Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by John Ketzkorn » Wed Jul 27, 2016 8:22 pm

UlyssesInvictus wrote:
Joker wrote:James Incandenza - I'm currently reading Infinite Jest, and my teammate Matthew has as well. Matthew said he tuned out at "this director". [...]
Wait really? My teammates were just joking about someone potentially attempting to write a question like this. Anyone know what packet this happened in?
Editors 2.
This director made an experimental film using a tin plate in each of its 4,444 frames to reflect different Kinds of Light for one frame apiece. In a memoir, he recalled being inspired by a doorknob spinning around on the floor on the day his Brando-obsessed father died fixing a squeaky mattress. He partly named one film for a figure in French Canadian lore who is so beautiful that her onlookers turn into gems; in another of his films, the viewers of a grotesque carnival show slowly turn into eyeballs. This director of The (*) Medusa v. The Odalisque and Cage (III) - Free Show was buried with the master tape of his last film in his skull after he stuck his head in a microwave oven; that film features his lover Joelle van Dyne, who assumed the veiled identity of Madame Psychosis after this man's death. For 10 points, name this fictional director of a film sought by Quebecois terrorists whose viewers lose interest in anything else, Infinite Jest (V).
I ended up buzzing around Cage (III). "Brando obsessed" went over my head (although seeing it written, I realize this is referring to James's father's obsession with Marlon Brando). I recognized the lead-in as JOI-esque, and at "slowly turned into eyeballs", I was thinking of directors I had in my notes because it sounded like a summary I had read (little did I realize that it was a summary in the filmography footnote of Infinite Jest). I've read the filmography footnote four times (twice in the week before this tournament!!!), so I was very disappointed I didn't power this. This was creative, but extremely difficult to power given that you have to mask the fact the director is fictional.
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by otsasonr » Wed Jul 27, 2016 8:27 pm

Canada would like to object to the clue for the bonus part on Tom Thomson, where he is described as a member of the Group of Seven. As all Canadians know, this is false, since he died prior to its formation.

This made us mad.
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by Mike Bentley » Wed Jul 27, 2016 11:07 pm

otsasonr wrote:Canada would like to object to the clue for the bonus part on Tom Thomson, where he is described as a member of the Group of Seven. As all Canadians know, this is false, since he died prior to its formation.

This made us mad.
Whoops, sorry about that.
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by UlyssesInvictus » Wed Jul 27, 2016 11:26 pm

Joker wrote:
I ended up buzzing around Cage (III). "Brando obsessed" went over my head (although seeing it written, I realize this is referring to James's father's obsession with Marlon Brando). I recognized the lead-in as JOI-esque, and at "slowly turned into eyeballs", I was thinking of directors I had in my notes because it sounded like a summary I had read (little did I realize that it was a summary in the filmography footnote of Infinite Jest). I've read the filmography footnote four times (twice in the week before this tournament!!!), so I was very disappointed I didn't power this. This was creative, but extremely difficult to power given that you have to mask the fact the director is fictional.
Haha, that's crazy--I'd imagined there would be some mention of "Confluential" or the various film critics mentioned in the footnotes, though I suppose that's being self-interestedly difficult. The filmography footnote is super cool, but it looks like most of the clues in this tossup reference stuff you could get by reading the main text (which isn't to say you couldn't also get them by obsessively memorizing the liners for each film entry...).
features his lover Joelle van Dyne
Also, I think this is either nothing but a rumor or purposefully ambiguous in the book, but not definitively true.
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by Amizda Calyx » Thu Jul 28, 2016 2:00 am

I'm a little disappointed that several clues were added to the Trypanosoma tossup that I had specifically avoided because they were non-unique -- there seems to have been a conflation between kinetoplastids or trypanosomatids and Trypanosoma, despite important other kinetoplastid genuses existing such as Leishmania, which also has mini/maxicircles and also uses polycistronic transcription followed by trans-splicing.

Other than that, though, I'm quite pleased with the other edits to the 4/4 questions of mine kept. No idea why my geography tossup wasn't kept when it had that excellent leadin about famous children's cartoon Gavin the Leafy Seadragon, though...
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by theMoMA » Thu Jul 28, 2016 2:22 am

I enjoyed this year's CO, and I appreciate the editors for coming together to edit it when it looked like the tournament might collapse. I thought that this year's set was very hard but mostly fair. Some thoughts on things of particularly noteworthy difficulty below:

Some of the science bonuses seemed brutally difficult; when Billy is shrugging off a zero, you know you've written an ass-hard science bonus, and that happened a couple of times. Science is a specialist's category, but I think that more of these bonuses should have an easy part that science-aware generalists (let alone the best science specialists) have a fighting chance at converting. When I put together conversion stats from my CO a few years back, it stood out that science was much more poorly converted than any other major category, and I suspect that this was the case with 2016 CO (and it wouldn't surprise me if the gulf widened a bit). If we're going to bring science into line with the difficulty of other categories, we'll have to remember that not every team has someone as lockdown as Eric or Billy, and make sure that at least one part of each bonus is accessible to teams composed of more generalist-minded players. Obviously, at a tournament like CO, not every science bonus will (or should) have a part that you can get on generalist knowledge alone, but I think there should be more emphasis on making the easy parts truly accessible up and down the field.

I was a bit miffed at a few bonus parts that seemed hellbent, above all else, on announcing that a term of art like "cognitive science" is, in the parlance of the individual perhaps responsible, "A Thing." A lot of these bonus parts seemed to me to be more interested in declaring the "Thingness" of the particular term of art than on whether a person might have meaningful knowledge of the work of someone like David Marr without necessarily being able to wrestle the jumble of generic words into the proper nomenclature in five seconds' time.

An analogous issue, to me, was that some of the literature tossups seemed interested in finding out whether you could jump through the hoop of remembering a very difficult title like "The Autobiography of Red" or "Jealousy" when, to me at least, those things are hard enough that they're more useful as clues to answers like "Robbe-Grillet" or "Nouveau Roman" or "Anne Carson" or "Geryon" or "Heracles," etc.

The examples from social science and literature are all topics that I know a bit about (certainly not enough, I'll grant you, to warrant points in all situations), but it seemed to me that the framing of the questions mentioning these topics was unnecessarily cruel, given how difficult they already are.

That said, as mentioned above, I thought this was a fun and fair CO, and I was very happy to have such a talented group of editors come together to work on it after the editorial stalemate this spring. Thank you for putting the set together.
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by gyre and gimble » Thu Jul 28, 2016 3:05 am

Periplus of the Erythraean Sea wrote:Personal comments: the religion and myth were great - I could tell Matt was trying to set a model of what questions in these areas should look like going forward and I think he did.
Adventure Temple Trail wrote:RM

As Will alluded to earlier, I did take deliberate steps with Religion and Mythology to stake out areas of future exploration for those categories. Among them, I:
  • put a decent number of questions on scholarship of religion and mythology under those category headings proper (e.g. the myth tossup on Jung, the "theories of religion" bonus on sacred-profane/Axial Age/hypersensitive agency detection device, the submission on Max Muller), rather than jamming all of that into social science,
  • focused on texts where possible, both in asking people to name them (e.g.: Description of Greece, Shabaka stone, the Natyashastra, Surah 9) and using "lit clues" from them as the primary source of clues (e.g.: tossups on Briseis and "the shield of Aeneas" [talk about overdue!], death of Pan bonus)
  • focused on concepts useful in comparative perspective ("hospitality," "sleeping under a mountain until the nation's hour of need") instead of deep-diving into the characters of an obscure myth system,
  • highlighted the cultural or ceremonial aspects of believing in a religious/mythological story where possible (bonus on oral literature, submission on Hmong funeral rites, Santa Muerte, the Acrocorinth temple complex, Chinese silk myths submission)
  • introduced less "sacred" topics which nonetheless pertain to the supernatural things humans believe in (e.g. Church of Satan, Nazi occult fantasies, unicorn hoaxes, cryptids)

