MIT MYSTery Hunt puzzle stats

2021 January 23

Last weekend I participated in the 2021 MIT MYSTery hunt on the team I’m not a planet either. During the hunt, I recorded the time each puzzle was unlocked by the team and then later solved, so I’ve decided to assemble some statistics on the team’s puzzle solving. Click on the graphs to make them full screen.

Number of unlocked but not yet solved puzzles at each point of time.

In these graphs I’ve specially separated out the puzzles that were in the Infinite Corridor round (except the Infinite Corridor meta itself). This round contained hundreds of thousands of randomly generated puzzles; solving the meta required only solving specifically chosen puzzles from the round, and there was no need to unlock or solve the others once you have figured out how the meta works. In darker colors the graphs show only the ordinary puzzles, while in lighter colors are shown all puzzles including the puzzles from the infinite corridor.

Distribution of when puzzles were unlocked and solved. Smoothed with a standard deviation of one hour.

Red shows when puzzles were unlocked, and green shows when puzzles were solved. The large burst of puzzles from the infinite corridor were when the meta was being worked on. Surprisingly I don’t see a clear daily cycle in when puzzles were solved.

Distribution of times to solve each puzzle. Smoothed with a standard deviation of 20 minutes.

In total, the team unlocked 330 puzzles and solved 144; among finite puzzles, we unlocked 191 and solved 103. Below is every puzzle solved by the team, and how long they took to solve, with a resolution of about 1 minute.

Rule of Three was the fastest solved puzzle, as it was automatically solved at the same time as it was unlocked. I believe Puzzle 23 was solved immediately after unlocking it by redeeming a token earned in a different Cafe Five. While we never figured out how to solve Library of Images puzzles, we were able to backsolve several of them from information in the Infinite Corridor meta (which then allowed us to solve other Library of Images puzzles, whose answers were then used to solve the meta). As the pair working on Infinite Corridor Simulator puzzles got experienced with the necessary steps, they were ultimately able to solve them in less than three minutes each. While I’m not familiar with how ‘A Cheat Code’ was solved, it was presumably the puzzle solved from scratch in the fastest time.

Puzzle Round Solve time
Rule of Three ⊥IW.giga 0s
Puzzle 23: Cafe Five Infinite Corridor 0s
Puzzle 57: Infinite Corridor Simulator Infinite Corridor 57s
Puzzle 359: Library of Images Infinite Corridor 59s
Puzzle 427: Library of Images Infinite Corridor 1m 3s
Puzzle 53: Infinite Corridor Simulator Infinite Corridor 2m 3s
Puzzle 486: Library of Images Infinite Corridor 2m 6s
A Cheat Code Athletics 4m 13s
At A Loss For Words Students 9m 24s
Puzzle 254: Cafe Five Infinite Corridor 11m 19s
Things Students 11m 37s
Puzzle 73858: Infinite Corridor Simulator Infinite Corridor 14m 57s
Puzzle 73848: Infinite Corridor Simulator Infinite Corridor 16m 55s
⊥IWPE: Applied Sailing ⛵ Charles River 18m 43s
Crossed Out Students 20m 27s
Puzzle 73838: Infinite Corridor Simulator Infinite Corridor 21m 2s
Puzzle 73718: Infinite Corridor Simulator Infinite Corridor 23m 12s
Namesake Students 23m 53s
Triangles Students 24m 46s
Form Students 28m 3s
Doctor’s Orders Students 31m 7s
Look at What We Drew Students 32m 32s
Don’t Let Me Down Yew Labs 39m 40s
That Sinking Feeling Students 39m 44s
Common Knowledge Yew Labs 42m 6s
Enter the Perpendicular Universe Yew Labs 42m 58s
MIT Confessions Yew Labs 43m 5s
Puzzle 83: Cafe Five Infinite Corridor 44m 43s
Thank You to Our Sponsors Students 45m 26s
Not Again! Yew Labs 45m 54s
Relitasti Students 46m 31s
Stud Finder Athletics 47m 29s
Can You Deliver 60 Eggs Athletics 47m 32s
Yes or No Yew Labs 50m 31s
For Better or For Worse Yew Labs 55m 4s
Debate Quotes Students 55m 14s
Let’s Get the Ball Rolling Students 55m 40s
Better Bridges Yew Labs 55m 42s
Escape! Hayden Library Green Building 56m 8s
Unraveling the Mystery Students 58m 56s
Lime Sand Season Students 59m 7s
Who’s That Pokémon Students 1h 0m
Magic Words Students 1h 0m
Puzzle 75: Cafe Five Infinite Corridor 1h 1m
The Lobster Network Charles River 1h 4m
Just Index Yew Labs 1h 5m
Plus or Minus Students 1h 7m
Attack of the Lobsters Charles River 1h 12m
Puzzle 167: Infinite Corridor Simulator Infinite Corridor 1h 18m
Puzzle 10: Library of Images Infinite Corridor 1h 19m
Puzzle 172: Infinite Corridor Simulator Infinite Corridor 1h 22m
Puzzle 28: Cafe Five Infinite Corridor 1h 23m
Untitled Goose Goals Athletics 1h 26m
Got Milk Students 1h 27m
The Game Students 1h 31m
Puzzle 176: Infinite Corridor Simulator Infinite Corridor 1h 32m
Puzzle 182: Infinite Corridor Simulator Infinite Corridor 1h 36m
Unmasked Yew Labs 1h 37m
✏️✉️➡️3️⃣5️⃣1️⃣➖6️⃣6️⃣6️⃣➖6️⃣6️⃣5️⃣5️⃣ Yew Labs 1h 40m
Puzzle 186: Infinite Corridor Simulator Infinite Corridor 1h 40m
Beverage Blunders Students 1h 42m
Questionable Answers ⊥IW.giga 1h 42m
Puzzle 191: Infinite Corridor Simulator Infinite Corridor 1h 43m
Stay Hydrated Students 1h 46m
Puzzle 255: Library of Images Infinite Corridor 1h 49m
Puzzle 196: Infinite Corridor Simulator Infinite Corridor 1h 49m
Film Students 1h 50m
Puzzle 202: Infinite Corridor Simulator Infinite Corridor 1h 52m
So You Think You Can Count Athletics 1h 55m
Puzzle 208: Infinite Corridor Simulator Infinite Corridor 1h 55m
An American in Paris Green Building 1h 55m
Puzzle 213: Infinite Corridor Simulator Infinite Corridor 1h 58m
Boggle Battle Athletics 2h 6m
Puzzle 275: Library of Images Infinite Corridor 2h 15m
Express Yourself Students 2h 27m
Back School To Yew Labs 2h 28m
Zip it Mr. Resetti! Athletics 2h 35m
Building Hacks Athletics 2h 36m
Hey Can You Give Me A Hand With This Puzzle Yew Labs 2h 53m
Bad Air Day Green Building 3h 23m
Puzzle 46: Cafe Five Infinite Corridor 3h 27m
Violet Coins In Space Athletics 3h 38m
Title of the Puzzle Tunnels 3h 40m
Green Tee Green Building 3h 52m
Successively More Abundant in Verbiage Green Building 4h 2m
The Lexicographer Looks After His Own Students 4h 8m
Puzzle 78: Cafe Five Infinite Corridor 4h 15m
Puzzle 88: Cafe Five Infinite Corridor 4h 17m
Bake Off Athletics 4h 23m
X Marks the Spot Athletics 4h 30m
Cooperation Students 4h 38m
Musical Theatre Guild Students 4h 45m
Whodunit Students 5h 9m
⊥IWPE: Sailing (Event 1) Charles River 5h 36m
People Wear Clothes Students 5h 36m
Yonder Athletics 5h 44m
Puzzle 6: Make Your Own Word Search Infinite Corridor 5h 57m
Puzzle 19: Cafe Five Infinite Corridor 6h 7m
Help I’m Trapped in a Computer Athletics 6h 31m
Squee Squee Athletics 6h 46m
Fish Hybridization Students 7h 2m
For Your Eyes Only Tunnels 7h 46m
Puzzle 1: Cafe Five Infinite Corridor 7h 50m
Cryptic Transmission Students 7h 55m
Football Athletics 8h 16m
Puzzle 12: Cafe Five Infinite Corridor 8h 40m
When All is Lost ⊥IW.giga 9h 13m
Circular Reasoning ⊥IW.giga 9h 48m
Exactly Students 10h 11m
Tic Tac Toe Students 10h 26m
Puzzle 37: Cafe Five Infinite Corridor 10h 41m
Students 10h 54m
You Will Explode If You Stop Talking Athletics 11h 27m
MIT/⊥IW Experimental Evidence Athletics 11h 48m
Hockfield Court Yew Labs 12h 10m
Puzzle 32: Cafe Five Infinite Corridor 12h 10m
15×15 Students 12h 39m
Puzzle 42: Cafe Five Infinite Corridor 14h 17m
Heart of the Cards Students 14h 40m
Illiterate Programming Students 15h 47m
Catch and Release Athletics 15h 52m
World Fisherman Athletics 16h 27m
⊥IWPE: Archery (Event 2) 🏹 Charles River 17h 35m
Bombs Students 18h 14m
Love at 150 km/h Green Building 19h 38m
Recursion Students 20h 20m
The Emperor’s New Kitchen Stata Center 20h 58m
Paint Students 21h 38m
Water Bottle ⊥IW.giga 21h 50m
Puzzle 5: Infinite Corridor Simulator Infinite Corridor 22h 34m
Infinite Corridor Infinite Corridor 23h 29m
⊥IWPE: Fencing (Event 3) ⚔️ Charles River 27h 21m
Sketchy Site Students 29h 16m
MacGregor House Students 29h 19m
Divided is Us Athletics 30h 5m
EAsT camPUS Students 31h 3m
⊥IWPE: Pistol (Event 4) 🔫 Charles River 32h 33m
Numbers Students 33h 20m
Puzzle 2: Library of Images Infinite Corridor 36h 41m
Puzzle 4: Library of Images Infinite Corridor 37h 48m
Button Press Athletics 38h 0m
Nutrition Facts Students 38h 35m
Voltage-Controlled Green Building 43h 55m
Puzzle 65547: Cafe Five Infinite Corridor 44h 46m

