TIT/IO Discussion

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TIT/IO Discussion

Post by Mike Bentley » Tue Nov 24, 2009 1:28 pm

This tournament is now open for discussion, right?
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Re: TIT/IO Discussion

Post by Frater Taciturnus » Tue Nov 24, 2009 2:10 pm

This tournament, someone should send it to me so it can get posted.
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Re: TIT/IO Discussion

Post by DumbJaques » Tue Nov 24, 2009 4:58 pm

Yeah, this set is open for discussion. I'll send packets to George now. I'd like to thank Mike Sorice for putting his physical well-being on and well over the line to edit the science in this set during the last week while suffering a considerable case of the flu (more about this in a minute). It was an effort not particularly short of heroic and not something a lot of people would have been willing to do. I'd also like to thoroughly thank Jeremy Eaton and SteveJon Guth, who were integral to both the science editing and the general creation of the set; Jeff Amoros, who wrote close to a packet's worth of questions for the set, did lots of copy-editing, and put several packets together in the wee hours of the morning; Logan Anbinder, who ably wrote questions and helped us salvage the last few rounds of the set in the wee hours of the morning by pulling his first all-nighter; and Phil Durkos, who was also integral in writing enough questions and stayed for much of the Night of Harrowing, despite having to drive to Annapolis and back before the tournament the next day.

An extra-special thank you is owed to Mike Bentley, who surprised us with a full packet (and a pretty good one at that) when he hadn't even been asked to write a half-packet. Mike, you're fucking awesome dude, it really helped us out. Will Butler also sent in what he could of a UVA packet despite his teammate support dwindling and UVA not being able to attend - thanks man.

I'm sure I'm forgetting some people - sorry, it's a product of not sleeping that entire week rather than not appreciating your efforts, and I'll probably be editing this part of the post shortly. I would definitely like to thank Matt Weiner for moderating, and Jonathan Magin for stepping in to read despite not getting to play RMPfest Saturday night as he had planned.

Now, the set:

I'd like to apologize to everyone for some issues with this set. Primarily, a series of fuckups resulted in not all of the packets being sent out in final form - some were completely finalized and copy-edited, some weren't copy-edited, some even lacked powermarks or had versions of random questions not in their most edited state. I have no idea how this happened, but it's surely a consequence of my own style of xenophobic editing and it's something I'll be changing for future events. This issue is totally my fault, and led to the set not being as polished as I'd like. This was also a big issue with bunches of tossups being goofily long, which is definitely not something I think you need to do to have a good event (of any difficulty) - though certainly I don't see a problem with tossups being 8 lines long.

Before I talk about the other main issue with this event, I'd like to identify a few positives I think can (and should) be taken from the tournament. First of all, let me explain my conceptualized difficulty. I'm not sure what the constantly-fluxing difficulty of regular season or regionals is being measured as this year, but I tried to model the difficulty of this tournament (tossup-wise) as a statistical distribution on a spectrum; that is, I'm trying to think of a tournament's difficulty as a bell curve centered somewhere on a scale of "middle school easy" to "I guess it was ok for the editors to take out that hard part about the mountain from Basque myth" (sorry, Brendan).

I centered this tournament's distribution a bit over a regular collegiate difficulty, which is my understanding of what IO has traditionally been and my belief for what all but the hardest open events (and experimental tournaments, of course) should be. What this means is, I tried to include a whole lot of tossups that constitute the typical, accessible regular season meat, very reasonable amounts of tossups on things that could be tossed up at any high school event/things that are harder but certainly an unquestioned part of the collegiate canon, and a smattering of things that are tougher (Ballet Mechanique, for instance, which comes up but is certainly hard)/things that would be very easily identifiable outside of quizbowl. I think this is what you should try to do with any pre-nationals level of difficulty - certainly you can move the distribution up or down on that scale, but there's a huge difference between including some tough stuff because it belongs in a holistic presentation of the canon as 5-15% of your questions, and having it constitute a third or more of your set; I mean, if you've got post-regionals stuff making up 40+% of your distribution, then you're close to just asking about regular or easier stuff about half the time. Considering that the quizbowl terms "regular and below" denote an absolutely hilarious portion of the academic canon, limiting a tournament in such a fashion seems like a bad idea to me.