    None of the above was dogmatic or absolute across the tournament; there were still plenty of questions (esp. submitted questions) which took a more "traditional quizbowl" approach, including common links and just asking people to know mythical beings straight-up (or identify a culture from its myths). Regardless, I definitely did stake out a position in the way I edited these categories, which I hope inspires and invigorates future editing work on them. (In particular, I have come to believe over the last few years that the current state of mythology questions at high-difficulty tournaments is somewhere between "a bore" and "an embarrassment". Expect to hear more general thoughts about this in my upcoming manifesto.)
Periplus of the Erythraean Sea wrote:I thought this was an interesting experiment worth carrying out more at hard tournaments in the future. The big issue I foresee is accessibility for lower-level events: there's only so many theorists who are accessible at a lower level, and you can't really write that many pure myth tossups clued mostly from theorists Levi-Strauss or Jung for tournaments like ACF Fall. Mixing in clues like this here and there is a good idea and should be welcome, and I think mythography bonuses should be a regular feature of the myth distribution (though should not eat it up entirely).
I want to push back on this sentiment. The problem here, I think, is that we're falling into the trap of "the only real knowledge is academic stuff you learn in class." Let's think about how most people approach mythology. Mythology is primarily learned outside of in-class academic environments. The vast majority of people interested in mythology are reading the stories because those stories are interesting and exciting; they're not reading mythography, and I'd guess that most of the time they're not even interested in mythography or what the myths say about the cultures that created them. Not to say that those things are unimportant. What I mean is that they don't reflect what "mythology" as a subject is for most people. For example, tossups on the mythology of the Canary Islanders or the Bororo are simply anthropology questions in disguise. The Carl Jung tossup was a thought question in disguise. So before we rush off and congratulate ourselves on how "real" our myth tossups are when we write them on what's basically social science, maybe we should have a discussion on what mythology as a category should be. I submit that mythography is only a marginal component of the category, based on the size of the cross-section of mythology fans who approach the subject as an academic topic.

I'd also like to point out that, despite people's recurring complaints about the "embarrassingly" staleness of the category, there's still a lot of non-trivial or obscure topics to be explored. Just look at last year's CO for exciting, new tossups on King Lot, Etain, and the Cad Goddeu. And that's just from British Isles myth. Nor is it necessary on every tossup to dig up answerlines that have never been used before. If we're worried about chasing after obscure myth system, it's confusing to me why we're tossing up the Canary Islanders.

Finally, there should be some limit on how much we emphasize primary sources. Outside of the major epics, people generally don't take a primary-source based approach to mythology. And I mean that in two ways: First, in the literal sense. People aren't reading Description of Greece, they're reading Robert Graves. Second, in the sense that even when they're reading Description of Greece, or more commonly, let's say, the Kalevala, they aren't paying attention to individual lines, the way things are phrased, or particular descriptive phrases. Obviously, some of those literary elements are important, but if it takes reading some academic paper on the Iliad to recognize the importance of how the burning Greek ships are described or whatever, that clue probably doesn't belong anywhere past the first couple lines. Overdoing the primary-sources-are-as-real-as-it-gets thing crowds out more gettable clues based on things that more people enjoy learning about, and therefore makes questions unnecessarily harder to play.

So let's take this "cool" new thing with a grain of salt, because it comes at the risk of converting the mythology category into a social science based on things very few people read, study, or take active interest in. And if you're going to do it, please make sure you know what you're doing (which I suppose Matt did).

With all that said, I do think the bolded part above is a great new place for exploration, and in keeping with what I think the mythology category is supposed to be.
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by vinteuil » Thu Jul 28, 2016 10:08 am

I liked Matt's approach precisely because it does effectively increase the social science distribution (something that many people, including myself, have advocated) at the expense of one of the most overexposed categories relative to the amount of available material.
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by Adventure Temple Trail » Thu Jul 28, 2016 10:29 am

gyre and gimble wrote: ...maybe we should have a discussion on what mythology as a category should be.
I plan to start such a discussion soon -- be on the lookout for a separate thread this evening. Your thoughts will certainly be welcomed and appreciated.

Re: the Canary islanders myth question: I'm willing to admit that that question (a submission) was all of (a) gut-bustingly hard (b) scraping around for obscure stuff that people aren't actually likely to know (c) poorly-constructed, in that it said "Tifinagh script" before noting that they weren't on the mainland, leading people to neg with answers such as "Berbers" or "Tuaregs" (whereas if I reversed it, the clue would have served its intended purpose in helping people eliminate wrong answers). [Thanks to people who complained during the IRC reading for pointing out that last one.] If I could give the tournament a do-over or if there were future mirrors, I would swap it with the tiebreaker on "ghost ships" within the same packet, which is more in keeping with the way I did stuff elsewhere in the set.
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Thu Jul 28, 2016 11:58 am

Adventure Temple Trail wrote:
gyre and gimble wrote: ...maybe we should have a discussion on what mythology as a category should be.
I plan to start such a discussion soon -- be on the lookout for a separate thread this evening. Your thoughts will certainly be welcomed and appreciated.

Re: the Canary islanders myth question: I'm willing to admit that that question (a submission) was all of (a) gut-bustingly hard (b) scraping around for obscure stuff that people aren't actually likely to know (c) poorly-constructed, in that it said "Tifinagh script" before noting that they weren't on the mainland, leading people to neg with answers such as "Berbers" or "Tuaregs" (whereas if I reversed it, the clue would have served its intended purpose in helping people eliminate wrong answers). [Thanks to people who complained during the IRC reading for pointing out that last one.] If I could give the tournament a do-over or if there were future mirrors, I would swap it with the tiebreaker on "ghost ships" within the same packet, which is more in keeping with the way I did stuff elsewhere in the set.
boooo hissssssss

Joking aside, for what it's worth I thought that question used some of the most likely non-history clues people are likely to encounter about the Guanches (myth, linguistics, etc.); that said, it was probably better off in Your Choice or something (I thought the question was YC until reading this thread, actually, though I supposed retrospectively that would've meant the packet had no myth). It's a really hard answer topic (no kidding) but I think it's been established that this CO didn't suffer as much from answerline difficulty issues as much as cluing difficulty ones.

I think Jacob Reed makes a good point that putting more scholarship into the myth distribution has the convenient effect of expanding an underasked category at the expense of an overasked one - though I will add the caveat that this only applies to tournaments of Regionals difficulty and above, since the amount of accessible social science drops proportionally far higher than the amount of accessible myth as you go down in difficulty. This also reflects how a lot of categories are written these days - historiography clues in the history distribution (we've had questions on Herodotus and friends for years), criticism clues in the lit distribution, etc. I'm not sure I am as enamored with the text-driven approach to myth - I think that would be appropriate if tournaments followed the MYSTERIUM model and moved questions clued from texts like the Aeneid to the Literature distribution, using the "leftover" room to ask other things in addition to a smaller myth distribution.
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by Ike » Thu Jul 28, 2016 1:52 pm

I'm going to side with Stephen Liu on this myth debacle. I've written Lord knows how many mythology questions and I just don't feel that it's really that stale, or at least, stale enough to the point where we need to devote a significant chunk of mythology to mythography.

Also, I'm not sure about you, but I find a lot of mythography to be relatively crackpot. That tossup on shepherds that clues The Greek Myths commentary is at best crackpot. I know that Jung's theories of mythology are used by folk like James Hillman and his cadre, but talk about musty - I can't imagine that stuff gets widespread academic exposure*, at least to the point where we need to start devoting say, 30% of a tournament's mythology to entirely mythography. Also if I were to compile a list of people in the social sciences who use mythology in their work, I have a feeling that the list drops off in askability after about 10 people or so.

