VCU Open Discussion

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VCU Open Discussion

Post by wd4gdz »

I'm sure Matt will have something to say once he recovers from this weekend, but I figured I'd get this thread started.

If you have any comments or constructive criticism concerning the science, please post here or send me an email (wfb04 at fsu dot edu).
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by BuzzerZen »

This tournament was a huge disappointment. More fully-thought-out commentary will have to wait for a time when I can count on myself to not degenerate into profanity-laced nonsense, if my need to post is not obviated by the posts of others. But, to sum up:

Tossups on Jesus' foreskin: 1
Acceptable computer science tossups: 1

That is all.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by naturalistic phallacy »

I don't know where to begin. There are certain things that were excellent about this tournament, but unfortunately, most of them involved the NAQT parody packet after lunch. Also:

Tossups on Middle Ages Catholic History: 10
Tossups on Eastern Religion: 0
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by Matt Weiner »

Yeah, everything's open for discussion. I'd like to take a couple of days to fix the admittedly profligate mechanical errors in the questions before releasing them, but go ahead and comment on the more substantive things whenever you'd like.

Obviously, it sucked that Round 9 wasn't finished being written when it was time to play Round 9. I don't know what else I need to say about that specifically since it's pretty much inexcusable, though hopefully the lack of it happening anywhere else in the tournament mitigated the annoyance compared to various total meltdowns from tournaments being run by myself and by others in the past.

Past that, I don't really have a whole lot of stuff to say about my own opinions on how things went, and I'm interested in what people's impressions were.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by ... and the chaos of Mexican modernity »

I pity the fool who got Jesus's foreskin after the 1st line
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

I do have some comments to make about the tournament. Obviously, I'm most qualified to comment on the science, but not terribly qualified to comment on much of anything compared to my elders (i.e.: I'm a rising sophomore who didn't play until sectionals this year and didn't play anything neat like NSC in high school); moreover, the only times I've critiqued questions have been at SCT and ICT, where items which struck me as undesirable were obvious (hey, don't say "Clemmensen" in the first few words of a tossup on "reductions") and also attributable to the constraints of the set (character limits, notably).

Consequently, I want to consider my remarks here more, both waiting until I can see the set and until I can reread some of what I disliked to ensure that what I heard is what is there--and that I do have some factual basis for any claims about pyramidality or sub-distribution.

While I hardly want to characterize myself as a fawning apologist, like, I'd be very reluctant personally to criticize the timeliness of the tournament, because while Matt's absolutely right to say that he avoided the bigger meltdowns that had occurred in the past, he also wrote us a tournament when he really didn't have to, at that's pretty cool. The version of me fifteen years from now that has written a dozen tournaments solo and run them all impeccably has every right to say "hey what the fuck with the later rounds," but the current version of me should probably try writing like 200/200 for a tournament before commenting.

So, like, I'll probably have something to say kind of soon.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by Matt Weiner »

Mrs. Rich wrote:Tossups on Middle Ages Catholic History: 10
Tossups on Eastern Religion: 0
I don't want to get into a back-and-forth about the set in general because I don't think it was excellent by any means. However, I can speak to factual circumstances about what the answers were, and remind you that you heard tossups on the Pandava brothers, Ravana, and lingams, as well as whole bonuses on Sikh stuff and Garuda, plus clues here and there about Manu, Vishnu as a fish, and the churning of the ocean from Hinduism in questions that spanned multiple systems. There probably should have been more than 0 questions on Buddhism and on Chinese religion, admittedly.

Aside from the tossup on the Holy Prepuce, the Synod of Whitby was the only medieval Catholicism question that was counted as "religion." Everything else you heard was in the history category on my spreadsheet, so it didn't take away from other religions. I'm not sure how expansive your definition of "Catholic history" is, but because of the role the Church played in society at that time, pretty much every European history question from between 400 and 1600 is going to mention religious things in some fashion. I don't think that necessarily makes those questions "Catholic history."

Anyway, I do want to thank everyone who came all the way to Richmond for these events, especially for bearing with me during the Round 9 horror. Andrew Feist and Katy Peters both read all day for both tournaments and really made these events happen, and my VCU cohort Andrew Alexander did likewise. Thanks also to single-day moderators Tom Chuck, Dan Goff, Brice Russ, Jerry Vinokurov, Seth Teitler, and Jonathan Magin. I think Richmond is a good place to have stuff like this, and there seems to be a desire for another open event in the long empty space between CO and the start of the fall intercollegiate calendar, so I'm hoping to figure out anything people didn't like about the tournament and correct it so that we can do this again next year.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by grapesmoker »

I'm not sure how much there is to say about the packet situation except that it really sucked to have to wait half an hour between rounds. That's not something that should be happening at any tournament, and I was pretty annoyed by it, though I can sympathize with the problem of having to write a lot of questions in a short time period. I think we did the right thing by interposing Mike's event between rounds 9 and 10, but we should have done that as soon as it became obvious that we weren't going to be on schedule to start round 9. Given that another set was ready to be run, Matt should just have had that set start instead of telling teams repeatedly that it's going to be another 5 minutes; for me, that was the most frustrating aspect of the whole situation.

With that said, I want to focus on the question quality at this event, because I thought it was distinctly worse than similar events have been in the past. Though I normally bitch about science, in this case, the science seemed pretty competently executed to me (although a clue about the AC version of this effect was neg bait for "Josephson" and the tossup on some incomprehensible fluid mechanics thing seemed unnecessary) so as far as physics and math went, I don't have much to complain about. However, many of the literature and history questions (and some in other categories) seemed very transparent and had really easy clues in the very beginnings of tossups. One example that sticks with me is a tossup on John Searle which began with his work on intentionality. Now, I know this is of limited interests to most people, but Searle is very well known for this work, so of course I was thinking that it couldn't possibly be him, what with that clue in the first line. There was a tossup on Castiglione with early clues about how he valued erudition or some such thing and a tossup on the Lollards which quickly narrowed down to "these guys translated the Bible in the 14th century," both in the first round. Other problematic questions include the tossups on Carnival, the Academy, the Albigensian crusade, and Fermat's Little theorem in the second round, and so on. Basically, most of those questions suffered from the fact that it was very easy to figure out what was being asked based on a few simple linguistic or temporal clues that tended to come very early in the question.

The other complaint I have, which I've voiced before, is the impossible third bonus part (my favorite example: name this Bioy-Casares novel that is neither Diary of the War of the Pig nor The Invention of Morel). I think that some tournaments are a good place to have these canon-expanding parts; Chicago Open is one example, because that's a tournament where you get crazy super-teams that can convert those kinds of questions. I'm not sure that VCU Open is a place where such parts need to be introduced; very often it felt like a decent team would get 20 points on a given bonus, and had no shot at the third part at all. I think if the difficulty distribution was more uniform (either uniformly harder or uniformly easier) that would not have been such a problem, but oftentimes it felt like bonuses were very luck-of-the-draw and didn't really do a good job of distinguishing between various levels of knowledge.

My overall feeling was one of disappointment with this tournament, partly for logistical reasons, but mostly because I felt the writing was not as good as I thought it would be given the team responsible for it. It certainly wasn't bad overall, and there were many very good questions (one of my favorites was the "Ograbme" tossup, though I question whether that can really be said to be the "name" of the turtle; I said "the turtle from the embargo cartoon" first, then said "Ograbme" and got the points) but it was not nearly as good as it could have been.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by Crimson Rosella »

I agree that thixotropy, while an interesting topic, is far too obscure to include as a tossup selection. I felt like the only really good uniquely-identifying clue in the question was "opposite of rheopectic." It would, however make a good bonus part (as it did at FICHTE).

That being said, the science I heard was very good in general, and I enjoyed most of the music tossups as well.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by The Toad to Wigan Pier »

Paul the Gorilla wrote:I agree that thixotropy, while an interesting topic, is far too obscure to include as a tossup selection. I felt like the only really good uniquely-identifying clue in the question was "opposite of rheopectic." It would, however make a good bonus part (as it did at FICHTE).
Personally I didn't think that thixotropy was that obscure, but then again I don't really know much about what is part of the science canon or not.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by grapesmoker »

Thixotropy is not that obscure; if you have any background in fluid dynamics, chances are you've heard of it. I thought it was a pretty interesting question.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by No Rules Westbrook »

Yeah, it's come up before too. Hell, even I've heard of thixotropy.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by Ethnic history of the Vilnius region »

I mean, I'm the last person who will ever comment about anything related to science questions being acceptable or whatever, but I searched for "thixotropy" in the Stanford database, QBDB, and ACFDB. It appears that it's never appeared as a tossup, bonus, or clue. It's quite possible (probable?) I searched it wrong, though.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by Important Bird Area »

Searching for "thixotropic" returns a number of references.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by Auks Ran Ova »

"Thixotropic" returns several results from the Stanford Archive, while "thixotropy" returns a few results from quizbowlpackets.com, including the 2007 NSC.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by Ethnic history of the Vilnius region »

Beyond Freedom and Diggity wrote:Searching for "thixotropic" returns a number of references.
There we go. The the genius of universal thioxotropy-as-tossup confirmed and bolstered.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by wd4gdz »

While writing that TU, I came along something called the Kaye effect, which can be seen in this kinda cool YouTube video.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GX4_3cV_3Mw
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by Theory Of The Leisure Flask »

Obviously, the Round 9 delay has been touched on, and I'm not really qualified to critique 90% of the questions at this difficulty level. And I must stress that it was good to be thrown into the fire for my first tournament back in three years, so no problems there. But before I shut up, one little complaint and one big complaint:

Little complaint: The Dafne/Jacopo Peri/Claude Monteverdi bonus was, far as I could tell, the easiest bonus in the tournament by ridiculous orders of magnitude.

