Throw in the towel option?

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gbaydo
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Throw in the towel option?

Post by gbaydo »

I know, I know -- if you can't solve it, you can't solve it. There are plenty of problems I can't (currently) solve. Some I set aside and return to periodically. Others I simply quit working on. But there are a few that I've spent an inordinate amount of time on that I still can't solve. I understand that the *challenge* is the thing. Still, there are one or two problems that I would happily throw in the towel on to see how other people have solved them. It would be an easy thing to simply plug in an answer (as found on the Web) and satisfy my curiosity, but that would be cheating. I won't do that because I would get credit for solving the problem. But if I could choose, say, to throw in the towel and not get credit... well, like I said, there are one or two problems I might do that with. How do other members feel about this? Is it giving away too much? Does it defeat the drive to solve difficult problems and learn something new? Maybe it's just a bad idea, but I'm curious to know what other members think of it.
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nicolas.patrois
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Re: Throw in the towel option?

Post by nicolas.patrois »

If you dig into a search engine, you might find things.
If your problem is that your code is slow as a slug, it’s because you don’t take the problem the right way.
Of course, "print(42)" is not a solution. :wink:
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euler
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Re: Throw in the towel option?

Post by euler »

In fairness he has already solved over 100 problems which is no small feat.

@gbaydo: This is something the team have discussed at some length, but as you can imagine the arguments for and against can all be quite compelling and could potentially change the landscape of Project Euler significantly. Indeed I'd also be curious to know what other members think about this idea.
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LarryBlake
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Re: Throw in the towel option?

Post by LarryBlake »

I'll give two answers:

1. I definitely do not think there should be a button to see the answer. That would make it too easy for someone to have two accounts: one where he "throws in the towel" and another where he racks up solved problems. I object less to a "Hint" button that appears after the problem has been out there for at least a few months (long past the time when there could be any award for solving it).

2. Problems have been significantly harder lately. As someone who has more of a background in programming than in mathematics, I've reached the point where it is an achievement to find one that I can solve. Having a few more accessible problems would alleviate the feeling of stuckness and possibly remove the need for the towel option. That being said, it's very satisfying solving a problem that I find hard.
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MegaWidget
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Re: Throw in the towel option?

Post by MegaWidget »

I don't think a Give Up button or even a Hint button is a good idea. For one, as LarryBlake said, it could be exploited by someone with two accounts, but also, it kind of changes the feel of the website. I've always seen Project Euler as a less of a teacher and more of an open-book quiz; a prompt for each individual to explore the problems on her/his own (or with others of similar knowledge levels). A hint button (to say nothing of a Give Up button) would kill the feel of it. Furthermore, if you just leave a problem for while and come back later (in my experience) you can be hit by new inspiration, which enforces what you learn, as opposed to mere awe at another's solution, which is only a fraction as effective, if that.

On a slightly different note, a Give Up button may tempt some into using it heavily who would then bitterly regret it later (to say nothing of those who would would not!). I remember my dad helping me with one of the problems (Number 18, which also applies to number 67) and to this day I don't feel like I really solved them, even though he only gave me a few hints, not a full solution.
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dkulakovsky
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Re: Throw in the towel option?

Post by dkulakovsky »

gbaydo wrote:I know, I know -- if you can't solve it, you can't solve it. There are plenty of problems I can't (currently) solve. Some I set aside and return to periodically. Others I simply quit working on. But there are a few that I've spent an inordinate amount of time on that I still can't solve.
I can relate to this very well - there are definitely several problems I have been pondering for months with absolutely no success and have there been an option to "give in" - not sure I could have resisted. On the other hand I just recently defeated a couple of such old foes which stood for over half a year and boy, was it fun!

I certainly do not buy an exploitation argument though - from what I understand answers to most problems are already available online so anybody who wants to cheat can easily do so (let's leave aside how stupid/pointless it is). Overall, I am undecided - on one hand I can see that providing an option to "concede" may increase pedagogic effect for those with enough discipline to use it sparingly (as you can then access and study posted solutions and ideas), but on the other - it might lessen if not completely destroy that feeling of achievement and entitlement when you finally gain access to the forum after solving a particularly hard problem. In any case, I would only consider allowing such option for rather old problems - may be 6 or 12 months or older...
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nicolas.patrois
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Re: Throw in the towel option?

Post by nicolas.patrois »

MegaWidget wrote: On a slightly different note, a Give Up button may tempt some into using it heavily who would then bitterly regret it later (to say nothing of those who would would not!). I remember my dad helping me with one of the problems (Number 18, which also applies to number 67) and to this day I don't feel like I really solved them, even though he only gave me a few hints, not a full solution.
You can come back on an old problem and solve it again but with a better solution. I think, when I’ll be a bit blocked for a too long time, that I’ll do this.
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thedoctar
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Re: Throw in the towel option?

Post by thedoctar »

I definitely do not think that there should be a 'Give Up' or 'Hint' button. It would lessen the challenge and discourage perseverance. In my experience, I have encountered problems that initially I had no idea how to do and probably would have gladly clicked a hint or give up button, but after some time I came back to them and solved them!
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richyfourtytwo
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Re: Throw in the towel option?

Post by richyfourtytwo »

I guess I'll soon come across the first problems I won't be able to solve. That will be not an issue for me as long as there are others left I haven't attempted so far. One day - far away still I hope - I might run into the situation when I have solved all problems I can solve and have no idea how to solve any of the others. At that moment, and not a minute earlier, I might find an option to give up on certain problems tempting. Still I'm not convinced it would be the best solution for that situation. Most likely I'll just beg for more simple/medium problems at that point.
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phsr
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Re: Throw in the towel option?

Post by phsr »

I have revisited problem 283 over and over again from time to time over the past 3 years, with the same frustration: I just can't quite figure out the elegant solution. The algebra seems simple, but I don't see how to limit the search for solutions. There are times when I have thought I would like to throw in the towel, and find a big hint that would let me put the frustrations behind me.

But fortunately, there are (today) still about 160 other problems that I have not yet fought with such intensity. I think I agree with the posts that reject the easy option.
Svartskägg
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Re: Throw in the towel option?

Post by Svartskägg »

It would be better to have a button to change the status of a solved problem back to unsolved, if you think you have cheated or that your solution is too bad.
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rayfil
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Re: Throw in the towel option?

Post by rayfil »

Svartskägg wrote:It would be better to have a button to change the status of a solved problem back to unsolved, if you think you have cheated or that your solution is too bad.
That option is available already without the need for a "button". On the main Project Euler site, click on the "Account" tab where you can see which problems you have solved or not. You can then change yourself the status of any solved problem to unsolved. (Read the warning.)
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euler
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Re: Throw in the towel option?

Post by euler »

Only admins can do that. Members are unable to "unsolve" individual problems, but they can only reset ALL their progress.
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