I'll wait for Matt Jackson's manifesto to post where I think mythology could go.

*I will note here that Jung's theories of mythology are still widespread in popular culture; Andrew Wang powered it because he's been to the Velvet Room.
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by gyre and gimble » Thu Jul 28, 2016 2:05 pm

vinteuil wrote:I liked Matt's approach precisely because it does effectively increase the social science distribution (something that many people, including myself, have advocated) at the expense of one of the most overexposed categories relative to the amount of available material.
The problem with this is that we'd be expanding a piece of social science that is relatively unimportant. There were around 4 or 5 mythography tossups at CO, I think, but zero tossups on British Isles myth. Is this really the result we want? Mythography is not even an important part of the social science distribution, so why should we give it so much airtime?

And to respond to your argument about overexposure and available material, I'll contend that ordinary players explore myth in much greater depth than any social science outside of ones they happen to study in school. Even most of the super-"real" social science tossups clue with just a series of shallow descriptions of books on the given topic. And while you might want to argue that that's the whole point, that we need to ask more about those books because they're underexposed, I think the reality is that almost no one reads those books. The truly important but underexposed ones (I'm thinking something like Immagined Communities before Anderson died) can immediately make the jump to tossup answer lines.

Put another way, my point is that myth gets a ton of exposure in real life. What Thinker A at University B wrote about Topic C in Book D with Topic C in its title, on the other hand, does not. I don't see why we should quantify how much exposure of a category there should be based on the entire possible universe of things that can be asked about. It seems to me the better metric is how much exposure people get to the category in the real world.

Of course, I don't know what every single quizbowl player enjoys reading about or likes to study. But from personal and observational experience, my sense is that quizbowl myth knowledge tends to be overwhelmingly more real than quizbowl social science knowledge.
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by sbraunfeld » Thu Jul 28, 2016 4:57 pm

I have a some comments on the math questions. Since there will be no future mirrors, I'll try not to harp on details, but discuss issues with non-negligible generalizability. I'll also try to place the issues generalizable to non-math subjects first.

First, I heard two math tossups at this tournament (and did not miss one in my bye round). Of the 5 math tossups in this set (a surprisingly low number, but that's not an issue I much care to discuss), 2 were in packets almost no one would play, and 1 was in a packet only half the field played. If I recall correctly, this year's Nats also had an issue with math winding up in largely-unread packets. I realize scheduling a packet-submission tournament is already a non-trivial constraint-satisfaction problem, and trying to make sure the many subdistributions get reasonably represented for everyone may make it intractable, but I think it is an ideal worth keeping in mind.

Check wikipedia for alternate answerlines. In particular, p-infinity should have been accepted for the Prufer group.

I largely liked the math bonuses in this set, but a couple parts suffered from poor construction/lack of information. For Khovanov homology (a good answerline), we were given an essentially content-free leadin of the "you are so-and-so" form, and the following information given amounted to "this thing can be interpreted as a categorified Jones polynomial," with no definition or applications mentioned. When employing such a leadin, you should ensure the following clues have plenty of information. Also, giving more than one piece of information is generally nice if there is room, since even if a player has good knowledge, a single bit of information may not click for various reasons (e.g. poor/unfamiliar wording, brain fart, etc.). Giving more clues provides some robustness.
The other bonus part with odd construction was Szemeredi (also a good answerline). Again, we have fairly little information, namely "what used to be called the Erdos-Turan theorem is now named for this guy" (One could have moved the mention of Fursternberg to this part, or described the regularity lemma). Furthermore, players have to recall the leadin (this is the second bonus part) for a statement of the Erdos-Turan theorem (which actually is describing a different conjecture of Erdos and Turan than what Szemeredi proved). For hard bonus answerlines, one generally doesn't need to be coy/stingy with information, and making players recall information from significantly earlier in the question seems poor.

Now for the more math-specific comments.

The 2n choose n question. It is far harder to do computations in-game then when writing a question. My experience with this question is a rather extreme illustration of this point. I am well aware that the max size of a Sperner family of n elements is (n choose n/2), so on the Sperner family clue, I did the calculation to get (2n choose n), and then I think somehow combined these two things to arrive at (n choose n). I realized this was nonsense, and spent more or less the rest of the question trying to figure out what had gone wrong. Now, I think the computation involved here was sufficiently trivial that this was a perfectly fine clue, and a significant take-away here is that I apparently can't fart and chew gum at the same time, but also that computations are really hard, particularly when trying to process other clues, which may themselves be computational (and the remaining computational clues were far less trivial than this one). Quizbowl seems to have agreed that computational math is ill-suited for tossups, and I'm unsure why this exception was made. Also, I would add that, unlike in high school, (advanced) collegiate math doesn't just consist of computations, so it isn't even really like such questions are "keeping it real"; descriptions of proofs strikes me as the better way to achieve that.

Terminology is important, and although paraphrasing is nice, it shouldn't come at the cost of correctness. Jacob mentions some wording problems on the first and last parts of the Prufer bonus. I assume he's referring to the use of "union" in the first part, and "direct product" in the second part, which should be "direct limit" and "direct sum", respectively. (In particular, replacing "direct sum" with "direct product" meant that, by a cardinality argument, the answer to the last part would have to be the trivial group, which was very confusing.) In general, be very careful when deviating from given wording in definitions or theorems.

Lastly, as others have mentioned, the tossups on matroids and Coxeter are fringey. While one such question is perhaps not a great crime, 2 such questions already is 40% of the total tossups in the set. One of the nice things about CO is hearing novel answerlines, and for a category like literature, for which a huge number of questions need to be written for every tournament, getting novel frequently means getting fringey. But given how little math is asked about, it's incredibly easy to arrive at novel answerlines while staying well within the core of the subject.

P.S. Several clues in the editor's Coxeter question contained material very close to clues to Joelle's submitted reflection tossup (which were replaced in the editing process). This seems poor, in case the miraculous had occurred, and we played in the finals. Was this issue noted?
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by Cheynem » Thu Jul 28, 2016 5:02 pm

I can't speak about any of your math points, but your last point I'm not sure i understand.

That's kind of a weird complaint, that an editors' question seemed similar to a question you submitted. I wrote a bonus on the history of Kansas and then a tossup was submitted on the history of Kansas, which I opted to cut. I don't think I needed to go back and throw out the bonus I wrote.
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by Adventure Temple Trail » Thu Jul 28, 2016 5:28 pm

Cheynem wrote:I can't speak about any of your math points, but your last point I'm not sure i understand.

That's kind of a weird complaint, that an editors' question seemed similar to a question you submitted. I wrote a bonus on the history of Kansas and then a tossup was submitted on the history of Kansas, which I opted to cut. I don't think I needed to go back and throw out the bonus I wrote.
Agreed. When a submission is thrown out, it's as though it doesn't exist from the perspective of the tournament.
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by Amizda Calyx » Thu Jul 28, 2016 5:30 pm

I think the argument Sam is making in the last paragraph should be taken in the context of the math distro at CO: there are already so few tossups that this kind of overlap issue is really pretty lazy when there is such a huge amount of completely unrelated material that could be covered instead. Having clues that are very similar to clues used in a submitted tossup is pretty unavoidable for large distributions like history, but for math it's unreasonable that such a specific topic (more specific than Kansas history) would be repeated. There were like two math tossups written by the editor from scratch; is it really that hard to ensure they don't clue exactly the same niche subject as a submitted question? Also, the submission was not thrown out, but those clues were replaced.
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by vinteuil » Thu Jul 28, 2016 5:51 pm

sbraunfeld wrote: Terminology is important, and although paraphrasing is nice, it shouldn't come at the cost of correctness. Jacob mentions some wording problems on the first and last parts of the Prufer bonus. I assume he's referring to the use of "union" in the first part, and "direct product" in the second part, which should be "direct limit" and "direct sum", respectively. (In particular, replacing "direct sum" with "direct product" meant that, by a cardinality argument, the answer to the last part would have to be the trivial group, which was very confusing.) In general, be very careful when deviating from given wording in definitions or theorems.
That's exactly what I meant, although I might add that the first part is worded as if the answer is some exotic group (singular) as opposed to a class of groups (for each p).
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by touchpack » Thu Jul 28, 2016 7:18 pm

I thought this tournament's science (at least in bio/chem/physics) was very well written, but simultaneously very hard.

