ACF Distribution

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ACF Distribution

Post by MathMusic »

Just a quick question on ACF distribution,

From my stumblings across the internet, there are mentions of an "official" ACF distribution for the first 20/20 questions in a packet.

I know that the 24/24 distribution for submitted packets include:

5/5 Lit
5/5 History
5/5 Sci
3/3 Fine Art
3/3 RMP
1/1 Geo
1/1 SS
1/1 Trach, CE, Misc.

What is the distribution of the 20/20 final pack?
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Re: ACF Distribution

Post by Auks Ran Ova »

MathMusic wrote:Just a quick question on ACF distribution,

From my stumblings across the internet, there are mentions of an "official" ACF distribution for the first 20/20 questions in a packet.

I know that the 24/24 distribution for submitted packets include:

5/5 Lit
5/5 History
5/5 Sci
3/3 Fine Art
3/3 RMP
1/1 Geo
1/1 SS
1/1 Trach, CE, Misc.

What is the distribution of the 20/20 final pack?
Usually something like this:

4/4 each of Lit, History, Science
3/2 or 2/3 FA
2/3 or 3/2 RMP
1/1 geo
1/1 SS
1/1 trash/etc.

Sometimes the geo will be folded into the 1/1 trash/etc. and FA and RMP will be increased to 3/3 each.
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Re: ACF Distribution

Post by DumbJaques »

It's my impression that packets with less than 3/3 fine arts are becoming fewer and far between, which I think is a good thing. Generally people either cut from geography or RMP (and almost exclusively, from R) to make room, and/or use a reduced or eliminated trash distribution.

While my love for the distribution isn't quit at Arthurian levels, I do think it's pretty darn time-tested and workable. The one thing I'd say is that it really works against current events questions. I'm not sure why we need 1/1 geography and why that category can't be split with current events (or if you favor those categories being well-represented, why you can't have just a single trash question and three GEO/CE questions, etc.).

Of course, CE questions used to suck, and sometimes still do, but as someone who increasingly studies that stuff academically, it really seems a shame to me we can't find a way to work them in on a more consistent basis. I mean, it's not like writing non-horrible geography is any easier, and we have plenty of that. How many tossups on Bunga Bunga parties do I have to write to start this revolution?
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Re: ACF Distribution

Post by grapesmoker »

ACF Nationals does not have trash, and at least last year, geography was folded into "other." This is unique to Nationals though, everything else Rob was saying is accurate.
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Re: ACF Distribution

Post by Khanate »

I really don't have much of a problem with the ACF distribution, but based on what we are required to submit in packets I think the subdistribution has a few problems. First, I'd say that the history distribution is extremely skewed towards European History. Furthermore (also based on the submission guidelines). Also, i do not believe that Math/CS has such a significant role (1/1) in a distribution that is otherwise natural sciences. I feel that there should be an equal amount if not less Math/CS than Earth Sci/Astronomy.
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Re: ACF Distribution

Post by Khanate »

Khanate wrote: First, I'd say that the history distribution is extremely skewed towards European History. Furthermore (also based on the submission guidelines).
I apologize, I did not see the entire thread dedicated to this.
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Re: ACF Distribution

Post by grapesmoker »

Khanate wrote:Also, i do not believe that Math/CS has such a significant role (1/1) in a distribution that is otherwise natural sciences. I feel that there should be an equal amount if not less Math/CS than Earth Sci/Astronomy.
This distribution has worked fairly well in the past. Math/CS is a natural fit in the science category, and the general trend has been to keep the various "minor" sciences fairly equally distributed. I don't think there's any good rationale for changing this, although the final tournament distribution usually depends on the relative quality of submissions in each category; thus, math might wind up with more questions if people submit more usable math questions. If you want to see more earth sciences and astronomy in sets, the best thing to do is to write those questions and submit them to tournaments.
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Re: ACF Distribution

Post by No Rules Westbrook »

While you're at it, bestow upon the world some ideas for earth science tossups. I wanna see what people have up their sleeve, cause all I've got is some seafloor spreading and a third fulgurites tossup. Lightning and sand is always a winning combination to me.
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Re: ACF Distribution

Post by DumbJaques »

An idea I had for earth science questions was for people to stop comically misunderstanding basic physical relationships in geology,* but that doesn't seem to have caught on - presumably, because it cannot be addressed with more tossups on marginal West African writers. If only someone had named a discontinuity after Mariama Ba. . .

*Don't worry, I plan to retaliate by writing BARGE physics that will, in all likelihood, assume the presence of luminiferous aether.
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Re: ACF Distribution

Post by Khanate »

I think one way to expand to earth science canon is to toss up more minerals than just quartz and feldspar
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Re: ACF Distribution

Post by cchiego »

A non-exhaustive list of ideas for Earth Science:
- Catastrophic glacial floods (and their aftermaths, like coulees)
- Flood basalts and other fun things related to volcanism
- Various orogenies (Laramide, Grenvile, Sevier, etc.) and other aspects of historical geology besides the time periods
- Various forms of lightning- sprites, elves, etc.
- More on weather patterns (derechos, microbursts, tornado outbreaks, etc.)
- Types of geological features- i.e. hoodoos, lava domes, salt domes, drowned valleys, calderas, etc.
- Specific seismic zones (Wabash, New Madrid, etc.)
- Geology-based TUs on important/interesting features--say, a full TU on the Colorado river using only geology clues.

There's plenty out there and I'm always surprised at how much attention/use Sea-Floor spreading gets since it's kind of a random selection for the canon from the subject area.
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Re: ACF Distribution

Post by Cody »

Khanate wrote:I think one way to expand to earth science canon is to toss up more minerals than just quartz and feldspar
This already happens (play more college tournaments), but let's not get carried away here. There's plenty of interesting/important earth science you can ask without resorting to the mineral du jour.
cchiego wrote:A non-exhaustive list of ideas for Earth Science:
- Catastrophic glacial floods (and their aftermaths, like coulees)
- Flood basalts and other fun things related to volcanism
- Various orogenies (Laramide, Grenvile, Sevier, etc.) and other aspects of historical geology besides the time periods
- Various forms of lightning- sprites, elves, etc.
- More on weather patterns (derechos, microbursts, tornado outbreaks, etc.)
- Types of geological features- i.e. hoodoos, lava domes, salt domes, drowned valleys, calderas, etc.
- Specific seismic zones (Wabash, New Madrid, etc.)
- Geology-based TUs on important/interesting features--say, a full TU on the Colorado river using only geology clues.

