ACF Nationals discussion

Elaborate on the merits of specific tournaments or have general theoretical discussion here.
User avatar
theMoMA
Forums Staff: Administrator
Posts: 5567
Joined: Mon Oct 23, 2006 2:00 am

Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by theMoMA » Fri Apr 27, 2018 5:42 pm

I don't personally subscribe to the idea that popular-science clues are verboten, although I find Shan's point about such clues appearing in more unfamiliar areas of the science distribution to be interesting and worthy of some thought. (I also find Shan's claim that the Haldane question was "kind of dull" to be contradicted by the video record of his obvious amusement at the clue about Haldane's copious consumption of baking soda.)

Should these kinds of clues come up in every question? No. But in three questions over the course of 21 rounds? Sounds about right to me, although obviously people are free to disagree, and future editors may well edit their own tournaments to reflect an even more purist conception of science.
Andrew Hart
Minnesota alum

User avatar
Muriel Axon
Tidus
Posts: 669
Joined: Wed Mar 21, 2012 12:19 am

Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by Muriel Axon » Fri Apr 27, 2018 5:45 pm

theMoMA wrote:(I also find Shan's claim that the Haldane question was "kind of dull" to be contradicted by the video record of his obvious amusement at the clue about Haldane's copious consumption of baking soda.)
I concede that that was an amusing clue.
Shan Kothari

Plymouth High School '10
Michigan State University '14
University of Minnesota '19 (hopefully!)

RexSueciae
Rikku
Posts: 318
Joined: Sun Dec 29, 2013 12:24 am

Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by RexSueciae » Fri Apr 27, 2018 5:53 pm

jmarvin_ wrote:gnosticism
Hey, I wrote that one!

As this may very well be the last ACF Nationals that I play, I want to thank all the writers, editors, and staffers who made this event thoroughly enjoyable despite my waking up with a severe cold Sunday morning and playing the second half of Nats feeling very much under the weather.

I concur with John's comments on this set's religion content and would like to add that I appreciated the noticeable folklore subdistro of the mythology that I heard. Questions on, for example, the superstitions of sailors were an excellent combination of stuff that's fun to hear and stuff that feels relevant to understanding people of the past.

Although I was initially under the impression that the tossup on attempted Soviet domestication of foxes may not have been uniquely identifying given the simultaneous Soviet program on the domestication of moose, further research has shown that -- I think -- there was no overlap. Props to whoever wrote that, by the way.

In addition to the gnosticism tossup, questions that I contributed which appeared in the Virginia packet this year were the tossups on "Transatlantic" [in lit], Yuri Andropov [with whimsical clues that survived almost entirely intact], and a bonus that got edited from a submitted tossup on "the death of the Buddha."
Vasa Clarke

Maggie Walker '14
Virginia '18
William and Mary '21

User avatar
Amizda Calyx
Forums Staff: Moderator
Posts: 250
Joined: Tue May 18, 2010 9:46 pm
Location: Seattle, WA

Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by Amizda Calyx » Fri Apr 27, 2018 8:20 pm

I actually quite enjoy science history questions (and even helped write a small tournament on the history of science and technology); I just prefer that they appear as part of a distinct subdistribution rather than in the 4/4 science. I think this is partly influenced by my being a specialist player at higher levels, and my experiences when I first got into quizbowl where the *only* questions I could answer were biology. I would wait for that 1/1 every round, and it was pretty discouraging as a new player to lose out on hearing the one category I could get (or even recognize clues from) before FTP, even if it was only once or twice a tournament.

For generalists and other people competitive in multiple categories, it probably doesn't seem like a big deal for one question to be jokey and have clues you wouldn't encounter in the context of your field. But I think for new players, or people like me who only scale up in one subcategory, it can be pretty draining to go a whole round without feeling like you even had a chance to contribute to your team (especially if you've already played several rounds against teams much better at your category). You could argue "just get good at other categories you lazy scrub" or "suck it up, it was just one question out of the whole tournament", and you'd be right; maybe I'm just salty that I didn't get to answer another excellent question that really tested the depth of my biology knowledge. This isn't to target Wang specifically, since I think he did a great job in cluing all the other questions, but I do think it is helpful for elite players to step back a bit when writing and try to see how a question would sound to a new and/or not-good and/or single-category player, even at the level of ACF Nats. I can say as a basically empty seat-player on the 2014 9th place team, it is really demoralizing to spend two days being battered with non-bio answerlines you've never even heard of and feeling utterly useless and undeserving of being a top-10 contender. The things that made the experience worth it were the sense of accomplishment from capitalizing on knowledge I worked hard to attain, getting to hear cool clues that I could connect back to my classes, and seeing really good players like Eric and Billy make exceptional buzzes on topics I thought I knew. So it can be all the more disappointing when a question comes up that doesn't test your scientific understanding, or expose you to new clues you might get to buzz on later, or inspire you to learn more about a topic, or even appear to reward high-level science comprehension, and instead references biographical information you'd be more likely to encounter on a blog.
Joelle Smart
Ellensburg High School, 2006–10
University of Washington, 2010–14
Rutgers University, 2015–20??
PACE
HSAPQ biology editor, 2014–2017