Yeah, this tournament had some "difficulty outliers" (though I think far fewer than events that are seen as having problems with this, like Thunder), but they were controlled and designed as such; further, this balancing was rigorously attempted - and mostly accomplished - on a packet by packet basis. Again, I think that's how you should try to make tournaments harder, if you feel the need to do so (as I did, since TIT this year was serving the IO role) - the top teams will find a shift in the toughest 25% of questions meaningful, while the middle to bottom teams in terms of statistical conversion are unlikely to find such a shift all that difficult. Those teams bite the bullet when you shift the middle 50% of the tournament way the hell towards the hard end of the spectrum, since that guts huge swathes of the canon. In fact, that top teams are less effected by that kind of a difficulty shift, because for them a question on Miro isn't so functionally different from a tossup on Dali (not that Miro is that hard, I'm just illustrating a point).

I think the other key to serving the audience of Chicago A, Minnesota A, Brown, etc. at this event while not smashing newcomers (which I think, with some packet exceptions, this set accomplished) is to write denser, slightly longer tossups; there's probably a difference between a tossup at this event and a tossup at THUNDER or Penn Bowl last year on the same answer, and there should be . I think a key corollary to Matt's excellent point about the emergent attitude against good teams getting early buzzes is that you can increase your tournament's rigor for the top teams by augmenting your clues and writing style without ever making a question harder. Similarly, I tried very hard to make the middle parts of the bonuses at this set much more gettable than last year, and looking over conversion numbers I think it paid off in the packets where I had the time necessary to devote to it.

Another thing you can try to do to promote this balance of tournament appropriateness is to avoid skimping on giveaways. I don't get any school of logic on not being as explicit and generous with providing academic giveaways. As long as you're not venturing into "sounds like" or trash giveaway land, why would you write a hypothetical giveaway of "FTP, name this President whose cabinet also included William Seward" instead of "William Seward served in the cabinet of, FTP, what President who debated with Stephen Douglas and was assassinated by Johns Wilkes Booth" or whatever? I see a lot of questions that look like this and even more were submitted to me; I don't know if it's people trying to cut length or what, but stop not writing good, somewhat substantive and pyramidal giveaways. A significant amount of rooms buzz on these clues (even among good teams), and they're as important as any other part of the tossup. Perhaps this subject is worthy of its own thread, but it seems like the giveaway has become a lost art.

That's enough waxing about quizbowl theory, we've sure got enough of that to wade through at the moment (the reason I was trying to give the discussion of the set some time to get started). I will say one more thing about this tournament: I couldn't do a lot of the stuff I outlined above, to the degree that I wanted to do it, because the submission tardiness was fucking atrocious. What the hell, people? Look, I get it, packets come in late. They come in the week before the tournament, and sometimes more than half of them do so. I can deal with that, and I did deal with it last year. What really can't be dealt with is people who do one or all of the following:
1) Don't communicate about the lateness of the packet, even when it becomes blindingly clear it's going to be very, very late
2) Don't take care to clear answers with me when it's three days before the tournament and the packet hasn't been started. That's just common fucking courtesy, and if you've dicked around so much that you haven't started your questions when much of the set is done, you can at least clear your answers so they aren't unusable due to repeats or being too hard or whatever. Trygve Meade did this both last year and this year and it was appreciated both times.
3) Send packets within 24 hours of the tournament. At this point there's already a time crunch, and it's just inevitably going to lead to your packet not getting much work at all. There may barely even be time to put it together if other people have been as irresponsible as you have. It's not that hard to do things just a LITTLE BIT better than this - this set would have been much better had we received all of our last 30 hours packets just a couple days sooner, because you can't plan or distribute labor when you don't know what's coming in.

Look, we've all done bad shit like this with submissions, but we've got to collectively stop. If we can't manage that, surely it isn't too much to ask for people to communicate realistic timelines way, way better than we do now (and I include myself in this relatively-all-of-quizbowl group that has at one point been guilty of these offenses).


Oh, one more thing:

My experiment with this freedom of distribution idea was largely a failure, probably predictably so. I still think that the solution to the 1/1 geography debate is to make it 1/1 academic choice, and to encourage people who think they can write academic geography to do so; similarly, I think it's worthwhile to try to bring back academic current events in this slot, which has mostly disappeared in collegiate quizbowl, and to have a space in which you can warm the hearts of Chris White and Jeremy Eaton with tossups on Landfills and T-Rex.

