The story behind solution diversification (or exploration) puzzles
As you must have noticed by now, we have introduced a brand new type of puzzle that tries to promote exploration and creation of diversified solutions. In these puzzles, the score has a brand new interpretation, simply described as the originality of the solution when compared to all other known solutions. Of course originality without a realistic protein is not very beneficial, so the new puzzles recognize only the original solutions that are above a certain threshold of energy score (the standard Foldit score that we all know and love). Just to be clear the new protocol that we are currently exploring for tough proteins is as follows:
1. Exploration phase 1: find the most diversified protein structures above energy threshold T1
2. Exploration phase 2: find the most diversified protein structures compared to clustered solutions from Phase 1, that are above energy score threshold T2 where T2 > T1
3. Exploration phase 3: find the most diversified protein structures compared to clustered solutions from Phase 2, above energy threshold T3 where T3 > T2
4. Final Phase: Old style energy scoring puzzles initiated around best solutions from phase 3
This protocol is subject to change and tweaking, but as you can see all early phases lead to the eventual old style exploration, but try to prevent the premature consensus exploration that is common if we just started from step 4 as in the past.
Obviously this is a lot more complicated process, so why are we doing it? One thing that became obvious as we were analyzing the results from the last CASP is that player's creativity and originality seems to get prematurely stymied by the pull of the initial good solutions. As a result, the common path for puzzle exploration is that the first reasonable configuration quickly wins over, and everyone starts working on it. As a result of all the effort, that solution quickly becomes significantly better than other configurations, making it impractical for anyone to explore other options. In the past, some of you may remember us trying a second stage of exploration where players could start from several good solutions and hopefully merge the best aspects of all solutions. That didn't work, the initial best configuration took over very quickly. Several months ago, as well as during a recent beta test, we also tried combining the energy function with the diversification metric. In both cases we found that this mixture of two objectives was not a sufficient incentive to lead to brand new configurations. As a result we decided to try something radically different, something that we knew would challenge the standard ways of playing Foldit, but something that will invariably lead to new creative solutions. Our small initial beta trial showed very promising results, indicating that many new solutions tend to be closer to the known native structure. Encouraged with this finding, we are eager to find out whether we can enable not just your spatial problem solving skills but also the full power of your creativity. This is particularly important, because as we all know computational methods will always be terrible at creativity. Perhaps a new set of skills will develop within the community, much like your current awesome proteomics skills that we wrote about in the Nature paper. We know this won't happen overnight, and that every new skill needs to be nurtured developed and refined by the community. And we know that there will be a number of folks who will not like it when compared to the old game play. That is completely natural. But our goal is to enable you to be the best that you can be, and after thorough analysis we believe that this is the new step. Hopefully we can evolve this into a new mode of play, especially in synergy with the standard Foldit play. As always, we welcome your comments.( Posted by zoran 84 1577 | Tue, 04/05/2011 - 06:10 | 5 comments )