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Author Topic: Computer Players  (Read 19768 times)
AlwaysRock
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« on: January 24, 2006, 10:33:06 AM »

Are these players going to result in a downfall of the strategy of the game?  Basically these players use a random number generator to get a string of about 30-50 numbers between 1-3, assign throws to the numbers and memorize those throws and when they get into a match, make those throws.  This essentially results in a random sequence of throws and allows them to perform at a 50% win rate against the best players in the world according to theory.
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The Saint
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« Reply #1 on: January 24, 2006, 12:00:45 PM »

Perhaps you can direct that question to the guy who chose that route in the 2004 World Championships and lost first round (correct me if my details are off)
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Jef Hallestone
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« Reply #2 on: January 24, 2006, 12:38:49 PM »

Playing random is a terrible strategy because it basically means that if the strategy works out you will win 1/3 of the time, tie 1/3 of the time and lose 1/3rd of the time.

And that is if you execute it perfectly.

Hardly a way to make it into the final 16.

Discovery Channel put in a computer (aided by a player who threw what it told him to) called Deep Mauve into the 2003 World RPS Championships. It too went out in the first round.
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Brad Fox
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« Reply #3 on: January 24, 2006, 02:41:03 PM »

The most concise proof of randomness' inability to reliably win at RPS is the International RoShamBo Programming Competition held every other year at the University of Alberta.

Random (or otherwise chaotic) playtypes are routinely dominated by programs which seek to recognize and exploit patterns in their opponents. The previous champions have had very subtle prediction routines that have made them clear victors over the field.

For even the most skillfully-written neural networks to pick up on and exploit weak play tendencies requires hundreds of throws, where human players have to be able to measure their oponents and adapt in (at most) only a dozen - as such I don't think the pro tour has to worry about an inorganic champion for some time yet.
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AlwaysRock
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« Reply #4 on: January 24, 2006, 03:41:36 PM »

Yea, this doesn't seem like the best way to a prosperous career in RPS, but for a novice or bad player, I think this might be the only shot they would have to not get destroyed by a superior or world-class player.
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martinburley
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« Reply #5 on: January 24, 2006, 10:52:55 PM »

AlwaysRock, it's highly likely a novice or bad player employing this method would still lose against a superior player - the better player could still pick up on the novice's tells, or poor technique. RPS is a sport, not just a game.

There should be no shame in losing to a better player - it's an opportunity to learn, to discover where your strategies were weak, and notice what your opponent did to outplay you. But if you rely on using randomly selected throws, that opportunity is lost.

On the other hand, there is a nugget of truth to your musing. A weak player should If the players are not too far apart in standard, the weaker player stands a better chance if he or she 'mixes things up' rather than play according to the book. In chess, this would mean creating an unbalanced or complicated position rather than make the seemingly safest move.

In RPS, if the weak player assumes the strong player is good enough to totally 'out-psych' him, then the best chance might be to say, "Well, given that my opponent has the upper hand, the throw I think is best probably isn't, so I should probably throw something else." This is a slight variant of Silician reasoning and can be effective in weak v strong player matches, though naturally, it won't work against a truly world-class opponent.
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"The great fallacy is that the game is first and last about winning. It is nothing of the kind. The game is about glory. It is about doing things in style, with a flourish, about going out to beat the other lot, not waiting for them to die of boredom."
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« Reply #6 on: January 25, 2006, 12:27:17 PM »

Based on my many years of competitive play, I echo the response that an exclusively random strategy is not only unworkable but illogical.  

In the first place, you are correct that in theory, the strategy will win 50% of the time and lose 50% of the time, excluding ties.  While it is true that a batter hitting .500 will lead the league, RPS is quite a different sport.  No RPS player would be very happy winning half of his or her matches.  The path to winning a major tournament is narrow and steep.  The winner of, say, a 256 player tournament will have won eight consecutive matches.  Clearly, a strategy that only yields a win every other match will be useless in getting one past the second round.

Consider also the gold standard of competitive RPS: the best two of three.  Again not counting ties, if a match goes one and one before a resolving throw, the final score will be 2-1.  In percentage terms, this is roughly 66% to 33%.  How does a 50% win rate fit in here?  If one is tied on a match, one wants to win the next resolving throw, not one of the next two.