The reason the distribution was such a failure, though, is that half of the packets fucked it up, in ways that seem to have only sometimes been somebody's fault. Chicago A's packet somehow had 7/5 fine arts despite not seeming to have any notable holes, and neither Marnold nor I could figure out what how the hell this was possible. It seems that Escape from Freedom is the order of the day for quizbowl distributions, with the exception of the 1/1 academic choice category.
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Re: TIT/IO Discussion

Post by Mike Bentley » Tue Nov 24, 2009 5:20 pm

Overall I thought this tournament was pretty good. It was too bad that we only got to hear 8 rounds because we had to catch our flight. The packet where we beat Irvine was a bit wonky (I assume this was the 4th packet), though. I'll have some more specific comments once I look at my notes or take a look at the quesiton set.
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Re: TIT/IO Discussion

Post by Cheynem » Tue Nov 24, 2009 5:21 pm

I talked with Mike Sorice about this, but the science and the not-science, especially on bonuses, seemed to be written with two different philosophies in mind. The science seemed to be "You have to have a decent basic knowledge of this scientific concept to get 10 points." The not-science (generally) seemed to be, "You have to have basic knowledge of this discipline [i.e., know basic history facts, instead of a clear idea of a specific scientific concept] to get 10 points." Perhaps I am exaggerating, but the not-science bonuses seemed to have easy parts that were very, very easy and gave out lots of clues. I am not necessarily saying one writing philosophy is better than the other, but I do think these philosophies should be internally consistent for one tournament.

That said, I thought a lot of the bonus parts were unnecessarily long. I appreciate the attempt to write easy easy parts, but but simply giving out more and more clues to me is rather an inefficent way of producing interesting and solid easy parts.
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Re: TIT/IO Discussion

Post by Matt Weiner » Tue Nov 24, 2009 5:32 pm

DumbJaques wrote:2) Don't take care to clear answers with me when it's three days before the tournament and the packet hasn't been started. That's just common fucking courtesy, and if you've dicked around so much that you haven't started your questions when much of the set is done, you can at least clear your answers so they aren't unusable due to repeats or being too hard or whatever. Trygve Meade did this both last year and this year and it was appreciated both times.
For a packet-submission tournament? I've never heard of this practice, for the obvious reason that you can't tell people who are going to play in the tournament "don't write on Catal Hayuk, that's a repeat" (or "don't write on Catal Hayuk for...REASONS I CANNOT DIVULGE," we're not morons here). They're playing in the tournament. You can't tell them what the answers in the other packets are going to be.
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Re: TIT/IO Discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Tue Nov 24, 2009 5:38 pm

Matt Weiner wrote:
DumbJaques wrote:2) Don't take care to clear answers with me when it's three days before the tournament and the packet hasn't been started. That's just common fucking courtesy, and if you've dicked around so much that you haven't started your questions when much of the set is done, you can at least clear your answers so they aren't unusable due to repeats or being too hard or whatever. Trygve Meade did this both last year and this year and it was appreciated both times.
For a packet-submission tournament? I've never heard of this practice, for the obvious reason that you can't tell people who are going to play in the tournament "don't write on Catal Hayuk, that's a repeat" (or "don't write on Catal Hayuk for...REASONS I CANNOT DIVULGE," we're not morons here). They're playing in the tournament. You can't tell them what the answers in the other packets are going to be.
You can't say yes/no for repeat reasons, but if someone says "I want to write on Ti-Jean and His Brothers," you can say "that's too hard!" You'll have to say okay to everything that you find difficulty-appropriate, yes, but not otherwise.
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Re: TIT/IO Discussion

Post by grapesmoker » Tue Nov 24, 2009 5:40 pm

I think that tossup on Ballet Mechanique was ill-advised. In a room that contained both Ted and Aaron, that tossup went "blah blah this work was unpopular blah SIXTEEN PLAYER PIANOS" at which point I buzzed. Is that something anyone is actually at all likely to listen to?
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Re: TIT/IO Discussion

Post by Mike Bentley » Tue Nov 24, 2009 6:14 pm

Matt Weiner wrote:
DumbJaques wrote:2) Don't take care to clear answers with me when it's three days before the tournament and the packet hasn't been started. That's just common fucking courtesy, and if you've dicked around so much that you haven't started your questions when much of the set is done, you can at least clear your answers so they aren't unusable due to repeats or being too hard or whatever. Trygve Meade did this both last year and this year and it was appreciated both times.
For a packet-submission tournament? I've never heard of this practice, for the obvious reason that you can't tell people who are going to play in the tournament "don't write on Catal Hayuk, that's a repeat" (or "don't write on Catal Hayuk for...REASONS I CANNOT DIVULGE," we're not morons here). They're playing in the tournament. You can't tell them what the answers in the other packets are going to be.
I think the best approach here is to list like 5-10 categories for each thing you're planning on writing for and have the editor say "write on #2".
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Re: TIT/IO Discussion