Big complaint: Poetry? What's poetry? I counted three poetry TUs in the entire tournament (Orlando Innamorato, Dylan Thomas, Piers Plowman), and if we're going to have four lit TS per packet, then one of those four should fairly consistently be poetry IMO.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by Sima Guang Hater »

grapesmoker wrote:Thixotropy is not that obscure; if you have any background in fluid dynamics, chances are you've heard of it
hell if you have a background in ketchup you've heard of it
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by Blackboard Monitor Vimes »

The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote:
grapesmoker wrote:Thixotropy is not that obscure; if you have any background in fluid dynamics, chances are you've heard of it
hell if you have a background in ketchup you've heard of it
That's why I'd heard that word before!!!!!!!!! Add anyone with a background in Vonnegut to that list. In a short story that I believe was in Bagombo Snuff Box but may have been in Welcome to the Monkey House, there's a guy whose been pretending to work for a ketchup company and he rambles about thixotropy for like a page and a half. Haha, SCIENCE! Man, I wish I had been able to fraud that (I zone out when I hear too many words I don't understand...).
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by Schweizerkas »

The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote:
grapesmoker wrote:Thixotropy is not that obscure; if you have any background in fluid dynamics, chances are you've heard of it
hell if you have a background in ketchup you've heard of it
I predict that at next year's ICT, the science distribution will include a bonus on "FTPE, identify the following condiments from their viscous properties."
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by Crimson Rosella »

Alas, I should do more packet research before making an effort to criticize based on canon (or play a few more years of quizbowl). Apologies.

What incomprehensible fluid mechanics tossup were you referring to, Jerry?
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by grapesmoker »

Paul the Gorilla wrote:What incomprehensible fluid mechanics tossup were you referring to, Jerry?
There was some sort of tossup in the final round we played against Minnesota (packet 12) on some model of... something or other. It was definitely fluid mechanics, but I have no idea what it was actually about.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

I remember that. I also remember that tossup in the finals on some sort of organism or another going dead. Apparently it's useful in some kind of experiments.

This provides: 1) evidence that my overall suckage at this tournament originated from being totally brain-dead; 2) evidence that that tossup was pretty hard because otherwise I might remember, like, several words from it.

Also, the tossup of GAGs was a little extreme, I think, since it came up once before, and as a middle clue (that it is a component of proteoglycan).

Aside from that, I still can't remember enough to comment yet.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by vandyhawk »

everyday847 wrote:I remember that. I also remember that tossup in the finals on some sort of organism or another going dead. Apparently it's useful in some kind of experiments.

Also, the tossup of GAGs was a little extreme, I think, since it came up once before, and as a middle clue (that it is a component of proteoglycan).
I feel like I've written a bonus before on glycosaminoglycans, but maybe it didn't get used or something, or I actually never wrote it but had thought about doing so... In any case, it's a topic that should be covered in any biochem class. Whether that means it should be a tossup in a non-finals round (was it finals or no?) remains to be seen, but I'd hesitate to get too bent out of shape over it. I'm also curious what this crazy organism tossup was.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by wd4gdz »

I figured I'd post some of the science that has been discussed.

Moore and Hahn developed constitutive equations for substances with this property, while Green and Weltman used hysteresis loops to study it. Pronounced in systems containing non-spherical particles, this phenomenon is associated with the Bingham equation and is typically caused by the breakdown of flocs. The term rheopexy is sometimes used to denote the anti form of this property, which can apply to a type of non-Newtownian fluid whose viscosity decreases over time as a result of a constant shear rate. For 10 points, name this reversible property exhibited by certain gels, such as ketchup, that are capable of becoming liquid when disturbed, and return to a semi-solid state upon standing.
ANSWER: thixotropy [accept word variants, such as thixotropic]

Kobayashi used a transition state analogue to synthesize an artificial one of these structures, which is the namesake of a cofactor encoded by the SERPIND-1 gene, and activates the clotting inhibitor antithrombin. Hurler syndrome and Sanfilippo syndrome are caused by the inability to break down these structures, and their concentration can be estimated by using alcian blue dye. The receptor CD44 is associated with the largest one of these structures, which can contain more than 25,000 repeating units. These structures bear negatively charged carboxylate and sulfate groups, and are composed of a sugar acid, such as uronic acid, and an amino sugar, such as N-acetylglucosamine. For 10 points, name these linear polymers of disaccharides that are components of proteoglycans, examples of which include hyaluronan and heparin.
ANSWER: glycosaminoglycans [also accept GAGs]

