. The Hippolytus question seemed to invite (and in our room, did invite) Theseus negs. And generally, several people were making comments like "I know about the greater importance of this to the field/work/period, so why does anyone care what the specific name of it is?" on some stuff. Also, the trash (classic rock, TV shows with sharing the same rabid fan bases, pre-1960 film) skewed heavily towards a particular demographic that's not that encompassing of important popular culture. Of course, it's obvious to see why that might happen in a packet-submission tournament when that demographic is writing the questions.

But as I said, minor. Generally quite a solid set, with no major complaints. Our team very much appreciated the Doom tossup, which we all buzzed on on the impaled-rabbit clue (which showed up in our campus Trivia contest a month ago). I was fond of the 'The Overcoat" and "Anna Christie" tossups (or would have been on the latter, had I not negged with the wrong O'Neill bar) and I also particularly liked the Chicago A packet.

Also, could someone post the "onto" question from the editor's packets? I meant to look at that again at the time and forgot to.

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Post by DanTheClam » Sun Feb 05, 2006 6:58 pm

The earlier claim that there were no economics tossups at all is simply incorrect. I can cite from memory that there was a tossup on a Ronald Coase article (whose title I don't remember); I negged it. It did seem like there were too few economics questions and too few linguistics questions.

However, I was delighted to see a very large proportion of mathematics and computer science questions compared to most tournaments. Both of those subject areas should get better representation (what college doesn't have as many Computer Science majors as Physics majors these days?)

Also, I was especially pleased by there being far more questions on modern, more legitimate Philosophy (Fichte, Moore, Russell, etc. come to mind) than on ancient philosophers (noticeable lack of "name this pre-Socratic philosopher who believed that the world was made of fire").

All in all, I felt like the editors made good choices about what sub-areas to emphasize within distributions.

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Post by Mr. Kwalter » Sun Feb 05, 2006 6:59 pm

Upon speaking to a couple of French majors, it seems that there is indeed a French word for "soprano," and "Cantatrice" is not it. That really does mean primadonna or just "female singer." Sorry Dwight. I had never heard that before, and apparently neither had the editors, but perhaps now that will become a quizbowl standard.

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Post by cvdwightw » Sun Feb 05, 2006 8:50 pm

ekwartler wrote:Sorry Dwight. I had never heard that before, and apparently neither had the editors, but perhaps now that will become a quizbowl standard.
This was not me but rather a consensus between Charles and Eric Smith that this should have been acceptable, as both had heard it referred to by this name before.

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Post by NatusRoma » Mon Feb 06, 2006 12:02 am

DanTheClam wrote:The earlier claim that there were no economics tossups at all is simply incorrect. I can cite from memory that there was a tossup on a Ronald Coase article (whose title I don't remember); I negged it. It did seem like there were too few economics questions and too few linguistics questions.
You're right, I had forgotten about the Coase question, which also drew a neg when I heard it.

I would also like to see the "onto" tossup, if someone would be willing to post it.

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Post by MLafer » Mon Feb 06, 2006 12:18 am

You're right, I had forgotten about the Coase question, which also drew a neg when I heard it.

I would also like to see the "onto" tossup, if someone would be willing to post it.


There was also the aforementioned "free rider problem" question, and a tossup in my packet on velocity of money.

The "Romero and Juliet" was in fact what was printed on the paper, I assume most experienced moderators read it correctly.

one of the other editors will need to post the onto question; I don't have the final version of that packet.

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Post by MikeWormdog » Mon Feb 06, 2006 3:12 am

A few quick comments to earlier posts and the questions in general:

Overall, this was a very good set. The editors should be congratulated.

About the only thing about the questions I didn't like was the "vague answer" tossups like "magic" and "culture" which I saw as being somewhat lame...particularly the "culture" one where the Clifford Geertz clue led me to think, "cultural system--could this be what the answer is? what? "

Regarding there being "too many popes" -- I didn't think there were, except in the fact that Renaissance popes may have been over-represented. I think church history is generally under-represented.

Also, "classic rock" not part of "important popular culture?" First, it's called "classic" rock. Second, if there were numerous tossups on such crappy artists as Foreigner, Bad Company, Billy Squier, etc., one might have a point. However, CCR and Bob Dylan, for example, are pretty major. I would go so far as to argue that if jazz can be considered "important" or a "fine art," other fields of popular music should be as well--at any rate, they're certainly fine fodder for trash questions, and there were only a few of them.

Again, good questions, and thanks to Rutgers for running a smooth tournament where we got to see some Mid-Atlantic teams we don't get to play as often as we should.

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Post by recfreq » Mon Feb 06, 2006 5:59 am

Matt et al and writers, thanks for the great set; my teammates and I had a blast. Note that I may be nitpicking here; it was probly one of the best sets I've ever played on. A few of the questions were a bit easy very early, but I guess a buzzer race now and then isn't too bad.

1. Uniformity of FTPE in bonuses was fine IMO, b/c it keeps the questions consistent, and the difficulty as equally matched as possible. If you put in 30-20-10, I feel like you should make all your bonuses 30-20-10, b/c it is testing for a different type of recall where a different strategy for answering is demanded, and I think making everything FTPE still gives people a chance at bonus diversity via _content_ instead of _format_. In the end, the exact format shouldn't matter as much as the content.