Post by Frater Taciturnus » Tue Nov 24, 2009 6:16 pm

Bentley Like Beckham wrote:
Matt Weiner wrote:
DumbJaques wrote:2) Don't take care to clear answers with me when it's three days before the tournament and the packet hasn't been started. That's just common fucking courtesy, and if you've dicked around so much that you haven't started your questions when much of the set is done, you can at least clear your answers so they aren't unusable due to repeats or being too hard or whatever. Trygve Meade did this both last year and this year and it was appreciated both times.
For a packet-submission tournament? I've never heard of this practice, for the obvious reason that you can't tell people who are going to play in the tournament "don't write on Catal Hayuk, that's a repeat" (or "don't write on Catal Hayuk for...REASONS I CANNOT DIVULGE," we're not morons here). They're playing in the tournament. You can't tell them what the answers in the other packets are going to be.
I think the best approach here is to list like 5-10 categories for each thing you're planning on writing for and have the editor say "write on #2".
or hell just save everyone some time and pay like a 10 dollar penalty if your packet is that late and have the editor send you a list of answers from the get go.
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Re: TIT/IO Discussion

Post by DumbJaques » Tue Nov 24, 2009 6:21 pm


I think the best approach here is to list like 5-10 categories for each thing you're planning on writing for and have the editor say "write on #2".
Yeah, this is a good idea, and what I would do if the person/team in question was going to be playing the tournament. Obviously you can't say "that's a repeat" to people who are playing, but you can check difficulty and do something like Mike suggests, and at the very least you can just give assignments of topics. Really though, the bigger point here is that people have to stop sending packets 24 hours before the tournament, and if they choose to do something like that, they should do whatever they can to make the situation less apocalyptic. It's just good manners, really - I've re-edited teammate questions for late packets, re-written the occasional tossup in a late packet at the 11th hour so the editors wouldn't have to, I sorted our ass-late Emergency packet Sunday night for Jerry after asking if I could do anything to help, etc. I'm not even that nice of a guy, so it seems like other people can cover their own packet issues by doing stuff like this.
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Re: TIT/IO Discussion

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Wed Nov 25, 2009 3:48 am

The theory is that you are compensated for the trouble of dealing with last-minute submissions by the late fee. If not, I suggest you raise the late fee.
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Re: TIT/IO Discussion

Post by No Rules Westbrook » Wed Nov 25, 2009 11:13 am

Late fees don't adequately compensate anyone. Neither do any other fees in college qb.

Though, given my druthers with any tourney, I'd rather the inexperienced teams submit packets early, the average teams submit packets by the normal deadline, and the experienced teams submit late. You can't work on all packets at once anyway, and it's very rare to have any "free time" where there are no submissions to work on and no editors packets to work on.
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Re: TIT/IO Discussion

Post by Frater Taciturnus » Wed Nov 25, 2009 2:21 pm

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Re: TIT/IO Discussion

Post by MicroEStudent » Wed Nov 25, 2009 4:42 pm

Reading through these packets makes me wish that I had been able to attend a mirror.

One small note, from the Chicago A packet:
15. One variety of these instruments uses a peristaltic-like contraction; that type includes an implant that generates a large electric field between successive gates. Time-delay integration, a variant of the drift scanning technique, can be used to correct for flat fielding in these devices. They can be thinned to allow for backside illumination, which greatly increases their (*) blue band quantum efficiency. These instruments consist of an epitaxial layer of silicon and can thus use the photoelectric effect to generate holes or electrons, which are then transferred along an array of capacitors; the resulting voltage can then be read off to measure the received light intensity. Widely used in astronomy, for 10 points, name these devices whose invention by George Smith and Willard Boyle netted them half of the 2009 physics Nobel.
ANSWER: charge-coupled devices
CCDs are built in epitaxial silicon, but do not solely consist of it. Also, any crystal orientation of silicon can be subject to the photoelectric effect, having an epi layer is not a necessary condition.
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Re: TIT/IO Discussion

Post by grapesmoker » Wed Nov 25, 2009 4:59 pm

Apropos of nothing, stop using "&" to denote the word "and" in your packets, and also don't use spaces (WTF) to effect a carriage return.
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Re: TIT/IO Discussion

Post by grapesmoker » Wed Nov 25, 2009 5:25 pm

Also: if a tossup is number 21, that does not mean you get to make it a shitty tossup. It's supposed to be a tiebreaker, but too often tossup 21 in this tournament was awful. I know priorities call for focusing on 1-20 first, but if I had a match decided on that execrable John Searle question, I would be pissed.

edit: now on QBDB
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Re: TIT/IO Discussion

Post by No Rules Westbrook » Wed Nov 25, 2009 7:11 pm

In general, this set looks like the type I typically call "rocky". I don't understand 10-11 line tossups, but that's already been covered. There are also a lot of instances of dropping relatively famous clues and then following with multiple lines of clearly less famous clues - not sure what the causes of that are.