There's plenty out there and I'm always surprised at how much attention/use Sea-Floor spreading gets since it's kind of a random selection for the canon from the subject area.
There's a lot of bad ideas here (though, to be fair, there are some good ones as well). Please don't start tossing up specific orogenies, things like sprites or elves and various other things in this post. Use common sense.
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Re: ACF Distribution

Post by cchiego »

SirT wrote:There's a lot of bad ideas here (though, to be fair, there are some good ones as well). Please don't start tossing up specific orogenies, things like sprites or elves and various other things in this post. Use common sense.
The Laramide Orogeny is definitely important enough to be an ACF Nationals TU. Orogenies in general are pretty important and part of basic intro classes, so there's no reason why they shouldn't at least be included in clues (note that I stated these were ideas, not specific answer lines). If people look at this post and think "hey, I'm going to toss up flood basalts" for Fall, then they're on the wrong track, but I see no reason why that (or just an answer of basalts that included clues on flood basalts) wouldn't fit in well in Regionals.

Again, in general, I'm amused at what ended up included in the canon vs. what got left on the cutting room floor and would love to hear from more earth science-literate folks what they think should be seen more often in Earth Science. Same for other smaller categories that seem to have gotten canonized in a weird way (esp. the social sciences). At the very least, more ideas would help give future question writers some starting points.
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Re: ACF Distribution

Post by Cody »

cchiego wrote:The Laramide Orogeny is definitely important enough to be an ACF Nationals TU. Orogenies in general are pretty important and part of basic intro classes, so there's no reason why they shouldn't at least be included in clues (note that I stated these were ideas, not specific answer lines). If people look at this post and think "hey, I'm going to toss up flood basalts" for Fall, then they're on the wrong track, but I see no reason why that (or just an answer of basalts that included clues on flood basalts) wouldn't fit in well in Regionals.
Orogenies are important, but you have to be realistic here. Even a TU on the most important North American orogeny (I somewhat dispute your implication that the Laramide is said most important, btw) at Nats is pretty much guaranteed to go dead in 90%+ of rooms. In general, people do not really know Earth Science, so you have to choose your [tossup] topics somewhat carefully.

Obviously if we're just talking about clues, everything you listed is fine and dandy. I was under the impression you were talking about answer lines though, as did several other people.
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Re: ACF Distribution

Post by DumbJaques »

The Laramide Orogeny is definitely important enough to be an ACF Nationals TU
I have no idea if this statement is true; frankly I'm skeptical it's somehow meaningfully more important and well-known than other major orogonies, but whatever. The point is that, true or not, this statement cannot automatically make justify writing a tossup on the Laramide Orogeny for ACF Nationals (or most other tournaments). There are tons of things that, within their fields, are "important enough" to come up at Nationals; that's not the only factor at play here. This might in fact be a situation where any real earth science expert would be all over the topic, but if everyone else is staring blankly, you haven't done your job as a writer/editor. Come on guys, this is why we write pyramidal questions! If we're just going to toss up things that only a couple teams in the field will convert, we sure as hell wouldn't need 10 lines to do it (we probably wouldn't even need 4 lines). If you absolutely need to write on things like this, you've got two fine options that won't screw with the tournament (tossup clues and bonuses). Bottom line, expectation of reasonable conversion has to be AT LEAST as important a factor as importance when you're writing questions in general, tossups in particular, and even more especially at Nationals.

Look, Nationals is not a summer open or an experimental doubles. Perhaps more than any other set, its primary purpose is the practical - namely, determining an accurate rankings of the college field that year, and crowning a champion. The best-written and most educationally enriching tournament in the world would bomb miserably as a Nats set if it failed to do this job. I'm not convinced this anything but slightly less true for other regular-season events (or even opens, for the most part), but for Nationals it ought to be a given.

To be far to Chris, I'm not sure if he was actually asserting we should toss up the Laramide Orogeny at Nationals, or just making a statement about how important stuff in earth science doesn't come up. That's a different discussion and as alluded to there are other ways to do that short of going nuclear and tossing it up at Nats. But to anyone who has the urge to emphasize the importance of X thing that has hardly come up before by tossing it up at Nats. . . please don't. You're screwing with the tournament.
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Re: ACF Distribution

Post by DumbJaques »

cchiego wrote: elves
Looks like the BARGE earth science distribution just tripled.
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Re: ACF Distribution

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed »

Quizbowl isn't ready for a tossup about a specific orogeny right now. If you want to introduce it into the game, a tossup isn't the way.

A ton of packet submission tournaments are coming up. If your favorite orogeny is important, but it into a bonus and if it catches on you might see it tossed up at Nats down the line.
Last edited by Skepticism and Animal Feed on Sun Dec 18, 2011 3:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: ACF Distribution

Post by kayli »

Wait so some people are talking about tossing up orogenies when others also say (or have said) that math and cs don't deserve a larger portion of the distribution... because there's not enough askable answers or it's somehow less important? I guess this is the appropriate thread to wonder why math and cs don't get a larger share of the distribution considering it's such an important field and the range of askable answers is quite robust considering almost everyone has to take a math or cs course sometime in college.
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Re: ACF Distribution

Post by touchpack »

Kooikerhondje wrote:Wait so some people are talking about tossing up orogenies when others also say (or have said) that math and cs don't deserve a larger portion of the distribution... because there's not enough askable answers or it's somehow less important? I guess this is the appropriate thread to wonder why math and cs don't get a larger share of the distribution considering it's such an important field and the range of askable answers is quite robust considering almost everyone has to take a math or cs course sometime in college.
You can diversify the answer line selection of earth science without expanding the relative subdistribution it gets in Other Science--I don't see where you're trying to go with this.
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Re: ACF Distribution

Post by Cody »