2. I really liked the "culture" and "magic" questions, b/c it's about time people asked for things other than anthropologist or her work, and go into some patterns and theories. Also, the questions were very specific towards the middle and end, where works with titles that incorporated those terms were used as clues. In contrast, I wasn't confused by the questions, but instead, was primed to buzz in just before the key clues. If the initial clues can prime players with knowledge to buzz in, they are good clues.

3. We found a great deal of questions dealing or talking about Paul and his epistles. It seems like most Christianity questions were about the New Testament or Paul, but we only saw 12 rounds, so our sample may have been biased. I don't remember there being an excessive number of pope questions, but then, I probly wasn't paying too much attention.

4. I didn't like the way that both SN1 and SN2 came up as answers, in our case, I believe, in back-to-back rounds, or at very least, separated by one round. The problem is that a lot of the clues were complementary, e.g. as it regards carbocation formation, so that one can very quickly get the other after having heard the 1st with not much knowledge, i.e. the TU gains more features of a "binary" question. We didn't find that there were too many reaction questions, mostly b/c quite a few of them were on new topics, also there were questions on functional groups and types of reactions. Perhaps a breakdown will appear, but I thought both physical and organic chem were well represented. On the other hand, I did think that my teammate's Cope elimination question was too hard for this tourney.

5. I don't know if asking for the title of Coase's essay, esp when it sounds so generic (something like "The Problem of Social Cost"), is such a great idea. In our room, the person with clear econ knowledge (Paul L.) appeared to know what they want very very early, while the rest of us just sat around til the end. Unfortunately, knowledge of the concepts of Coase's theories didn't help him b/c it was asking for something rather remote from the academic subject as, say, it is taught in a course. On the other hand, the question was a well written one. My complaint in general is that perhaps we're too eager to ask for names of works at times. I find this analogous to the aversion to ask for names (i.e. biography) that appears to accompany the ACF style. Perhaps too many names of works aren't too great either, and diversifying to events, concepts, and back to names can be preferred for topics like Coase. But of course, I'm just taking on the persona of an anal perfectionist here for the moment. Also, I agree with the assertion that there was a bit of a slant toward sociology and anthropology. I don't think there was much enough psychology when compared to other ACF sets, and almost no archaeology other than Evans and few linguistics, but again, it's a minor issue, since the questions were great.

6. We didn't have problems with the "writing on wall" question in our room, I think.

7. The fine arts questions were ridiculously good, and all through the 12 rounds, I don't remember a single case where the person with the clear knowledge of the particular topic didn't get it at just about the right time, e.g. when Kevin from Stanford got "Quartet for the End of Time" on the 1st sentence. No complaints at all here.

8. There appears to be a bit too much math and slightly not enough earth science, but it may be a product of the specific packets were heard.

9. I really liked the diversity in the bio questions, with stuff ranging from more recent (and important) developments like RNAi to classical subjects like plant hormones. I have a couple of complaints regarding specific bonuses (e.g. the peripheral nervous system bonus), but I'll neglect to mention it here, since I don't have the set. (BTW, will the questions be available at some point?)
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Post by Captain Sinico » Mon Feb 06, 2006 6:22 am

Hey,
As chief editor, I suppose I should keep-up with this thread. First of all, I'd better thank all our hosts and my co-editors, Matt and Chris, both of whom made this an awesome experience and both of whom did more than a fair share of the work and did it well. I'll have a better general post to thank everyone later.
I'd also like to thank everyone who wrote for submitting excellent packets (I'm sorry that we weren't able to use more of them; I hope you'll understand that) and everyone here for their praise of and feedback about the set. It really does mean a lot to me. If you've got any other questions or issues or whatever, please do post them here. If you want to talk with me about something in particular (I edited science, trash, and RMP), you can, of course, e-mail me. I'll address a few of the things people have said here now.
DanTheClam wrote:... I noticed no repeated answers...
I was glad we managed to pull that off. There were a few information repeats that snuck-in (I noted the Bar Kocheba thing that was already posted about, and Liszt/"Hungarian Rhapsodies." If there were any others, you can let me know.) Those have to go on me, and I'm sorry if they broke anyone's game.
grapesmoker wrote:...this set seemed extremely heavy on classics (i.e. Greek and Roman), like classical antiquity, classical myth, classical philosophy.
I'll agree that it was heaver than some, but I think not unduly so. For one, I don't think "classical" philosophy was too represented; as someone noted, there were a lot of questions on modern stuff, too. I can look at the stats later if you like. As for the other areas, a lot of that will come in on the basis of what people submitted (we tried to reward people who submitted good questions by keeping as many of them as possible.) Also, this speaks to the accessibility issue as, I think with few exceptions, an object in classical myth will be better known than its analog in another mythos.
NatusRoma wrote:I thought that there were far, far too many questions on organic reactions.
I'm inclined to agree with you to an extent. We can look at the numbers later, but I think again that this is so speaks to what's submitted (all of the answers you mentioned that were answers to questions were from submitted questions), to what people know, and (to be blunt) to my weakness as an editor. Chemistry isn't my strongest area, so I'll admit I had a hard time finding good answers in it. I hope that didn't skew the set to the point of impalpability. I'm also interested in what you'd like to see and what you're considering chemistry (Is thermodynamics? Aspects of QM that are especially relevant to chem? Aspects of materials science?)
yoda4554 wrote:A few gripes on the questions, which are minor. "Golliwog's Cakewalk" should not be in the lead-in to any Debussy question. Naming "Desolation Row" in the Highway 61 Revisited tossup that early probably shouldn't have happened either. The origami unicorn is a really well-known (due to its controversiality) bit from Blade Runner, and so probably shouldn't be a lead-in. The Sirens question seemed ludicrously obvious very quickly, so much so that the teams in our room waited for a long time on it.
In general, just remember that, if you know something, it can seem easy (and may well be to you) without necessarily really being so. As it happens, I was reading for top-level teams in the matches that the questions containing these clues were in. All of these questions went to the middle clues or later; none of the clues you cite were buzzed on. I’m willing to accept that this is coincidence; did you find that a lot of people knew those clues?
yoda4554 wrote:The Hippolytus question seemed to invite (and in our room, did invite) Theseus negs.
The question in question (VCU, tossup 9) follows:

Code: Select all

This husband of Aricia received locks of hair from new brides at Troezen, where Pittheus raised him. In Rome, he was worshipped at Egeria and was believed to have ruled as a king in Italy under the name Virbius after Asclepius resurrected him. His fatal decision may have resulted from devotional chastity to Artemis or from a general misogyny. After a sea monster terrified his horses, he was dragged to death behind his chariot; that monster was sent because his father invoked a curse from Poseidon, following a false accusation of making unwanted advances on his stepmother Phaedra. FTP, name this son of Theseus. 
ANSWER: Hippolytus
Looks like a straightforward series of uniquely-identifying clues about Hippolytus. I don't see how it invites a neg, but perhaps I'm not seeing something?
yoda4554 wrote:And generally, several people were making comments like "I know about the greater importance of this to the field/work/period, so why does anyone care what the specific name of it is?" on some stuff.
This raises a philosophical issue, really, but it's one I feel compeled to address. The reason the questions ask for the name of something is because they have to (they have to ask for something, right?) For me, laying quizbowl to one side, I need to know the names of things in my field in order to effectively communicate with people about my work. I will find my requests more effective if I ask for a Langmuir probe than if I ask for "one of those wire... things." My thesis makes a lot more sense as Semi-Analytical Solutions of Non-Ideal MHD Equations of State than it does as Graphs of those one equations for plasmas. If a professor wants to hold a seminar about solving the Boltzmann transport equation, it'd probably behoove me to know what that is to determine if I want to attend (much less understand the seminar.) Etc. None of those are in the least bit hypothetical and I can't see how any field would be any different. Jargon can be stupid and cumbersome, but it also has its function (i.e. to talk about something specific in a field.)
Thus, since not knowing the name of something (whatever that may be) would hamper your communication about that thing, I don't see how one can really truly "know" or "understand" something, from the perspective of an external observer, without knowing its name. However, even if one disagrees with that premise, it is pragmatically true that quizbowl questions have to ask for something, and that's going to be the name of something. If one acknowledges that the question is on something of some import to a relevant field of human endeavor, I'm happy; if that thing has a name, and is important, than it should be important enough to know its name.
yoda4554 wrote:Also, the trash... skewed heavily towards a particular demographic that's not that encompassing of important popular culture.
I'm interested as to what demographic that is. You are right to say that most of the trash was as submitted, so that partly explains the skew. Also, the small number of trash questions will allow certain topics to take-up a disproportionate number of the questions (though having a larger number of trash questions doesn't always prevent that, in my experience.)
yoda4554 wrote:Also, could someone post the "onto" question from the editor's packets?
Editors' 3, Tossup 14:

Code: Select all

14. A corollary of the Lyusternik Theorem is that, at a certain point, the Frechet derivative of the map between Banach spaces has this property. According to the Fredholm alternative theorem, either the adjoint of a continuous linear operator with a closed range has a non-trivial kernel, or the operator is of this type. More generally, a function is said to have this property if and only if the composition of it and its inverse is the identity function. Only applicable to functions whose domain spans is entire codomain, this is, FTP, what type of function, which is bijective only if it is also injective.
ANSWER: surjective or onto
MikeWormdog wrote:About the only thing about the questions I didn't like was the "vague answer" tossups like "magic" and "culture" which I saw as being somewhat lame...
I think this type of question can be okay under certain (very strict) criteria. Really, these are the same ones that define a good question generally: a relevant answer that people know of, a sequence of uniquely-identifying clues, etc. I think, however, that this type of answer is much harder to write a good question on. I further think this type of question should be used sparingly, which is, I think, what we did. Thus I'm more interested in the first thing; what about these questions was bad? Was it just that the answer was something that had you thinking "That couldn't be the answer, right?"

Okay, that's enough for now. Thanks again to everyone!