Nimrod Miller showed that nitric oxide induces aspects of egg-laying behavior in this organism, and attraction in these animals involves the release of the pheromones attractin, enticin, temptin, and seductin. In order to reproduce, several of these animals copulate together in a "daisy chain," in which members both deliver and receive sperm. Often used as a model organism, their growth cones have a well-described cytoskeletal system. The neurobiologist Eric Kandel repeatedly squirted water onto its siphon in order to study non-associative learning, specifically, the gill and siphon withdrawal reflex. For 10 points, name this invertebrate, a type of sea slug whose electrical synapses control the release of purple ink when threatened.
ANSWER: Aplysia californica

Strip biaxial simulations often give better results for a model named for Peng than this model. The principal invariants in it are defined in terms of the Cauchy-Green tensor, and it is often used with soft tissues, including that of the brain. When N=2, the Ogden material model will reduce to a type of strain energy density function associated with them. One of the first hyperelastic models to be developed, they are associated with conditions in which large deformations are involved. For 10 points, name this doubly-eponymous generalization of a neo-Hookean solid.
ANSWER: Mooney-Rivlin solids
[this one was unfortunately written the morning of the tournament, so my apologies if it wasn't a great tossup, or if it wasn't a great idea for a tossup]
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

wd4gdz wrote: Kobayashi used a transition state analogue to synthesize an artificial one of these structures, which is the namesake of a cofactor encoded by the SERPIND-1 gene, and activates the clotting inhibitor antithrombin. Hurler syndrome and Sanfilippo syndrome are caused by the inability to break down these structures, and their concentration can be estimated by using alcian blue dye. The receptor CD44 is associated with the largest one of these structures, which can contain more than 25,000 repeating units. These structures bear negatively charged carboxylate and sulfate groups, and are composed of a sugar acid, such as uronic acid, and an amino sugar, such as N-acetylglucosamine. For 10 points, name these linear polymers of disaccharides that are components of proteoglycans, examples of which include hyaluronan and heparin.
ANSWER: glycosaminoglycans [also accept GAGs]
Yeah, this is something I should have gotten--it is pretty standard biochem; it's just an uncommon TU subject, apparently. I approve, actually, now. Shame I couldn't pull it.
Nimrod Miller showed that nitric oxide induces aspects of egg-laying behavior in this organism, and attraction in these animals involves the release of the pheromones attractin, enticin, temptin, and seductin. In order to reproduce, several of these animals copulate together in a "daisy chain," in which members both deliver and receive sperm. Often used as a model organism, their growth cones have a well-described cytoskeletal system. The neurobiologist Eric Kandel repeatedly squirted water onto its siphon in order to study non-associative learning, specifically, the gill and siphon withdrawal reflex. For 10 points, name this invertebrate, a type of sea slug whose electrical synapses control the release of purple ink when threatened.
ANSWER: Aplysia californica
Okay, this does sound familiar now, and I think I recall an experiment sometime (apparently lots of times!) involving making a sea slug squirt ink. It just was a shitload too much for me to pull at the time. Objections to these two, withdrawn.

Thing I'd like to bring up: Billy, could you post the computer science you wrote for this tournament? I have a couple of questions about misplaced clues and transparency that I'd appreciate if you'd answer. I obviously may be very wrong.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by vandyhawk »

Maybe it's a whole in my knowledge, but the sea slug tossup seems pretty difficult. Perhaps noted neurobiologist Ray Luo has a comment. Also, I actually could have answered that Mooney-Rivlin tossup, but only b/c I included it as a too-hard 3rd part of a bonus for regionals. Probably not the best choice, but I suppose that's what happens when you're writing the morning of the tournament. The GAG tossup seems fine though.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by Sima Guang Hater »

Some comments
-I only know about aplysia because of a neuroscience class, and because Ray once submitted a question about it to a tournament I was editing. That's probably pushing it quite a bit; in a bonus, sure, but not a tossup.
-Mooney-Rivlin solids, again, bonus, maybe, tossup, not yet.
-GAGs fall into that category of "I know exactly what you're talking about, I just can't pull the name", which makes it fine tossup material in my opinion
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by cvdwightw »

It pretty much comes down to, "If you've taken a neuroscience course you'll get Aplysia, otherwise you probably won't have heard of it." It's a pretty important model organism in neuroscience, but it's not at all important anywhere else, to my knowledge. It probably falls into the category of "things that are more important in real life than they are in quizbowl".
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by Susan »

It might make more sense to ask about a more generally useful model organism, since more people are likely to have heard of those (either through lower-level classes or because a greater number of specialized fields use the organism). While there are plenty of questions on Drosophila or C. elegans, I don't think I've heard many questions on such champions of the model organism world as S. cerevisiae, E. coli (I recall questions about E. coli, but not about its use as a model organism), A. thaliana, tetrahymena, Xenopus, and zebrafish. I think it's very easy to get through a biology degree without encountering aplysia (I never ran across it in classes, though by the grace of God I took no neuro classes), but all of the model organisms I've listed above, except perhaps tetrahymena (though key work in a number of fields, like the discovery of dynein and Grieder and Blackburn's work on telomerase, has been conducted in tetrahymena), are likely to come up in undergraduate classes.

