Test your Rock-Paper-Scissors strategy against the machine

Posted to Statistics  |  Tags: , , ,  |  Nathan Yau

We learned the strategy to win Rock-Paper-Scissors every time, but does it really work? For the New York Times, Gabriel Dance and Tom Jackson give you your chance:

Computers mimic human reasoning by building on simple rules and statistical averages. Test your strategy against the computer in this rock-paper-scissors game illustrating basic artificial intelligence. Choose from two different modes: novice, where the computer learns to play from scratch, and veteran, where the computer pits over 200,000 rounds of previous experience against you.

Be sure to play at least five rounds, and then click on the button to see what the computer is thinking. In veteran mode, the computer searches its database for sequences that match your last five moves and its last five moves and then tries to predict what you'll throw next.

Are you good enough to beat the basic artificial intelligence?

[New York Times]


  • thank you to gabriel dance, tom jackson, xaquin G.V., paul lau, and shawn bayern for taking away an hour of my life :)) kiddin’. great job

  • That AI is completely useless against a human using a 6-sided die.

    • I think most people play straight up though. Cheater.

      From the note on the NYT interactive:

      “A truly random game of rock-paper-scissors would result in a statistical tie with each player winning, tying and losing one-third of the time. However, people are not truly random and thus can be studied and analyzed.”

  • great stuff – I wonder how the world champion would compete against the ai :)

  • BobBobberson March 7, 2011 at 8:07 am

    Agreed, simple rand() in excel was enough to get a win (although numerous ties). After 100 runs it appeared to me that almost 50% of the runs were ties.

  • i wonder how it would do playing ‘rock, paper, scissors, lizard, spock’ …

  • Wouldn’t a “human” mode where the computer plays by the database as to mimic human behavior make sense? This way one can use this game to improve human vs human skills.


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