Beginner’s Guide from physicist (1): Sheng Ji’s first-time players’ strategy cheatsheet (升级上手指南)

There is a popular card game in Chinese community called “Sheng Ji“. The rules are very involved, especially for first-time players (at least for me at the beginning). After some trial and errors, I summarized the strategy in the following:

1. There are only two teams. (Let’s call them A and B.)

2. A round can only end up in two states: Team A wins, or team B wins.

3. Thus, points can only end up in two states: Team A gets all the points of the round, or team B gets all the points of the round.

cheatsheet for first-time Sheng Ji player

cheatsheet for first-time Sheng Ji player.

That says, in order for a first-time player to play along, there is only one measurement he/she has to perform in his/her turn of playing (besides remembering the ranking of the cards):

Measurement: Is his/her team winning this round? The answer can have only three possible results: YES, NO, NOT SURE.

If YES, the strategy is to maximize the points in this round, i.e., throw out all the point cards in hand which are allowed to play in this round (how to determine what are allowed, is out of the scope of this letter).

If NO, the strategy is to minimize the points in this round, avoid playing point cards if possible, i.e., throw out garbage cards.

If NOT SURE, then the ranking of the actions is in the following order:

a. Trying to win this round, for two reasons, to secure the points in this round, and/or to take the lead for next round.

b. If no chance of winning, then take a bet, if bet on the team will win this round, then play point cards, if not, then play garbage cards.

There are more advanced techniques like communication with the teammates and estimate the winning chance, but those techniques are all for better playing the NOT SURE case, which only takes up maybe around 25% of time. So for a first-time player, following the above simple rules should provide him/her an enjoyable playing experience.

P.S., anyone interested in turning this into an algorithm and run a test to see how robust is the strategy?

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a short note on passing my thesis defense

Stand by the people, with the people and for the people.

Stand by the people, with the people and for the people.

This little note is written to memorize my passing the dissertation defense.

Thank you everyone in my life for all the supports during this amazing journey.

It took my some time to develop the wisdom of knowing being smart only gets you as far as the best vulnerable fighter, one is only invincible when he stands by the people, with the people, and for the people.

I did a simple head count: my thesis study involved more than 10 scientists from seven different research institutes from four different counties. It cannot be done without the active contributions from all my collaborators and mentors.

Motivation, theory and hypothesis for practicing speed reading

Motivation is simple. My to-read list simply grows at a speed I can’t even keep track of it properly.

From a quick search on-line:

  • It seems that Evelyn Wood‘s Reading Dynamics is the most reputable in terms of endorsement by famous people.
  • Reading genius 2.0 claims itself to be more up-to-date and incorporated recently brain research results.
  • Photo Reading sounds cool (25,000 words per minute!!). But Wikipedia quoted a NASA study, Preliminary Analysis of PhotoReading: “These results clearly indicate that there is no benefit to using the PhotoReading technique.

From what I read, it seems that there are a few common things all those theories shared. Basing on empirical principal, the key of improving reading speed probably lies in these common key points:

  1. Eliminate subvocalization. This makes sense. If you read to yourself, it takes more brain processing resources.
  2. Control eye-ball movement. It will help focus attention.
  3. Perceptual Expansion. This one means to read using your horizontal eye span. It make sense in terms of that you can recognize a word without looking straight into it.

Will speed reading work or not? I don’t have an answer yet. But I will do some experiments and take some data to see if it indeed improves my reading speed.

I doubt it will help to improve the reading of articles with complex and intensive information, such as research paper or legal document. Human brain simply can’t comprehend the physics meaning of an eigenvalue solution with a single glance. But as long as I can read newspaper faster, it pays my effort.

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