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I'm considering making the giant leap to a serious rice cooker -- after research, it seems like the Zojirushi is the way to go, even over the venerated Tiger -- but I'm trying to parse out the dozens of models and various benefits.

It seems like the difference in price between a 5.5-cup model that does everything I could ever want, and a 5.5-cup model that does everything I could ever want with "fuzzy logic" is about $20. I'm already thinking about spending literally 10x more than I've ever spent on a rice cooker, so an extra $20 isn't the end of the world, but I'm wondering if it is really streets ahead when it comes to rice cooking, or if this is just a fancy-sounding name that doesn't add much to the process.

This is a bit informed by the fact that I'm kind of leery of fancy electronics in my kitchen gadgets; I loved my old Salton because it had one button, one spring, and one heating element, and I could kind of understand it. I'm a little afraid of the durability of a rice cooker with an onboard computer, and wondering if "fuzzy logic" is just adding another thing that can break onto that pile.

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    Even if you only make rice one a week or less, the Zojirushi w/the fuzzy is just a great piece of kitchen gear. Drop the extra $20 and enjoy perfect rice that you don't have to think about. Plus it keeps your rice warm and fresh for hours. I have the model you are describing. Love it. BTW, also great for oatmeal! – moscafj Feb 25 '14 at 0:51
  • Agree, had mine for years, pretty much bulletproof. – Michael Natkin Feb 25 '14 at 1:50
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    Digital = 5 year lifespan, max. – Carey Gregory Feb 25 '14 at 2:53
  • I hate to think what a plain old rice cooker would do if I tryed to cook oat groats in it, but my fuzzy Panasonic DE-102 (now 103) gets them perfect every time. It's been four years of hard use, and there's no sign of bad buttons or digital decay on the unit. – Wayfaring Stranger Feb 25 '14 at 4:27
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    @CareyGregory not to be contrary, but I've had that unit for at least 12 years, use it a couple times a week, and it has been absolutely trouble free. – Michael Natkin Feb 25 '14 at 4:44
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I just purchased a Zojirushi rice cooker a couple of months ago and can’t imagine cooking rice without it now.

Fuzzy logic in comparison to binary logic is a varying degree of a state. In binary logic an item is either true or false (on or off) but in fuzzy logic it can be in between, partially on or partially off. Instead of hard “done” state the fuzzy logic states may be “somewhat” or “nearly” done. This while cooking it could take on the meaning of” too hot”, “about right” or “not much change”. Where this comes into play in a rice cooker is when the sensor monitoring the water content reaches the critical point an ordinary cooker will just turn off the heater however, a fuzzy logic cooker will use an equation (usually derived from experimentation) to vary the temperature and optimize the amount water being absorbed and evaporated. Typically a fuzzy logic system will have multiple “critical” points and will vary the temperature during ramp up and down as well as during the cooking. Generally, different types of rice will absorb different amounts of water at different rates. The fuzzy logic circuitry will monitor the changes and adjust itself to accommodate the predetermined profile.

I guess you could say the benefit of a fuzzy logic cooker is that someone took the time to learn the complexities of the cooking process and characteristics of the rice then adapted the preparation process to match the “ideal” conditions for the perfect rice.

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"Fuzzy Logic" is a form of mathematics invented by Professor Lofti Zadeh of UC Berkeley around 1970. Briefly, it is a trial and error tool that functions in situations where exact mathematics cannot. For example, the only way to know how much steam to generate in a steam locomotive climbing a hill is to add fuel until you have slightly more steam than is needed. Then, one reduces fuel to the point where the steam is insufficient.

It is an iterative procedure that can be applied to other situations as well. Consider the acceleration of elevator cars in a tall building. The elevator car does not know the exact weight of its cargo. But, one wants the acceleration to be as large as possible to get the cargo to the top floor without physical discomfort.

Same problem as the steam engine. One increases the current to the electric motor until the accelerometer registers discomfort. Then one backs off slightly. This iterative procedure is applies to every load from no passengers to full of passengers to guarantee the fastest comfortable vertical speed.

And so with rice cookers. The amount of heat applied to the bowl depends upon the amount of rice and water in the bowl. As the water decreases by boil-off, less heat is needed. Varying the heater to maintain the correct temperature through the cooking process can easily be done by Trial and Error- Fuzzy mathematics.

This process can also be applied to combining data with errors in a spreadsheet to deliver an answer---such as a weighted sum of a column with an error--that represents an estimate of all errors in the cells going into the sum (Fuzzi-Logic Spreadsheet).

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