Is the qualification match robot randomizer really "random"

Today and yesterday, in the Philly regional, i noticed that top-tier(better designed, better equipped) robots seemed to be paired up together; while low-tier (teams that didnt have much funding, big names, etc…) were paired together AGAINST the top-tier alliances. Im including the match records (courtesy of TBA) so you can see for yourself:

Match# | Team# | Final Score

Qualifications 1 2539 433 103 1143 1634 304 |66 16
Qualifications 2 708 484 2229 816 321 272 |32 52
Qualifications 3 237 1640 834 709 84 2559 |56 40
Qualifications 4 467 316 341 284 486 1601 |62 44
Qualifications 5 1727 563 1712 539 423 357 |46 12
Qualifications 6 444 1370 1391 1495 1885 381 |64 62
Qualifications 7 809 2607 1647 2558 365 2668 |24 22
Qualifications 8 2180 1640 84 1511 484 103 |26 88
Qualifications 9 272 2559 467 486 816 304 |64 8
Qualifications 10 2229 237 284 708 357 1727 |54 24
Qualifications 11 1634 341 1712 381 1391 423 |64 32
Qualifications 12 2558 709 1143 365 1495 1370 |40 44
Qualifications 13 2180 834 316 321 1885 809 |32 22
Qualifications 14 1647 433 1601 1511 563 2607 |0 74
Qualifications 15 2668 539 284 444 2539 484 |28 14
Qualifications 16 381 103 84 304 708 1391 |120 38
Qualifications 17 423 365 709 1727 237 341 |4 76
Qualifications 18 357 272 316 467 1143 1370 |96 48
Qualifications 19 1640 486 1885 2607 321 1712 |46 34
Qualifications 20 444 539 433 2180 809 1601 |28 14
Qualifications 21 1495 1634 2558 816 2559 563 |4 52
Qualifications 22 2229 2539 2668 834 1511 1647 |36 78
Qualifications 23 304 381 316 484 341 357 |28 66
Qualifications 24 1885 284 84 486 272 423 |34 36
Qualifications 25 1391 709 1727 467 433 1712 |48 66
Qualifications 26 1495 563 103 816 237 539 |70 36
Qualifications 27 1647 1143 444 2607 1634 1640 |32 12
Qualifications 28 1511 2668 321 2229 1370 2558 |66 14
Qualifications 29 2539 1601 2559 365 708 2180 |20 92
Qualifications 30 834 341 423 809 272 433 |40 34
Qualifications 31 84 1712 1391 316 1495 284 |30 42
Qualifications 32 709 237 1647 304 484 1885 |64 14
Qualifications 33 321 467 103 444 381 2668 |96 42
Qualifications 34 1601 365 1511 1634 486 357 |72 64
Qualifications 35 809 1640 1370 816 1727 2539 |40 44
Qualifications 36 2607 2229 2559 2180 563 539 |34 48
Qualifications 37 708 2558 237 1143 834 284 |38 26
Qualifications 38 433 484 423 444 467 1495 |28 42
Qualifications 39 486 321 365 709 103 357 |50 122
Qualifications 40 816 809 316 84 1647 2668 |60 42
Qualifications 41 2180 1885 2229 381 1634 2539 |36 56
Qualifications 42 1370 2559 1727 1601 341 2607 |42 54
Qualifications 43 272 708 563 1143 1511 1712 |54 82
Qualifications 44 304 539 1640 1391 834 2558 |46 36
Qualifications 45 357 365 444 84 316 484 |106 64
Qualifications 46 467 809 284 237 321 1634 |88 34
Qualifications 47 2607 103 486 381 433 2229 |122 58
Qualifications 48 341 2180 2539 1712 816 1495 |58 32
Qualifications 49 1370 834 1885 1647 563 304 |36 50
Qualifications 50 423 708 1143 1511 539 709 |10 20
Qualifications 51 1601 2668 1391 2558 272 1640 |10 58
Qualifications 52 1727 484 321 2559 103 316 |36 82
Qualifications 53 381 816 357 284 365 433 |98 72
Qualifications 54 1712 444 486 304 237 1370 |10 60
Qualifications 55 1143 563 2229 809 84 341 |24 76
Qualifications 56 2539 1511 272 1495 709 2607 |102 56
Qualifications 57 1885 1647 2558 467 1727 539 |14 52
Qualifications 58 423 2180 1634 708 2668 1640 |46 40
Qualifications 59 1601 834 444 1391 2559 357 |26 60
Qualifications 60 304 1712 284 365 809 1143 |58 42
Qualifications 61 84 237 433 1370 2539 316 |62 54
Qualifications 62 2558 103 539 1885 272 341 |78 44
Qualifications 63 709 486 563 2668 1727 2180 |64 50
Qualifications 64 1495 423 1647 1601 381 321 |34 68
Qualifications 65 1640 2559 1511 2229 467 1391 |66 48
Qualifications 66 1634 484 816 2607 708 834 |68 68
Qualifications 67 433 357 1370 341 103 284 |26 64
Qualifications 68 563 316 365 272 444 709 |90 62
Qualifications 69 2558 486 381 2539 809 423 |60 42
Qualifications 70 1511 304 1727 84 321 539 |84 30
Qualifications 71 1391 237 1143 816 2180 1647 |58 78
Qualifications 72 834 484 1712 1634 1601 2229 |72 4
Qualifications 73 1495 2559 708 2668 1885 467 |12 60
Qualifications 74 2607 365 272 1640 316 423 |118 64
Qualifications 75 341 381 709 444 284 1511 |58 20
Qualifications 76 321 2539 304 563 1391 433 |46 12
Qualifications 77 1370 1634 539 237 486 484 |24 78
Qualifications 78 809 357 1495 708 1647 103 |70 54
Qualifications 79 2180 2607 467 84 834 2229 |18 46
Qualifications 80 1143 816 2668 1885 1601 1727 |90 42
Qualifications 81 1640 1712 381 2558 2559 304 |54 36

Is this just me, or does this look fixed to all of you who have been at Philly (or not)? Has this been happening in other places?

