Initialization is a common positional extraction method used in hunt puzzles. It involves lining up a series of strings and reading their first letters to get a new string.

Puzzle Application[edit | edit source]

As Extraction[edit | edit source]

As with most other positional extraction methods, Initialization is very literal in its function: it involves taking the initials of things. While other methods may involve variable indexing, like Centralization (which takes middle letters), Initialization is consistently an implied index of 1, taking the first letter every time. Since this is relatively straightforward, it is often paired with a reordering method of some sort.

Initialization functions quite well outside of its application to answer strings within puzzles too. Puzzles may provide additional clues or hints via initialization of information explicitly presented to solvers. Reading down the first letters of a series of clues, the first letters of words in the title, and sometimes even lines of flavortext can reveal instructions and clues that help solvers get off the ground. Acrostics are a great example of this, as many utilize initialization to provide their intermediate clues.

As a Puzzle Element[edit | edit source]

Initialization can also be used by a puzzle writer to construct interesting identification-based puzzles. Well-known sets of things, titles, quotes, and lyrics all have an aspect of identifiability, even when presented with a small portion of the whole. This aspect is what's played upon in these kinds of puzzles, where instead of being presented with a set of information to initialize, the 'extraction' step has already been performed. What solvers get is a series of letters, sometimes separated by spaces or commas, representing the initials of a set of things.


The above series of initials, for example, represents the book series A Series of Unfortunate Events in order, from The Bad Beginning (TBB) and The Reptile Room (TRR) to The Penultimate Peril (TPP) and The End (TE). Puzzles that use the element in this way tend to have multiple different sets, and often either require solvers to identify missing initials within the sequence, determine the category, or figure out what would come next in a list.

Strategy[edit | edit source]

Identification[edit | edit source]

Unlike things like Diagonalization, Initialization doesn't have a type of answer that works extremely well with it. For identifying its use, there's very little that can be done besides getting into the habit of reading first letters in case a message or new answer is hidden there. This, however, may not help either unless you're confident that you've put things in the correct order.

One thing that may help is being aware of possible anagrams. If a set of strings has first letters that appear like they could anagram into something nice, check to see if there's a suitable way to reorder them. If there is, make sure that they result in a valid result when initializing before getting too excited that your hail-mary plan worked out.

Notable Examples[edit | edit source]

As Extraction[edit | edit source]

  • To do TO DO

As a Puzzle Element[edit | edit source]

  • Initial Public Offering (MITMH 2014) (web) - This puzzle is a textbook example of initialization being done by the author to create a new puzzle. In it, solvers are presented with sets of capitalized letters, mixed with some spaces and punctuation. These end up being Click to reveala mix of quotes and titles from various written and musical media, and range from very long ('IOTEOGAIHOAMOT. OOTEOGAIHOAMWY. IOTE, TE, TE, TE, TE, TE, TE, IOTEOGAIHOAMWY. IOTEWY.' being the entire chorus of The Edge of Glory) to very short ('R.' being a quote from Citizen Kane, 'Rosebud.').

See Also[edit | edit source]