Kooikerhondje wrote:Wait so some people are talking about tossing up orogenies when others also say (or have said) that math and cs don't deserve a larger portion of the distribution... because there's not enough askable answers or it's somehow less important? I guess this is the appropriate thread to wonder why math and cs don't get a larger share of the distribution considering it's such an important field and the range of askable answers is quite robust considering almost everyone has to take a math or cs course sometime in college.
Please, point me to the college where almost everyone is taking a CS course. As for math.. yeah, no. Just because humanities majors are required to take math courses doesn't mean they're actually taking good courses: bullshit classes like "Business Statistics" and "Statistical Thinking" are available for a reason. Even if everyone was taking Calculus I, your robust range of askable answers is rather laughable and not at all comparable to what actually comes up at regular difficulty. Both Earth Science (I mean c'mon, we're talking about a discipline that includes Geology, Oceanography, Meteorology, Climatology and other stuff here) and Astronomy have plenty of askable answers if people would bother spending the time to come up with them, so this is not at all a valid argument against them.
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Re: ACF Distribution

Post by kayli »

touchpack wrote:
Kooikerhondje wrote:Wait so some people are talking about tossing up orogenies when others also say (or have said) that math and cs don't deserve a larger portion of the distribution... because there's not enough askable answers or it's somehow less important? I guess this is the appropriate thread to wonder why math and cs don't get a larger share of the distribution considering it's such an important field and the range of askable answers is quite robust considering almost everyone has to take a math or cs course sometime in college.
You can diversify the answer line selection of earth science without expanding the relative subdistribution it gets in Other Science--I don't see where you're trying to go with this.
I guess I'm trying to respond to this statement which I find perplexing.
Khanate wrote:I feel that there should be an equal amount if not less Math/CS than Earth Sci/Astronomy.
I don't know why this should be the case, but apparently it has gone unquestioned.
SirT wrote:
Kooikerhondje wrote:Wait so some people are talking about tossing up orogenies when others also say (or have said) that math and cs don't deserve a larger portion of the distribution... because there's not enough askable answers or it's somehow less important? I guess this is the appropriate thread to wonder why math and cs don't get a larger share of the distribution considering it's such an important field and the range of askable answers is quite robust considering almost everyone has to take a math or cs course sometime in college.
Please, point me to the college where almost everyone is taking a CS course. As for math.. yeah, no. Just because humanities majors are required to take math courses doesn't mean they're actually taking good courses: bullshit classes like "Business Statistics" and "Statistical Thinking" are available for a reason. Even if everyone was taking Calculus I, your robust range of askable answers is rather laughable and not at all comparable to what actually comes up at regular difficulty. Both Earth Science (I mean c'mon, we're talking about a discipline that includes Geology, Oceanography, Meteorology, Climatology and other stuff here) and Astronomy have plenty of askable answers if people would bother spending the time to come up with them, so this is not at all a valid argument against them.
Firstly, Math* or CS. I think most people have to take at least one or the other to satisfy their general education requirements for college. Even if people are taking bullshit classes, they're gaining a non-zero amount on knowledge in those classes and that provides a non-zero number of possible answer lines. This is in contrast to earth science which someone could very reasonably take no courses in (I, for instance, haven't taken an earth science course since freshman year of high school and don't intend to). So unless you want to ask about things which were taught in high school, you're going to end up with a lot of dead answers for earth science. If it is indeed true that earth science and astronomy have plenty of askable answers, then I believe it would be equally, if not more, true that math and cs have plenty of askable answers.

Anyway, the point of all of this is to bring into question the reasoning behind math's low representation in quizbowl. Why has it been confined to the distribution for the "minor" (i.e. non-biology, physics, or chemistry) sciences and what is the justification behind this?


*I'm lumping stats in math here for the sake of neatness. The fact that stats and math are not the same is a discussion for another time.
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Re: ACF Distribution

Post by Cheynem »

I never took math in college (I took AP stats/calculus in high school). In college, I took geology and biology. As a non science player, my problem with many math questions (and by "problem," I mean my problem, not a problem with the question per se) is that they are very difficult to parse or understand what is going on, whereas even with basic biology or geology knowledge, I can at least figure out what is going on in those questions (not answer them, of course, but understand). Math and CS are more difficult I think for the layman to pick up and fully understand.
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Re: ACF Distribution

Post by setht »

Like Jerry, I'm pretty happy with an arrangement where math/CS and astro/earth science each get fairly equal shares of the minor science distribution, with some fluctuations based on quality of submissions (or, for NAQT, an arrangement where math + CS is about equal to astro + earth science, with math > astro > earth science > CS). I don't think there are any irrefragable arguments to make here for why any of these categories deserves more or less than it currently gets--I tend to think that high school-level earth science and astronomy courses introduce a larger number of tenable question topics than high school-level math courses (probably also high school-level CS courses), and similarly with low-level college courses in those topics, but then again I think there's a decent body of "practical" math and statistics that is very widely used throughout the sciences (and I imagine some social sciences as well). As a result, I tend to like having math > astro > earth science > CS, with a decent chunk of the math distribution reserved for those practical topics.
No Rules Westbrook wrote:While you're at it, bestow upon the world some ideas for earth science tossups. I wanna see what people have up their sleeve, cause all I've got is some seafloor spreading and a third fulgurites tossup. Lightning and sand is always a winning combination to me.
I managed to get a bachelor's degree in earth science without ever encountering fulgurites in class or in textbooks. As usual, I will suggest course syllabi/notes and popular textbooks as sources for coming up with question ideas.
cchiego wrote:A non-exhaustive list of ideas for Earth Science:
- Catastrophic glacial floods (and their aftermaths, like coulees)
- Flood basalts and other fun things related to volcanism
- Various orogenies (Laramide, Grenvile, Sevier, etc.) and other aspects of historical geology besides the time periods
- Various forms of lightning- sprites, elves, etc.
- More on weather patterns (derechos, microbursts, tornado outbreaks, etc.)
- Types of geological features- i.e. hoodoos, lava domes, salt domes, drowned valleys, calderas, etc.
- Specific seismic zones (Wabash, New Madrid, etc.)
- Geology-based TUs on important/interesting features--say, a full TU on the Colorado river using only geology clues.