Perhaps the clearest refutation of the exclusive random strategy is to point out the weakest link in any system:  the human element.  Let us assume that one takes your suggstion, gets a computer to generate a random string, and memorizes the results.  It is conceivable that an ill-intentioned associate could take it upon himself to steal the list and sell it to one's opposition.  Even were one to destroy the hard copy, it is possible to have one's computer pilfered in a search for such information.  (Like most professional RPS players, I have had my training logs stolen as a matter of course.  Like most other players, I always leave a few "decoy" folders out with counterinformation.)

This is not to say that random (or pseudorandom) strategies do not have their place.  All players should be able to switch into random mode when the situation calls for it.  Some players are more succeptable to random play than others (for instance, many of the great reactive players get stonewalled when faced with a non-reactive strategy.)  I also find that a pseudorandom strategy is a great transitional strategy, seamlessly bonding together, say, an Avalanche and an alternating paper-exclusive stance.  During his competitive years, Wojek Smallsoa was famous for this, his daring attacks coming as a thunderbolt from a clear sky.

I have played against my share of computer programs in my time, and find all of them superior to a random throw generator (RTG.)  In exhibition matches against RTGs, I find that I can more clearly focus my intuitive and precognitive abilities, without having to worry about psyching out a human opponent, or defend against being psyched out by them.  There is no need to cloak one's throws or pay attention to an opponents perhaps deceptive physical tells.  In all important ways, I find exclusive random play to be vastly inferior to the complex adaptive systems that were my signature style during my competitive years.
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Jef Hallestone
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« Reply #7 on: January 25, 2006, 06:55:46 PM »

Quote
Like most other players, I always leave a few "decoy" folders out with counterinformation.)


Rosh, you know there are a lot of people who think that your retirement is a sham and your little slip will do nothing but add fuel to the fire.

I guess you meant to say  "I used to leave..."
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Jef Hallestone
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« Reply #8 on: January 25, 2006, 09:56:29 PM »

#### me, and my obsessive avoidance of the passive voice!
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paperchamp
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« Reply #9 on: January 26, 2006, 04:46:56 PM »

I watched several people use calculators to throw random throws during the 2005 championship, they would not even look at opponents during the matches. I don't think any of them made it past the first round. It is best to try and read your opponent and pick up on tells and of course a little luck goes a long way.
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martinburley
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« Reply #10 on: January 26, 2006, 08:06:22 PM »

There are occasions when a calculator can come in handy - but only as a decoy. The ideal situation is if you're fairly sure how your opponent would usually play, but think that they would try to 'up their game' against you.

"This season, I'm using a calculator to help me with all my throws," you say, pressing a few keys on the calculator and frowning in concentration as you speak.

Your opponent thinks, "Well, I can relax, he's not going to try to out-think me, so I'll just do my normal strategy. There's only 1/3 chance he'll beat my throw since he's playing randomly."

You counter their normal strategy and win easily. (An Urbanus Defense can be employed here, since winning the first throw might make the opponent suspicious. Losing the first throw will reassure them that you really are playing randomly.)

After they lose, smile and point out, "I didn't say I was using the calculator to help me choose my throws..."

(It goes without saying that this technique is not suggested for tournament use.)
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"The great fallacy is that the game is first and last about winning. It is nothing of the kind. The game is about glory. It is about doing things in style, with a flourish, about going out to beat the other lot, not waiting for them to die of boredom."
paperchamp
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« Reply #11 on: January 27, 2006, 02:23:23 PM »

Is there a reason I am unable to post to other discussions on the bull board?
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Jef Hallestone
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« Reply #12 on: January 27, 2006, 02:53:17 PM »

I think James has the board all tricked out so that you can't create new posts until you have posted a few replies.

or something like that
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Jef Hallestone
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« Reply #13 on: January 27, 2006, 03:04:45 PM »

It was a glitch in the settings that has now been corrected.

Thanks for pointing it out.

Doug
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« Reply #14 on: January 31, 2006, 09:49:40 AM »

Hey Doug
  You guys ever need the trophy back?
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