It's my pet thing, but man, people really need to get a grip on grammar and sentence construction. I just don't understand a lot of the contorted clauses and sentences I see in packets - people must be working hastily, cause I don't think people write this way for a typical essay. I can tell from my perusal that the science in this set is clearly one of its better parts, but it does suffer from some awkward sentence construction too.

Perhaps I'll have more to say after more thorough perusal.
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Re: TIT/IO Discussion

Post by Kevin » Wed Nov 25, 2009 7:53 pm

Repeats: seemed like a ton. Two separate Vatican II tossups (albeit with very little overlap), Ficciones coming up at least three times (twice as an answer), Vermeer coming up a couple times, etc. There also seemed to be some odd distributions; the Minnesota packet had toss-ups on Pathetique and Mussorgsky. I don't have a problem with two music toss-ups, but two Russian composer toss-ups from the same time period in the same packet? That packet also had toss-ups 19 and 20 on Wainamoinen and Finland. And staying in that neck of the woods, toss-ups on Munch and Grieg as well. A little too geographically clustered, IMO.

When I was moderating I found the proofreading pretty sloppy. I understand the time constraints involved, but there was at least one bonus I had to throw out because the first part was missing key words, another bonus with a lead-in from a different bonus, and lots of typos and grammatical mistakes in toss-ups.

I thought mentioning The Moviegoer before the power mark in the New Orleans toss-up makes it a but too easy, but maybe that's because I read it a few months ago. I thought some of the clue ordering there was a little wonky; Andrei Codrescu is familiar to be because I'm from here, but he seems to be on NPR often enough that he might be known to a national audience. And A Confederacy of Dunces gets mentioned way too early--I'd be shocked if many rooms got past that clue.

All in all though, it seemed like a pretty good set.
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Re: TIT/IO Discussion

Post by grapesmoker » Wed Nov 25, 2009 9:13 pm

I've listened to more than enough NPR to buzz on the Codrescu clue, but I think it's probably in the right spot; not many people have deep NPR-level knowledge.
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Re: TIT/IO Discussion

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Wed Nov 25, 2009 9:46 pm

Kevin wrote:the Minnesota packet had toss-ups on Pathetique and Mussorgsky. I don't have a problem with two music toss-ups, but two Russian composer toss-ups from the same time period in the same packet? That packet also had toss-ups 19 and 20 on Wainamoinen and Finland.
These were editing decisions that confused me too (obviously it didn't help that we turned our packet in at the last minute; sorry again about that!). The tossups on Pathetique and Finland were in the original submission, along with a myth tossup on the suitors of Penelope; I'm not sure why another music tossup and another myth tossup were added.
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Re: TIT/IO Discussion

Post by rylltraka » Wed Nov 25, 2009 10:07 pm

If I'm not mistaken, Van Buren came up twice. This resulted in me negging the Van Buren TU because I thought, "It can't be Van Buren, but who else was called "The Little Magician"?" and blurting out something.
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Re: TIT/IO Discussion

Post by No Rules Westbrook » Wed Nov 25, 2009 11:18 pm

Kevin, I don't really think many of the things you cited are true examples of out-of-place clues...they seem more like things that you just happen to know stuff about - certainly a clue about The Moviegoer is fine. That clue was placed after some clues mentioning very central characters in The Grandissimes, which seems way easier to me, given how associated that book and Cable is with NO. While we're on that packet, it's a curious decision to give the definition of "furan" before deigning to drop Paal-Knorr Synthesis...or the Feist-Benary Synthesis!

And anyway, that Minny packet was still likely one of the better ones, even given its lateness.
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Re: TIT/IO Discussion