So get writing--I hope to see questions on my favorite zebrafish mutant, heartless pinhead, at every tournament next year.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by Lapego1 »

Though I didn't play this tournament, FWIW I remember aplysia coming up in an AP Bio review book (princeton review maybe?) I read. I think it was something about it having the fewest neurons (and still relatively large) of any organism, though I could be wrong.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by wd4gdz »

Here are the computer science tossups for this tournament, with the caveat that it is the hardest subject for me to write about it, since surfing the Internet is challenging enough for me. I would certainly appreciate feedback from you Andy, and from any CS majors (i.e. Mike, Evan, and Rob), and from anyone else with an opinion to share.

Better alignment of data in the cache is an advantage of the unrolled type of this structure, and they are used in the bottom layer of an extension of them that was invented by William Pugh. Their end can include sentinel objects which act as dummy links, and programming languages such as Scheme and LISP have these data structures built-in. Developed in the 1950s by Newell, Shaw, and Simon, these structures include an XOR variety that can prevent the need for more space when using the doubly type. For 10 points, name this linear data structure that uses pointers to connect nodes together.
ANSWER: linked lists

Intersection type assignment systems were introduced to it by Coppo and Dezani. Its attempt to provide a foundation in a certain field was shown to be inconsistent by the Kleene-Rosser paradox, and the Curry-Howard isomorphism states an interpretation of derivations in the typed form. A term in it has at most one normal form as a consequence of a theory named for its formulator and Rosser, and it serves as the basis of functional programming languages such as Miranda, Haskell, and LISP. Its central concept is the expression, and the most common technique for evaluating it is graph reduction. For 10 points, name this notation for arbitrary functions that was introduced by Alonzo Church.
ANSWER: lambda calculus

In addition to Voronoi's tessellation and Johnson-Mehl diagrams, these objects were used by Kayser and Stute to study human lung carcinoma. Problems involving the k type of these objects are NP-complete, and the Euclidean type involve Delaunay triangulation. The running time of one of the fastest ways to find these objects is based on a soft heap and includes the functional inverse of the Ackermann function. Another way to find these objects was first presented by Karger, Klein, and Tarjan, and involves a randomized linear-time algorithm. Greedy algorithms such as Kruskal's algorithm and Prim's algorithm can also be used to compute these objects, which can be used to find a solution to the traveling salesman problem. For 10 points, name this subgraph that contains all of a graph's vertices with the least possible edge weight.
ANSWER: minimum spanning trees
[the lead-in is not really CS, but I thought it was interesting in a bizarre way]

Nakamura has observed Rabi oscillations in these objects. The W state and the Greenberger-Horne-Zeilinger state can be composed of three of these objects, and the Hadamard transform can be performed on a system containing these objects. Optical and hyperfine are the two primary types of it for a trapped ion system, and Josephson junctions can be connected together capacitively to form a "phase-based" system of them. They can be geometrically represented by the Bloch sphere, and Holevo's theorem gives the amount of classical information that that these objects can transmit or store. The name of these objects was coined by Benjamin Schumacher, and they are capable of existing in a superposition of two possible states. For 10 points, name these fundamental units of information in a quantum computer.
ANSWER: qubits [also accept quantum bits]
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

