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 2018-06-16 
This year, like every World Cup year, I've been collecting stickers to fill the official Panini World Cup sticker album. Back in March, I calculated that I should expect it to cost £268.99 to fill this year's album (if I order the last 50 stickers). As of 6pm yesterday, I need 47 stickers to complete the album (and have placed an order on the Panini website for these).

So... How much did it cost?

In total, I have bought 1781 stickers (including the 47 I ordered) at a cost of £275.93. The plot below shows the money spent against the number of stickers stuck in, compared with the what I predicted in March.
To create this plot, I've been keeping track of exactly which stickers were in each pack I bought. Using this data, we can look for a few more things. If you want to play with the data yourself, there's a link at the bottom to download it.

Swaps

The bar chart below shows the number of copies of each sticker I got (excluding the 47 that I ordered). Unsurprisingly, it looks a lot like random noise.
The sticker I got most copies of was sticker 545, showing Panana player Armando Cooper.
Armando Cooper on sticker 545
I got swaps of 513 different stickers, meaning I'm only 169 stickers short of filling a second album.

First pack of all swaps

Everyone who has every done a sticker book will remember the awful feeling you get when you first get a pack of all swaps. For me, the first time this happened was the 50th pack. The plot below shows when the first pack of all swaps occurred in 500,000 simulations.
Looks like I was really quite unlucky to get a pack of all swaps so soon.

Duplicates in a pack

In all the 345 packs that I bought, there wasn't a single pack that contained two copies of the same sticker. In fact, I don't remember ever getting two of the same sticker in a pack. For a while I've been wondering if this is because Panini ensure that packs don't contain duplicates, or if it's simply very unlikely that they do.
If it was down to unlikeliness, the probability of having no duplicates in one pack would be:
\begin{align} \mathbb{P}(\text{no duplicates in a pack}) &= 1 \times\frac{681}{682}\times\frac{680}{682}\times\frac{679}{682}\times\frac{678}{682}\\ &= 0.985 \end{align}
and the probability of none of my 345 containing a duplicate would be:
\begin{align} \mathbb{P}(\text{no duplicates in 345 packs}) &= 0.985^{345}\\ &= 0.00628 \end{align}
This is very very small, so it's safe to conclude that Panini do indeed ensure that packs do not contain duplicates.

The data

If you'd like to have a play with the data yourself, you can download it here. Let me know if you do anything with it...

Similar posts

World Cup stickers 2018, pt. 3
World Cup stickers 2018
World Cup stickers
Euro 2016 stickers

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 2017-11-14 
A few weeks ago, I took the copy of MENACE that I built to Manchester Science Festival, where it played around 300 games against the public while learning to play Noughts and Crosses. The group of us operating MENACE for the weekend included Matt Parker, who made two videos about it. Special thanks go to Matt, plus Katie Steckles, Alison Clarke, Andrew Taylor, Ashley Frankland, David Williams, Paul Taylor, Sam Headleand, Trent Burton, and Zoe Griffiths for helping to operate MENACE for the weekend.
As my original post about MENACE explains in more detail, MENACE is a machine built from 304 matchboxes that learns to play Noughts and Crosses. Each box displays a possible position that the machine can face and contains coloured beads that correspond to the moves it could make. At the end of each game, beads are added or removed depending on the outcome to teach MENACE to play better.

Saturday

On Saturday, MENACE was set up with 8 beads of each colour in the first move box; 3 of each colour in the second move boxes; 2 of each colour in third move boxes; and 1 of each colour in the fourth move boxes. I had only included one copy of moves that are the same due to symmetry.
The plot below shows the number of beads in MENACE's first box as the day progressed.

Sunday

Originally, we were planning to let MENACE learn over the course of both days, but it learned more quickly than we had expected on Saturday, so we reset is on Sunday, but set it up slightly differently. On Sunday, MENACE was set up with 4 beads of each colour in the first move box; 3 of each colour in the second move boxes; 2 of each colour in third move boxes; and 1 of each colour in the fourth move boxes. This time, we left all the beads in the boxes and didn't remove any due to symmetry.
The plot below shows the number of beads in MENACE's first box as the day progressed.

The data

You can download the full set of data that we collected over the weekend here. This includes the first two moves and outcomes of all the games over the two days, plus the number of beads in each box at the end of each day. If you do something interesting (or non-interesting) with the data, let me know!

Similar posts

MENACE
Building MENACEs for other games
MENACE in fiction
The Mathematical Games of Martin Gardner

Comments

Comments in green were written by me. Comments in blue were not written by me.
 2018-11-16 
WRT the comment 2017-11-17, and exactly one year later, I had the same thing happen whilst running MENACE in a 'Resign' loop for a few hours, unattended. When I returned, the orange overlay had appeared, making the screen quite difficult to read on an iPad.
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g0mrb
 2018-02-14 
On the JavaScript version, MENACE2 (a second version of MENACE which learns in the same way, to play against the original) keeps setting the 6th move as NaN, meaning it cannot function. Is there a fix for this?
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Lambert
 2017-11-22 
what would happen if you loaded the boxes slightly differently. if you started with one bead corresponding to each move in each box. if the bead caused the machine to lose you remove only that bead. if the game draws you leave the bead in play if the bead causes a win you put an extra bead in each of the boxes that led to the win. if the box becomes empty you remove the bead that lead to that result from the box before
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Ian
 2017-11-17 
Hi, I was playing with MENACE, and after a while the page redrew with a Dragon Curves design over the top. MENACE was still working alright but it was difficult to see what I was doing due to the overlay. I did a screen capture of it if you want to see it.
Reply
Russ
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