Post by Captain Sinico » Fri Nov 27, 2009 7:22 pm

MicroEStudent wrote:...One small note, from the Chicago A packet:
15. One variety of these instruments uses a peristaltic-like contraction; that type includes an implant that generates a large electric field between successive gates. Time-delay integration, a variant of the drift scanning technique, can be used to correct for flat fielding in these devices. They can be thinned to allow for backside illumination, which greatly increases their (*) blue band quantum efficiency. These instruments consist of an epitaxial layer of silicon and can thus use the photoelectric effect to generate holes or electrons, which are then transferred along an array of capacitors; the resulting voltage can then be read off to measure the received light intensity. Widely used in astronomy, for 10 points, name these devices whose invention by George Smith and Willard Boyle netted them half of the 2009 physics Nobel.
ANSWER: charge-coupled devices
CCDs are built in epitaxial silicon, but do not solely consist of it. Also, any crystal orientation of silicon can be subject to the photoelectric effect, having an epi layer is not a necessary condition.
I think your first issue (that the CCD doesn't "consist" of epitaxial silicon) is probably valid. My current research indicates that there doesn't exist universal agreement regarding what the CCD consists of by definition, i.e. some define it as just the silicon layer, while others implicitly include the remaining underlying electronics, too. I was unaware of that apparent ambiguity, so if the case is as I've stated it (I don't have my usual references, since I'm at my mom's house for break) I do acknowledge that this question would have been better had it acknowledged the ambiguity. If, on the other hand, I'm just in error and the CCD is always considered to include the underlying stuff, then the question is in error on this point and I apologize.
Your second qualm doesn't make sense to me. "Thus" doesn't and isn't meant to imply that the silicon epitaxial layer is necessary to create the photoelectric effect, which can and does occur in every type of material (as I well know.) You evidently disagree, so perhaps you could suggest an alternate wording and explain why you think it's better.
No Rules Westbrook wrote:...While we're on [the Minnesota A] packet, it's a curious decision to give the definition of "furan" before deigning to drop Paal-Knorr Synthesis...or the Feist-Benary Synthesis!
This was a conscientious decision by me that I'd like to explain, since I made and stand by analogous decisions throughout the science. Those reactions were described in a way such that people with knowledge of the reactions themselves (as opposed to their names) are able to convert them early. The description without providence of name furthermore allows people with good general chemical knowledge, but without knowledge of those specific obscure reactions, to deduce or come near deducing the answer (by thinking "A reacting with B might produce C", for example) before those with superficial binary association-type knowledge of reactions given their names are able to use that surface knowledge. The same logic applies to the placement of a definition of furan before reaction names. In other words, I think the "name of reaction given previous full description of reaction" clues are likely useful only to those who have memorized the reactants in those (obscure) reactions without really understanding the reactions, since a fuller understanding would have allowed an earlier buzz given the description of the reaction. I claim that the former type of knowledge is of both a poorer and more common type than a real understanding even of a fairly straightforward definition of the functionality in question is.
Your criticism is non-specific, but perhaps I've missed it with my earlier defense and what you're saying is that I'm tilting at windmills here since nobody has memorized the products of those syntheses, or at least nobody who hasn't likewise memorized the definition of a furan. If that's the case, I accept your criticism as potentially valid in as much as I considered that and came to the opposite conclusion by guess. If my guess was wrong and yours right, my editorial decision would have been to suppress the names of the syntheses, as opposed to moving them earlier, since my opinion of the character of the type of knowledge they entail would remain unchanged.
No Rules Westbrook wrote:...And anyway, that Minny packet was still likely one of the better ones, even given its lateness.
I do have to say that the science in this packet as submitted was very badly misdistributed (and incomplete, but that's a simple error that anyone could make, I suppose.) I'll provide further detail to the writers by e-mail or whatever at their request, but I think they probably realize what I'm talking about here, or immediately would on a second view of the submission. I guess it's funny, then, that misdistribution was introduced into other areas by other editors.

MaS
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Re: TIT/IO Discussion

Post by Gautam » Fri Nov 27, 2009 7:30 pm

Captain Sinico wrote:
No Rules Westbrook wrote:And anyway, that Minny packet was still likely one of the better ones, even given its lateness.
I do have to say that the science in this packet as submitted was very badly misdistributed. I'll provide further detail to the writers by e-mail or whatever at their request, but I think they probably realize what I'm talking about here, or immediately would on a second view of the submission. I guess it's funny, then, that misdistribution was introduced into other areas by other editors.

MaS
Yeah, I apologize for that. I didn't realize that I'd submitted 2 tossups which were basically on cell signaling (the one on calcium which made the set and another one on GTP) until too late. Rob later pointed out that there were two tossups on "elements" in our submission (the one on calcium and another one on zinc which didn't make it.) It certainly was poor answer selection on my part, and I'll do my best to avoid it in the future.

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Re: TIT/IO Discussion

Post by No Rules Westbrook » Sat Nov 28, 2009 4:53 pm

Well, I think this is the problem with the full-frontal assault on "inferior kinds of knowledge" that you've been grandstanding lately - that kind of knowledge (even assuming it is a valid categorization), in practice, is not very separable from any other kind of knowledge.