It is a mistake to think you can solve any major problems just with potatoes.

hokie168
Lulu
Posts: 23
Joined: Mon Feb 23, 2009 11:20 pm

Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by hokie168 » Fri Apr 27, 2018 8:28 pm

I edited the math submissions and wrote the following questions:

TUs on the core, sigma algebra, and Grothendieck. I had one other tossup that I don’t think has been posted yet, but has possibly been spoiled for next year and might get posted. I’ll talk about that one if Andrew clears it, since I think it’s another good example of what kind of vision I was trying for.

Bonuses on Fano plane/infinity/parallel, Hausdorff/closed/Urysohn, and Yoneda lemma/Cayley’s theorem/commutative.

My intentions for the subdistro were that it would consist roughly as follows if math was 6/6: a “big three” of 2 algebra, 2 analysis, and 2 topology, rounded out by 1 number theory, 1 category theory, 1 geometry, 1 applied/computational, and 2 others with no requirement aside from not both being from the same subcategory. I also wanted to have a tossup whose answerline was a mathematician. In practice, many questions blurred subcategories, but I tried to make most tossups primarily belonging to one subcategory. If we split a question into fractions pertaining to each topic (e.g. half algebra, half topology), I still wanted to get roughly that subdistro when we added everything together. Additionally, a lot of analysis and topology things are related enough that I accepted some crossover in order to put together what I thought was a better question.

As to the questions themselves, I tended to try to write so that someone would be rewarded for knowing how to prove something, as opposed to just being able to identify the concept.

Regarding the sigma algebra tossup: “measure” seemed to have been asked about relatively frequently, but sigma algebras have not, and I thought it could reward people who really understand the topic rather than just memorizing types of measures. From the references I was using, the initial sentence about the lambda-system being generated by the pi-system and the reference to the monotone class theorem should have indicated it was a sigma algebra instead of a measure. I’m curious which pronouns were considered confusing, so I can keep that in mind if I ever write/edit on this difficulty level again.

Any feedback would be appreciated. I’d like to thank Jerry Vinokurov, Christoph Schlom, and Martin Camacho for their playtesting and suggestions.
Dennis Loo
Coach, IMSA.
Formerly at UVA and Virginia Tech

Borrowing 100,000 Arrows
Lulu
Posts: 42
Joined: Sun Feb 19, 2017 11:29 pm

Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by Borrowing 100,000 Arrows » Fri Apr 27, 2018 11:55 pm

hokie168 wrote:Regarding the sigma algebra tossup: “measure” seemed to have been asked about relatively frequently, but sigma algebras have not, and I thought it could reward people who really understand the topic rather than just memorizing types of measures. From the references I was using, the initial sentence about the lambda-system being generated by the pi-system and the reference to the monotone class theorem should have indicated it was a sigma algebra instead of a measure. I’m curious which pronouns were considered confusing, so I can keep that in mind if I ever write/edit on this difficulty level again.

Rereading this tossup, I think the pronouns are fine. If anything, "this object" should probably have clued me into the fact that you weren't talking about a function. I think the tossup could have been a little clearer, but I think my original post was mainly sour grapes. I was also super excited about the Grothendieck tossup, it was probably my favorite tossup of the tournament.
Caleb K.
Maryland '24, Oklahoma '18, Norman North '15

User avatar
UlyssesInvictus
Tidus
Posts: 717
Joined: Thu Feb 10, 2011 7:38 pm

Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by UlyssesInvictus » Sun Apr 29, 2018 8:37 pm

Is there a Word/DOCX version of this set that could be uploaded? It appears that the .zip version uploaded only consists of PDFs as well. Assuming that the files were stored in a Google Drive folder as Google Docs, a compressed folder of Word files can easily be exported by selecting all the files in the folder and selecting the "Download" option.
Raynor Kuang
quizdb.org
Harvard 2017, TJHSST 2013
I wrote GRAPHIC and FILM

User avatar
ThisIsMyUsername
Yuna
Posts: 776
Joined: Wed Jul 15, 2009 11:36 am
Location: New York, NY

Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by ThisIsMyUsername » Sun Apr 29, 2018 11:54 pm

In my preoccupation with all of the chatter about stats in the Player Poll, I neglected to post in this thread, which I had planned to do much earlier.

First of all, as everyone else has said, many thanks to the editors for a very enjoyable set.