I would staunchly defend the engineering content in this set--it was excellently written, and it covered a wide variety of topics (off the top of my head, I can remember questions in bioengineering, chemical engineering, environmental engineering, mechanical/civil engineering, electrical engineering/microfabrication, materials science, and nuclear engineering). In my mind, having 1-2 questions in each of these disciplines is NOT an excessive amount of engineering content, especially for a hard tournament like CO that's designed to push the boundaries of the canon. Other sets should seek to emulate the engineering content in this set (although the difficulty should be dialed back to an appropriate level).

In fact, I think there were other distributional issues that were much bigger than the engineering issue:

1) The bio was very, very biochemistry heavy and had almost no questions on human/medicinal bio (the only things that I can remember off the top of my head were the biochemistry-heavy tossup on osteoclasts and the bonus on antibiotics). Also there were a ton of "this organism" questions.
2) The theoretical physics seemed very biased toward QM/QFT, with there being relatively little classical mechanics (I guess the action tossup probably had some of those clues, but that question was deeply flawed and was probably powered in every single room with a good science player), E&M, stat mech/thermo, etc.

However, neither of these distributional issues really affected my enjoyment of this tournament. There was a lot of interesting content and there were definitely times where I was rewarded for knowing ass-hard things, which is fun.

I think, at least toss-up wise, it's hard to point to any specific answer and say "that shouldn't be tossed up!" (except for perhaps Hermann Weyl and Pichia), but I think that if you look at what the bell curve of CO answer difficulty should look like, this tournament was largely comprised of answers on the right (and sometimes far right) side of that curve. In combination with that, the powermarks were not adjusted appropriately (harder questions should have longer powermarks), so the result was ridiculous things like, for example, this tournament only giving you 10 points for buzzing on the method by which the first 3D photonic crystal was constructed.
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by Cody » Thu Jul 28, 2016 8:37 pm

I agree with Billy about the engineering content in the set, which I thought was quite good. The bonus on the steel phase diagram was my favorite of the tournament.
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by Lagotto Romagnolo » Thu Jul 28, 2016 9:12 pm

touchpack wrote: The theoretical physics seemed very biased toward QM/QFT, with there being relatively little classical mechanics (I guess the action tossup probably had some of those clues, but that question was deeply flawed and was probably powered in every single room with a good science player), E&M, stat mech/thermo, etc.

However, neither of these distributional issues really affected my enjoyment of this tournament. There was a lot of interesting content and there were definitely times where I was rewarded for knowing ass-hard things, which is fun.
Glad to hear that you enjoyed the tournament. I'm aware of the preponderance of QM and QFT. Unfortunately, many of the submitted classical mechanics bonuses overlapped, though I would have kept more of them were I to do this again. I will note, however, that there was no more QM/QFT than in the unedited packets. In fact, we received one packet with 1/1 "beyond the Standard Model" physics. To future teams: please write that stuff sparingly.
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by The Ununtiable Twine » Fri Jul 29, 2016 5:00 am

sbraunfeld wrote:Check wikipedia for alternate answerlines. In particular, p-infinity should have been accepted for the Prufer group.
Answers similar to Z-p-infinity and C-p-infinity were acceptable.
sbraunfeld wrote:Giving more clues provides some robustness.
I'm going to get better at this whole editing thing. Thanks for the feedback (everyone, not just Sam).
sbraunfeld wrote: The other bonus part with odd construction was Szemeredi (also a good answerline). Again, we have fairly little information, namely "what used to be called the Erdos-Turan theorem is now named for this guy" (One could have moved the mention of Furstenberg to this part, or described the regularity lemma). Furthermore, players have to recall the leadin (this is the second bonus part) for a statement of the Erdos-Turan theorem (which actually is describing a different conjecture of Erdos and Turan than what Szemeredi proved). For hard bonus answerlines, one generally doesn't need to be coy/stingy with information, and making players recall information from significantly earlier in the question seems poor.
There are a couple of directions I could have gone to make the bonus a little more effective:

1. I could have mentioned something like the Szemeredi regularity lemma.
2. I could have switched Erdos/Szemeredi around and made Erdos the hard part (there are plenty of solid ways to do this).

The presentation of the material was suboptimal and probably made the bonus a little harder to 30 than it should have. Sorry.
sbraunfeld wrote: The 2n choose n question. It is far harder to do computations in-game then when writing a question. My experience with this question is a rather extreme illustration of this point. I am well aware that the max size of a Sperner family of n elements is (n choose n/2), so on the Sperner family clue, I did the calculation to get (2n choose n), and then I think somehow combined these two things to arrive at (n choose n). I realized this was nonsense, and spent more or less the rest of the question trying to figure out what had gone wrong. Now, I think the computation involved here was sufficiently trivial that this was a perfectly fine clue, and a significant take-away here is that I apparently can't fart and chew gum at the same time, but also that computations are really hard, particularly when trying to process other clues, which may themselves be computational (and the remaining computational clues were far less trivial than this one). Quizbowl seems to have agreed that computational math is ill-suited for tossups, and I'm unsure why this exception was made. Also, I would add that, unlike in high school, (advanced) collegiate math doesn't just consist of computations, so it isn't even really like such questions are "keeping it real"; descriptions of proofs strikes me as the better way to achieve that.
My intention throughout the course of editing was to use every submission that I could. The computation was a triviality but I didn't think to remove it, per se. I thought the submission was really creative and so in the end I wanted to reward Max's creativity by using his question. That submission was made later in the writing process so I ended up having to push for a little more math to be in the set. I was successful in this regard. Computational math tossups are bad quizbowl, surely - however this wasn't necessarily one of those.

Theoretically, is it wrong to use such a clue? For instance, let's assume we have a hypothetical tossup on the number zero. Somewhere in the middle clues there is a simple clue using Cauchy's integral formula which points to the answer to the tossup being zero. A simple computation has to be made. Is it wrong for the clue to be used?
sbraunfeld wrote: Terminology is important, and although paraphrasing is nice, it shouldn't come at the cost of correctness. Jacob mentions some wording problems on the first and last parts of the Prufer bonus. I assume he's referring to the use of "union" in the first part, and "direct product" in the second part, which should be "direct limit" and "direct sum", respectively. (In particular, replacing "direct sum" with "direct product" meant that, by a cardinality argument, the answer to the last part would have to be the trivial group, which was very confusing.) In general, be very careful when deviating from given wording in definitions or theorems.
When looking back through my notes, I noted that the group itself could be found by taking the infinite union of an ascending chain of cyclic groups. This is in fact a direct limit and could have been made clearer. On the other hand, regarding the divisible groups clue, Rotman has it as a direct sum whereas I do have it listed as direct product in my notes. My prof has taught the grad level course for 30+ years and is a notable group theorist so I figured my notes were as good as any. I wasn't trying to skate around either issue.
sbraunfeld wrote:P.S. Several clues in the editor's Coxeter question contained material very close to clues to Joelle's submitted reflection tossup (which were replaced in the editing process). This seems poor, in case the miraculous had occurred, and we played in the finals. Was this issue noted?
As it turns out, the Coxeter tossup was written before the submission came in. As I wanted to use as many submitted tossups as possible, I figured I would take out the Coxeter and Weyl clues and give the reflections tossup a more numerical flavor. Of course, I had several algebraic reflection clues in my editor's tossup. Wanting to use the submission to reward the player for writing it, I modified it. As I mentioned upthread, I really couldn't think of many ways to go about writing a CO-level math reflection tossup that didn't specifically use Coxeter clues, however I did remember the stuff about Householder transformations so I used that. Even though I didn't want to throw the reflections tossup away, it probably would have been a smart editorial decision to do so as there was already material of a related nature in the tournament. The material in the final reflection and Coxeter tossups didn't overlap, however some of the material overlapped with the submission. Coincidence? Absolutely. But then again I surmise this kind of thing happens all the time in packet submission tournaments. While the questions were of a similar nature (silly me), there weren't any overlapping clues. Was it a poor choice to include both in the set? For diversity's sake, probably so.

