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This year, you were invited to attend the WPC, otherwise known as the World Puzzling Competition. The World Puzzling Competition is attended by the 88088 users of PSE (as per writing of the draft) all around the world. You, as one of the participants, want to answer every question as fast as possible, while making sure it is correct and robust. The organizers also seem to suggest that there will be a 50 reputation bounty for every question (subject to change for future questions) for the "most contributive person", defined as the person to uncover first the most amount of clues leading to the answer. The final solution counts as 2 clues. Ties are broken by time of last found clue.

Sny Smartie then walks onto the stage and starts the pre-prepared presentation, which said:

Here are the assumptions you can make about the puzzles:

  • You can assume that, by default, everything is self-contained. That is, you will not have to search anything particular up, such as a twitter tweet. Exceptions include searching up resources for questions. These are not intended paths for solution, even if the resulting solution is correct.

  • Any information contained in italics is flavor text and does not include any information required for the puzzle. You are free to skip over these parts, although the plot may sometimes appear to be confusing. Flavor texts may contain hints.

  • Only the question itself can be used as a resource. Answers based on edit history, post time, etc. are considered to be cheating. That is, there will not be any hidden HTML tags or nbsp; etc. These are not intended paths for solution, even if the resulting solution is correct.

  • Specific rules overwrite general rules. If, say, the post begins "tweets from a mysterious source", then the first rule may not necessarily apply and you may need to search on Twitter. Similarly, if the post says "analyze the source" then the third rule may not necessarily apply.

  • The puzzle never lies. If the puzzle says "this is the puzzle", then that is the puzzle. The characters also never lie, so if a character presents you with a puzzle, "the character is lying and there actually is no puzzle" is not contributive.

  • These same rules will apply to each puzzle in this series. Puzzles will be posted as soon as both the last puzzle has been solved and the author has finished writing up the next puzzle.

To warm you up, Sny Smartie said, here's an easy first puzzle that may just provide the shortest simple path from this puzzle to the next. The answer will be a three letter abbreviation.

Transcript: If we let light grey cells be ., dark grey cells be #, and red cells be ;:

..#......#  ...#......  ...#...##.
.;.#..#...  ;#.##.#.#.  .#...#.#..
..#.....#.  ..#..#....  .;####...#
...#......  #...#..#..  #.#...##..
..##..#.#.  .#.#..#.#.  #...#.#..#
#...#.#...  ....#.#...  #####..#.#
...#..#...  #.###.##..  #.#.#.#...
..#..#.##.  ...#...##.  ......#;#.
#.#....#;.  .#..#..#.;  .#.#.##...
.......#..  ..#.....#.  ..##....#.

Sny Smartie reminds you that although friends might not help you, mods sure will.

There are 3 clues to solving the puzzle, excluding the solution itself. A clue may be a part of the question that hints at the solution or the deduction of the solution, a connection between the solution and the question. A solution counts as 2 clues.

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  • $\begingroup$ Note: the next puzzle is ready and will be posted once all hints for this puzzle are uncovered. $\endgroup$
    – Sny
    Commented Feb 2 at 6:23
  • $\begingroup$ The timer starts at 0 when the question is first posted. At 8 hours, a small hint is given, and at 24 hours, a bigger hint is given. The timer is reset and will continue to count up but twice as fast once any clue is found. $\endgroup$
    – Sny
    Commented Feb 2 at 6:48
  • $\begingroup$ It's good that you're taking your time now, but even so that seems a little fast-moving. Again, there's nothing wrong with this, but my advice would be to wait a few days in between posting puzzles, at a minimum, so as not to saturate the forum and have people losing interest in your puzzles (and likely downvoting, as in your latest puzzles). $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 2 at 11:06
  • $\begingroup$ Pbhagvat gur ahzore bs zvavzhz qverpgvba punatrf gb trg sebz bar erq fdhner gb nabgure, gura pbairegvat gur yrggref gb ahzoref (N1M26) V trg UDV, juvpu vf na nooerivngvba gung rkvfgf ohg qbrfa'g frrz pbzzba. Ohg V'z thrffvat guvf vf jebat fvapr 1) vg qbrfa'g nqqerff gur fvtavsvpnapr bs gur zbqf naq 2) vg pbhagf qverpgvba punatrf engure guna gur ahzore bs fdhnerf va gur cngu... $\endgroup$
    – oAlt
    Commented Feb 2 at 12:18
  • $\begingroup$ @oAlt what is you count gur ahzore bs fdhnerf va gur cngu? $\endgroup$
    – Sny
    Commented Feb 2 at 12:26

1 Answer 1

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Is the answer

BFS (breadth-first search)?

My reasoning is that

If I count the number of squares in the shortest path in each maze, not including the starting square, I get 28, 32, and 19 squares. Modulo 26, these are congruent to 2, 6, and 19. Converting these to letters via A1Z26 we get B, F and S. As it turns out, the breadth-first search is an algorithm for trees in computer science which has been used for finding the shortest path in a maze, making the answer thematic.

As said in the comment below,

This is only one clue and there are two more. I think the other two are simply as follows:

1) The mention of the shortest simple path, which exactly hints at the method of solution.

2) The mention of mods as well; that's an abbreviation for modulos, which as we saw in the previous answer was also important.

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  • $\begingroup$ The answer is correct, and you have already correctly determined the relation between the answer and the question, which counts for a clue. Can you spot the other two clues, which can help you derive the method of solution? (Regardless, you'll get the 50 reputation when first possible.) $\endgroup$
    – Sny
    Commented Feb 2 at 12:48
  • $\begingroup$ Ooh, interesting. I'll think more... $\endgroup$
    – oAlt
    Commented Feb 2 at 12:59
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Exactly correct. $\endgroup$
    – Sny
    Commented Feb 2 at 16:25

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