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Want Ad Letters Crossword Clue – In 2012, a computer program called Dr. Finish 141st out of around 660 entries in this year’s American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, a competition for elite crossword solvers. That year, the algorithm beat the human competition, solving the final playoff puzzle in just 49 seconds.
The AI relies on a collection of different techniques to understand a puzzle. Sometimes a simple fact is required – who was the First Lady before Eleanor Roosevelt? (Lou Henry Hoover.) More often, however, crossword puzzle solving relies not only on factual knowledge, but also on the ability to recognize themes that puzzle creators have embedded in the crossword puzzles, and an understanding of puns, homonyms, and puns. (Imagine: five letters, “dining table leaves” – SALAD!) The program performs a series of statistical calculations on likely answers, and then attempts to fit those possibilities into the puzzle squares.
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This year, researchers at the Berkeley Natural Language Processing Group applied their expertise to Dr. Fill – a contribution that may have helped Dr. to lead Fill to his crowning victory.
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But the program is not infallible. This year, it made three mistakes solving puzzles during the tournament, while some human solvers solved the puzzles perfectly. It can make these mistakes with any unique puzzle shape it’s never seen before.
Matt Ginsberg, the computer programmer behind Dr. Fill, talks to Ira about the competition and the progress his program has made over the years.
IRA FLATOW: For the rest of the hour, an update on a story we first told you about in 2014 — a computer program called Dr. Fill that could solve crossword puzzles. Last month, for the first time, the program unofficially beat the human competition in the American Crossword Tournament, solving the playoff puzzle in just, you know, 49 seconds. Oh. I am now joined by Matt Ginsberg, the computer programmer who created Dr. Fill has developed. Welcome back to Science Friday.
IRA FLATOW: I would like to let everyone know that we have a video demo at the top of our website/crosswords of how the program solved some of this year’s competition puzzles. OK, first describe the format of the competition. What do you have to do?
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MATT GINSBERG: You have seven crossword puzzles to solve. And six of them are Saturday. One is on Sunday morning. And then there’s a championship riddle for the people who did best on Sunday afternoon.
It’s timed. The puzzles vary in difficulty. The fifth puzzle is actually by far the hardest. The first is the easiest and will give you a sense of confidence. The sixth is easy so don’t feel so bad about what happened to you on the fifth puzzle.
And the seventh on Sunday is — it’s like a Sunday-sized jigsaw puzzle. It’s not overwhelmingly difficult. And people solve them flawlessly in minutes.
MATT GINSBERG: Dr. Fill made three mistakes, but he was so much faster than humans – typically solving the puzzles in under a minute – that he was a tiny bit ahead of the best human based on the rating system used.
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MATT GINSBERG: It was a virtual tournament this year so couldn’t do anything. And when the tournament is live, Will Shortz, who runs it, usually reports. So when he starts with Puzzle 2, he says Dr. Fill in Puzzle 1 made this and that. And if dr Fill performs poorly, everyone applauds. And if dr Fill does well, everyone boos. But it’s a kind of good-natured competition between man and machine.
IRA FLATOW: Well, we asked puzzle master Will Shortz for his opinion, and he said when it comes to something new and unprecedented, people still have the advantage of finding out. Oh fighting words.
MATT GINSBERG: No, that’s absolutely true. One of the puzzles this year was very clever. For example, one of the clues was “crazy” and the answer was “mannequin”. And the next clue was “derive,” and the answer was “fur.” And that doesn’t make any sense at all until you realize that when you say it – “mannequin fur” – you’re actually saying “manic” for “crazy” and “reasoning” for “derivative”.
Dr Fill didn’t understand it at all. It managed to do pretty well in this puzzle. It failed because it solved the wrong clues. But it had no idea what was going on.
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I think next year – I’m looking forward to next year. We are going very hard on Dr. Fill work. And by we I mean me and the Berkeley Natural Language Group who helped out this year. We will work very hard to get Dr. Fill to do better. And I think the designers will work very hard to make Dr. Fill worse. So we’ll see next year who wins this little fight.
IRA FLATOW: Let’s talk a little bit about how it solves a mystery. What are the steps it goes through?
MATT GINSBERG: So it doesn’t solve the mystery the way we do. So when I solve a puzzle – when I try. I’m terrible. When I try to solve a riddle, I say, oh, here’s a clue. My hunch level is Scooby blank, three letters. So I say, oh, that’s “doo,” and I put it in.
If dr Fill solves a riddle, doesn’t actually write anything in it. It creates huge lists of every possible word in every possible slot and how good it feels to put that word in that position. And then, armed with those lists, it looks at all those combinations. Well I can put this word here and that word there and how do I feel about the combination? And it does a lot of searching for possible ways to complete the puzzle. And it has algorithms to help it find the overall fill that it likes the most.
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And the Berkeley guys brought in work where if the program thought an answer was right, it was more likely to actually be right. This made it much more likely that when the puzzle was completed, it actually had the correct answers in all the different places.
IRA FLATOW: Puzzle Builders sometimes reuse clues. Does your program have a database of previous answers it tries?
MATT GINSBERG: It does. It is very happy when it finds a clue that has been used before. For example, when I’m doing a jigsaw puzzle, I like to look for clues that were previously used to find another word of that length, because then you throw a little trick at the solver. and dr Fill knows about it. And it says, you know, I’ve seen this before, so it’s probably the same answer as before, but not sure. But I would be very happy if I can include this answer.
IRA FLATOW: You know, to be successful you need to know a lot of random facts, like who the Oscar winners were in a given year. Where does it get its information from? Does it search Wikipedia live for clues as it solves the puzzle?
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MATT GINSBERG: It can. So one of the rules that Will Shortz and I agreed on was that Dr. Fill was not allowed to access the internet. For example, it cannot perform a Google search. But it’s a computer, right? So I have a downloaded copy of Wikipedia to look at.
One of the things Will has done for crosswords is that it’s not nearly as fact-based as it used to be. So yeah, occasionally you see Eleanor’s predecessor as First Lady, something along those lines. And that’s where you want to be able to look it up.
But most crosswords these days involve common sense knowledge expressed in an interesting way. And since it’s really a matter of understanding that “crazy” and “manic” mean the same thing. And there you have a thesaurus. you have a dictionary It has all these resources it uses to figure out what the different words mean.
And again, working with Berkeley has been great because they use a system that’s not entirely dissimilar to when you talk to Siri. There is a system that will figure out what you probably need and generate a useful answer. And they use a system that is similar to these other systems at a high level. It’s designed specifically for crosswords, but it uses all the work on machine learning, natural language, etc. to make Dr. To help Fill understand a little better what the likely correct answer to a given clue will be.
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IRA FLATOW: This is Science Friday from WNYC Studios. How well would Dr. Fill working against IBM’s Watson?
MATT GINSBERG: Those are really different areas. Jeopardy is really about facts. When the answer appears on the Jeopardy board, it doesn’t say: 13th President of the United States, seven letters. if dr Fill receives a request, he knows exactly how long the answer is. It makes enormous use of the crosswords