There's plenty out there and I'm always surprised at how much attention/use Sea-Floor spreading gets since it's kind of a random selection for the canon from the subject area.
I also never encountered coulees, specific orogenies, sprites, elves, derechos, microbursts, hoodoos, or the Colorado River in my coursework. Admittedly I studied geophysics, and most of my classes focused on the Earth's interior (which is strangely absent from that list); I also happen not to have taken any atmospheric science classes, but that's clearly a legit topic--people just have to be careful about going too deep with tossup ideas there, since almost no one takes a real course in that area. I guess that's true of earth science in general, actually. Oceanography also has plenty of good, low-level stuff. Anyway, I agree with Cody and Chris (Ray) that there are many topics that are super-important in various fields of study that should not come up as tossup answers at ACF Nationals (or pretty much any tournament that is "about playing quizbowl matches" as opposed to "about learning").

I think a good way to approach writing earth science is to find low-level textbooks that are used for intro courses (or even whatever books these high school classes are using), mine them for answer ideas, then go find higher-level textbooks (or course notes) in the corresponding topics and use those to find early clues. That way we can have, say, questions on landforms that people will (hopefully) know about and be able to get by the end, and writers/editors can mine some of those geomorphology texts that just aren't getting much play right now. I know I struggle to write earth science questions that feel like they'll play well and aren't stale; I think this approach has produced questions that I've been pretty happy with. Sadly my beautiful "mid-ocean ridges" tossup (infinite onion model!) from 2011 ICT was only played in one room so it doesn't have useful conversion data, but I'd like to think it would have gone over reasonably well with a larger audience.
Kooikerhondje wrote:Firstly, Math* or CS. I think most people have to take at least one or the other to satisfy their general education requirements for college. Even if people are taking bullshit classes, they're gaining a non-zero amount on knowledge in those classes and that provides a non-zero number of possible answer lines. This is in contrast to earth science which someone could very reasonably take no courses in (I, for instance, haven't taken an earth science course since freshman year of high school and don't intend to). So unless you want to ask about things which were taught in high school, you're going to end up with a lot of dead answers for earth science. If it is indeed true that earth science and astronomy have plenty of askable answers, then I believe it would be equally, if not more, true that math and cs have plenty of askable answers.

Anyway, the point of all of this is to bring into question the reasoning behind math's low representation in quizbowl. Why has it been confined to the distribution for the "minor" (i.e. non-biology, physics, or chemistry) sciences and what is the justification behind this?


*I'm lumping stats in math here for the sake of neatness. The fact that stats and math are not the same is a discussion for another time.
As I said above, my impression from tutoring some high school kids taking the freshman astro/earth science course was that they actually covered a much larger number of askable topics than AP Calc or the intro-level college math courses. Of course they didn't cover most of those topics in any real depth, but the point is that the astro/earth science course spent most of its time spitting out lots of names with brief descriptions, while AP Calc covers a much smaller number of techniques/theorems and spends lots of time on working problems. Also, a decent number of topics that AP Calc spends time on just don't seem like suitable candidates for tossups--I don't know what a tossup on "trig substitution" would look like, and I don't want to know. The high school astro/earth science class certainly had its share of topics that would similarly not work well as tossups (e.g. "luster"), but I think the number of askable topics is still heavily in favor of the astro/earth science side. I will add that I have no problem with asking a goodly number of earth science tossups on topics at a high school level--in fact, I think many, perhaps most, earth science tossups are at that level, and certainly most don't exceed the level of the intro course I took in college. In contrast, I do have a problem with trying to expand the math distribution and write math tossups derived from high school-level math courses; I prefer the current approach in which most (pure) math tossups derive mostly or entirely from higher level courses, but since fewer people take those courses I think math should be considered a minor science.

In conclusion, will someone please think of Mike Cheyne?

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Re: ACF Distribution

Post by Matt Weiner »

I agree with Seth. I would definitely like to see people stop posting lists of things they know really well with the instruction for other people to write questions on those things for packets the poster will be playing. It's unseemly even when the list is not dominated by pointlessly hard answers. Similarly, the abhorrent "canon" idea that Bruce subscribes to, in which one should write bonuses not based on the target difficulty and other goals of a tournament, but to influence what is a tossup in the future, is pretty much the most destructive thing in good quizbowl and must be stamped out.
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Re: ACF Distribution

Post by Gautam »

You will notice, I hope, that when we talk about the distribution, the unit measure is an individual question (as opposed to relative weights or what have you.) Because of that, it is not exactly possible to fine tune the distribution to 4 decimal digits or whatever; we always talk about increments of 2.5%. Increasing the distribution of a subcategory in other science by 1/1 often means decreasing the distribution of another by 25%-33%, which is quite a big hit.

There are plenty of tournaments which adhere to the basic framework of the ACF distribution while taking liberties with the subdistributions. For instance, the "other science" at MUT the last few years has been more interdisciplinary stuff than the usual 4/4 math/stats 4/4 earth sci 4/4 astro 2/2 csci (my favorite example continues to be some bonus I wrote about hydrological biogeochemistry.)

If you have strong opinions about what the other science distribution should look like, then sign up to edit a tournament, write decent questions that can be answered by your target audience. If there's conclusive evidence that your ideal of the distribution is much more enjoyable to the average player (the onus lies on you to prove that,) and we can replicate it consistently across several tournaments, then we can talk about adjusting the subdistribution.
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Re: ACF Distribution

Post by magin »

Yeah, if you want more earth science, or Math, or whatever in quizbowl, the way to do that is to write good, accessible questions on those topics and submit them to tournaments (or offer to write them for tournaments). Editors will not turn down good questions, especially if they knock out a pesky subdistribution.
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Re: ACF Distribution

Post by Cody »

Kooikerhondje wrote:I guess I'm trying to respond to this statement which I find perplexing.
Khanate wrote:I feel that there should be an equal amount if not less Math/CS than Earth Sci/Astronomy.
I don't know why this should be the case, but apparently it has gone unquestioned.
Not it hasn't. Only one person has responded to it because it was a self-evidently stupid statement that doesn't really deserve a response.
Kooikerhondje wrote:Firstly, Math* or CS. I think most people have to take at least one or the other to satisfy their general education requirements for college. Even if people are taking bullshit classes, they're gaining a non-zero amount on knowledge in those classes and that provides a non-zero number of possible answer lines. This is in contrast to earth science which someone could very reasonably take no courses in (I, for instance, haven't taken an earth science course since freshman year of high school and don't intend to). So unless you want to ask about things which were taught in high school, you're going to end up with a lot of dead answers for earth science. If it is indeed true that earth science and astronomy have plenty of askable answers, then I believe it would be equally, if not more, true that math and cs have plenty of askable answers.

