Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Teaching a computer to play concentration advances security, understanding of the mind

Date:
July 1, 2013
Source:
North Carolina State University
Summary:
Computer science researchers have programmed a computer to play the game Concentration (also known as Memory). The work could help improve computer security -- and improve our understanding of how the human mind works.

The computer interface of “Concentration” that human players saw.

Computer science researchers have programmed a computer to play the game Concentration (also known as Memory). The work could help improve computer security -- and improve our understanding of how the human mind works.

Related Articles


The researchers developed a program to get the software system called ACT-R, a computer simulation that attempts to replicate human thought processes, to play Concentration. In the game, multiple matching pairs of cards are placed face down in a random order, and players are asked to flip over two cards, one at a time, to find the matching pairs. If a player flips over two cards that do not match, the cards are placed back face down. The player succeeds by remembering where the matching cards are located.

The researchers were able to either rush ACT-R's decision-making, which led it to play more quickly but make more mistakes, or allow ACT-R to take its time, which led to longer games with fewer mistakes.

As part of the study, 179 human participants played Concentration 20 times each -- 10 times for accuracy and 10 times for speed -- to give the researchers a point of comparison for their ACT-R model.

The findings will help the researchers distinguish between human players and automated "bots," ultimately helping them develop models to identify bots in a variety of applications. These bots pose security problems for online games, online voting and other Web applications.

"One way to approach the distinction between bot behavior and human behavior is to look at how bots behave," says Dr. Robert St. Amant, an associate professor of computer science at NC State and co-author of a paper describing the work. "Another way is to look at what humans do. We're focusing on the latter."

"We're looking for distinctions so subtle that they'd be very difficult to replicate outside of a cognitive architecture like ACT-R," says Dr. David Roberts, an assistant professor of computer science at NC State and co-author of the paper. "The level of sophistication needed to replicate those distinctions in a bot would be so expensive, in terms of time and money, that it would -- hopefully -- be cost-prohibitive."

The researchers were also able to modify the parameters of their Concentration model to determine which set of variables resulted in gameplay that most closely matched the gameplay of the human study participants.

This offers a plausible explanation of the cognitive processes taking place in the human mind when playing Concentration. For example, the Concentration model sometimes has a choice to make: remember a previous matching card and select it, or explore the board by selecting a new card. When playing for speed, the model takes the latter choice because it's faster than retrieving the information from memory. This may also be what's happening in the human brain when we play Concentration.

"This is information that moves us incrementally closer to understanding how cognitive function relates to the way we interact with computers," Roberts says. "Ultimately, this sort of information could one day be used to develop tools to help software designers identify how their design decisions affect the end users of their products. For example, do some design features confuse users? Which ones, and at what point? That would be useful information."

The paper, "Modeling the Concentration Game with ACT-R," will be presented at the International Conference on Cognitive Modeling, being held July 11-14 in Ottawa. Lead author of the paper is Titus Barik, a Ph.D. student at NC State. Co-authors include St. Amant, Roberts, and NC State Ph.D. students Arpan Chakraborty and Brent Harrison. The research was supported by the National Security Agency.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by North Carolina State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

North Carolina State University. "Teaching a computer to play concentration advances security, understanding of the mind." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 July 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130701100809.htm>.
North Carolina State University. (2013, July 1). Teaching a computer to play concentration advances security, understanding of the mind. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130701100809.htm
North Carolina State University. "Teaching a computer to play concentration advances security, understanding of the mind." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130701100809.htm (accessed November 23, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Computers & Math News

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

European Parliament Might Call For Google's Break-Up

European Parliament Might Call For Google's Break-Up

Newsy (Nov. 22, 2014) This is the latest development in an antitrust investigation accusing Google of unfairly prioritizing own products and services in search results. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Google Announces Improvements To Balloon-Borne Wi-Fi Project

Google Announces Improvements To Balloon-Borne Wi-Fi Project

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) In a blog post, Google said its balloons have traveled 3 million kilometers since the start of Project Loon. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Is Nintendo Making A Comeback With 'Super Smash Bros.'?

Is Nintendo Making A Comeback With 'Super Smash Bros.'?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Nintendo released new "Super Smash Bros." Friday, and it's getting great reviews. Could this mean a comeback for the gaming company? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
NSA Director: China Can Damage US Power Grid

NSA Director: China Can Damage US Power Grid

AP (Nov. 20, 2014) China and "one or two" other countries are capable of mounting cyberattacks that would shut down the electric grid and other critical systems in parts of the United States, according to Adm. Michael Rogers, director of the National Security Agency and hea Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins