Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A* algorithm

The theme for my A to Z challenge is puzzles, games, and algorithms. I already have to spend my time looking for this my math group, so hopefully this cuts down on the amount of brain juice I have to excrete in my day.

To start with A, I choose the A* algorithm. The linked video is "short", about 14 minutes but can be run in the in the background. It explains the math behind this path-finding algorithm.

I like computers and making computers and running computers and such, but I never took comp sci so I didn't start learning about A.I. algorithms until the past year or so. What grabbed my interest in these programs are two videos, and for your viewing pleasure I'll link them. Originally, it was videos of slime mold solving mazes. I'm also a mushroom man, so watching videos about slime mold solving mazes really got me excited.


Of course, this was just a novelty video we were showing around work to each other. "OOH! Look at the mold! It thinks it's smart!" It wasn't until I started finding GIFs on StumbleUpon demonstrating the maze solving capabilities of Dijkstra and A* that it changed from "novel curiosity" to "Holy shit, that looks exactly like slime mold!"


That's the best video I could find to try and show what I'm talking about. Sadly, I'm not as good at saving links I find as I should be, so I can't show the actual webpage that made me excited. Now, wouldn't you rather see this used to control Mario?


There was an AI competition where people wrote programs that control Mario in an attempt to complete a level. This is the video that got me interested in learning more about the algorithm, and it was the winner of the first competition.

Enjoy watching videos as you surf through A to Z today. Come back tomorrow for "Binary Logic, puzzles, and Boolean Algebra". I'll do a better explanation of how this algorithm works on Saturday with "Dijkstra". Also, I'm on the usual social network sites with Facebook, @aristotlemstk on twitter, and there's a Google+ link.

11 comments:

  1. This is going to be some heavy thinking I guess. Can't do the videos today as I try to wend my way through as many posts as I can. I probably wouldn't understand anyway.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

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    1. As I post less and less on this blog, my posts seem to get heavier and heavier I guess. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to run this challenge.

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  2. Awesome theme! Please tell me you'll cover hit boxes later. :)

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    1. Yes I will, because I couldn't think of an H until now.

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  3. Truly awesome! I look forward to the rest of your A-to-Z posts. This is my first year to participate and it's been amazing today to check out so many interesting and well-written posts. Thanks for sharing. If you like, drop by Down Home Thoughts and leave a thought or two :-) Have an amazing day.

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    1. I did it 2 years ago, and last year I had a bunch of stuff happening that kept me from doing it. I enjoyed it a lot because it's a good introduction to different blogs. Thanks for stopping by.

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  4. Hi Samuel! What a fascinating topic For the A to Z! I'm LD at computers, so just reading words like algorithm, binary logic, and Boolean algebra made me break out in a cold sweat ~ LOL! The slime mold video made me think of a movie I desperately wanted to see as a child: "The Blob." But I lived in such an isolated area that it didn't happen. Years later I did get to see it. If I have nightmares tonight it will be because of this post! Thanks for an emotional and exciting read!

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  5. It's puzzling to be sure, but a lot of fun too. The creative process behind some of these things amazes me. Your creative and logical process to blog about these things is very cool too!

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  6. Oh no, I'm going to have to put my thinking cap on. I go bare-headed most of the time, ha ha. This is an awesome choice for the A-to-Z, and it fits your personality. Sweet post!

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  7. Very interesting, and lots to think about. I'll be back to get more info.

    Stuart

    www.lloydofgamebooks.com

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