Luckily, many of the comments I would have made have been made by others already. So, I cannot trailblaze the compliments towards the visual arts and jazz in this set. I can only repeat how much enjoyable I found these categories to be. (One of my favorite set of jazz questions at an upper-level tournament.) It is not always easy to nudge any category towards the "real," while keeping it playable; and I thought that this was accomplished by both of these categories. And although I am not someone who is going to do a lot of buzzing on myth, regardless of how it is written, I do endorse Stephen's more expansive characterization of what the myth distribution can encompass, as a way to avoid it turning into a battle over a few epics, and also reward knowledge of (gasp!) non-ancient folk traditions.

Others have also brought up what I see as one of the only flaws this set, which is the "two tournaments" problem--that is, the sense that the submitted packets and editors' packets exhibit divergent aesthetics of what the tournament should be about. I don't think is a problem unique to this set, nor was it present to an extreme enough degree that I would wish philosophical discussion of this matter to clog this thread. So, I have opened up another thread on this subject here.

I have a larger philosophical question regarding the "description acceptable" literature tossups. I like the many otherwise inaccessible answers that this convention has allowed to be tossed up. But such tossups become difficult when it is very unclear what specific component of an answer will or will not constitute an acceptable description.

On the "Emily Webb's 12th birthday" tossup (mentioned already in this thread), I buzzed very late on "do any human beings ever realize life while they live it?" (Hey, cut me some slack! It has been 14 years since I saw/read it.) I said (correctly) that this was when Emily was dead and among the other dead people in Our Town. My reader had read it presumably even longer ago than I did, and negged me rather than prompting me. I doubt I would have gotten to the right answer (at least, not immediately) even with prompting: there are no breaks in that act with which to demarcate what the question writer thinks is a "scene"; and at the point at which that line is spoken, Emily is not reliving her birthday any longer, because she is back among the dead. I'm not interested in complaining about the accuracy of the tossup, but rather in the broader question: how should we as editors deal with "description acceptable" tossups like this?

A simlar thing could have happened in the Macbeth "tomorrow" soliloquy tossup, I buzzed and babbled a couple of lines from it, one of which was fortunately the "tomorrow" line. But what would have happened had I just said "tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury," and then protested when negged? What lines from that soliloquy are acceptable, promptable, etc.?

I don't know what the solution is to these. No one but me is fond of the Jensenite prompt instructions in which one lists every single conceivable thing a player might say. (In the case of Macbeth, we presumably can't just print the whole soliloquy under the question and say "prompt on any of this.") Are these doomed to be decided by protests, rather than answer-lines? Or is there any way around this (besides, perhaps, restricting ourselves to scenes/actions that are more clearly defined)?
John Lawrence
Yale University '12
King's College London '13
University of Chicago '19

“I am not absentminded. It is the presence of mind that makes me unaware of everything else.” - G.K. Chesterton

User avatar
Cheynem
Sin
Posts: 6318
Joined: Tue May 11, 2004 11:19 am
Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan

Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by Cheynem » Mon Apr 30, 2018 12:17 am

These questions are tricky wickets for me--the "scene" (and yes, I agree, this tossup clues multiple instances of what I would call "scenes") from Our Town and the speech from Macbeth are extremely famous, well studied portions of literature. They deserve to be asked about, obviously. On the other hand, there's not a clear way to say these answerlines--I have read the Macbeth speech many times, and while "tomorrow, tomorrow, and tomorrow" stands out, a lot of other lines do as well. The Our Town clues to me all slam together as basically the ending of the play. I am torn between two schools of thought:

1. Try and pick a reasonable number of alternate answerlines and then let the protest chips fall where they may for anything else. I haven't seen the full answerlines for these tossups, but it seems like you could throw out like 3 or 4 things people would reasonably say for each.

2. On the other hand, you could also argue that this is an unwieldy exercise--that really any lines of the Macbeth thing would be correct and even some description like "Macbeth's soliloquy after hearing of his wife's death" is also correct. There are also arguably a fair number of answers for the Our Town tossup that would be correct. At this point, you wonder if it's just simpler to write a tossup on the character of Macbeth using only clues about that soliloquy or the play Our Town only focusing on that "scene." I am generally in preference for this in instances like this, although I can see how that might make answerlines consistently less interesting.
Mike Cheyne
Formerly U of Minnesota

"You killed HSAPQ"--Matt Bollinger

User avatar
An Economic Ignoramus
Memerator
Posts: 561
Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2016 12:31 pm
Location: East Lansing, MI or Naperville, IL

Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by An Economic Ignoramus » Mon Apr 30, 2018 1:46 am