Anyway, the point of all of this is to bring into question the reasoning behind math's low representation in quizbowl. Why has it been confined to the distribution for the "minor" (i.e. non-biology, physics, or chemistry) sciences and what is the justification behind this?
I'd be pretty shocked if, in general, a CS course was one of the acceptable courses to take for gen ed requirements, and I'd be even more surprised if people took it over "math" classes that were also acceptable. While you claim that people taking math courses opens up the answer space (which it may or may not do), it doesn't actually matter because of what is actually asked about at regular and regular+ difficulty (have you ever even played a regular difficulty college tournament?). The chances of seeing a question on a topic from Calc I is vanishingly small compared to areas like topology, multivariate, [linear/abstract] algebra and other areas no humanities major and plenty of science majors won't encounter.

Also, a number of Earth Science TUs that come up at regular+ are answerable with high school knowledge (or, at the very least, from knowledge that a high schooler interested in Earth Science would have).

I think the type of questions we currently ask about math are all that is necessary to justify it staying as a minor science (note: this doesn't mean how many questions math gets has to equal that of Astro, ES and CS)
Kooikerhondje wrote:*I'm lumping stats in math here for the sake of neatness. The fact that stats and math are not the same is a discussion for another time.
Statistics certainly does count as math; I'm not sure why you seem to think it doesn't. My example of Statistical Thinking as a bullshit class has nothing to do with it having to do with statistics.

I agree a lot with practically everything Seth has posted.
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Re: ACF Distribution

Post by Tees-Exe Line »

Also, a number of Earth Science TUs that come up at regular+ are answerable with high school knowledge (or, at the very least, from knowledge that a high schooler interested in Earth Science would have).
Have you ever played a regular difficulty tournament? Because this statement suggests that the proper standard for collegiate answer lines is high-school knowledge. If you had your way, quizbowl would be a far less interesting activity, which I guess we shouldn't find too surprising.
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Re: ACF Distribution

Post by The King's Flight to the Scots »

Tees-Exe Line wrote:
Also, a number of Earth Science TUs that come up at regular+ are answerable with high school knowledge (or, at the very least, from knowledge that a high schooler interested in Earth Science would have).
Have you ever played a regular difficulty tournament? Because this statement suggests that the proper standard for collegiate answer lines is high-school knowledge. If you had your way, quizbowl would be a far less interesting activity, which I guess we shouldn't find too surprising.
Can you read, dude? He's not saying that every college question has to be answerable with high school knowledge; he's making the claim that earth science lends itself well to answers accessible to laypeople because a lot of it is taught at low levels. The distinction here should be obvious.

And for the record, your writing suggests that you think the proper standard for collegiate answers should be graduate-level coursework. If you had your way, quizbowl would be a far more wretched and pain-inducing activity, which I guess we shouldn't find too surprising.
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Re: ACF Distribution

Post by Tees-Exe Line »

You're right. I don't take the view that comfortable ignorance is the ideal end state. If math questions are hard, learn more math, don't hurl petulant insults at people who know more than you and declare your ignorance is a source of strength. If that's how you feel, watch Fox.
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Re: ACF Distribution

Post by Auroni »

Speaking for myself personally, I always write Earth Science questions on unimportant or trendy bullshit because I don't have a sense of what's important (having taken Bio instead of Earth and Space Science in high school). Seriously, though, the only Earth Science education as such that I've had was the Magic School Bus games and I don't think anyone wants to see a tossup on metamorphic or sedimentary rocks at every tournament.
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Re: ACF Distribution

Post by grapesmoker »

As someone who once graduated from high school, I have no idea where people got this idea that earth science questions are answerable from high school-level knowledge.
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Re: ACF Distribution

Post by Auroni »

grapesmoker wrote:As someone who once graduated from high school, I have no idea where people got this idea that earth science questions are answerable from high school-level knowledge.
Cody said some. My teammate Brian answers a lot of Earth Science questions early from having paid close attention to his Earth Science classes and his extracurriculars such as Ocean Bowl/Science Bowl.
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Re: ACF Distribution

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed »

HSQB posters need to learn that "this subject was offered at my high school" or "this thing came up in my high school class" is not a basis for arguing that something is well known. There is great variation in which subjects get taught in high school, and even in which things are taught in classes that happen to have the same name.
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Re: ACF Distribution

Post by setht »

Tees-Exe Line wrote:
Also, a number of Earth Science TUs that come up at regular+ are answerable with high school knowledge (or, at the very least, from knowledge that a high schooler interested in Earth Science would have).
Have you ever played a regular difficulty tournament? Because this statement suggests that the proper standard for collegiate answer lines is high-school knowledge. If you had your way, quizbowl would be a far less interesting activity, which I guess we shouldn't find too surprising.
Again, just to be clear: I think most earth science tossup answers are topics that I believe would come up in high-school earth science courses and intro college courses and, when it comes to earth science, I think that's a good thing (that's "most," not "all": I think it's a good thing that there are some earth science tossup answers that come from higher-level material). I also think most math tossup answers are not topics that come up in high school or intro college courses, and I also think that's a good thing. I can't speak for Cody (or anyone else), but I don't think anyone is arguing that collegiate answers in all areas should be restricted mostly or entirely to high school or intro-level material.
grapesmoker wrote:As someone who once graduated from high school, I have no idea where people got this idea that earth science questions are answerable from high school-level knowledge.
I got this idea from tutoring high school freshmen who were taking the standard freshman science course on astro and earth science, and seeing what they covered. When I was in high school the standard freshman science course was "Biophysical Science," whatever that means, and I skipped it, so I myself did not learn earth science as part of my high school curriculum (I did learn a lot of it outside class on my own), but I think it's fair to characterize stuff like "mica" (the only MO 2011 earth science tossup) as "high school-level knowledge."
Skepticism and Animal Feed wrote:HSQB posters need to learn that "this subject was offered at my high school" or "this thing came up in my high school class" is not a basis for arguing that something is well known. There is great variation in which subjects get taught in high school, and even in which things are taught in classes that happen to have the same name.
Your general point is a fine one, I guess, but I'm not sure how much bearing it has on the Great Earth Science Debate (assuming that is what you're responding to). At my old high school, the astro/earth science class became the standard freshman science class, meaning that earth science wasn't just "offered at my high school"--it was mandatory for anyone that didn't jump into a more advanced class, and something like 97+% of the students wound up taking the class. I don't know exactly how much overlap there is between earth science classes at various high schools, but science curricula are more uniform than pretty much any other area, and I would be surprised if most high school earth science classes did not cover largely the same pool of material. I'm also not sure how many high schools have started offering (or mandating) earth science--my impression is that this is a somewhat recent trend in high school science education, but I don't know if this is widespread or mostly a California phenomenon or what. In any case, I brought up the bit about high school-level earth science not so much to argue that we should give more space to earth science because I think there are lots of players with high school earth science coursework under their belts, but rather because I think that's a fine place to go looking for question ideas in earth science (especially for writers who don't really have any earth science coursework under their belts).

