[Computer-go] 50k-100k patterns

Michael Alford malf at aracnet.com
Sat Aug 11 07:20:45 PDT 2012

This has been a most interesting discussion, thanks to all that 
participated. As far as tricks, hard and deliberate practice, or focus 
goes, I would like to share an observation from Guo Juan: The only 
difference between an IGS 3k and a 3d is the 3d knows more tricks. To 
get beyond 3d you have to learn something about the game.

On 8/11/12 5:52 AM, Don Dailey wrote:
> On Sat, Aug 11, 2012 at 2:38 AM, Sam Stewart <sstewart at lclark.edu
> <mailto:sstewart at lclark.edu>> wrote:
>     Hello all,
>     As a student and mathematician, I am particularly interested in the
>     complex process of accumulating, understanding, and remembering
>     difficult information. In regards to the most recent posting by Don,
>     while I agree that there is initially some "low hanging fruit" in
>     most areas, these options quickly disappear as we become better.
>     Breaking the barrier between amateur and expert is particularly
>     difficult and is rarely achievable through "quick tricks".
> There is nothing here I disagree with.    The sophistication of the
> "tricks" increases but probably calling them "shortcuts" and "tricks"
> was not the right terminology.      Some of them seem like cheap tricks
> but really they are just mental reorganizations and the recognition of
> patterns which already have a solution or partial solution.     I know
> in chess almost any position seems reasonable and suggests moves to my
> mind - but when I first learned the game it was just a random
> configuration without any clue of what move to play.
> The *hard and deliberate* practice I simply called focus - I do not
> believe it necessarily has to be unpleasant but it is hard work.
> Sometimes you can enjoy hard work but without doubt you have to push
> yourself against being lazy.
>     Instead, we improve in proportion to the amount of /deliberate and
>     strenuous /practice we invest. As Mark described, he knew the steps
>     needed to improve drastically, but opted for the easier route. Why?
>     Because deliberate practice is often grueling, repetitive, and
>     exhausting; we prefer tasks which are within our purview.
>     Having programmed since age ten, and then up into my college years,
>     I can say from personal experience the largest jumps in ability
>     occurred when I concentrated on my weakest areas. For example, while
>     initially doing web programming, I decided to learn the iOS SDK. Of
>     course, this required studying Objective-C (really just C and some
>     compiler macros) which does not use automatic memory management.
>     Needless to say, as a fifteen year old coming from Python, Java, and
>     PHP, this was a hurdle. I spent hours finding obvious memory leaks
>     before I could even display something onscreen. The process was
>     laborious but I finally gained competence /over a three year
>     period/. I emphasize this statement because there was no shortcut.
>     Although the authors on this list hold no such misconceptions, I
>     cannot count the number of times people have approached me asking
>     how to write iPhone apps. I always answer, "you'll need lots of
>     time, patience, and diligence….then start practicing".
>     The mental jump from managed languages to manually managed languages
>     shed light on the "low level" details of programming which I had
>     missed previously. The /deliberate /practice in an area of weakness
>     enabled me to "level up" in the end.
>     On the other hand, I have also played jazz piano for about five
>     years. Like Mark, I have taken the lazy route, even though I have
>     played through hundreds of songs. As with most classically trained
>     musicians, I found sight-reading and memorizing an explicit
>     transcription of a standard far easier than practicing the numerous
>     chords and modes required for free-form improvisation. Only now, am
>     I painfully practicing the many chord voicings I glossed over years
>     ago. In sight-reading the music, I allowed my skill to plateau by
>     sticking to the "stuff I knew".
>     Similarly, I am a better programmer than mathematician. While
>     varying across individuals, I find programming intuitive, or as Mark
>     said "Learning to program never felt like work". On the other hand,
>     many concepts in mathematics require abstract and flexible thought.
>     Hence, since I find math more challenging than CS, I purposely fill
>     my schedule with math courses. Pushing myself in a weaker area will
>     ultimately render me a better computer scientist.
>     In summary, the /key /difference between amateurs and experts is
>     /*hard and deliberate* /practice. In order to move from novice to
>     professional, you must not only practice, but you must focus on
>     honing your "pain points". While I wish there were other options
>     available, my own experience has lead me to this conclusion.
>     However, I'm not the only one who holds this opinion. I'd like to
>     offer this paper I read a few years ago which speaks to this issue
>     precisely. I've also pasted some relevant sections below:
>     http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/rev/100/3/363.pdf
>>     Our review has also shown that the maximal level of performance
>>     for individuals in a given domain is not attained automatically as
>>     function of extended experience, but the level of performance can
>>     be increased even by highly experienced individuals as a result of
>>     deliberate efforts to improve.
>>      There is a relatively widespread conception that if individuals
>>     are innately talented, they can easily and rapidly achieve an
>>     exceptional level of performance once they have acquired basic