A simlar thing could have happened in the Macbeth "tomorrow" soliloquy tossup, I buzzed and babbled a couple of lines from it, one of which was fortunately the "tomorrow" line. But what would have happened had I just said "tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury," and then protested when negged? What lines from that soliloquy are acceptable, promptable, etc.?
Presumably quite a few; Harris was initially not given points for saying "Out, Out, Brief Candle", but this was ruled acceptable under a protest. For what it's worth, I also negged Emily's birthday with "The Graveyard Scene from Our Town". It wasn't close enough that it would have mattered, though.
Jakob Myers
MSU '21, Naperville North '17
"No one has ever organized a greater effort to get people interested in pretending to play quiz bowl"
-Ankit Aggarwal
Member, PACE
Memerator

gyre and gimble
Tidus
Posts: 714
Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2009 2:45 am

Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by gyre and gimble » Mon Apr 30, 2018 4:39 am

An Economic Ignoramus wrote:
A simlar thing could have happened in the Macbeth "tomorrow" soliloquy tossup, I buzzed and babbled a couple of lines from it, one of which was fortunately the "tomorrow" line. But what would have happened had I just said "tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury," and then protested when negged? What lines from that soliloquy are acceptable, promptable, etc.?
Presumably quite a few; Harris was initially not given points for saying "Out, Out, Brief Candle", but this was ruled acceptable under a protest. For what it's worth, I also negged Emily's birthday with "The Graveyard Scene from Our Town". It wasn't close enough that it would have mattered, though.
As the author of the "Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow" question, I'll say no, not "presumably quite a few." Although I didn't consult on the protest resolution, I would have prompted on "out, out brief candle" but not awarded the tossup outright. (That said, it was shortsighted of me not to include such a prompt instruction, so I don't blame Andrew or whoever made the call.) Whenever referred to by its contents, the speech is essentially 100% of the time called the "Tomorrow" speech or the "Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow" speech. The only reason the question accepts descriptions is that sometimes people refer to it as "Macbeth's soliloquy on the death of his wife" or something like that.

I don't see how this is different from a tossup on "All the world's a stage" or "To be or not to be" or "Now is the winter of our discontent." Would you give 10 points for someone who says "the sleep-perchance-to-dream speech" or "the sea-of-troubles speech"? I wouldn't, and I don't think that's standard practice. I'll admit that, unlike these three examples, "tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow" isn't the first line of Macbeth's speech. But as far as I can tell, it's unambiguously the key line in the soliloquy that people use to identify it. Maybe "She should have died hereafter" should be acceptable outright, but I don't think that's the case for any other lines.

I'll also add that although this was a film question, it was intended as a somewhat experimental foray into tossups that test knowledge of acting or dramatic performance. I'm not sure if that should play any role in deciding which answers are acceptable/promptable (I'm inclined to say no), but perhaps the way people refer to this speech differs between dramatic and critical circles.
Stephen Liu
Torrey Pines '10
Harvard '14
Stanford '17

User avatar
ThisIsMyUsername
Yuna
Posts: 776
Joined: Wed Jul 15, 2009 11:36 am
Location: New York, NY

Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by ThisIsMyUsername » Mon Apr 30, 2018 8:22 am

gyre and gimble wrote: As the author of the "Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow" question, I'll say no, not "presumably quite a few." Although I didn't consult on the protest resolution, I would have prompted on "out, out brief candle" but not awarded the tossup outright. (That said, it was shortsighted of me not to include such a prompt instruction, so I don't blame Andrew or whoever made the call.) Whenever referred to by its contents, the speech is essentially 100% of the time called the "Tomorrow" speech or the "Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow" speech. The only reason the question accepts descriptions is that sometimes people refer to it as "Macbeth's soliloquy on the death of his wife" or something like that.
As readers of this forum from about six or seven years ago will surely recognize, this is the famous "Things Have Names" doctrine. My invoking that title is not meant to serve as an argument against it, by conjuring memories of the bitterest squabbles that resulted from it. I do agree with its basic premise: namely, that many things do, in fact, have names. In such cases, "the name" effectively functions as a title does (albeit often with more leniency regarding exact wording). But the "Things Have Names" doctrine does not apply in cases where one has said "description acceptable," as this is the very opposite situation. Accepting descriptions is, by its nature, saying that "the name" is not required. The grounds for not accepting a description (or for prompting rather than taking it outright) always has to be that the player has failed to describe what the editor feels to be the necessary component of the answer. The issue is then what constitutes a sufficient description, and whether there are any general guiding practices we should abide by.
I don't see how this is different from a tossup on "All the world's a stage" or "To be or not to be" or "Now is the winter of our discontent." Would you give 10 points for someone who says "the sleep-perchance-to-dream speech" or "the sea-of-troubles speech"? I wouldn't, and I don't think that's standard practice.
I can't speak for other editors, but these wouldn't happen for the first two were I editing, because I simply wouldn't say "description acceptable." Those lines are reified to the point of functioning as titles. (This is not to say that I wouldn't include a prompt or two.) For the last of these, I think one should accept something like "Richard III's opening soliloquy." But the question of whether one should say "description acceptable" or not--and whether saying so opens the floodgates such that one is required to accept more answers than those two--is precisely what I think is worth discussing.