In addition, Coxeter was in the tiebreaker packet and not the finals.

I've included some attachments so people know where I got the clues from. If you are afraid of math, don't download the files.
Attachments
p-group.jpg
p-group notes
(50.47 KiB) Not downloaded yet
divisibility.jpg
divisibility notes
(55.95 KiB) Not downloaded yet
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by adamsil » Fri Jul 29, 2016 10:06 am

touchpack wrote:
1) The bio was very, very biochemistry heavy and had almost no questions on human/medicinal bio (the only things that I can remember off the top of my head were the biochemistry-heavy tossup on osteoclasts and the bonus on antibiotics). Also there were a ton of "this organism" questions.
2) The theoretical physics seemed very biased toward QM/QFT, with there being relatively little classical mechanics (I guess the action tossup probably had some of those clues, but that question was deeply flawed and was probably powered in every single room with a good science player), E&M, stat mech/thermo, etc.

However, neither of these distributional issues really affected my enjoyment of this tournament. There was a lot of interesting content and there were definitely times where I was rewarded for knowing ass-hard things, which is fun.

I think, at least toss-up wise, it's hard to point to any specific answer and say "that shouldn't be tossed up!" (except for perhaps Hermann Weyl and Pichia), but I think that if you look at what the bell curve of CO answer difficulty should look like, this tournament was largely comprised of answers on the right (and sometimes far right) side of that curve. In combination with that, the powermarks were not adjusted appropriately (harder questions should have longer powermarks), so the result was ridiculous things like, for example, this tournament only giving you 10 points for buzzing on the method by which the first 3D photonic crystal was constructed.
Very glad you enjoyed the engineering questions, at least the ones under my purview. For what it's worth, the top bracket heard two extra tossups on organisms (lambda phage, Trypanosoma) whereas the bottom bracket heard a human bio and a cell bio (pons, enhancers) instead. Not great, but the format of the tournament meant that this sort of distributional quirk was going to happen somehow. There wasn't enough human bio in this set, admittedly, though it wasn't quite as bad as you think (you could also add to that list questions on ACE, CJD, retina, and the complement system, though you probably only heard two of those). There were also bonuses on the kidneys, the nervous system, Alzheimer's disease, and a bit of evo-devo in the Mullerian ducts question. Interestingly, no teams submitted tossups on individual diseases, so I added in CJD at the end to compensate.This was certainly not an ideal allocation, but hopefully it wasn't illegitimate.

With respect to the bell curve, my goal was to have around 5/6/6/3 for ACF Fall/Regionals/Nats/beyond answerlines in bio and chem, which I think is a reasonable allocation. The "beyond" answerlines wound up being CH activation, reflux ratio, and PDI in the chem, and Pichia, glutathione, and phage display in the bio. I thought I actually did a decent job mixing in Fall-and-Regs-level answerlines like the retina, the Wittig reaction, carbocations, mercury, etc. so I'm disappointed if that that's not the impression that people got. The question about power-marking is totally different. The power-marks were very consistent across this set from tossup-to-tossup--probably 95% of them were on either lines 5 or 6--so that's probably a deeper ideological question.
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by Corry » Fri Jul 29, 2016 10:17 am

adamsil wrote:
touchpack wrote: In combination with that, the powermarks were not adjusted appropriately (harder questions should have longer powermarks), so the result was ridiculous things like, for example, this tournament only giving you 10 points for buzzing on the method by which the first 3D photonic crystal was constructed.
The question about power-marking is totally different. The power-marks were very consistent across this set from tossup-to-tossup--probably 95% of them were on either lines 5 or 6--so that's probably a deeper ideological question.
I don't have anything to say regarding the packets themselves (haven't read them), but as a tangent, this strikes me as an important issue. Why shouldn't editors adjust the length of power marks to correspond the difficulty of individual questions?
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by Cody » Fri Jul 29, 2016 10:34 am

Corry wrote:
adamsil wrote:
touchpack wrote: In combination with that, the powermarks were not adjusted appropriately (harder questions should have longer powermarks), so the result was ridiculous things like, for example, this tournament only giving you 10 points for buzzing on the method by which the first 3D photonic crystal was constructed.
The question about power-marking is totally different. The power-marks were very consistent across this set from tossup-to-tossup--probably 95% of them were on either lines 5 or 6--so that's probably a deeper ideological question.
I don't have anything to say regarding the packets themselves (haven't read them), but as a tangent, this strikes me as an important issue. Why shouldn't editors adjust the length of power marks to correspond the difficulty of individual questions?
In a perfect world, all answerlines from Fall level thru beyond-Nats level would have a very similar gradation of buzzpoints, for a given tournament (John Lawrence had a very good post about this wrt tossups on authors vs tossups on works in some thread I can't remember). The best tournaments get reasonably close to this, so it usually makes sense that powermarks fall around the same area in a question.
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Fri Jul 29, 2016 11:01 am

Cody wrote:
Corry wrote:
adamsil wrote:
touchpack wrote: In combination with that, the powermarks were not adjusted appropriately (harder questions should have longer powermarks), so the result was ridiculous things like, for example, this tournament only giving you 10 points for buzzing on the method by which the first 3D photonic crystal was constructed.
The question about power-marking is totally different. The power-marks were very consistent across this set from tossup-to-tossup--probably 95% of them were on either lines 5 or 6--so that's probably a deeper ideological question.
I don't have anything to say regarding the packets themselves (haven't read them), but as a tangent, this strikes me as an important issue. Why shouldn't editors adjust the length of power marks to correspond the difficulty of individual questions?
In a perfect world, all answerlines from Fall level thru beyond-Nats level would have a very similar gradation of buzzpoints, for a given tournament (John Lawrence had a very good post about this wrt tossups on authors vs tossups on works in some thread I can't remember). The best tournaments get reasonably close to this, so it usually makes sense that powermarks fall around the same area in a question.
Cody's right, of course, but since wasn't the case here (especially given that this is CO, which is almost inevitably bound to have some gradation variation due to super-hard answers) it probably behooves the editors to be a bit more careful about this. That said, looking over the set I think John, Mike Bentley, and Matt generally had longer powers where appropriate; Mike's history, while a bit more consistent in power-length, generally was more accessible in the early parts of the question, though there were some power-marks that baffled me. I think, overall, this has to be taken into context of the fact that editors of packet-submission tournaments don't have as much knowledge about the questions they are working with as editors of a housewrite, who pick their own topics to write on. Editors, of course, should do their research (and use the packet archive as a guide) but there's only so much you can do.
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by grapesmoker » Fri Jul 29, 2016 12:45 pm

