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Paper ­ncovers Power of Foldit Gamers' Strategies

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University of Washington researchers recently completed a study that examined Foldit players' strategies and compared them to the best-known scientist-developed methods for protein folding.

"Once we looked at the variety and creativity of these recipes, we were shocked to find state-of-the-art algorithms," says Center for Game Science director Zoran Popovic.

The researchers studied the most effective formal algorithms the players used to solve protein structure puzzles, which enabled them to formalize strategies and apply them to other scientific problems, says Baker Lab's Firas Khatib. "With our previous papers, we proved that a scientific-discovery game can solve long-standing scientific problems, but this paper shows how gamers codified their strategies, shared them, and improved them," says Center for Game Science's Seth Cooper. "This is just the beginning of what Foldit players are capable of solving."

One of the most successful algorithms, called Blue Fuse (BF), was extremely good at energy optimization and was very similar to a scientist-built but unpublished algorithm from Baker Lab. The researchers also found that Foldit users, including BF's author, are very willing to share ideas.

From UW News (WA)
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