MaS

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Post by MLafer » Mon Feb 06, 2006 8:18 am

Thanks to everyone that has made comments so far. Keep them coming; I'd especially like to hear from new players, whether they be freshmen or simply new to the format.
I was glad we managed to pull that off. There were a few information repeats that snuck-in (I noted the Bar Kocheba thing that was already posted about, and Liszt/"Hungarian Rhapsodies." If there were any others, you can let me know.) Those have to go on me, and I'm sorry if they broke anyone's game.
I'm afraid i actually have to take the blame for the Liszt repeat; I had not looked at Mike's packet, so I did not see that he had written an excellent tossup on Hungarian rhapsodies. While I did edit the bonus with Liszt before this tossup was written, I added the "Hungarian rhapsodies" clue much later, during one of my efforts to make the bonuses easier.


And to remove my "benevolent editor" hat for a minute, what's up with the low turnout in the West and Southeast? Is this purely a function of perceived difficulty of the tournament? Perhaps I'll start another thread about difficulty and the general level of competitiveness on the circuit.

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Post by Romero » Mon Feb 06, 2006 9:52 am

I also want to express my gratitude for all the feedback.

My apologies for the Romero & Juliet typo I am too used to typing my own name and habitually followed r-o-m-e with r-o and the Innocent X giveaway brain fart.

To echo my co-editors, thank you.

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Post by grapesmoker » Mon Feb 06, 2006 10:23 am

Mike, what I meant about classics was that the totality of it seemed to get a higher representation in this set than in others of similar quality and difficulty that I've played on. I'm wrong in calling it extremely heavy, though.

For the record, I know next to nothing about music, but I would buzz with "Debussy" on "Golliwog's Cakewalk." I don't know if that counts for anything other than me having heard many questions on Debussy, but that may not be such a good clue to use in the leadin. Also, there was a question on Basho that seemed to have "Records of a Travel-worn Satchel" quite early, although this was in a packet that we ended up playing on after the tournament was over.

Finally, did the Langmuir probe question suggest that he was a Russian physicist? I remember thinking "the object being described is clearly a Langmuir probe but... he wasn't Russian!" I suspect I misheard something, though.

I thought there was a lot of great physics in the tournament and I was also a huge fan of the "Apotheosis of Homer" tossup (among others).
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Post by ezubaric » Mon Feb 06, 2006 12:48 pm

Well, I'd hate to post another "me too" post, but I want to commend the editors for the best ACF Regionals I've ever played and Chicago for running a tournament that provided lunch and ended at a decent hour.

I appreciated the better representation of CS (c.f. ACF Fall), although they seemed to be more in the bonuses than in tossups, but CS (and math) tossups are pretty hard to write.

Let me also second the praise for the Jebus tossup; I've always liked stealth trash.

ACF Regs in the West are almost always underattended. It's usually Stanford, Berkeley, and one team that manages to drag itself up from SoCal. USC, Caltech, and UCLA seem to switch off. Too bad Bakersfield or someother location halfway between Nor and SoCal can't host these things.
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Post by yoda4554 » Mon Feb 06, 2006 12:57 pm

As Jerry mentioned, "Golliwog's Cakewalk" shows up a lot as a bonus answer. It may have been in the MLK set. It's one of those pieces that every kid taking piano lessons learns at some point. I suspect that it's his most famous after "Clair de lune" and "Afternoon of a Faun." The Blade Runner thing is pickier, I suppose, but there was a buzzer-race on it in our room and I know I've seen the clue come up in multiple Blade Runner questions. My problem with Highway 61 was that the question went from a description of the inside album art to an explicit mention of the title of probably the 2nd or 3rd-best known song. In other words, it went from a really hard clue to a clue that, while one might need to know a little about Dylan to pick it up, you don't need to have the album for or even have heard any of its songs. I would have gotten it as fast both before and after I acquired the album, which probably isn't ideal. But it's a minor point.

And I'm not arguing that classic rock shouldn't be in an ACF tournament. For my own selfish purposes, I would love if every trash question at ACF were on Dylan albums. My point is that of the four pop music questions I remember hearing (Highway 61, No Woman No Cry, Roger Waters, and Guns and Roses songs), you'd most likely find all of them on your local classic rock station. There was, as I recall, no contemporary pop music, no hip-hop, no R&B, etc. And while I suppose the demographic I referred to is fairly amorphous, I'll just continue by saying that there's a large overlap between the people who have ungodly amounts of knowledge of Buffy and Lost, and that there's similar (if smaller) overlap between buffs of Hitchcock, German Expressionist directors, and Blade Runner. But yes, it's a small sample, and yes, the demographic does start to spread far and thin when you test it.

If I recall, the Sirens question made it clear very quickly that the question was asking for "mythological group of Greek musical folk who are not Muses." I'm not sure where else the question would be able to go from there. Also, if you miss the "husband of Aricia" bit, "guy who was raised in Troezen by Pittheus" also applies to Theseus (or, at least, Micha Elsner and I remember it that way).

I can't speak for name-the-term science stuff, but I can talk about the literature application. After about a year from reading or seeing something, I (and from what I've heard I'm not alone) tend to forget the names of supporting characters, unless there's some reinforcement. It's very common to ask for names of minor characters in lit. PLEASE MAKE FUN OF ME BECAUSE I SPEAK NEITHER LATIN NOR ENGLISH. My impression that this tests one's willingness to go memorize character names from things one has or has not read than actually read the works. I realize that it's difficult to ask stuff other than "what is the name of this guy," though, but I feel like there should be some way around that.

