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Teaching a Computer to Play 'Concentration' Advances Security, ­nderstanding of the Human Mind

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The computer interface of Concentration that human players saw.

The computer interface of Concentration that human players saw.

Credit: NCSU News

North Carolina State University (NCSU) researchers have developed ACT-R, software designed to play the game Concentration. The researchers say the software could lead to better computer security and a greater understanding of how the human mind works.

In the game, multiple matching pairs of cards are placed face down in 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 researchers were able to either accelerate 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, including 10 times for accuracy and 10 times for speed. The researchers modified the game's parameters to determine which set of variables resulted in gameplay that most closely resembled the gameplay of the human study participants.

"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," says NCSU professor David Roberts.

From NCSU News
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