wd4gdz wrote:Better alignment of data in the cache is an advantage of the unrolled type of this structure, and they are used in the bottom layer of an extension of them that was invented by William Pugh. Their end can include sentinel objects which act as dummy links, and programming languages such as Scheme and LISP have these data structures built-in. Developed in the 1950s by Newell, Shaw, and Simon, these structures include an XOR variety that can prevent the need for more space when using the doubly type. For 10 points, name this linear data structure that uses pointers to connect nodes together.
ANSWER: linked lists
So, hypothetically I could buzz after "cache" and say "loop unrolling" because that's essentially the same benefit, right? One way or another, by the time you say "unrolled," you unroll loops and linked lists, and not really anything else (I guess you could do something analogous with recursive functions, but does one?). So the answer space is already two, and I wouldn't phrase the advantage of unrolling loops that way (both since that advantage is minimal these days and since the question more likely wants a data structure). I couldn't parse the second clue, but in the third one you note that these things have ends and can be comprised of objects--I feel like that's way too lateral-able. Scheme is essentially a dialect of LISP, not a separate language, but that's minor. I just think history details of their development, not to mention this XOR variety, are a lot harder than the first clue.
Intersection type assignment systems were introduced to it by Coppo and Dezani. Its attempt to provide a foundation in a certain field was shown to be inconsistent by the Kleene-Rosser paradox, and the Curry-Howard isomorphism states an interpretation of derivations in the typed form. A term in it has at most one normal form as a consequence of a theory named for its formulator and Rosser, and it serves as the basis of functional programming languages such as Miranda, Haskell, and LISP. Its central concept is the expression, and the most common technique for evaluating it is graph reduction. For 10 points, name this notation for arbitrary functions that was introduced by Alonzo Church.
ANSWER: lambda calculus
I could be wrong, but I feel like your leadin is transparent: it has types, so it's a computer language or an abstract similar construct, and it's mutable enough/general enough/unspecified enough that dudes could introduce a new type system in it without making it a different thing. If I had balls (or one fewer Jerry Vinokurov on my team, or both) I'd have buzzed there. The Kleene-Rosser paradox is probably tossupable at this level, and that isomorphism is made slightly easier because "currying" is a basic operation of the lambda calculus. (In general and very rough terms--say you're defining plus (x, y) which returns x+y. You want to evaluate plus (3, 5) = 8. Alternatively, you give plus3 (5) = 8, essentially a "curried" version.)
In addition to Voronoi's tessellation and Johnson-Mehl diagrams, these objects were used by Kayser and Stute to study human lung carcinoma. Problems involving the k type of these objects are NP-complete, and the Euclidean type involve Delaunay triangulation. The running time of one of the fastest ways to find these objects is based on a soft heap and includes the functional inverse of the Ackermann function. Another way to find these objects was first presented by Karger, Klein, and Tarjan, and involves a randomized linear-time algorithm. Greedy algorithms such as Kruskal's algorithm and Prim's algorithm can also be used to compute these objects, which can be used to find a solution to the traveling salesman problem. For 10 points, name this subgraph that contains all of a graph's vertices with the least possible edge weight.
ANSWER: minimum spanning trees
[the lead-in is not really CS, but I thought it was interesting in a bizarre way]
This was pretty cool, actually. I don't know whether Delaunay triangulation is better or worse known than the use of the inverse Ackermann; that's the only thing I'd wonder about at all.
Nakamura has observed Rabi oscillations in these objects. The W state and the Greenberger-Horne-Zeilinger state can be composed of three of these objects, and the Hadamard transform can be performed on a system containing these objects. Optical and hyperfine are the two primary types of it for a trapped ion system, and Josephson junctions can be connected together capacitively to form a "phase-based" system of them. They can be geometrically represented by the Bloch sphere, and Holevo's theorem gives the amount of classical information that that these objects can transmit or store. The name of these objects was coined by Benjamin Schumacher, and they are capable of existing in a superposition of two possible states. For 10 points, name these fundamental units of information in a quantum computer.
ANSWER: qubits [also accept quantum bits]
I don't think this is really CS: it feels like pretty much physics, plus the fact that they're in quantum computers. But none of the clues are, like, quantum-computing stuff, like Shor's algorithm, or Grover's, or my personal favorite Deutsch-Josza. Also, the Hadamard transform is kind of asking for it, because while it's a generalized Fourier transform, kinda, it's also the name of a gate in QC, and you use it in, like, pretty much all QC algorithms (it takes 0 and 1 and turns them into a superposition of 0/1 with equal weight).
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by grapesmoker »

wd4gdz wrote:Nakamura has observed Rabi oscillations in these objects. The W state and the Greenberger-Horne-Zeilinger state can be composed of three of these objects, and the Hadamard transform can be performed on a system containing these objects. Optical and hyperfine are the two primary types of it for a trapped ion system, and Josephson junctions can be connected together capacitively to form a "phase-based" system of them. They can be geometrically represented by the Bloch sphere, and Holevo's theorem gives the amount of classical information that that these objects can transmit or store. The name of these objects was coined by Benjamin Schumacher, and they are capable of existing in a superposition of two possible states. For 10 points, name these fundamental units of information in a quantum computer.
ANSWER: qubits [also accept quantum bits]
When I first heard this question, I assumed it was a physics question rather than CS. In any case, some pointers: the first sentence is not that useful. Nakamura is not an uncommon name, and Rabi oscillations could be observed in many systems, so I'm not sure if it tells me anything other than "this is some system with electrons." I also don't understand the thing that says "Optical and hyperfine are the two primary types of it." First of alll, qubits are plural, not singular, and second, this is not a useful clue without some context about what constitutes a hyperfine or an optical qubit; it sounds like you're talking about electron transitions and it's really confusing. Finally, I would have swapped the clue about Holevo's theorem (which doesn't seem that well known) with the clue on the Bloch sphere (which is a common way of representing qubits), but that's mostly an aesthetic preference.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

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Since we're already on the topic, I'd like to say a few words about CS in quizbowl. For a long time, CS people have complained about its underrepresentation in the game, and they were mostly right; I know I've personally made an effort to write more CS questions in my packets, and I know others have as well. But I feel like more than any other subgroup of specialists, CS players just can't seem to be placated. First it was not enough CS (which was true) and now it's not enough "legitimate" CS, a complaint I've heard expressed by both Evan Silberman and Mike Bentley. Honestly, I don't understand what you guys actually want; it seems like you reject about half of the CS stuff that comes up in quizbowl as "not real CS" or something like that. Certainly that was the attitude that I heard expressed explicitly about this tournament, and while I might agree that it could have used more CS (actually, we could have used more earth science too), none of the questions Billy just posted (by the way, I think he missed a tossup on recursion, which I remember from this weekend) strike me as being illegitimate or "not CS" in any way (well the qubits question involves some physics, but I got it off a math clue, so whatever).

This is puzzling to me; certainly I'm a specialist in a particular subfield of physics, and it's not like I use much of the stuff that gets asked in qb on a daily basis, but I acknowledge that it's part of the discipline. I feel like you guys seem to be perpetually dissatisfied with the answer choices for CS questions in packets, but I can't actually figure out what it is that you're unhappy with. So I'd appreciate some kind of explanation for what constitutes "real CS" in your minds.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by Matt Weiner »

I mean, yeah, I have to agree with Jerry's point here even more emphatically...CS has never been a category in quizbowl, and there's no reason to expect that to change given that "real" CS (anything without "sort" in its name or anything that does not reduce to general literacy about what the parts of a PC are called) is by far the least accessible thing for nonspecialists to learn and write. It took me like six years in quizbowl just to start getting questions on things like "inheritance" that are literally first day of class concepts for programmers. I hope people understand what the weight of history is here and don't have the false idea that there ever were tournaments with more than 3/3 or so on CS, or that the CS was ever anything but terrible. Asking for more CS seems as unrealistic as asking for more questions on specific schools of historiography or concepts from music theory or other things that are of absolutely no interest or accessibility to people not majoring in them.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by The Toad to Wigan Pier »

As a computer science major(actually a major of fake computer science, but close enough), my problems with the CS questions wasn't so much the answer selection of the CS tossups, but the tossups themselves. Take that linked-list tossup for example. As was pointed out, within a few words, anybody with CS experience would know that the question is either on linked lists or loops and shortly later with the word "structure", the answer sort of becomes obvious. Of the tossups written, the minimum spanning tree was the only one I would consider to have proper clues and ordering of aforementioned clues.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

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The Toad to Wigan Pier wrote:As a computer science major(actually a major of fake computer science, but close enough), my problems with the CS questions wasn't so much the answer selection of the CS tossups, but the tossups themselves. Take that linked-list tossup for example. As was pointed out, within a few words, anybody with CS experience would know that the question is either on linked lists or loops and shortly later with the word "structure", the answer sort of becomes obvious. Of the tossups written, the minimum spanning tree was the only one I would consider to have proper clues and ordering of aforementioned clues.
I'm not talking about questions that could be written better. That's an entirely separate and legitimate argument, since I don't think anyone thinks any questions should be written poorly. I'm referring to an attitude of dissatisfaction with answer choices (again, see Evan's post early in this thread) that I've seen from several CS people on the circuit.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

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I've always rolled my eyes at the kind of lambasting that Evan/Bernadette are currently leveling on VCU Open. It's unfortunate that you guys are best at categories that are typically very hard to get right, and which have always been tough areas for editors to gauge. But the idea that this was a bad tournament because of misplaced clues or poor answer selections in what amounts to about 2% of the set is absurd. And I say this despite the fact that the linked-list tossup cost us an advantage in the finals against Jerry's team. Quite frankly, a lot of tossups that were going dead for you guys were very good tossups that did a great job of distinguishing knowledge among the more competitive teams.

You guys are certainly right to complain about suboptimal clues and answer selection in your strong areas, but the idea that the tournament was a huge disappointment because of those areas is far from the truth.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by BuzzerZen »

I agree with Will: the minimum spanning tree question was the only one of the three that I heard (didn't hear qubits) that had well-ordered non-transparent clues. Linked lists and the lambda calculus are lovely choices for answers, but the clues were not well-ordered. The lambda calculus pretty famously has both typed and untyped forms.

My complaints about legitimate CS in quiz bowl have I think been mostly from when I was in high school, when tossups on Java keywords were all the rage. Really, none of the CS answers at this tournament were illegitimate, it was just that 2 of the 3 tossups I heard were transparent. I haven't played enough college quiz bowl to really have a clue what the status quo is.

