Strange Beta: An Assistance System for Indoor Rock Climbing Route Setting Using Chaotic Variations and Machine Learning

by   Caleb Phillips, et al.

This paper applies machine learning and the mathematics of chaos to the task of designing indoor rock-climbing routes. Chaotic variation has been used to great advantage on music and dance, but the challenges here are quite different, beginning with the representation. We present a formalized system for transcribing rock climbing problems, then describe a variation generator that is designed to support human route-setters in designing new and interesting climbing problems. This variation generator, termed Strange Beta, combines chaos and machine learning, using the former to introduce novelty and the latter to smooth transitions in a manner that is consistent with the style of the climbs This entails parsing the domain-specific natural language that rock climbers use to describe routes and movement and then learning the patterns in the results. We validated this approach with a pilot study in a small university rock climbing gym, followed by a large blinded study in a commercial climbing gym, in cooperation with experienced climbers and expert route setters. The results show that Strange Beta can help a human setter produce routes that are at least as good as, and in some cases better than, those produced in the traditional manner.


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