It seemed like the math at this CO skewed towards relatively exotic subjects, and it would have been nice if that had been tempered with some more accessible stuff, but you know, whatever. Physics was also strangely tilted towards particle theory for some reason, and should have been more diverse. I did enjoy the engineering content, and I think there should be more of that. Overall I guess it was a pretty rough CO but also I'm old and bad now so perhaps that colors my perception of it.
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by sbraunfeld » Fri Jul 29, 2016 1:01 pm

The Ununtiable Twine wrote:Answers similar to Z-p-infinity and C-p-infinity were acceptable.
But how is the moderator supposed to know what "similar" means, e.g. that "p-infinity" is sufficiently similar, but "Z-p" isn't? My moderator, after some consideration, decided to "generously prompt" me on p-infinity, I could recall no other name, and that was that. Every alternative name for something appearing on wikipedia should probably be explicitly acceptable in the answerline.
The Ununtiable Twine wrote: When looking back through my notes, I noted that the group itself could be found by taking the infinite union of an ascending chain of cyclic groups. This is in fact a direct limit and could have been made clearer. On the other hand, regarding the divisible groups clue, Rotman has it as a direct sum whereas I do have it listed as direct product in my notes. My prof has taught the grad level course for 30+ years and is a notable group theorist so I figured my notes were as good as any. I wasn't trying to skate around either issue.
Oh, the union thing is fine (I was imagining you meant disjoint union, which made no sense, rather than increasing union). The direct product clue is still an issue. As I'm sure many are aware, there is a common phenomenon in which speaking at a blackboard greatly increases the probability one makes a stupid mistake. I guess the point here is that clues from class notes thus particularly ought to be double-checked.
The Ununtiable Twine wrote: My intention throughout the course of editing was to use every submission that I could. The computation was a triviality but I didn't think to remove it, per se. I thought the submission was really creative and so in the end I wanted to reward Max's creativity by using his question. That submission was made later in the writing process so I ended up having to push for a little more math to be in the set. I was successful in this regard. Computational math tossups are bad quizbowl, surely - however this wasn't necessarily one of those.

Theoretically, is it wrong to use such a clue? For instance, let's assume we have a hypothetical tossup on the number zero. Somewhere in the middle clues there is a simple clue using Cauchy's integral formula which points to the answer to the tossup being zero. A simple computation has to be made. Is it wrong for the clue to be used?
As I mentioned, I thought the Sperner's theorem clue was perfectly fine. However, I think a computation needs to be immediate for it to be an acceptable tossup clue, e.g. an arithmetic operation involving single-digit numbers (the acceptable class is of course broader, but I think not much). Even if a computation only takes a couple seconds, by that time the next clue may well have been read, and somebody buzzing in on that clue would beat the person doing the computation from the previous clue, violating pyramidality.

I was mainly referring to the Ramsey clue and the generating function clue. Since these struck me as facts that people would have little reason to know off the top of their heads, I assumed these were supposed to be done computationally, i.e. by plugging in n+1 for r and s in the upper bound R(r, s) = (r+s-2) choose (r-1) for the former, and doing some binomial theorem manipulation for the latter, both of which I would suggest are too much calculation. If you thought these would be clues people would just know without computations, I find that dubious, but I don't think it's a point worth arguing much about.
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by Nicklausse/Muse » Fri Jul 29, 2016 5:26 pm

(warning: opinion from no longer current player)
As Will alluded to earlier, I did take deliberate steps with Religion and Mythology to stake out areas of future exploration for those categories. Among them, I:

1. put a decent number of questions on scholarship of religion and mythology under those category headings proper (e.g. the myth tossup on Jung, the "theories of religion" bonus on sacred-profane/Axial Age/hypersensitive agency detection device, the submission on Max Muller), rather than jamming all of that into social science,
2. focused on texts where possible, both in asking people to name them (e.g.: Description of Greece, Shabaka stone, the Natyashastra, Surah 9) and using "lit clues" from them as the primary source of clues (e.g.: tossups on Briseis and "the shield of Aeneas" [talk about overdue!], death of Pan bonus)
3. focused on concepts useful in comparative perspective ("hospitality," "sleeping under a mountain until the nation's hour of need") instead of deep-diving into the characters of an obscure myth system,
4. highlighted the cultural or ceremonial aspects of believing in a religious/mythological story where possible (bonus on oral literature, submission on Hmong funeral rites, Santa Muerte, the Acrocorinth temple complex, Chinese silk myths submission)
5. introduced less "sacred" topics which nonetheless pertain to the supernatural things humans believe in (e.g. Church of Satan, Nazi occult fantasies, unicorn hoaxes, cryptids)
6. focused a lot of the Religion on things contemporary believers do, learn about, or dispute, or on recent religious history (e.g. birth of Muhammad celebrations, Catholic education, Paryushan, Jewish prayers, the Heavenly Mother doctrine in Mormonism, submissions on New York rabbis and clerical celibacy)
People have largely been pushing back against #s 1 and 2 here, but I just wanted to add my support for #s 3, 4, and 6. 3 can also be a way to introduce clues from more obscure myth systems without making ever-obscurer myth systems the actual subject of the tossup.

Which packet is the theatrical stages tossup in? I'd like to check that out.
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by Nice hockey Cote d'Azur » Sat Jul 30, 2016 1:26 pm

Full conversion stats can be found here.
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by rylltraka » Sat Jul 30, 2016 3:03 pm

Regarding that "Simi Valley" TU, I was reading it (as a 15-year resident of Los Angeles) and wondering how anyone could answer it, especially since it doesn't describe where Simi Valley is in terms of the geography of LA (say, just west of the Valley). And wow, it was negged in 90% of the rooms.
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by Cody » Sat Jul 30, 2016 3:24 pm

Was photonic crystals really only gotten in one room? I'd assumed from Billy's post that both he and I got the tossup.
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by Nice hockey Cote d'Azur » Sat Jul 30, 2016 3:54 pm

Cody wrote:Was photonic crystals really only gotten in one room? I'd assumed from Billy's post that both he and I got the tossup.
Billy wrote the question, I believe.
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by Mike Bentley » Sat Jul 30, 2016 3:57 pm

Platinum Toad wrote:Full conversion stats can be found here.
Thanks for compiling this. It is very useful data.
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by grapesmoker » Sat Jul 30, 2016 4:07 pm

rylltraka wrote:Regarding that "Simi Valley" TU, I was reading it (as a 15-year resident of Los Angeles) and wondering how anyone could answer it, especially since it doesn't describe where Simi Valley is in terms of the geography of LA (say, just west of the Valley). And wow, it was negged in 90% of the rooms.
I don't really understand why this question existed. I stupidly negged with "Pasadena" because I got confused about where Thousand Oaks was, but still... there's nothing in Simi Valley other than the Reagan Library. Just seems like a really weird answer choice.
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by vinteuil » Sat Jul 30, 2016 4:08 pm

Mike Bentley wrote:
Platinum Toad wrote:Full conversion stats can be found here.
Thanks for compiling this. It is very useful data.
This is fantastic, thanks!
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by Adventure Temple Trail » Sat Jul 30, 2016 4:50 pm

Snap Wexley wrote:
rylltraka wrote:Regarding that "Simi Valley" TU, I was reading it (as a 15-year resident of Los Angeles) and wondering how anyone could answer it, especially since it doesn't describe where Simi Valley is in terms of the geography of LA (say, just west of the Valley). And wow, it was negged in 90% of the rooms.
I don't really understand why this question existed. I stupidly negged with "Pasadena" because I got confused about where Thousand Oaks was, but still... there's nothing in Simi Valley other than the Reagan Library. Just seems like a really weird answer choice.
I wrote this. It seemed to me like there were some interesting clues for it (the fact that the Rodney King trial was held there, which many suspect was to done get a whiter jury; stuff about the presidential library) and that it could make for a rewarding off-the-beaten-path geography question at the CO-or-bust level. But I may well have been wrong, or have done a bad job, or both. If I had a do-over I might have quoted a salient line from the Republican debate held there, and/or done what Mik suggests and added more "where this thing actually is" clues at the end, or just scrapped and replaced it with a tossup on "California" or "presidential libraries" or something.
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by Banned Tiny Toon Adventures Episode » Sat Jul 30, 2016 5:21 pm

