(A Pangolin is a scaly anteater, found in Nepal, Burma, China)

Example game of Pangolins

There are two players: the computer and you

The Pangolins Game (1st round)

Assume that, initially, the computer only knows about one object (it's a pangolin). Suppose you were, rather boringly, actually thinking of a pangolin.

Your input is prefixed by '>', and the computer's output is in bold text.

OK, please think of something
Is it a pangolin?
> Yes
Good. That was soooo easy.

The Pangolins Game (2nd round)

At the end of every round, the computer asks you if you want to play again or stop:
Would you like to play again?
Let's play again, but more interestingly this time - imagine you are thinking of Pete:
> Yes
OK, please think of something
Is it a pangolin?
> No
Oh. Well you win then -- What were you thinking of?
> Pete
Now the computer can improve its knowledge base, by incorporating a new object (Pete)
Please give me a question about Pete, so I can tell the difference between Pete and a pangolin
> Does it have a tail?
What is the answer for Pete?
> No
Thanks

The Pangolins Game (3rd round)

Would you like to play again?
> Yes
Does it have a tail?
> No
Is it Pete?
> No
Oh. Well you win then -- What were you thinking of?
> a pizza
Please give me a question about a pizza, so I can tell the difference between a pizza and Pete
> Is it flat, round and edible?
What is the answer for a pizza?
> Yes
Thanks
Now the computer can distinguish Pete from a pizza

The Pangolins Game (4th round)

Would you like to play again?
> Yes
Does it have a tail?
> No
Is it flat, round and edible?
> Yes
Is it a pizza?
> No
Oh. Well you win then -- What were you thinking of?
> a biscuit
Please give me a question about a biscuit, so I can tell the difference between a biscuit and a pizza
> Can you dip it in your tea?
What is the answer for a biscuit?
> Yes
Thanks
Now the computer can distinguish a biscuit from a pizza

The Pangolins Game (5th round)

Would you like to play again?
> Yes
Does it have a tail?
> Yes
Is it a pangolin?
> No
Oh. Well you win then -- What were you thinking of?
> A Cat
Please give me a question about a Penguin, so I can tell the difference between Cat and a pangolin
> Does it like to chase mice?
What is the answer for a Cat?
> Yes
Thanks
Would you like to play again?
> No
Now the computer can distinguish a cat from a pangolin.
The computer accumulates the information about objects in the form of a 'yes/no' decision tree. Successive rounds of the game cause the tree to grow as more questions and objects are added. How does the Pangolins game work?