The Scientific Method Something, somewhere, somewhen, must have happened differently
How experts recall chess positions By Daniel Simons, on February 15th, Ina computer Watson outplayed two human Jeopardy champions.
Inchess computer Deep Blue defeated chess champion Garry Kasparov. Defeating humans in these domains took years of research and programming by teams of engineers, but only with huge advantages in speed, efficiency, memory, and precision could computers compete with much more limited humans.
What allows human experts to match wits with custom-designed computers equipped with tremendous processing power? Chess players have a limited ability to evaluate all of the possible moves, the responses Harry potter and psychology essay those moves, the responses to the responses, etc.
Even if they could evaluate all of the possible alternatives several moves deep, they still would need to remember which moves they had evaluated, which ones led to the best outcomes, and so on.
Computers expend no effort remembering possibilities that they had already rejected or revisiting options that proved unfruitful. This question, how do chess experts evaluate positions to find the best move, has been studied for decades, dating back to the groundbreaking work of Adriaan de Groot and later to work by William Chase and Herbert Simon.
The relatively small differences between experts and novices suggested that their advantages came not from brute force calculation ability but from something else: According to De Groot, the core of chess expertise is the ability to recognize huge number of chess positions or parts of positions and to derive moves from them.
In short, their greater efficiency came not from evaluating more outcomes, but from considering only the better options. But de Groot was right about the limited nature of expert search and the importance of knowledge and pattern recognition in expert performance.
The experts made relatively few mistakes even though they had seen the position only briefly. They also added a critical control: The players viewed both real chess positions and scrambled chess positions that included pieces in implausible and even impossible locations.
The expert advantage apparently comes from familiarity with real chess positions, something that allows more efficient encoding or retrieval of the positions.
Chase and Simon recorded their expert performing the chess reconstruction task, and found that he placed the pieces on the board in spatially contiguous chunks, with pauses of a couple seconds after he reproduced each chunk.
This finding has become part of the canon of cognitive psychology: People can increase their working memory capacity by grouping together otherwise discrete pieces of items to form a larger unit in memory. In that way, we can encode more information into the same limited number of memory slots.
Wolff viewed each position on a printed index card for five seconds and then immediately reconstructed it on a chess board. After he was satisfied with his work, we gave him the next card. After he finished five real positions and five scrambled positions, we asked him to describe how he did the task.
The video below shows his performance and his explanations Chris is the one handing him the cards and holding the stopwatch—I was behind the camera.
Like other experts who have been tested, Wolff rarely made mistakes in reconstructing positions, and when he did, the errors were trivial—they did not alter the fundamental meaning or structure of the position. Watch for the interesting comments at the end when Wolff describes why he was focused on some aspects of a position but not others.
HT to Chris Chabris for comments on a draft of this post Comments:A new study published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology found that reading the Harry Potter books in particular has similar effects, likely in part because Potter .
It is through Harry's character that the theories and concepts provided within the field of psychology hold validity that a child is influenced by heredity, environment, and phycological guidance.
Through the novel, Harry discovered he resembled his parents quite considerably in both academic qualities as well as feature appearance.
A variant of this post first appeared on my Psychology Today blog on November 16, Why is the story of Harry Potter so appealing? The success of the series depends on engaging characters and compelling storytelling-it’s a classic tale of good vs. evil and a coming of age story.
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