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Re: ACF Distribution

Post by DumbJaques »

Tees-Exe Line wrote:You're right. I don't take the view that comfortable ignorance is the ideal end state.
Yeah Matt Bollinger, you ignorant slut! Why don't you know anything? Every time I see you at tournaments, it's just so obvious how comfortably ignorant you are. Remember when you first started playing quizbowl and were getting outscored by Aidan? During the finals of MAGNI this fall, I was repeatedly reminded how you've basically learned no new information since then. It's no use trying to deny your ignorance, either. . . I mean, how could you ever prove it? Just think, you'd actually need some sort of paper trail of hard, statistical evidence indicating a steady progression of knowledge over the past three years. Good luck finding something like that!
Tees-Exe Line wrote:If math questions are hard, learn more math, don't hurl petulant insults at people who know more than you and declare your ignorance is a source of strength. If that's how you feel, watch Fox.
Man, I've said all along that Cody Voight's problem is that he sucks at math questions. . . vindication, at long last. Honestly Cody, what are you even doing in this debate, challenging quizbowl heavyweights like Kay Li? It's almost as if you're acting like if you added up all the ppg numbers he'd ever scored, it would be like half of his off-topic thread post count. Oh, and that MO math tossup you powered the crap out of against us, on some impossible second clue? You guessed it asshole, SteveJon just let you have it, because he knew how bad you were feeling about being such a worse science player than Kay Li. Stop insulting people who know more than you, you total fucking scrub.
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Re: ACF Distribution

Post by Kouign Amann »

DumbJaques wrote: Yeah Matt Bollinger, you ignorant slut! Why don't you know anything? Every time I see you at tournaments, it's just so obvious how comfortably ignorant you are. Remember when you first started playing quizbowl and were getting outscored by Aidan? During the finals of MAGNI this fall, I was repeatedly reminded how you've basically learned no new information since then. It's no use trying to deny your ignorance, either. . . I mean, how could you ever prove it? Just think, you'd actually need some sort of paper trail of hard, statistical evidence indicating a steady progression of knowledge over the past three years. Good luck finding something like that!
Ah, my glory days! when Bollinger just sat all docile and let me lead us to 0-5 playoff records. Shame he was such a hopeless case from the very start. No room for improvement with that one.
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Re: ACF Distribution

Post by 1992 in spaceflight »

What the hell is going on in this thread now?

EDIT: In reference to Chris Ray's post.
Last edited by 1992 in spaceflight on Mon Dec 19, 2011 2:09 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: ACF Distribution

Post by Tees-Exe Line »

So somebody shows up in a thread devoted to discussing the ACF distribution and asks why that distribution gives equal weight to two particular subjects. Among several reasonable replies we're blessed with one response which, as usual for the author, is heavy on insult totally unmoored from reality and light on any actual argument in favor of the status quo, other than "lots of people find actual math hard since they've jumped at the opportunity to decorate their education with 'business statistics,' so I'm content with how things stand."

You people can operate a mutually pleasurable ego-massage parlor if you find that sort of thing convincing, but don't imagine this little exercise elevates you in anyone else's estimation.
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Re: ACF Distribution

Post by Magister Ludi »

Tees-Exe Line wrote:You're right. I don't take the view that comfortable ignorance is the ideal end state. If math questions are hard, learn more math, don't hurl petulant insults at people who know more than you and declare your ignorance is a source of strength. If that's how you feel, watch Fox.
Your argument kind of falls apart when you consider you are holding up first semester freshman Kay Li as quizbowl's expert on college math curriculum and general champion against ignorance.


However, I think the more important trend to notice in this thread is the differing approaches towards editing subcategories. One is the approach supported by Bruce and Marshall where you just write lots of questions on individual sub-distributions and topics that you wish would come up more. So, Marshall thinks theoretical economics is under-represented in quizbowl and decides to devote half of the SS sub-distribution at the Sack of Antwerp to economics. The second approach is the one supported by Gautam and Magin, which I have come to follow, which believes the best way to convince people to write like you is to write tournaments that players enjoy playing and want to emulate. This approach is more of a methodology than a philosophy and is geared towards expressing an overall vision of a category that might be different from the typical tournament rather than being overly concerned with promoting any individual topic or sub distribution. For example, last year when I was editing Regionals I wanted to convince people of my vision of arts/literature/SS for regular difficulty tournaments, and I was not concerned with saying there should be more questions on any individual topic that came up like Wuthering Heights or any specific sub-distribution like art film (even though I may think that those topics should come up more). But rather I was focused on promoting larger principles such as more tossups on works than authors, etc.

I agree with Weiner that the first approach is insidious and leads to uneven tournaments. Ironically, I think it backfire on people because after I finished reading Sack of Antwerp my personal opinion went from "I think there are probably too few economics questions at tournaments" to "If this is what a social science distribution with 'real' economics would play like than I'm happy with the current iteration".
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Re: ACF Distribution

Post by grapesmoker »

Tees-Exe Line wrote:So somebody shows up in a thread devoted to discussing the ACF distribution and asks why that distribution gives equal weight to two particular subjects. Among several reasonable replies we're blessed with one response which, as usual for the author, is heavy on insult totally unmoored from reality and light on any actual argument in favor of the status quo, other than "lots of people find actual math hard since they've jumped at the opportunity to decorate their education with 'business statistics,' so I'm content with how things stand."