It might be better in that case not to say "description acceptable," even though there is one description that is acceptable. I don't think one is obliged to say "description acceptable" in every case where that is technically the case. Perhaps it is better reserved for cases where there is no single reified way of referring to the answer, as a way of signalling to the player than many possible answers (not just a title and a single arbitrary choice of description) are going to be fine.
John Lawrence
Yale University '12
King's College London '13
University of Chicago '19

“I am not absentminded. It is the presence of mind that makes me unaware of everything else.” - G.K. Chesterton

User avatar
Lagotto Romagnolo
Tidus
Posts: 507
Joined: Wed Jan 23, 2008 12:43 pm
Location: Alexandria, VA

Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by Lagotto Romagnolo » Mon Apr 30, 2018 10:21 am

a bird wrote: First, thanks for your hard work on the physics in the set! I think it turned out quite well and touched on many important and interesting topics. I think your philosophy on "new" or "unusual" answer lines was probably for the best. While I agree with with your point about physics being highly interconnected with many subfields using the same concepts and techniques, I think there are still many subdistribution choices left to the editor.

Here are some topics many questions in the physics distribution touch on:
  • core theories (classical mech, quantum mech, electrodynamics)
  • more complicated theories (e.g. particle physics, condensed matter, plasma physics)
  • experimental techniques (historical experiments and modern research)
  • applications (e.g. fluid mech, engineering topics)
Did you have a particular philosophy for which aspects of the subdistribution to emphasize? I have some thoughts, but I'm more curious to hear about your editorial vision.
Glad to hear you enjoyed it! I would say that ultimately, the subdistribution is derived from the typical physics undergraduate curriculum. I wasn’t a physics major, but I’ve absorbed this philosophy from Jerry Vinokurov and Seth Teitler over many years of playing and submitting questions for their tournaments. Also, after the excess of particle physics and exotic theories in CO 2016, I wanted to dial back the weirdness and focus more on meat-and-potatoes physics for this tournament. As such, the core theories of electrodynamics and quantum mechanics got the most weight. I would include thermodynamics / stat mech in there too, but that category bleeds into chemistry and math so realistically it won’t get as many official physics questions at the other two. Classical mech is also important but is often much harder to write (like I said above, the 3 eponymous formulations of it are all equivalent), and from what I’ve seen is usually a one-semester course while QM and E&M generally take two. In the second tier we have more applied theories like optics, solid state physics, particle physics, and relativity (but questions on the last of those will invariably also pop up in the astro distribution). And then there are more niche applications like plasma physics, fluids, historical experiments, and string theory and its competitors. I typically throw pure engineering questions in other science, but I freely use clues on applications or modern research within physics questions.
Aaron Rosenberg
Brown '11
Illinois '14
PACE

sbraunfeld
Lulu
Posts: 58
Joined: Wed Jan 06, 2010 2:09 am

Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by sbraunfeld » Mon Apr 30, 2018 12:21 pm

hokie168 wrote:I edited the math submissions and wrote the following questions:

TUs on the core, sigma algebra, and Grothendieck. I had one other tossup that I don’t think has been posted yet, but has possibly been spoiled for next year and might get posted. I’ll talk about that one if Andrew clears it, since I think it’s another good example of what kind of vision I was trying for.

Bonuses on Fano plane/infinity/parallel, Hausdorff/closed/Urysohn, and Yoneda lemma/Cayley’s theorem/commutative.

My intentions for the subdistro were that it would consist roughly as follows if math was 6/6: a “big three” of 2 algebra, 2 analysis, and 2 topology, rounded out by 1 number theory, 1 category theory, 1 geometry, 1 applied/computational, and 2 others with no requirement aside from not both being from the same subcategory. I also wanted to have a tossup whose answerline was a mathematician. In practice, many questions blurred subcategories, but I tried to make most tossups primarily belonging to one subcategory. If we split a question into fractions pertaining to each topic (e.g. half algebra, half topology), I still wanted to get roughly that subdistro when we added everything together. Additionally, a lot of analysis and topology things are related enough that I accepted some crossover in order to put together what I thought was a better question.

As to the questions themselves, I tended to try to write so that someone would be rewarded for knowing how to prove something, as opposed to just being able to identify the concept.

Regarding the sigma algebra tossup: “measure” seemed to have been asked about relatively frequently, but sigma algebras have not, and I thought it could reward people who really understand the topic rather than just memorizing types of measures. From the references I was using, the initial sentence about the lambda-system being generated by the pi-system and the reference to the monotone class theorem should have indicated it was a sigma algebra instead of a measure. I’m curious which pronouns were considered confusing, so I can keep that in mind if I ever write/edit on this difficulty level again.