I've never seen that formulation of the Fredholm Alternative, and I have been working with it a bit recently (though it's not immediately obvious how to restate the FA in that form from the more common ones, off the top of my head). Is that a formulation that's used? If it isn't, it seems a bit unhelpful, particularly in the pace of a standard round at the end of the day.

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Post by Captain Sinico » Mon Feb 06, 2006 2:18 pm

grapesmoker wrote:Finally, did the Langmuir probe question suggest that he was a Russian physicist? I remember thinking "the object being described is clearly a Langmuir probe but... he wasn't Russian!" I suspect I misheard something, though.
Wow, no, you're right; I did claim he was Russian in spite of his not being so. Sorry about that; last time I trust that professor.

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Post by wturner » Mon Feb 06, 2006 3:26 pm

From the surjective question:

"More generally, a function is said to have this property if and only if the composition of it and its inverse is the identity function."

This seems to be false. If a function is surjective, it does not necessarily even have an inverse. Possibly a right inverse was meant. In the other direction, the hypothesis ("the composition of it and its inverse is the identity function") is a tautology. That's the definition of inverse. Surjectivity follows from the existence of an inverse, but this doesn't uniquely identify; it could just as well have been bijective or injective.

However, I guess this depends on whether one interprets inverse to mean inverse function or just the set-theoretic inverse relation. I'm under the impression that the former is standard.

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Post by Romero » Mon Feb 06, 2006 3:42 pm

That line of the question is technically incorrect. The 'if and only if' should just be 'if'. A function has a proper inverse if and only if it is bijective. I did not intend the third clue to be uniquely identifying. I did want to narrow the choices down to three (injective, surjective, bijective) with the clue however.

I wish I would have phrased the middle section of the question better. I apologize for that.

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Post by Captain Sinico » Mon Feb 06, 2006 4:32 pm

Actually, that's still wrong. A mapping has an inverse only if it is bijective; it may perfectly well be bijective and non-invertable. Thus the third sentence should say "if" rather than "if and only if." Also that sentence, while true, really doesn't add anything much; it could be indicating any of the properties required for invertability up to and including invertability itself. I should have noticed that but, while it's a superfluous clue (basically), it's at least not a show-stoping error.
Also, since functions are relations, anything one says about relations in general applies to functions in particular.

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Post by mattreece » Mon Feb 06, 2006 8:25 pm

"More generally, a function is said to have this property if and only if the composition of it and its inverse is the identity function."

Actually, this looks OK (but awkwardly phrased) to me, properly interpreted. Namely, given a map f: X -> Y, and a subset Z of Y, f^{-1}(Z) is generally used to denote the subset of X {x in X: f(x) in Z}. So then f of f^{-1} gives the identity function on the power set of Y if and only if f is surjective. And viewing Y as a subset of the power set of Y, the same is true for the obvious restriction.

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Post by mattreece » Mon Feb 06, 2006 8:29 pm

To be slightly more clear: given a map f: X -> Y it is usual to speak of an inverse map f^{-1}: Y -> X when one exists. It is less usual to call the map f^{-1}: 2^Y -> 2^X, which always exists, an inverse, but it the notation f^{-1} is always used for it. So to this extent I would say the phrasing is awkward, but not necessarily wrong.

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Post by vsirin » Mon Feb 06, 2006 10:12 pm

Why must every discussion of a tournament dwindle into an interminable and incomprehensible squabble about the specifics of one science question appearing in that tournament? Maybe in the future we should split every discussion topic into two separate and distinct threads: "individual science question discussion" and a different thread for "things more than seven people care about."

Peace out!

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Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Mon Feb 06, 2006 11:49 pm

vsirin wrote:Why must every discussion of a tournament dwindle into an interminable and incomprehensible squabble about the specifics of one science question appearing in that tournament? Maybe in the future we should split every discussion topic into two separate and distinct threads: "individual science question discussion" and a different thread for "things more than seven people care about."

Peace out!
The appropriate way to retaliate would be to find a single humanities or social science question and discuss that one ad nauseum. Then the math/science folks will know how we feel.

Don't look at me, though. I can't find one I have issue with.
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Post by Captain Sinico » Tue Feb 07, 2006 1:44 am

vsirin wrote:Why must every discussion of a tournament dwindle into an interminable and incomprehensible squabble about the specifics of one science question appearing in that tournament? Maybe in the future we should split every discussion topic into two separate and distinct threads: "individual science question discussion" and a different thread for "things more than seven people care about."

Peace out!
What? Also, please stop making off-topic posts, busting people for posting on topic, and just generally being an anonymous troll, or you'll lose the use of this account.

Thanks,
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Post by vsirin » Tue Feb 07, 2006 2:04 am

What? Also, please stop making off-topic posts, busting people for posting on topic, and just generally being an anonymous troll, or you'll lose the use of this account.

Thanks,
MaS
It was in no way an off-topic post, since I was responding to the evolution of this very topic. Nor was I "busting people for posting on topic," but rather lamenting the habitual deterioration of these discussion threads. They start out with vague general reactions; then people complain about minor details that offended their aesthetic sensibilities and are frequently unreflective of the actual tournament set (e.g. "I thought there was too little economics, based on my hazy memory of the ten packets I heard"); then someone starts dwelling on one particular math/science question, and a bunch of people crawl out of the woodwork to play a geeky variation on "my cock is bigger than yours." Meanwhile, any substantive discussion of what was good and bad about the set as a whole gets completely lost in the hubbub. My point is, a thread such as this one should be for people who are interested in whether ACF regionals was a quality tournament, or who want to contribute to the constructive criticism of the set; it shouldn't be sidetracked by some endless technical debate about a finer point in the higher mathematics, or whatever. How do those apples appeal to you?

Once again, I bid you all a fond "peace out."

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Post by setht » Tue Feb 07, 2006 2:30 am

Here's an attempt to get things back on track a bit:

I thoroughly enjoyed the question set. My compliments to the writers and particularly the editors.

A couple people have noted some seemingly skewed subdistributions (lots of pope questions, lots of Pauline epistle questions, classic rock and little/no other popular music, lots of anthropology/sociology relative to other social science, etc.). In part, the explanation offered by the editors is that that's what was submitted, and they worked hard to keep as much of the submissions as possible.

When people responded to the ACF Fall set, one of the common complaints was submitted questions being cut. In part, I think ACF Fall is always more prone than ACF Regionals to this complaint, simply because of the larger volume of submissions--in particular, the larger volume of submissions from inexperienced writers. However, at least some of the question cuts in the ACF Fall set were made on the basis of subdistribution considerations: when I was editing the mythology questions, I cut several weaker Egyptian myth questions since I received several stronger ones, and I didn't want the set to be flooded with them. In other cases, I worked on weaker myth questions in other areas because I felt those areas were underrepresented.

So, what do people prefer? Would you rather have editors use as many submitted questions as possible, regardless of skewing subdistributions, or would you rather have editors also keep track of subdistributions and cut questions as needed to keep things more balanced?

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Post by recfreq » Tue Feb 07, 2006 3:09 am

setht wrote:So, what do people prefer? Would you rather have editors use as many submitted questions as possible, regardless of skewing subdistributions, or would you rather have editors also keep track of subdistributions and cut questions as needed to keep things more balanced?
I vote for the former, b/c distributions, at the end, are arbitrary. People's interests is the real distribution, so if we get some statistical deviations, too bad, wait til the next tourney and believe in the central limit theorem, instead of trying to create an arbitrary restrictions, b/c you know what, every tourney has its own arbitrary restrictions, so no one will be happy.

Let's not pound the "onto" thing to death (who cares?), the question was fine for QB purposes.
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Post by recfreq » Tue Feb 07, 2006 3:21 am

Getting back to discussing the questions, what did people think of the poetry? I remember liking almost all of it, though the "furnace" clue for "The Tyger" seemed a bit obvious and early (correct me if I'm wrong). I esp enjoyed "Anthem for Doomed Youth" and the Robert Burns bonus. BTW were there some Shakespeare in this set? I'm having a hard time remembering.
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Post by Captain Sinico » Tue Feb 07, 2006 3:22 am

vsirin wrote:...It was in no way an off-topic post, since I was responding to the evolution of this very topic. Nor was I "busting people for posting on topic," but rather lamenting the habitual deterioration of these discussion threads. They start out with vague general reactions; then people complain about minor details that offended their aesthetic sensibilities and are frequently unreflective of the actual tournament set (e.g. "I thought there was too little economics, based on my hazy memory of the ten packets I heard"); then someone starts dwelling on one particular math/science question, and a bunch of people crawl out of the woodwork to play a geeky variation on "my cock is bigger than yours." Meanwhile, any substantive discussion of what was good and bad about the set as a whole gets completely lost in the hubbub. My point is, a thread such as this one should be for people who are interested in whether ACF regionals was a quality tournament, or who want to contribute to the constructive criticism of the set; it shouldn't be sidetracked by some endless technical debate about a finer point in the higher mathematics, or whatever. How do those apples appeal to you?

Once again, I bid you all a fond "peace out."
That would be fine, except for the following:
1. That's not what just happened.
2. Even were it what just happened, that's not what "habitually" happens.
3. Even were it what habitually happened, the evolution of various tournament threads and what you think about it is not the topic of this thread; this thread is about ACF Regionals.

Therefore your post, in addition to being basically a troll post from an anonymous account, is in point of actual fact off-topic and, as an added bonus, is full of lies and distortions. Your lack of comprehension of or enjoyment for something does not make it uninteresting or incomprehensible. The fact that a question had an error in it is an important item in this set and should be resolved; this is the mechanism for doing that and I really don't care what you think about that.
Conversely, the fact that you don't like people to talk about science in threads is not important to anyone in the least. Your (now multiple) posts and the responses to them are what's hijacking this thread. If you don't have anything to say that's actually on topic (i.e. about the question set or maybe your experiences on it, if any), don't bother making another one. If you have a problem with someone posting on topic, which is exactly and precisely what you claimed, keep it to yourself, or make a thread about it if you must, so I and everyone else can ignore and/or laugh at it (being as it's, even on the face of it, patently rediculous.) Your unwillingness to tolerate a few posts from a few people (half of them editors of the set) about a question that contained an error is comically retarded. Moreover, issues were had with other questions with the same or similar results, and you chose not comment about those, so your standard is capricious to begin with.
In short, stop trolling this thread, anonymous troll.