At the long end, there are several events and metas which are naturally unlocked much before they can be worked on. ‘Voltage-Controlled’ was a greatly intimidating puzzle which a few people worked on occasionally for most of the hunt. ‘Water Bottle’ was a much anticipated puzzle in which we inadvertently broke the automated system, leaving the puzzle unsolvable without the organizers’ help.

As always, I greatly enjoyed mystery hunt this year (and needed a few days to get enough sleep to fully recover) and hope those who also participated found something to recollect from the weekend in the above!

DC 51

2021 January 21

“…we shall be completely disfranchised in respect to the national government, while we retain no security for participating in the formation of even the most minute local regulations by which we are to be affected. We shall be reduced to that deprecated condition of which we pathetically complained in our charges against Great Britain, of being taxed without representation.” -a letter to Congress from the residents of DC, shortly before they lost their voting rights in 1801.

“Other rights, even the most basic, are illusory if the right to vote is undermined.” -Justice Black, writing for the majority in Wesberry v Sanders, 1964.

The City of Washington was founded by US Congress on 1790 July 16, making it the first national capital created by an act of legislation. Construction of the city began in 1793, with the seat of government transferred in 1800 as most of the public buildings were sufficiently complete to be usable, although the city was described as “raw and unfinished” by president John Adams. In 1801 Congress passed an act formally organizing the District of Columbia, whose territory included Georgetown and the City of Washington, and placing it under control of Congress, thus depriving its residents of federal representation. Georgetown and the City of Washington were dissolved in 1871. DC would continue to be deprived the right to elect its own municipal government until 1973, and even today Congress still has the authority to block municipal legislation. Until 2008, the municipal government of DC was prohibited by Congress from making any expenditures related to seeking representation. DC joined the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization in 2015. Today the US is the only democracy whose capital lacks representation in the legislature.