I really can't imagine any conceivable type of player who might know that the Feist-Benary Synth makes furans and not that furans are "five-membered rings with an O in one spot." Somehow, there's apparently arisen a weird notion that things like titles and reaction names are the only things that can be "memorized." Look, just about anything that can be learned "legitimately" (if you choose to buy into this divide) can also be memorized "illegitimately." Now, science is admittedly a bit of an exception, because it's very difficult to memorize complex equations and the like if you don't have some type of intuitive understanding of what's going on - some kind of "scientific understanding" of the field, which is apparently what Sorice wants to promote (this set, for instance, has a heavy focus on equation and formula clues). The trouble is, this kind of general approach makes a lot of the science pretty opaque for anyone who isn't a scientist in that field or a related field - both non-science people who are trying to legitimately learn science stuff, and any others. I'm not sure that kind of barrier is all that healthy, but whatever.

The only other subject I can think of where you can use the "science approach" is music - because you can babble on with "real music" clues that are extremely difficult for any non-music person to penetrate.
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Re: TIT/IO Discussion

Post by The King's Flight to the Scots » Sat Nov 28, 2009 8:41 pm

No Rules Westbrook wrote:Well, I think this is the problem with the full-frontal assault on "inferior kinds of knowledge" that you've been grandstanding lately - that kind of knowledge (even assuming it is a valid categorization), in practice, is not very separable from any other kind of knowledge.

I really can't imagine any conceivable type of player who might know that the Feist-Benary Synth makes furans and not that furans are "five-membered rings with an O in one spot." Somehow, there's apparently arisen a weird notion that things like titles and reaction names are the only things that can be "memorized." Look, just about anything that can be learned "legitimately" (if you choose to buy into this divide) can also be memorized "illegitimately." Now, science is admittedly a bit of an exception, because it's very difficult to memorize complex equations and the like if you don't have some type of intuitive understanding of what's going on - some kind of "scientific understanding" of the field, which is apparently what Sorice wants to promote (this set, for instance, has a heavy focus on equation and formula clues). The trouble is, this kind of general approach makes a lot of the science pretty opaque for anyone who isn't a scientist in that field or a related field - both non-science people who are trying to legitimately learn science stuff, and any others. I'm not sure that kind of barrier is all that healthy, but whatever.

The only other subject I can think of where you can use the "science approach" is music - because you can babble on with "real music" clues that are extremely difficult for any non-music person to penetrate.
EDIT:
Rephrasing this. I think you can memorize that phrase for one thing, but once you've fake-memorized more than 3 definitions for functional groups, they really get mixed up. It takes a ton more effort to do that than to memorize two names, so on the whole, scientists will get rewarded more often with Sorice's writing.
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Re: TIT/IO Discussion

Post by DumbJaques » Sat Nov 28, 2009 10:33 pm

Rephrasing this. I think you can memorize that phrase for one thing, but once you've fake-memorized more than 3 definitions for functional groups, they really get mixed up. It takes a ton more effort to do that than to memorize two names, so on the whole, scientists will get rewarded more often with Sorice's writing.
One thing I noted was that while a lot of people correctly observed that Mike's writing prevented fake science buzzes trumping real ones, a whole bunch more people found it impossible to parse the majority of the time. Even good science players compared some clues in topics they lacked first-hand familiarity with (but still knew plenty about) to machine code. I think that adopting Mike's approach for science leadins is heavily worth exploring (though I'd venture some concern over how many non-Mike people are really able to do it), but there were plenty of tossups written in nothing but those kinds of clues, with perhaps a giveaway at the end. I felt bad about this and ended up hastily scrawling in expansions to giveaways and trying to make some bonus parts easy - it's important to remember that portions of science questions (specifically, the last sentences and easy bonus parts) need to be discernible to non-specialists the same way questions in other areas are. Based on the fact that I saw a critical instance of the "6 lines of the sciencey clues/1 line of giveaway" format resulting in the exact opposite of what it aims to promote (that is, a generalist outbuzzing a science person on a tossup whose clues the science person had firsthand familiarity with), I'd go a step further and say that the language has to be tapered off with a reasonable amount of question left, or it's just unfairly inaccessible to a lot of people in a way that other questions will never be.
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Re: TIT/IO Discussion

