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Friday, October 16, 2015

Beta Rabbit vs. Doctor Boolean: or; How to Be Recruited by Google

Peter Rabbit

A few days ago, something remarkable occurred when the author performed a Google search on a technical subject. Suddenly the search results folded away to reveal something like a UN*X command line console. What was this?

A few UN*X commands revealed a directory structure with some text files. These text files set forth a series of rather charming vignettes reminiscent of stories from one of the author’s favorite novels, The Young Lady's Illustrated Primer. Each of these vignettes cast the reader in the role of clever and plucky Beta RabbitThough strangely some vignettes cast the reader in the role of Doctor Boolean and required a solution to one of his problems. who in his heroic struggle against the tyranny of the nefarious Doctor Boolean and his zombit—zombie rabbit—hordes faced some problem. Each of these problems could be solved using some mathematics and programming. Once the reader submitted a satisfactory solution,In Python or Java (ugh!). Haskell would have been a nice option. In some cases one could use another programming language, generate the full set of solutions on one’s own computer and then submit a simple python program which just looked up these precomputed answers. One imagines a reviewer, spotting a solution with unprecedented speed, looked at the code for some revolutionary new algorithm and was disappointed to find this. a new vignette and a new problem was revealed.

Initially these problems were quite trivial, but around level 5 or so they started to become more challenging, demanding the use of group and graph theory and some more sophisticated computational methods, like dynamic programming. At that point, the process started to become quite engrossing.

But what was going on? It turns out that this is apparently a recruitment effort by Google, known as Foobar.Another use of puzzles to screen potential Google recruits was discussed here. Google apparently monitors searches and when it finds a user who frequently searched for certain technical subjects, it would invite the user to Foobar in this manner. And indeed, after a few levels, Foobar requested the author’s name, address, and other information.Isn’t Google adorable when it pretends not to know these things already? So now the author eagerly awaits a phone call from a Google recruiter. He’ll be sure to inform the recruiter that this is strangest mode of attorney recruitment he has ever encountered.