Thanks,
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Post by MLafer » Tue Feb 07, 2006 3:24 am

recfreq wrote:Getting back to discussing the questions, what did people think of the poetry? I remember liking almost all of it, though the "furnace" clue for "The Tyger" seemed a bit obvious and early (correct me if I'm wrong). I esp enjoyed "Anthem for Doomed Youth" and the Robert Burns bonus. BTW were there some Shakespeare in this set? I'm having a hard time remembering.
There was a tossup with the answer William Shakespeare.

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Post by Rayford Smuckles » Tue Feb 07, 2006 3:27 am

Just a few observations on ACF regs NE from a complete freshman novice (this was my first tournament of any kind.)

First of all, I really enjoyed it. The tournament was well run and I appreciate all the work the guys at Brandeis put into it as well as the folks who wrote questions.

The questions themselves were excellent (pretty challenging, though!) I guess I would echo the sentiments of those who said that perhaps there was a bit too much about popes, etc. Also, I would have liked to see more American hist/lit. I think (in answer to setht) that I would have liked to see a little more balance.

One particular question sequence that I didn't care for was the SN1 question followed (I think) in the very next round with SN2. I'm a science idiot and even I recognized the similarities.

Just on a personal note, my favorite packet was Brown's -- especially the Riddick question! It was totally unexpected but welcome.

Also on a personal note, I thought there was a fairly large step up in difficulty in the playoffs with the Editor's packets. It didn't seem to be a problem for most people (certainly not for the teams we played against.) Not really a complaint, I guess, I just wasn't prepared.

Anyway, I liked the tournament a lot and am looking forward to returning next year and doing a bit better!

EDIT: Also, this was perhaps mentioned above, but I thought Velazquez painted Innocent X? I was about to buzz in but the ending threw me off.
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Post by recfreq » Tue Feb 07, 2006 3:37 am

ezubaric wrote:ACF Regs in the West are almost always underattended. It's usually Stanford, Berkeley, and one team that manages to drag itself up from SoCal. USC, Caltech, and UCLA seem to switch off. Too bad Bakersfield or someother location halfway between Nor and SoCal can't host these things.
Yep, people out here don't like harder, knowledge-based questions, except Berkeley and Stanford. It doesn't help that pretty much every So Cal program + Berkeley are rebuilding. This is often demonstrated in the lack of quality in the questions the newer teams submit. 4 teams is even a bit more than the actual interest dictates for this ACF Regs, since 2 of the teams were Stanford house teams, some with 1st years they just threw out there. I believe that the activity that is QB in the west coast will distintegrate in 2 +/- 1 years. Our betting line is 2.5 if you're interested.
Ray Luo, UCLA.

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Post by Mr. Kwalter » Tue Feb 07, 2006 9:02 am

Honestly, Ray, that's dumb and defeatist. If you keep that attitude, of course it will disintegrate. ACF regionals is a great tournament, and sometimes it takes work to convince teams that that's the case, but if we can do it in the southwest you can do it on the west coast. Yeah, keeping QB (especially ACF and mACF QB) alive in some places is a constant struggle, so if you and your comrades are just going to say "yeah, it will die soon," yeah, it will die soon.

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Post by grapesmoker » Tue Feb 07, 2006 11:34 am

recfreq wrote:Yep, people out here don't like harder, knowledge-based questions, except Berkeley and Stanford. It doesn't help that pretty much every So Cal program + Berkeley are rebuilding. This is often demonstrated in the lack of quality in the questions the newer teams submit. 4 teams is even a bit more than the actual interest dictates for this ACF Regs, since 2 of the teams were Stanford house teams, some with 1st years they just threw out there. I believe that the activity that is QB in the west coast will distintegrate in 2 +/- 1 years. Our betting line is 2.5 if you're interested.
I don't want to take the discussion too far off track, but I would like to note that traditionally, SoCal teams have been reluctant to make the trip north for ACF Regionals. In days of yore Cardinal Classic attracted a large field, but I don't know if Stanford is still running that. I remember when Regionals was at UCLA last year, we got 8 teams (I think), which is respectable. I don't want to discourage Berkeley or Stanford from bidding on Regionals but I think the attendance will always be higher when it's held in Southern California.
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Post by csrjjsmp » Tue Feb 07, 2006 2:34 pm

grapesmoker wrote:In days of yore Cardinal Classic attracted a large field, but I don't know if Stanford is still running that.
Last year, we hosted it because Stanford couldn't get rooms. This year, it's scheduled for late April.
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Post by recfreq » Tue Feb 07, 2006 8:20 pm

ekwartler wrote:Honestly, Ray, that's dumb and defeatist. If you keep that attitude, of course it will disintegrate. ACF regionals is a great tournament, and sometimes it takes work to convince teams that that's the case, but if we can do it in the southwest you can do it on the west coast. Yeah, keeping QB (especially ACF and mACF QB) alive in some places is a constant struggle, so if you and your comrades are just going to say "yeah, it will die soon," yeah, it will die soon.
Actually, we're trying pretty hard, running an mACF tourney in March (Aztlan) for example. The latter part of my statement was a bit of an exaggeration, but I _do_ think that circuit here is watered down. The ACF regs last year was fun for about 2-3 teams, apparently, others were very unhappy that they had to go to this when they didn't have to in order to go to ACF nats, others expressed general disdain for ACF, and are automatically turned off whenever the idea of ACF pops up. Most of this is just reputation, b/c even though this past year, the questions were very manageable, we got low turnout for regs and still pretty low for fall. May be some more serious players will come here in the future, but this year, things look pretty bleak, and no amt of coersion seems to matter.