Any feedback would be appreciated. I’d like to thank Jerry Vinokurov, Christoph Schlom, and Martin Camacho for their playtesting and suggestions.
I sent the following as a pm a few days ago, and Dennis asked me to make it public so that he and others could discuss.

Hey,
I think this year's Nats math was the best that I can remember. I still have some comments. If you'd prefer I also make this a public post, I can certainly do so.

Kepler conjecture: I doubt the field has the knowledge to justify this tossup, and would be surprised if people buzzed on the "real math" clues coming before the mention of computer validation.
Also, I think it's somewhat unempathetic to not prompt on "sphere packing problem", particularly as the pronoun "this problem" was used earlier in the question. However, I think it's an entirely defensible choice, especially since some clues, including the lead-in, mention proving "this statement", which makes no sense for sphere packing. (I of course made this neg, at the mention of "Hales".)

Group actions (note: I didn't actually hear this question): The Burnside lemma clue seems not very fleshed out. I realize you don't want to give the statement, but something about its applications, e.g. by Polya in combinatorics, or even just saying something about fixed points, would I think be more helpful than just an alternate name.
I like the class equation clue. It seems a good example of your comment about rewarding knowledge of proofs.
The rest of this question strikes me as fairly flat. I'm dubious that there are many people who know what a group action is, but not what an orbit is, so I would have saved that for right before the giveaway rather than 3 lines before the end. (I may be incorrect about this, since I mostly imagine people learning these things in classes.)

Grothendieck: I know essentially nothing about Grothendieck's work. However, the leadin sounds incredibly Grothendieck-ian to me (using sheaves and morphisms to generalize results about complex varieties), to the point where I would have made a confident buzz on it if I suspected the other team had a math player, despite not having any idea what it was actually referring to.
The rest of the tossup seems quite good.

Sigma-algebras: I'm not sure what the complaints about pronoun confusion are about.
I think the "join" clue has a couple issues. First, it seems very apyramidal to me; the Caratheodory extension theorem and the Borel sigma algebra are fundamental notions, while I don't think I've ever encountered the join of sigma-algebras. Also, it's non-unique, and can apply to many cases where one is considering a lattice (or more general order structures) of objects over a base set. A standard example is that one often considers the lattice of equivalence relations over a set (ordered by inclusion), and the join of two equivalence relations is then the coarsest equivalence relation containing both.

I quite liked the bonuses I recall (the ones you listed plus Pell's equation/Diophantine/units). In particular, I think every bonus part was an important thing, and no hard part seemed unreasonable. The only criticism I have is that "units" stuck out to me as an easy hard part; it's a fundamental notion that I would expect people to encounter in a first course in abstract algebra, whereas the other hard parts seemed much more specialized. (My team got this bonus, by the way.)

Again, I thought the math was very good overall, and even though this was my last Nats, I hope you keep writing.
Sam Braunfeld
Berkeley '13
Rutgers '18

gyre and gimble
Tidus
Posts: 714
Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2009 2:45 am

Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by gyre and gimble » Mon Apr 30, 2018 12:34 pm

ThisIsMyUsername wrote:
gyre and gimble wrote:I don't see how this is different from a tossup on "All the world's a stage" or "To be or not to be" or "Now is the winter of our discontent." Would you give 10 points for someone who says "the sleep-perchance-to-dream speech" or "the sea-of-troubles speech"? I wouldn't, and I don't think that's standard practice.
I can't speak for other editors, but these wouldn't happen for the first two were I editing, because I simply wouldn't say "description acceptable." Those lines are reified to the point of functioning as titles. (This is not to say that I wouldn't include a prompt or two.) For the last of these, I think one should accept something like "Richard III's opening soliloquy." But the question of whether one should say "description acceptable" or not--and whether saying so opens the floodgates such that one is required to accept more answers than those two--is precisely what I think is worth discussing.

It might be better in that case not to say "description acceptable," even though there is one description that is acceptable. I don't think one is obliged to say "description acceptable" in every case where that is technically the case. Perhaps it is better reserved for cases where there is no single reified way of referring to the answer, as a way of signalling to the player than many possible answers (not just a title and a single arbitrary choice of description) are going to be fine.
Ah, I must have lost sight of your post when I responded to Jakob. I agree, "description acceptable" may mislead players as to what descriptions are acceptable and encourage them to buzz without coming up with a sufficient answer first. Actually, I originally wrote this tossup with no "description acceptable" prompt, but nevertheless accepted "Macbeth's soliloquy on the death of his wife" and "Macbeth's soliloquy in Act V, Scene 5." Then some of my co-editors suggested that I might as well make it "description acceptable" at that point, which seemed reasonable to me. What got lost in this transition was my intent to accept a narrower set of descriptions than what the pre-tossup prompt would invite--which would explain the MSU protest resolution.