Post by Captain Sinico » Sun Nov 29, 2009 8:46 pm

To respond to Ryan: The issue is categorically not one of what can be memorized (we both acknowledge that potentially anything might be memorized) but what it means/probably means if someone is buzzing off a given clue. If someone buzzes correctly off the name "Feist-Benary synthesis," they've memorized the products of the Feist-Benary synthesis, pure and simple; that's certain because the process and mechanism of the synthesis were given before the name. Consequently, the definition of an important functionality, like a furan, is in a different class of knowledge and understanding than is the knowledge of the products of an obscure reaction like the Feist-Benary synthesis in as much as the former is something someone actually studying chemistry would/would likely know, whereas the latter is not. If it's the case that the synthesis products given its name are just not known as well as the definition of the functionality, which I'll again fully accept may well be the case, then my solution here remains not to not include the name of the synthesis.
To sum up in another way: I'm fine writing questions that promote the memorization of the definitions of various functionalities (at a certain level), because I view that as a legitimate, important part of education in chemistry. I'm more wary about writing questions that promote the memorization binary pairs of names of products/reactants and names of obscure syntheses involving them, which is really not a part of scientific endeavor*.

To respond to Chris: I don't really see any questions of mine that fit that description in my view. Nor did I hear any complaints along those lines from players at the Illinois site. Perhaps if some players do feel that way, they can say so here and give me some examples so I know what they're talking about.

MaS

*I don't mean that chemists have no knowledge of reactions; conversely, it is decidedly the case that everyone who studies chemistry will be familiar, maybe even highly familiar, with some reactions that they happen to have studied or worked with. However, almost nobody will have made a systematic survey of a large fraction of the different reactions that exist, so drawing a reaction at random is a highly ineffective way of producing clues. Selecting a canonical reaction may be even worse since on average it gives someone who's memorized things about that particular reaction due to its canonicity (as a considerable number of people probably will have) a considerable advantage over someone who's studied chemistry.
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Re: TIT/IO Discussion

Post by MicroEStudent » Sun Nov 29, 2009 10:41 pm

Captain Sinico wrote:
MicroEStudent wrote:...One small note, from the Chicago A packet:
15. One variety of these instruments uses a peristaltic-like contraction; that type includes an implant that generates a large electric field between successive gates. Time-delay integration, a variant of the drift scanning technique, can be used to correct for flat fielding in these devices. They can be thinned to allow for backside illumination, which greatly increases their (*) blue band quantum efficiency. These instruments consist of an epitaxial layer of silicon and can thus use the photoelectric effect to generate holes or electrons, which are then transferred along an array of capacitors; the resulting voltage can then be read off to measure the received light intensity. Widely used in astronomy, for 10 points, name these devices whose invention by George Smith and Willard Boyle netted them half of the 2009 physics Nobel.
ANSWER: charge-coupled devices
CCDs are built in epitaxial silicon, but do not solely consist of it. Also, any crystal orientation of silicon can be subject to the photoelectric effect, having an epi layer is not a necessary condition.
I think your first issue (that the CCD doesn't "consist" of epitaxial silicon) is probably valid. My current research indicates that there doesn't exist universal agreement regarding what the CCD consists of by definition, i.e. some define it as just the silicon layer, while others implicitly include the remaining underlying electronics, too. I was unaware of that apparent ambiguity, so if the case is as I've stated it (I don't have my usual references, since I'm at my mom's house for break) I do acknowledge that this question would have been better had it acknowledged the ambiguity. If, on the other hand, I'm just in error and the CCD is always considered to include the underlying stuff, then the question is in error on this point and I apologize.
Your second qualm doesn't make sense to me. "Thus" doesn't and isn't meant to imply that the silicon epitaxial layer is necessary to create the photoelectric effect, which can and does occur in every type of material (as I well know.) You evidently disagree, so perhaps you could suggest an alternate wording and explain why you think it's better.


MaS
First off, I'm wrong on the second part, I was just reading far too much into it. My apologies.

Regarding what a CCD consists of, I have seen it refer to just the array as well as the array plus the readout electronics.

Now, I was lucky enough to have a co-op at Kodak working for their CCD division, and the whole imager was referred to as a "CCD", but this does not make it correct. I point this out to say that perhaps my time spent there makes me more prone to consider the whole device as a "CCD", but I have seen papers that say both, so I would argue that this is simply an ambiguity. Maybe rewriting that sentence to "These instruments use the photoelectric effect to generate holes or electrons, which are then transferred along an array of capacitors that are built in epitaxial silicon*," or something similar would remove any ambiguity.

*I do not know of any CCD imagers that have the capacitive array in a material that is not epitaxial silicon, so a qualifier such as "usually" is not necessary. (As an aside, for an experiment, we attempted to build imagers at Kodak in regular silicon to disastrous results!)

I am happy that a question about something I know a lot about came up, even if I couldn't make it to a tournament to play it. I especially like the part about the backside illumination devices.
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