This might be me bring silly but it seems strange that both of my teams physics powers were on surface plasmon based clues
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by Banned Tiny Toon Adventures Episode » Sat Jul 30, 2016 7:29 pm

so like 50% of the chem I played this tournament was orgo, in particular 4/5 of the playoff rounds I played had orgo tus for chem
I don't think there was a single tu on inorganic chem?
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by adamsil » Sat Jul 30, 2016 9:15 pm

Bubalus Period wrote:so like 50% of the chem I played this tournament was orgo, in particular 4/5 of the playoff rounds I played had orgo tus for chem
I don't think there was a single tu on inorganic chem?
What's wrong with 50% orgo? That seems to be about standard in most college tournaments I've played (ACF Nats this year was about 45% orgo tossups by my count, and CO did have 50% in the tossups, which was what I was shooting for). That they clustered late in the tournament in the top bracket is unfortunate, but that was an unfortunate consequence of the schedule--the six editors' packets had three orgo tossups. In terms of inorganic/physical chem, there were tossups on volume (in stat mech), overpotential (electrochem), hardness (had one orgo clue thrown in, but was mostly physical), and hydrogen (using redox clues), plus analytical tossups on Raman spec and methanol, some materials-y stuff in tossups on gels and PDI, and the two chemical engineering tossups on mixing and reflux ratio, so I disagree that you didn't hear any. Also, the bonuses had much less orgo content than the tossups (25% by my count), largely because it's way easier to write a bonus on ligand field theory than a tossup.

People complaining about me writing too much orgo--times have changed. :shock:
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by Banned Tiny Toon Adventures Episode » Sat Jul 30, 2016 9:45 pm

adamsil wrote:
Bubalus Period wrote:so like 50% of the chem I played this tournament was orgo, in particular 4/5 of the playoff rounds I played had orgo tus for chem
I don't think there was a single tu on inorganic chem?
What's wrong with 50% orgo? That seems to be about standard in most college tournaments I've played (ACF Nats this year was about 45% orgo tossups by my count, and CO did have 50% in the tossups, which was what I was shooting for). That they clustered late in the tournament in the top bracket is unfortunate, but that was an unfortunate consequence of the schedule--the six editors' packets had three orgo tossups. In terms of inorganic/physical chem, there were tossups on volume (in stat mech), overpotential (electrochem), hardness (had one orgo clue thrown in, but was mostly physical), and hydrogen (using redox clues), plus analytical tossups on Raman spec and methanol, some materials-y stuff in tossups on gels and PDI, and the two chemical engineering tossups on mixing and reflux ratio, so I disagree that you didn't hear any. Also, the bonuses had much less orgo content than the tossups (25% by my count), largely because it's way easier to write a bonus on ligand field theory than a tossup.

People complaining about me writing too much orgo--times have changed. :shock:
I guess the schedule just really skewed w/ my opinion because looks like the two tus on inorganic content were in finals 1 & 2
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by touchpack » Sat Jul 30, 2016 10:55 pm

Ah, I forgot to comment on the preponderance of orgo in this tournament, especially in the packets played by the top bracket. It indeed was A Thing.

50% orgo is by no means standard in 2016--NAQT mandates between 25% and 37.5% orgo, while I personally aim for around 30-40%. By my count, the tossups of nationals 2016 were around 40% orgo, so it was a little orgo-heavier than my average but not significantly so. But yeah, 50% is a little excessive. (although as a somewhat-experienced editor of packet sub tournaments, I'm sure the submissions at least partially reflected the tournament here)

I'll definitely admit that in terms of answerline difficulty, the bio and chem had MANY more accessible answerlines than the physics and other. However, the difficulty of a tossup is determined by its clueing, and many of these questions had very difficult clues. Take the tu on mixing for example: I'm fairly certain that I'm literally the only person in quizbowl (other than Adam, of course) that had any idea what was going on in the first 5 lines (although I negged it like a doofus because I couldn't think of the obvious way to speed up a reaction OTHER than adding a catalyst). Like, unless you've taken a chemical reactors engineering class, you're just SOL on the first 60% of that question. Now, I think this was an excellent tossup and the PERFECT way to integrate engineering content into the distribution, (take notes here budding science writers) but it's still a very hard question! I don't think there was any systematic or philosophical issue with the way the questions were constructed (in fact, at least for the chem, I think the distribution of easy and hard answerlines was great)--I just think the editors (Adam, Aaron, and Jake) happened to overshoot the intended difficulty. Oh well. I still enjoyed myself, and maybe I'll get more 15s at your next tournament! :grin:
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by The Ununtiable Twine » Sat Jul 30, 2016 11:24 pm

touchpack wrote:I just think the editors (Adam, Aaron, and Jake) happened to overshoot the intended difficulty.
Actually, that's only partially true! Despite a few unfortunate gaffes in a couple of the bonus questions, my bonus conversion hit 15.57 ppb (which was quite distant from second place amongst those subcategories with enough attempts), with 30s being hard to come by and 0s being very rare (indeed, only one bagel in 61 attempts). The tossups did suffer from some weirdness, but that's more or less fixable for future events. While I insist that the occasional challenging tossup is okay at this level of competition, carefully controlling the difficulty of the other tossups and not experimenting with tossup concepts is for the better, especially in a category which typically has lower conversion percentages to begin with.
touchpack wrote: Oh well. I still enjoyed myself, and maybe I'll get more 15s at your next tournament! :grin:
Well, you'll only get more 10s from me, chemist. :twisted:
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Sun Jul 31, 2016 12:51 am

Interestingly, history was the easiest category on the tossups, but the second-hardest category on the bonuses (behind science, and people are bad at science and pretty good at history).
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by Cheynem » Sun Jul 31, 2016 11:26 am

Yeah, in reading the set, I think the history bonuses ended up pretty difficult, although I'm not sure how much of that was impossible hard parts, too hard middle parts, or both, or if that's a problem necessarily.
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by theMoMA » Mon Aug 01, 2016 9:51 am

Platinum Toad wrote:Full conversion stats can be found here.
This is cool; thanks for entering the scoresheets.

On a whim, I went through and compared conversion numbers from the past three years of CO, because I suspected that they had different conceptions of CO difficulty.

In 2014, the overall tossup conversion rate was 87%; in 2015, it was 83%; this year it was 78%.

In 2014, the average bonus conversion rate was 16.13; in 2015, it was 15.22; this year it was 14.52.

In 2016, there were 105% as many bonuses that were not 30d in any room than in 2014 (among bonuses heard in at least six rooms, thus excluding packets only heard in the lower bracket in 2016), despite the fact that each bonus, on average, was heard in two more rooms in 2016 (two rooms is fairly significant; eyeballing the 2014 and 2016 sheets, it appears that each room increases the chance that a particular bonus is 30d at least once by 5% or so). (I didn't have the granular data to do a similar comparison with the 2015 event.)

There are obviously some demographic changes that may have impacted conversion rates between 2014 and 2016. In particular, there were five more teams this year than in 2014, and that expansion may have placed a downward strain on numbers. Furthermore, the 2016 format, with its five crossover games between bottom-bracket teams, may have increased the number of dead tossups and decreased overall bonus conversion. But it seemed to me, and the numbers seem to show beyond much shadow of a doubt, that the 2016 iteration of CO was significantly harder than the 2014 version, and noticeably harder than the 2015 event as well.