>>     skills and knowledge. Biographical material disproves this notion.
>>     In their classic study of expertise in chess, Simon and
>>     Chase (1973) observed that nobody had attained the level of an
>>     international chess master (grandmaster) "with less than about
>>     a decade's intense preparation with the game" (p. 402).
>     This discussion has been quite entertaining and I look forward to
>     any comments or further thoughts,
>     Sam Stewart
>     Lewis & Clark College
>     On Friday, August 10, 2012 at 2:05 PM, Don Dailey wrote:
>>     On Fri, Aug 10, 2012 at 4:38 PM, Mark Boon
>>     <tesujisoftware at gmail.com <mailto:tesujisoftware at gmail.com>> wrote:
>>>     On Fri, Aug 10, 2012 at 8:15 AM, Don Dailey <dailey.don at gmail.com
>>>     <mailto:dailey.don at gmail.com>> wrote:
>>>     > I'm not real big on natural talent either.  I know it exists but
>>>     it is
>>>     > somewhat over-rated.   The people who are really good at
>>>     anything invariably
>>>     > worked pretty hard to get there - and the natural talent aspect
>>>     may simply
>>>     > be internal drive - the ability to focus on what needs to be
>>>     done.    So I
>>>     > do believe that some people have more talent than others but
>>>     maybe it's a
>>>     > bit over-hyped.      Bobby Fischer is said to have been
>>>     absolutely obsessed
>>>     > with chess as a boy - an obsession you don't usually see in an
>>>     old man or
>>>     > woman.    Was he talented?   I'm sure he was,   but this insane
>>>     obsession
>>>     > was probably more important to his success than his natural talent.
>>>     Erik Puyt (Dutch 5-dan) once summed it up nicely: "when people say
>>>     you've got talent, what they mean is you're (still) young".
>>>     I do think talent exists. The same way some people are more
>>>     intelligent than others. But starting young and working hard at it is
>>>     needed by everyone to become good at anything. Nobody gets it for
>>>     free.
>>>     >  And even just putting in a lot of time is not the same as
>>>     working hard at it.
>>>     I'm a bit of a lazy type. As a teenager I spent a lot of time
>>>     studying
>>>     Go. But I found that some types of study felt harder on my brain than
>>>     others. Replaying professional games, while certainly helpful, was a
>>>     lot 'easier' than doing life-and-death problems, which I hated doing.
>>>     Later I heard some successful professional players claim that the
>>>     only
>>>     way of studying really worth anything was life-and-death. All the
>>>     rest
>>>     comes relatively easy through just playing. I would characterize
>>>     replaying pro games as 'putting in time' while life-and-death was
>>>     'working at it'.
>>>     I started computer programming when I was 18-19 years old. I knew
>>>     straight away this was my future as all the studying felt easy
>>>     compared to studying Go, even though I was a little afraid I had
>>>     started too late. But it turned out child prodigies in
>>>     programming, or
>>>     whizz-kids as they were called, only existed in movies at that
>>>     day and
>>>     age. Learning to program never felt like work.
>>     Being lazy could be a good thing - it is in programming!     How
>>     many times have I started to code something up,  realized how much
>>     work it was going to be, then stopped myself and said, "there must
>>     be an easier way!"     And lo and behold,  there usually is.
>>     I think this works with everything.    In Chess my master friend
>>     was big into organizing your thinking and making things easier -
>>     usually with clever rules.     Very often just one tiny piece of
>>     knowledge can save you years of figuring it out for yourself.
>>      In one opening I played he said, "it's all about the black
>>     squares - if you control them you win."     An aha moment for me
>>     as I was busy computing variations and doing things the hard way.
>>     So I believe than in many ways being "lazy" can be an asset - if
>>     you are always trying to figure out an "easier way" to do it you
>>     will do much better.
>>     Have you ever heard of "square of the pawn?"     Or when being
>>     checked by the knight in the endings when there is very little
>>     time on the clock there are certain squares you can move the king
>>     to which guarantee you cannot be checked for 2, 3 or 4 moves -
>>     depending on where you move and these are trivial patterns.
>>     Also, the say really intelligent people are internally taking
>>     shortcuts,  they get way more accomplished with very little effort.
>>     And I did a simple thing when I was improving in tournament chess.
>>       I just happened to notice that 90% of my losses were due to
>>     trivial blunders.   I went up something like 400 ELO  just
>>     realizing that.   It was a lazy way to get 400 ELO without
>>     studying hard or anything else,   I just made it my determination
>>     and goal not to blunder and before every move I did a quick
>>     superficial check, nothing fancy and yet  400 ELO!     Everyone
>>     thought that I had been studying and learning and getting much
>>     better.
>>     This is actually a general principle of almost any endeavor: "stop
>>     screwing up!"    If you play tennis you know that at the club
>>     level you don't win games,   you lose them.     Get the ball back
>>     with any consistency and you are suddenly a half way decent club
>>     player - even if you don't do it with much style or grace.
>>     So I don't think study has to be painful and hard - in fact true
>>     "hard work" can be very pleasurable.   But it does have to be
>>     productive and focused.
>>     Don
>>>     Mark
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