You people can operate a mutually pleasurable ego-massage parlor if you find that sort of thing convincing, but don't imagine this little exercise elevates you in anyone else's estimation.
I don't think you're reading Cody's point correctly; nowhere do I see him advocating for restricting ourselves to high-school level knowledge. He's saying (correctly or not) that (some) earth science questions can be answered using high school level knowledge, but I don't think this is a prescriptive statement. It's just that if you want X% of questions to get answered, you need to take that into account. I'm not entirely convinced that earth science as a whole is sufficiently widespread in the high school curriculum that you could count on a lot of people being able to convert those questions. It seems that for Seth, these classes were mandated. For me, they weren't even an option. Everyone takes English or history, but not everyone takes the same math or CS or earth science class load, and that's at least part of the reason why we tend to go deeper in humanities at regionals-level tournaments than we do in the sciences.

I don't have any firm ideological commitment to the current subdistribution, but I think it has one good argument for it, which is that it works and most people are happy with it, and no really good arguments against it. I'm not sure (ok, I don't believe) that there are any quizbowl first principles which are going to answer this question for us, but the equitable split we have right now within the minor sciences covers a lot of ground without giving anyone an outsize advantage. Like it or not, math is something most people in the hard sciences do take, at length, so I think that it's perfectly justifiable to have that as a quarter of the minor science distro; likewise, a great number of people in physics and math and other quantitative disciplines program, so that gives CS additional relevance in terms of stuff that people encounter. Those things together are, I think, enough to justify the status quo. However, I wouldn't have any terrible objections to a tournament that deviated from this in either direction.
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Re: ACF Distribution

Post by Tees-Exe Line »

Your argument kind of falls apart when you consider you are holding up first semester freshman Kay Li as quizbowl's expert on college math curriculum and general champion against ignorance.
I didn't hold up Kay Li as quizbowl's expert on college math curriculum; I ridiculed Cody for his response to Kay's perfectly reasonable question about sub-distributions in "other science" with "people take business statistics." Apparently low educational standards in the world at large now count as arguments in favor of mediocrity in quizbowl. By contrast, Seth, Mike, and Gautam all gave reasons why math shouldn't have greater representation--and did so without declaring that Kay's question was "self-evidently stupid."
One is the approach supported by Bruce and Marshall where you just write lots of questions on individual sub-distributions and topics that you wish would come up more. So, Marshall thinks theoretical economics is under-represented in quizbowl and decides to devote half of the SS sub-distribution at the Sack of Antwerp to economics. The second approach is the one supported by Gautam and Magin, which I have come to follow, which believes the best way to convince people to write like you is to write tournaments that players enjoy playing and want to emulate.
I would associate myself with the view you're presenting in opposition to mine--I do think that it's a waste to toss up Pareto's alternative term for "utility" and other economics chestnuts over and over, but that's further motivation for me to write economics questions that are relevant to the field as it actually exists and are also enjoyable to play. Fair enough that you find the Sack of Antwerp economics questions frustrating--but I wouldn't then adopt your view that it would really be better just to leave things as they are. Aren't people a little curious about what's actually discussed nowadays in fields like anthropology and sociology rather than universally-memorized stock clues about old books?
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Re: ACF Distribution

Post by Matt Weiner »

Tees-Exe Line wrote:Apparently low educational standards in the world at large now count as arguments in favor of mediocrity in quizbowl.
It would be unwise for the editor of Sack of Antwerp and its successor to discard any such arguments!
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Re: ACF Distribution

Post by Cody »

Tees-Exe Line wrote:
Your argument kind of falls apart when you consider you are holding up first semester freshman Kay Li as quizbowl's expert on college math curriculum and general champion against ignorance.
I didn't hold up Kay Li as quizbowl's expert on college math curriculum; I ridiculed Cody for his response to Kay's perfectly reasonable question about sub-distributions in "other science" with "people take business statistics." Apparently low educational standards in the world at large now count as arguments in favor of mediocrity in quizbowl. By contrast, Seth, Mike, and Gautam all gave reasons why math shouldn't have greater representation--and did so without declaring that Kay's question was "self-evidently stupid."
I'm not sure I want to wade back into this, but it seems like you are hellbent on misconstruing things I've said. My points about people taking fake classes like "business statistics" was a direct refutation of Kay Li's point that somehow the math answer space is blown wide open by this one required math class people take. It's not an argument for or against any distribution change (or what should come up as you somehow seem to have interpreted it?), it's an argument that Kay Li's point was completely irrelevant to whether the distribution should be changed. You've also managed to ignore that I made the exact same point as Seth about the math that comes up being rather advanced. Finally, learn to fucking read; I didn't call any statement of Kay Li's "self-evidently stupid".
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Re: ACF Distribution

Post by kayli »

I don't think it's very productive to base arguments based upon on my subpar math education or my poor performances at quizbowl since none of my arguments about the under-representation of math in quizbowl hinge upon that. In fact, I'll be the first to tell you guys that I'm no expert on quizbowl math or math in general for that matter.
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Re: ACF Distribution

Post by kayli »

I had a couple thoughts on math being a minor science as designated in the quizbowl distribution.

I'm going to approach this by looking at the major sciences and see what characteristics they had that would put them in that category and then seeing if math has those same characteristics. Here's what I came up with:

1. The major sciences are more-or-less universally taught in high school and college. While I understand that what is taught in school shouldn't be the only thing we consider when making distributional considerations, I think that it can be used as a good heuristic for determining if a subject tends to be answerable. Biology, chemistry, and physics all satisfy this since these course are almost always taken by a high school or college student (although there are exceptions I think you'd be hard pressed to find someone who took none of these or even just one). The minor sciences usually aren't as universally taught as the major sciences.

2. The major sciences are historically subjects of great importance or intrigue. This is evidenced by the fact that many of the greatest scientists devoted their lives to one or more of these subjects and great effort, time, and money have been put into studying these subjects. The minor sciences typically aren't as widely or vigorously studied.

3. The major sciences field a large choice of possible answers. Biology, chemistry, and physics all have a large range of possible answers that are both important and accessible. This is important on a practical level because if a subject is going to be allotted a 1/1 distribution per tournament it should have enough good answer space to make sure that the set is playable and enjoyable and to ensure that the same 15 tossups don't come up again and again.