Why DC should become a state

The issue of statehood for DC is a simple question of whether DC residents should have equal rights as American citizens, or be relegated to second-class status.

At the time of DC’s founding, the future of the capital and of the country was uncertain, and the temporary loss of equal rights for a handful of residents – many of whom were elite members of the federal government – was less pressing than the wholesale creation of an administrative apparatus from scratch. Now, 200 years later, “temporary” has gone on long enough. In the intervening centuries the right of suffrage has been recognized for non-landholders, for black Americans, and for women. It is long overdue that the last few gaps in suffrage be remedied. Furthermore, it cannot escape notice that these remaining gaps disproportionately affect black Americans: in fact, DC has more black residents than 20 states.

DC has grown enormously to become not just an administrative headquarters but a large and culturally-significant city in itself, and a representative for American culture as a whole; four of the six most-visited museums in the US are in DC. DC should be the pride of the US and a symbol of American democracy, not a glaring failure to recognize equal rights.

Progress towards equality for DC residents has been slow and hard-fought. A major milestone was reached with the bipartisan passage of the 23rd amendment in 1961, which extended to DC the right to send electors to the electoral college (but not “more than the least populous State”). However, residents in DC continued to have no representation in the Senate, the House and in the process of amending the constitution. What possible justification is there for the idea that DC residents have the right to be represented in the executive branch, but not in the legislative? Where in the constitution, outside of the 23rd amendment, can be found support for US citizens having such an arbitrary subset of rights, when it so plainly guarantees equal rights before the law for all?

The lack of recognition of the right to vote is not the only inequality facing DC; DC continues to lack home rule, the authority to govern itself. In 1973, Congress finally granted DC residents permission to elect their municipal government; previously, the officials were directly appointed by Congress. In 1975 DC would elect Walter Washington as mayor, one of the first black mayors in the US. However, DC judges are still appointed directly by the president, and DC legislation must be approved by Congress before becoming law. This congressional review continues to hamstring DC governance: in recent decades, it has removed protections for gay citizens, measurably increased the spread of HIV (by perhaps 5000 cases; at the time, DC had the highest rate of HIV infection of any US city) by delaying a clean needle program for 8 years, denied access to abortion, and blocked marijuana legalization. Bills that would end progressive DC programs are regularly introduced into Congress. DC’s secondary status has hampered its covid response and access to covid relief funds. Restrictions on abortion access remain in effect today.

Rather than continuing to piecemeal restore rights to DC residents one at a time through a patchwork of legislation, resulting in a separate-but-equal doctrine echoing segregation and civil unions, there is a simple and logical way to achieve equality: statehood for DC.

Why statehood is urgent

Restoring the constitutionally guaranteed rights to a people is always an urgent matter! The best time to restore justice is yesteryear, the second best time is now.

However it doesn’t evade our attention that the present political environment makes DC statehood an especially salient matter. With multiple members of the House and Senate openly supporting fascist extremists, control of the Congress balances on the very edge of democracy. Voters, many with desperate financial needs, are depending on the Biden administration to deliver enormously on its promises in the next two years. But restoration of the civil service is a task that will take decades, and is just one step in undoing the legacy of the last four years and beginning to advance towards a more progressive society. Sadly we don’t have decades; we may only have two years, with every step forwards held hostage to a single defection within the Democratic caucus. DC statehood is necessary itself to right a prolonged wrong, but is also the greatest enabler for every other step towards justice we seek at the federal level.

