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Computer beats humans at crosswords August 31, 2006

Posted by tkcollier in Life, News, Technology.

ANSA.it – News in English – Computer beats humans at crosswords
Computers won a points victory over human crossword puzzle enthusiasts at a contest organised during the European Conference on Artificial Intelligence here .

Webcrow, the first Italian software able to tackle a crossword, uses the Internet as a gigantic library. The man-versus-machine contest echoed events held in the 1980s where computers played chess against masters .

But the key difference, according to organisers, was that doing a crossword requires a machine to do far more than display an elevated capacity for logic .

It has to display human-type knowledge in fields as different as music, cooking and history while at the same time understanding the peculiar linguistic codes used by crossword compilers .

WebCrow uses four techniques in parallel to find possible answers to a clue. Two involve looking for the clue or a near match in a database of solved crosswords or using a dictionary. Another uses rules known to work on a kind of Italian clue with two letter answers and the fourth technique is to search the internet.

WebCrow performs a search using key words extracted from the clue. It can usually find the answer by looking at the small previews that appear with the search engine results, but it can scan whole pages if necessary. Words of the right length that crop up most often in the results are taken to be possible answers.

A list of possible solutions to the clue is produced by combining the suggestions generated by each technique. When possible answers have been found for each clue the software uses trial and error to find the combination of interlocking answers that best fills the grid.


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