I brought this up b/c it seems to be that when Paul Lujan and Eric Smith graduate (which will probly be ~2 yrs), the west coast seems to have little organization and talent remaining to have much of a circuit. Also, the couple of novice tournies I ran last year while at Berkeley pointed me to the same realization, that the talent currently here just don't seem to like ACF, knowledge-based stuff very much. Of course, we'll try to delay armaggedon at UCLA as long as possible.

Getting back to discussing questions, I want to thank who ever wrote the "Room of One's Own" question. It was so good I negged with "To the Lighthouse" on "Mary Carmichael," and threatened to retire.
Ray Luo, UCLA.

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Post by Nathan » Tue Feb 07, 2006 8:29 pm

oh...one pedantic note (but I've been hosed by this on more than one occasion so its personal):

Kuznets was Ukranian.

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Post by trphilli » Wed Feb 08, 2006 3:14 am

I wanted to throw something out there for your consideration, but first I'll start with a disclaimer, that this is a general perception and an in-depth study of the packets would likely reveal specific questions that counter my generalities. I know this but make the following statement:

It felt like the answer set across different parts of the distribution were at different levels. The majority of the science questions seemed to come from advanced classes (as documented previously). Meanwhile, a lot of the history answers came from lower level classes. Specific examples that come to mind include Second and Fourth Crusade.

I do grant that the questions were excellently pyramidal and I was slow so I got beat, but let's compare this to the science. On the mentioned sn1 & sn2 questions, maybe 4 or 5 (I'm guessing) players in the average room would understand this topic. This immediately eliminates several teammates/opponents from that particular question. I felt, there was no such elimination in the history answer set.

Okay, now that I've had my say, this probably does boil down to what's submitted. Anyway its out there for future reference.

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Post by cvdwightw » Wed Feb 08, 2006 4:06 am

trphilli wrote:It felt like the answer set across different parts of the distribution were at different levels. The majority of the science questions seemed to come from advanced classes (as documented previously). Meanwhile, a lot of the history answers came from lower level classes. Specific examples that come to mind include Second and Fourth Crusade.
First of all, SN1 and SN2 are first quarter/semester organic chemistry reactions; any second year biology/chemistry major should have at least heard of them by Regionals.

Secondly, this phenomenon is not unique to ACF Regionals and in fact encompasses almost all tournaments to one degree or another. Science players clamor for real science, i.e., science that shows up in the classroom and research labs. Much of the science that appears in packets builds off lower division courses. However, history that builds off lower division courses appears to me to be essentially the same as history taught in lower division courses, only the depth of analysis and the specificity has been greatly increased. Therefore it seems to me like upper division/graduate science players have an edge throughout the question over lower division science players, but upper division/graduate history players only have an edge over a lower division history player until a certain point, where the facts introduced in a lower division course begin to appear.

Others have commented far better than I on this apparent discrepancy, but I and presumably most others have grown used to this dichotomy between science and other subjects' answer spaces, and were therefore not surprised that it showed to a degree.

MikeWormdog
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Post by MikeWormdog » Wed Feb 08, 2006 11:25 am

A couple of things...

A reply to Mike Sorice's question about my dislike of "culture" and "magic" tossups etc. As far as I remember, the one about magic pointed to something that seemed to be "'religion' but not quite as 'advanced' anthropologically." I couldn't decide what the question wanted, was it "totemism?," "fetish?," "magic?," "witchcraft?," "religion?" I don't remember the exact wording of the tossup, but a teammate of mine got it while I was wondering which word the question wanted. Something similar happened during the culture question. This may or may not be the fault of the questions in question...just how I interpreted them.

Trphilli makes a valid point regarding history questions being not as representative of upper level courses as science questions. Much of the history asked about is military-related, and little military history is studied in upper level courses (or in any college course, for that matter). There are many reasons these questions come up so often: non-historians tend to like politico-military history; questions like those are more easily written because they deal with a specific war, battle, treaty, or political figure; the questions seem clearly "history"--when a topic could fit into one of several categories (is this religion, myth, history, lit, something else?), people tend not to write about it; etc.

I thought these regionals and their editors did very well in this regard...I was appreciative of their keeping (and tidying up) my Winckelmann tossup even though I didn't really put it into a specific distributional category, and Paul Litvak's (it was in the CMU packet, anyway) bonus on monasticism (even though my team didn't get it) particularly its mention of St. Antony/Anthony, a figure who despite being a (perhaps "the") founder of monasticism and the prototypical figure in medieval hagiography (via Sulpicius Severus and Martin of Tours) doesn't come up nearly enough--this was my first recollected mention of him. These examples spring to mind, but there were several more. I felt the history distribution was less "war, treaty, king" than many tournaments, which to me is good.

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