jump to navigation

A computer scientist plays Twenty Questions June 12, 2012

Posted by Ezra Resnick in Computer science, Game theory.
trackback

“Would you like to play Twenty Questions?”

“Sure, how do we play?”

“I think of a famous person — alive or dead, real or fictional — and you have to guess who it is, in no more than twenty yes-or-no questions.”

“Well… I could use binary search to identify a single letter of the alphabet in 4.7 yes-or-no questions (on average), so nineteen questions should allow me to¬†identify four letters. Why don’t you just tell me the first four letters of your person’s last name, and I’ll guess who it is.”

“Actually, I don’t think I want to play any more.”

“That’s OK — the game is flawed, anyway: it assumes there are no more than 1,048,576 famous people to choose from…”

About these ads

Comments»

1. david - June 13, 2012

the trick is to play by the rules, not change them (except by mutual agreement).
good luck,
a

Ezra Resnick - June 13, 2012

The rules weren’t changed: the proposed strategy uses the available questions to identify the first few letters of the target’s name.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 47 other followers