For more on this project, see the FillBot Jr. category
As I mentioned in the comments of the last post, FillBot Jr. has successfully solved a crossword! Now admittedly, it was low-hanging fruit — a Monday Newsday by Gail Grabowski — but I’m happy to have that result as a sort of “proof of concept.” So far the algorithm is ultra-simple: it looks for the answer it has the most confidence in and fills it in, ignoring any potential problems it may have down the road.
Buoyed by this result, I decided to tackle the following day’s puzzle. And it did great — filling in the entire puzzle except for one blank: the crossing of:
NO_E [Not any] and
MI_E [Not yours]
Wait, really? That’s what tripped up my bot? What gives? This is especially infuriating because I have both of those EXACT CLUES in my database.
Well, as you may recall, I am leaning heavily on MySQL’s full-text search which, for a given clue, quickly scours my database finding similar clues and even gives them a numerical value according to how well the clue matches. Well, it turns out that this has a big limitation in the form of stopwords — words that aren’t indexed by MySQL. And, you guessed it — “not”, “any”, and “yours” are on that list. I’m not really sure how to get around this; like I said, I am relying very heavily on this capability of MySQL. Maybe once I add some logic for “checking the crossings” this problem will be mitigated.
In any case, I’m happy with the results so far. Once I add some cross-checking logic, I think I might just be left with optimization improvements. And if it turns out to be decent, I’d love to add it to Crossword Nexus to allow users to upload .puz files to see how the bot handles them.