I didn't particularly appreciate this development. As is perhaps evident from my editorial philosophy in 2014, I think CO is most fun when there are relatively few tossups going dead and the bonuses are generally within the realm of possibility to 30. This isn't to say that CO should be a tournament written with only answerability in mind. One of its charms is that, because you can hear a tossup on Keats and a tossup on Lydia Davis in the same round, the potential answer range keeps you honest. But when that honesty comes at a price of over four dead tossups per game, and nearly two-thirds of bonuses being 30d by zero teams, I think it's gone too far in the direction of difficulty over answerability. An answer with a significant chance to go dead does have the abstract benefit of keeping people honest, but its much more concrete effect is that it distinguishes nothing between the two teams over that area of the distribution in a particular game.

Although the 2016 version of CO was a fun event that crowned a worthy champion and did a good job differentiating everyone else, I didn't find it as enjoyable as some events of past years, simply because there were so many dead tossups and difficult bonuses. I'd like to see the next set of editors aim at a more modest difficulty.
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by ThisIsMyUsername » Mon Aug 01, 2016 11:40 am

theMoMA wrote: There are obviously some demographic changes that may have impacted conversion rates between 2014 and 2016. In particular, there were five more teams this year than in 2014, and that expansion may have placed a downward strain on numbers. Furthermore, the 2016 format, with its five crossover games between bottom-bracket teams, may have increased the number of dead tossups and decreased overall bonus conversion. But it seemed to me, and the numbers seem to show beyond much shadow of a doubt, that the 2016 iteration of CO was significantly harder than the 2014 version, and noticeably harder than the 2015 event as well.
This is a rather telling paragraph in your analysis, Andrew. You start the paragraph by saying that demographic changes "may have impacted" these stats. But you conclude the paragraph by saying that the numbers "show beyond much shadow of a doubt" that this year's set is harder than previous sets.

This begs the question: what do you mean by "harder"? If you mean more difficult relative to the field that played it, then yes, that is obviously demonstrated by the stats you have compiled. But if you mean that this set is "harder" such that the fields from last year would have put up lower numbers on your two chosen stats (tossup conversion and bonus conversion) on this set (let us call this "trans-field difficulty"), then I don't think you have demonstrated this at all. You would need to do more than say that demographic change "may have impacted" stats; you would need to attempt to detect such impacts.

It is difficult for me to comb through tossup conversion stats by blocks of teams. If someone did this, it might very well prove your point about tossup conversion. I remain open to the possibility that the difficulty of the average tossup answers was too high (although I do believe it was less variable from packet to packet, which is the one thing I hope future editors repeat). But it is easy to comb through bonus conversion by blocks of teams. Here are the bonus conversions for the Top 5, Top 10, Top 15 teams (by finish) and overall field for each of the three COs that you discuss:

2016:
Top 5 Teams: 17.78
Top 10 Teams: 15.68
Top 15 Teams: 16.06
All 20 Teams: 14.52

2015:
Top 5 Teams: 17.84
Top 10 Teams: 16.06
Top 15 Teams: 16.02
All 17 Teams: 15.22

2014:
Top 5 Teams: 18.12
Top 10 Teams: 16.65
All 15 Teams: 16.13

A telling stat here is the "Top 15" stat. If every CO were the size of CO 2014, and we chose the 15 best teams that applied, the bonus conversion for the past three years would be within a range of .11 PPB (which is remarkably consistent), and this CO would land dead center. Now, is this (Top 15) a useful measure of something? I would argue that it is, that it suggests the possibility that the CO field has been expanding primarily at its bottom. One way of verifying this would be to see how many of the "new players" (i.e. players who had never played a CO before) at CO 2015 and 2016 respectively were on bottom-ranked teams as opposed to top-ranked teams.

Furthermore, the Top 15 teams at this tournament put the same bonus conversion as the Top 10 teams at last year's CO. And only .59 PPB worse than the entire field at CO 2014. This, to my mind, is quite good.

I will concede that the bonus conversion of the Top 5 teams has indeed dropped over the past couple of years (though far less precipitously than the overall field). But we might take a gander at the field of these tournaments. This year's CO had what was quite obviously the weakest field since 2013, and possibly the weakest in a long time. Of the 26 people who made up the Top 5 teams at the last two COs, 11 of them (42.11%) did not play this year's CO. This includes quite a bit of the editing team (Matt Jackson, Mike Cheyne, Shan, Adam, and myself), but also CO stalwarts Seth, Selene, and Matt Weiner, and semi-stalwart Jeff Hoppes. This tournament was conspicuously thin at the top.

I should note that I do not deny that there are other aspects of this tournament which are trans-field harder. I suspect, for example, that powers were harder to attain. I think the degree to which this was the case is exaggerated slightly by the lack of field strength, but only slightly.

Nonetheless, even though I am quite doubtful of many of the conclusions you draw from your data, Andrew, I think we would agree on this much: if the CO field for next year is similar to the field for this year's (that is, both larger and weaker at the top than those in 2014 and 2015), then the editors should adjust the tournament's difficulty downwards to accommodate the change in demographic.
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by theMoMA » Mon Aug 01, 2016 12:12 pm

I'm not sure it makes sense to consider the "top 15 teams" at the 2016 event equivalent to "all 15 teams" that played the 2014 version; it seems just as likely to me that new teams slot in all over the map, and not just at the bottom, and that seems empirically true, based on my scanning of the 2016 order of finish for new names. Your point about the field missing out on several key players is well-taken, but I don't think that alone explains the massive drop in tossup conversion.
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by ThisIsMyUsername » Mon Aug 01, 2016 1:06 pm

theMoMA wrote:I'm not sure it makes sense to consider the "top 15 teams" at the 2016 event equivalent to "all 15 teams" that played the 2014 version; it seems just as likely to me that new teams slot in all over the map, and not just at the bottom, and that seems empirically true, based on my scanning of the 2016 order of finish for new names. Your point about the field missing out on several key players is well-taken, but I don't think that alone explains the massive drop in tossup conversion.
I agree that it is not just at the bottom. But if you think that it is "empirically true" that new players (defined as "new to CO") "slot in all over the map" then I have no idea what the heck your so-called "scanning" process is! It is possible that I am miscounting the following figures (since I did them quickly), but I count no new players on any of the Top 5 teams at this tournament. New players make up 0% of the Top 5 teams. There are five new players on the Top 10 teams, three of whom are on the lowest-ranked of these 10 teams. There are seventeen new players on the Bottom 10 teams. 55.56% of the players on the Bottom 5 teams are new players. And 45.46% of new players played on the Bottom 5 teams.

Let's say that instead of taking the PPB of the Top 15 teams, I take the PPB of the 15 teams with the lowest percentage of new players (which, acknowledging your criticism, is a fairer comparison). There is a tie for 5th place, so I must average the PPB of two teams. The resulting average (of those 15 teams) is 16.61 PPB, which supports my original point better than my original stats, actually!
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by Cheynem » Mon Aug 01, 2016 1:31 pm

Yeah, I think it's fair to say that the set was pretty hard, maybe even too hard, for the field that arrived, but I'm not sure if that's an issue that deserves a dramatic reworking in how CO is produced.

The bottom part of the field was probably quite a bit weaker than last year. This is not meant as an insult, it's just how things happen (and also last year's field was pretty damn good). Charles Hang's team, which is practically the same as the team he had last year, did 3 points better in bonus conversion this year and finished 12th (out of 20th) instead of 15th (out of 17th).
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by grapesmoker » Mon Aug 01, 2016 2:03 pm

It would seem to make more sense to break the field into percentiles rather than raw counts.
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