And Andrew, I wasn't pissed off about this tournament just because of computer science answers, and Bernadette wasn't just pissed off by Catholic history. Between us we were, variously, pissed about every religion tossup secretly being a secret history tossup, every philosophy tossup being about mind or language, poorly-ordered clues cropping up in categories that Matt probably can write pretty well...really, at this point, it's sort of hard to remember the exact reasons playing the last rounds of this tournament was like pulling teeth, and my anger was probably colored by externalities. And let's be honest here, we're not talking about a disaster, we're talking about a fine tournament that wasn't as good as it could have been, for reasons that are fairly obvious, viz., Matt having to write the tournament while it was going on. For my own part, I didn't have much fun; probably should've written my thoughts down at the time. When the set is released, maybe I'll have more to say.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

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I mean, yeah, I have to agree with Jerry's point here even more emphatically...CS has never been a category in quizbowl, and there's no reason to expect that to change given that "real" CS (anything without "sort" in its name or anything that does not reduce to general literacy about what the parts of a PC are called) is by far the least accessible thing for nonspecialists to learn and write. It took me like six years in quizbowl just to start getting questions on things like "inheritance" that are literally first day of class concepts for programmers. I hope people understand what the weight of history is here and don't have the false idea that there ever were tournaments with more than 3/3 or so on CS, or that the CS was ever anything but terrible. Asking for more CS seems as unrealistic as asking for more questions on specific schools of historiography or concepts from music theory or other things that are of absolutely no interest or accessibility to people not majoring in them.
I don't really care either way, since more CS would probably displace math, which I like more; but I don't think comparing CS to an obscure region of history or music is valid. In particular, I'd argue that the entire classical music distribution is quite difficult for non-specialists to get into, especially if you don't play any instrument or are tonedeaf. Of course, music may be a bit unique to me, but I don't see any reason why CS would be more difficult than, say philosophy or music -- all of them involve a lot of technical terminology and are not taught in most high schools.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

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yisun wrote: In particular, I'd argue that the entire classical music distribution is quite difficult for non-specialists to get into, especially if you don't play any instrument or are tonedeaf.
What, seriously? You can enjoy just listening to music—I know I do, and I don't play any instruments. Have fun reading code to induce a similar effect.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

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Funn-Dimensional Man wrote:
yisun wrote: In particular, I'd argue that the entire classical music distribution is quite difficult for non-specialists to get into, especially if you don't play any instrument or are tonedeaf.
What, seriously? You can enjoy just listening to music—I know I do, and I don't play any instruments. Have fun reading code to induce a similar effect.
You could also read a book about algorithms. I'd find that more enjoyable, as I personally don't enjoy classical music at all, but that's irrelevant. Obviously you can learn about any subject in quiz bowl by, well, learning about it, but what I'm saying is that the terminology and conventions of music are hard to figure out without outside background. Nothing wrong with that, but it's not done as part of a normal curriculum.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by cvdwightw »

grapesmoker wrote:(by the way, I think he missed a tossup on recursion, which I remember from this weekend)
The recursion question was written by Ray Luo and was in one of the novice finals packets.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by grapesmoker »

yisun wrote:I don't really care either way, since more CS would probably displace math, which I like more; but I don't think comparing CS to an obscure region of history or music is valid. In particular, I'd argue that the entire classical music distribution is quite difficult for non-specialists to get into, especially if you don't play any instrument or are tonedeaf.
Notedly tone-deaf person me answered several music tossups this weekend. I have no idea what you're talking about.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by yisun »

grapesmoker wrote:
yisun wrote:I don't really care either way, since more CS would probably displace math, which I like more; but I don't think comparing CS to an obscure region of history or music is valid. In particular, I'd argue that the entire classical music distribution is quite difficult for non-specialists to get into, especially if you don't play any instrument or are tonedeaf.
Notedly tone-deaf person me answered several music tossups this weekend. I have no idea what you're talking about.
Of course I'm not saying this is impossible. My point is that, a priori, there's no reason this should happen more often than the analogue for CS.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

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yisun wrote:Of course I'm not saying this is impossible. My point is that, a priori, there's no reason this should happen more often than the analogue for CS.
I literally do not understand the point you are trying to get across. What does this mean?
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by naturalistic phallacy »

theMoMA wrote:You guys are certainly right to complain about suboptimal clues and answer selection in your strong areas, but the idea that the tournament was a huge disappointment because of those areas is far from the truth.
I understand your complaint here. There were other things unrelated to the tournament that detracted from the experience for me, and that did show in my initial post. However, Matt has admitted to the complete lack of a religion distro in this tournament, I feel that my main complaint regarding the religion questions in this tournament are valid. Writing a few history or myth tossups for a tournament and calling them religion is all right by me as long as they are outnumbered by real religion questions overall. But, really, not having religion because you don't like to write it or have difficulty selecting answers isn't all that great.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by yisun »

grapesmoker wrote:
yisun wrote:Of course I'm not saying this is impossible. My point is that, a priori, there's no reason this should happen more often than the analogue for CS.
I literally do not understand the point you are trying to get across. What does this mean?
Matt claims that CS is a particularly hard field for non-specialists to answer questions in. As evidence, he states that he's had trouble answering CS and says that there are concepts in CS commonly known to CS majors but very hard for everyone else (i.e. inheritance). I claim that this is very similar to the situation in music, which I have trouble making any headway in and which also contains concepts well known to people who play instruments (tones, major/minor keys, etc) but hard for others.
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