(By the way, I consider "Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow" to be a line similarly reified to the point of functioning as a title.)
Stephen Liu
Torrey Pines '10
Harvard '14
Stanford '17

User avatar
theMoMA
Forums Staff: Administrator
Posts: 5567
Joined: Mon Oct 23, 2006 2:00 am

Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by theMoMA » Mon Apr 30, 2018 12:44 pm

I want briefly to discuss the subject of the different feel between editor and submitted packets. Although I don't deny that these packets had a different feel, I wanted to go back and take a look at the sources of questions from the two groups of packets to see how exactly they diverged, and what we might deduce from that. I found that the six editors wrote 137 out of 400 questions in the submission packets, and it appears (though this is not readily apparent from our particular way of recordkeeping) that from-scratch freelance questions accounted for another ~20-30 questions. Just skimming through some submissions and looking at the final forms of those questions, it looks like very few questions were used without major surgery. Just looking at the questions I edited, I think maybe four or five (out of about 40 submitted questions used) made it in with only aesthetic changes.

Although I have no doubt that a group of editors could sand and polish a submitted portion of a tournament in an attempt to have it match the grain of the editor-written portion of the tournament more exactly, I think it's a tough ask on top of what's already a daunting editorial task. The fact is that, despite the editors discarding well over half of the submitted material, and the final packets being nearly 50% questions written from scratch, the players still seemed to perceive major differences between editor-written packets and submissions. I'm sure any experienced editor could deduce the reasons for this (mainly, that 50% from scratch is much different than 100% from scratch), and could likely figure out ways to make submissions feel more like editor packets, or vice versa. John's suggestions in the other thread are likely a good start, and I like to think that we did use those strategies to some extent. But at that point, I wonder if it's just easier to write the whole thing from scratch, or to acknowledge that submitted packets and editor packets will probably feel a little different despite reasonable efforts to create a coherent vision, and adjust expectations accordingly. After producing 24.5 packets of material at this level, I have a hard time imagining the feasibility of adding several more hours of work on top of what was already a difficult project.
Andrew Hart
Minnesota alum

User avatar
ryanrosenberg
Auron
Posts: 1172
Joined: Thu May 05, 2011 5:48 pm
Location: Chicago, Illinois

Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by ryanrosenberg » Mon Apr 30, 2018 12:57 pm

An Economic Ignoramus wrote:
A simlar thing could have happened in the Macbeth "tomorrow" soliloquy tossup, I buzzed and babbled a couple of lines from it, one of which was fortunately the "tomorrow" line. But what would have happened had I just said "tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury," and then protested when negged? What lines from that soliloquy are acceptable, promptable, etc.?
Presumably quite a few; Harris was initially not given points for saying "Out, Out, Brief Candle", but this was ruled acceptable under a protest. For what it's worth, I also negged Emily's birthday with "The Graveyard Scene from Our Town". It wasn't close enough that it would have mattered, though.
Answers describing or naming the graveyard scene were ruled promptable on protest; as John correctly notes, there is not a real delineation of scene between the graveyard and Emily's birthday in Our Town.
Ryan Rosenberg
North Carolina '16 | Ardsley '12
PACE | ACF

User avatar
Kasper Kaijanen
Lulu
Posts: 82
Joined: Mon Jun 23, 2014 7:00 pm

Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by Kasper Kaijanen » Mon Apr 30, 2018 8:44 pm

sbraunfeld wrote: I quite liked the bonuses I recall (the ones you listed plus Pell's equation/Diophantine/units). In particular, I think every bonus part was an important thing, and no hard part seemed unreasonable. The only criticism I have is that "units" stuck out to me as an easy hard part; it's a fundamental notion that I would expect people to encounter in a first course in abstract algebra, whereas the other hard parts seemed much more specialized. (My team got this bonus, by the way.)

Again, I thought the math was very good overall, and even though this was my last Nats, I hope you keep writing.
I don't know if it ended up playing out this way, but when I wrote that bonus I intended Pell's equation to be the hard part and units to be the middle part.
Finn Bender
Edmond Memorial '15
OU '19

User avatar
Cherrybell Miramonte
Lulu
Posts: 58
Joined: Mon Mar 30, 2015 10:43 pm

Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by Cherrybell Miramonte » Tue May 01, 2018 10:26 am

In the extra packet, the tossup on Armenians and Azeris seems to contain a misleading clue:
Packet 18 wrote:
One of these two groups committed the Khojaly (koh-JAH-lee) massacre against civilians of the other side, and shelled that sides newly created capital of Stepanakert.
This clue seems to suggest that the same side committed both of these actions, but the Armenians committed the Khojaly massacre, while the Azeris shelled Stepanakert.