I think math as a subject satisfies numbers 1 and 2. Math is taken by pretty much anyone, and it's definitely a very important subject which a lot of people put a lot of time and energy into over the course of history. Furthermore, math is important because it is the foundational language of the sciences. The most important thing, then, becomes whether math as a subject can produce enough good, accessible answers.

An unfortunate result of high school math pedagogy is that what is learned in a high school math class is typically trivial with relation to real math. One reason that biology, chemistry, and physics have good answer spaces is that what you learn in those courses in high school can typically translate to the college curriculum rather well. This provides two things: 1) familiarity and 2) literacy. Familiarity helps people understand new concepts as they come about them. Literacy helps people parse scientific language into things they can understand. Math at most high schools unfortunately provide neither. Being really good at BC calculus will unfortunately not allow you to understand real math any better unless you go to a class or read a book on it. Hence, it becomes difficult to be just a casual learner of math. Literacy is also a struggle people typically have with math (myself included). Math has a huge vocabulary of formal jargon that makes formally learning concepts in math more difficult for the average quizbowl layman; and we run into the issue that Mike Cheyne talked about with people being unable to understand what is going on in a math question.

In addition to these, current math research is typically too erudite to be able to be read and understood by an average person in quizbowl. Biology, chemistry, and physics have this problem but to a much lesser degree since those sciences deal with things that actually exist in this world. Thus, math is unable to pull as much from current research as those other subjects have done.

However, I still think that math is important enough so that it should be considered apart from the minor sciences. Math is a huge, important field, and more and more quizbowlers seem be becoming interested in it. I think that, while there are practical limitations to what can be asked in math, we should nonetheless strive to seek higher representation for math in the distribution. As such, I think that math should be considered a "semi-major science" and that we should mandate a 0.5/0.5 distribution for it within the 4/4 science distribution. I think that not having at least one math question (tossup or bonus) per packet would be a huge oversight.


(As an aside, I'd like the preempt the argument that I'm saying this all because I think I'm some math genius by saying that I'm not that good at math, especially not when it comes to quizbowl. I just think it's an interesting, important field that deserves a bit more answer space per tournament.)
Kay, Chicago.

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Re: ACF Distribution

Post by theMoMA »

Perhaps this is what others are on about, but I'm not sure where these 15-30 math topics for every single tournament are coming from. I think Seth is right (at least as I understand his argument) that math gets a shorter end of the distributional stick simply because a lot of low-level concepts don't scale to tenable regular-difficulty answers. Consequently, we have a smaller number of math questions on more difficulty-appropriate answers than the wider array of math concepts in existence (which would encompasses extremely basic things like "addition" and "the Pythagorean theorem" that almost never come up in a regular-difficulty event).

It's important to remember that the questions that are missing from the math distribution aren't the harder ones; they're the easier ones (as Seth points out, there are very few difficulty equivalents to George Washington or Harper Lee, and other humanities answers with which the average eighth grader is more than basically aware, in the regular-difficulty math distribution). It would be unfortunate if people started writing a big chunk of high-level math questions expecting that more people could suddenly answer them based on the heightened quality of their existence. Windmills, as they say, do not work that way.

As an aside, I actually think we could do with some more basic math answers instead of always trotting out the newest version of the same homeomorphism/posets/Heine-Borel tossup that everyone's heard fifty times over; tossups on "angles" or "addition" that may lend themselves well to both lead-in appropriate and giveaway-appropriate clues might be kind of cool. But I don't think it's a distributional crime to focus on other areas of science in the choice/other subdistributions instead.
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Re: ACF Distribution

Post by setht »

I think Jerry has the right argument for wrapping up the minor science discussion: there's no compelling reason to formalize a major shift in the minor science subdistribution at this time. If the player populace is brimming with good ideas for math questions, then packet submission events will naturally wind up with more math questions than they've had in the past. If it turns out that every high schooler in the land is taking an earth science course in which they learn about 50+ quizbowl-appropriate topics, then in a few years presumably we'll start seeing more earth science questions at college events. If some such shift in player demographics takes place, we can revisit the notion of formalizing a change in subdistribution.
Kooikerhondje wrote:However, I still think that math is important enough so that it should be considered apart from the minor sciences. Math is a huge, important field, and more and more quizbowlers seem be becoming interested in it.
The only argument here that might distinguish math from the other minor sciences is that "more and more quizbowlers seem [to] be becoming interested in it." They are all huge, important fields, after all. Now, if you're correct and there's a shift towards more math-savvy players these days, then packet-submission events should naturally start having more math in them. And if the current membership of the UChicago club is an anomaly and most players are more like Adil Khan (more astro/earth science, less math/CS), then that's what will come up.

If people still aren't convinced, maybe we should actually look at some data and try to figure out if there are lots of math submissions, higher math conversion rates, etc. The 2011 ICT had a 94.3% conversion rate and a 19.5% power rate for math, and a 94.1% conversion rate and a 25% power rate for earth science; the 2010 ICT had 70.8% and 11.1% for math, and 62.1%/44.4% for earth science; the 2011 SCT had 66.7%/10.7% for math and 70.8%/0% for earth science; the 2010 SCT had 69.2%/13.2% for math and 62.5%/0% for earth science. Those are all tossup statistics, all from the DI sets. The sample sizes are generally small (especially for earth science), and I think the SCT data is missing from some sites. I don't see any major difference in conversion rates. It would probably be more informative to look at statistics from packet-sub tournaments (if any exist) since those questions would reflect what current players think should be coming up in math and earth science, as opposed to what I think.

-Seth
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Re: ACF Distribution

Post by Susan »

To be clear, when people are saying "write good earth science (or math) questions if you want to see earth science (or math) questions in packets", they are not saying to write all of your other science as earth science (or math). At least, I hope they're not.
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Re: ACF Distribution

Post by Auroni »

I guess I can see where Kay is coming from. At the college level, you can write several deep tossups on material that you'd first learn in high school AP Calculus courses or, if your school offered them, Multivar and Linear Algebra. That probably amounts to more accessibility than the much fewer corresponding topics encountered in high school earth or comp sci that real people studying those disciplines might care about. I don't agree with him that that amounts to a reason to guarantee 1/1 of it per round. However, from my personal experience, math and astro are definitely tied for the most accessible minor science disciplines.
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