Among the many urgent issues facing this incoming Congress, few are more pressing than climate change. Effective, large-scale action to address climate change is already many decades too late; the human and economic cost of another two year delay at this stage is inconceivable. Unfortunately some members of the senate Democratic caucus have their interests deeply tied to coal and will not support any action – not to mention the many senators attached to the petroleum industry. It is hard to imagine any action on climate change in the next two years with the present balance of the Senate.

While the more progressive members of the Democratic caucus in the Senate have been the most vocal in supporting DC statehood, it is the senators in less liberal states who stand to gain the most! Rather than having their vote needed for every act of progressive legislation, they will be at liberty to vote against the most contentious legislation and not endanger their seat. The sooner DC gains statehood, the sooner they benefit.

Who is in favor

President Biden stated in 2015 that he had supported DC statehood for 20 years.

President Obama, 2014 July 21:

Folks in DC pay taxes like everybody else. They contribute to the overall well-being of the country like everybody else. They should be treated like everybody else.

President Bill Clinton, 1992:

The failure to grant statehood to the men and women of the District of Columbia undercuts America’s greatest promise – that the power flows from the people and not the other way around.

Senator Hillary Clinton, 2016 May 11: (secondary reporting)

…enfranchisement isn’t solely a matter of individual rights. In the case of our nation’s capital, we have an entire populace that is routinely denied a voice in its own democracy. Washington, D.C., is home to nearly 700,000 Americans – more than the entire population of several states. Washingtonians serve in the military, serve on juries and pay taxes just like everyone else. And yet they don’t even have a vote in Congress.

In 2019 Senator Sanders and 41 Democratic senators cosponsored S.631, which would grant statehood to DC. In 1993 he spoke on the congressional floor:

How could I in good conscience say that it is appropriate for Vermont to have two seats in the Senate, which we do, to have a congressman who can vote on all of the issues, which we do, to have a governor and a state legislature which deals with all of the problems facing our people, which we do, and then say that the people of the District of Columbia, with a population larger than Vermont’s and larger than some other states should not be able to enjoy the same rights. […] This debate is about one thing and one thing alone, and that is whether the people of Washington DC are entitled to be full citizens of this country or whether they are not entitled to be full citizens.

In 1999, the American Bar Association, representing more than 400000 lawyers, passed a resolution

that citizens of the District of Columbia shall no longer be denied the fundamental right belonging to other American citizens to vote for voting members of the Congress which governs them.

In 2006 the ABA submitted a statement to Congress fully supporting restoration of voting rights to DC on the basis of the 5th amendment:

It falls to this Congress to restore the voting rights lost by a previous Congress’ omission more than 200 years ago. Not only is there a moral obligation for Congress to restore such rights, there is also a constitutional obligation for Congress to ensure the right of D.C. residents to the equal protection of the laws. […] Under Fourteenth Amendment standards, if a State legislature were to deny to residents of the state’s capital city the right to vote for members of the Legislature, it would be depriving those residents of the equal protection of the laws which is guaranteed to them by the Fourteenth Amendment. Similarly, Congress’ elimination of D.C. residents’ voting representation in the Congress by its adoption of the Organic Act of 1801, may be seen in retrospect as having deprived D.C. residents of the equal protection of the laws guaranteed to them by the Fifth Amendment due process clause.

In 2020, all 26 Democratic candidates for president interviewed by the Washington Post supported statehood for DC.

On 2020 June 26, legislation admitting DC to the US as a state passed the House with 232 votes in favor.

In a 2020 June poll, 48% of registered voters stated they supported DC statehood.

Addendum. While I was writing this, I was informed that terrorists had placed bombs in DC and invaded the capitol building in an attempted coup of the US government. At this time it appears that the security of DC was deliberately undermined by Trump, who had direct authority over the DC national guard, unlike in any state. The very delayed order to activate the DC national guard was given by Pence, not Trump. As a longer form of sabotage, several members of Congress, including Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Jim Jordan, have introduced failed legislation that would remove DC gun laws. Were DC a state or had it had home rule, DC would have had the authority to adequately protect the capitol from armed insurrection.

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