From the perspective of someone who didn't play the set, I thought it was quite well-done - I can't really comment on any of the other categories, but the science seemed to ask about important and interesting topics without getting too insane, and I think the physics especially did a good job of this.
Sam Rombro
Arizona '20
Maryland '18
Writer, NAQT

User avatar
Sima Guang Hater
Auron
Posts: 1805
Joined: Mon Feb 05, 2007 1:43 pm
Location: Philadelphia, PA

Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Wed May 02, 2018 2:58 am

Cheynem wrote:2. On the other hand, you could also argue that this is an unwieldy exercise--that really any lines of the Macbeth thing would be correct and even some description like "Macbeth's soliloquy after hearing of his wife's death" is also correct. There are also arguably a fair number of answers for the Our Town tossup that would be correct. At this point, you wonder if it's just simpler to write a tossup on the character of Macbeth using only clues about that soliloquy or the play Our Town only focusing on that "scene." I am generally in preference for this in instances like this, although I can see how that might make answerlines consistently less interesting.
I actually think this is the preferable solution for when a speech/scene/etc doesn't have a widely-used, reified name, as seems to be the case for the examples raised in this thread. I think "interesting" answerlines like these, while an great way to test deep knowledge, just put too much burden on moderators and the protest committee to warrant their use, especially when the same knowledge can be asked in a more palatable way.
Eric Mukherjee, MD PhD
Washburn Rural High School, 2005
Brown University, 2009
Medical Scientist Training Program, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, 2018
Intern in Internal Medicine, Yale-Waterbury, 2018-9
Dermatology Resident, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, 2019-

Member Emeritus, ACF
Member, PACE
Writer, NAQT, NHBB, IQBT

"The next generation will always surpass the previous one. It's one of the never-ending cycles in life."

hokie168
Lulu
Posts: 23
Joined: Mon Feb 23, 2009 11:20 pm

Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by hokie168 » Wed May 02, 2018 4:55 pm

Once Sam mentioned it, I do think that I should've included a prompt on "sphere-packing problem" even if I mention "this statement"- it just didn't occur to me that people would buzz with that. If I had to re-edit, I would've rephrased it to say Toth developed a method to try to prove this statement rather than "of attacking this problem..." The start of the question was definitely very difficult, but after looking up Hales' papers, I think it's easier than the original submission's first sentence.

My question for Sam about the lead-in sounding very Grothendieck-ian: is this just because you've got a really good math background? My guess is that over 90% of even ACF Nats players don't know what algebraic varieties or sheaves are, so this was a context clue you picked up on even if you couldn't exactly identify the theorem from algebraic geometry.

I probably didn't need to include the clue on "join" in the sigma algebra question, and you're right that it didn't add much since it could've described other cases when considering a lattice of objects over a base set.

Like Finn, I also thought that "unit" was the middle part. Initially, I thought about taking that out and using Pell's as the middle part and adding something from algebraic number theory, but then I decided that would have led to an absolutely (and unnecessarily) brutal question where only one or two teams might get all 30 points.

I'm glad you liked the math questions on the whole though! Particularly on the bonuses, I tried choose hard parts that were important but had mostly been unasked about. For example, the Yoneda lemma had been a clue a few times, but I don't think it had been an answerline before (I now think I also should have put a note to the moderator to read that bonus part slowly). I also don't remember having seen anything on affine and projective geometry.
Dennis Loo
Coach, IMSA.
Formerly at UVA and Virginia Tech

sbraunfeld
Lulu
Posts: 58
Joined: Wed Jan 06, 2010 2:09 am

Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by sbraunfeld » Thu May 03, 2018 12:27 am

hokie168 wrote: Like Finn, I also thought that "unit" was the middle part. Initially, I thought about taking that out and using Pell's as the middle part and adding something from algebraic number theory, but then I decided that would have led to an absolutely (and unnecessarily) brutal question where only one or two teams might get all 30 points.
I think a search on the archives will support my assumption that Pell's equation probably played as the middle part (some relevant results include a pre-FTP clue in NASAT 2016, a middle part in NASAT 2014, and a hard part in PACE 2012).

It's not uncommon for there to be disparaties between how well known something is in the real world or academia and how well known it is in quiz bowl. I think that easy tournaments try to avoid math answerlines that would be incomprehensible to most people, and so include a fair amount of elementary number theory and discrete math, making these topics better known in quiz bowl than one might otherwise suspect.
hokie168 wrote: I'm glad you liked the math questions on the whole though! Particularly on the bonuses, I tried choose hard parts that were important but had mostly been unasked about. For example, the Yoneda lemma had been a clue a few times, but I don't think it had been an answerline before (I now think I also should have put a note to the moderator to read that bonus part slowly). I also don't remember having seen anything on affine and projective geometry.
I certainly liked the themes, and answerline choices, of both the Yoneda lemma and Fano plane bonuses.
Sam Braunfeld
Berkeley '13
Rutgers '18

Post Reply