Thanks for your input…

~Philip

I know the people that wrote the match scheduler. I’ve read their paper on how it works. I ran the match scheduler as scorekeeper in Seattle. Any pattern you’ve discerned is not a result of intention on the part of the algorithm. Trust me. I can’t think of anyone in FIRST whose integrity I trust more than Tom’s and Cathy’s.

Philly’s pairings did seem distinctly inconsistent with the excellent match scheduling I’ve seen at the other regionals so far this year.

It honestly felt like we were using last years algorithm (a poor version of it) to generate the matches - we were with or against the same teams 2-3 times/team over the course of the regional. In 11 matches with a field of 44, this shouldn’t have happened to the extent it did.

My only thought is that perhaps someone did not understand the algorithm entirely and put improper constraints on it, locking it into poor schedule choices.

No complaints, though - such is the nature of FIRST. Luck is all part of the game.

//Dillon

Im not questioning someone’s integrity, but i’m just saying that maybe the computer was set up wrong or something, and gave out inconsistent matches…

~Philip

I find your observation interesting, I didn’t see that at all.
103 played 272, 341, 357, and 365.
272 played 103, 341, 365 and 1511.
341 played 103, 272, 357, 365, and 1511.
357 played 103, 341, 365, and 1511.
365 played 103, 272, 341, and 357.
1511 played 272, 341, and 357.

I’m not really sure how much more the “big name teams” can play each-other.

103, 272, 357, 365, 1511 were all in the finals…

~Philip

All of those teams were in the eliminations but the finals, no.

thanx for the correction…

~PHilip

That’s exactly my point. They were all playing against each-other often in the qualifications.

because they eliminated all the others, because they were together in the qualification matches 1-80…

~Philip

I think the claim that the “big name” teams were together for the entire time are entirely spurious - I will, however, say that a number of teams had clustered plays - one team playing another multiple times, or one team playing with another multiple times.

This was NOT limited to the “big name” teams playing with/against one another, and indeed did NOT have any appreciable effect on the outcome of the event.

The teams that got into the afternoon would’ve gotten there regardless of the qualification matches (for the most part). They were chosen, or chose, because they had the best 'bots at the regional, not because they did or did not play each other.

Sorry to say this…but i think this thread has gotten a little off topic.

I too have noticed that the randomizer recently has been a little “lax” to say the least.

This post by Chris Husmann provides some insight.

If the minimum time between matches is set higher than necessary, teams will tend to oppose and ally with each other more often because they are on the same time interval.

We just competed in both the Peachtree and Bayou Regional and we did find that we were playing either with or against many of the same teams. I do not question the integrity of FIRST, however, I do think the algorithm could be adjusted. As someone earlier stated…the luck of the game is the nature of FIRST. One just hopes they get the better end of the deal!!

That’s just it I can’t do the math becasue we don’t know the algorithm. If the algorithm is so truly random what does it matter if they supply it to the teams. I would be interested in running a few test situations of my own to see how the matches play out.

Also we need to identify “RANDOM” because is it ever truly possible to define random with a simple algorithm the human mind understands when the mind can not grasp the concept random.

Uhhh… I was referring to in the qualifications. All those match-ups I mentioned were qualification matches. I was using “big name” teams that made the eliminations as my example six teams of playing one another in the qualifications. As you can see, all six of those teams faced at least three of the other five at least once in qualifications. 341 played against all five others.
When you play eleven matches, you will be paired with 22 teams and against 33 others. With 55 spots, and only 44 teams, it’s literally impossible to not play with/against the same team(s) multiple times. With the time and other constraints added, it means that you will miss the opportunity to play a few teams, and you will play with few teams multiple times.

The 2008 match generation algorithm is not a secret. It was discussed extensively on the FIRST Forum before the 2008 FRC season started. The improvements that FIRST introduced this year were suggested by the people mentioned in an earlier post in this thread.

At the Connecticut Regional, they did a good job of putting us with a team once and against them once, if we were in a match with them twice. I felt like we played a lot of matches with young teams on our alliance and against us, so it basically evened out the competition. Older teams seemed to be with and against older teams, primarily. So it wasn’t really that unfair. There were also matches that seemed to be a good mix of teams. Maybe the Philly matches were just a coincidence?

The problem I have with this ‘random’ match schedule, is that it can be redone if they feel there are ‘too many repeat’. By doing this it is no longer a random schedule. While I don’t think this is likely, it leaves the door open for someone to rerun the program because of an unfavorable schedule.

Except that the scheduler is run by volunteers who are mostly under major pressure to get the match list printed (on a printer that only works about one in four tries) and distributed to dozens of anxious teams as soon as possible. We don’t give a big furry rat what the match list is as long as it will finish on time and print the first time. Carefully scrutinizing the match list to give one or another team a huge advantage is so far from being important that – well, analogies fail me. We want to run a fair tournament that finishes on schedule. The volunteers, for the most part, have zippy-de-doo-dah interest in who actually wins. I, for one, could not even tell you who won Seattle, and I watched every single match from about four feet away. I can tell you that every team I talked to was happy about the venue, the officiating, and the volunteers. That’s a win to a volunteer.

The idea that we would keep re-running the match list to meet some competitive profile is something I literally never considered until you suggested it. I know for sure that my scorekeeping partner and I would have laughed at the idea. (Although, as I posted elsewhere, we did redo the match schedule once to give a particular team an early match to meet the needs of the television coverage.)