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Checkers computer becomes invincible

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An invincible checkers-playing program named Chinook has solved a game whose origins date back several millennia, scientists reported Thursday on the journal Science's Web site. By playing out every possible move -- about 500 billion billion in all -- the computer proved it can never be beaten. Even if its opponent also played flawlessly, the outcome would be a draw. Chinook, created by computer scientists from the University of Alberta in 1989, wrapped up its work less than three months ago. In doing so, its programmers say the newly crowned checkers king has solved the most challenging game yet cracked by a machine -- even outdoing the chess-playing wizardry of IBM's Deep Blue.


Checkmate for checkers : Nature News

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Long-time world checkers champion Marion Tinsley consistently bested all comers, losing only nine games in the 40 years following his 1954 crowning. He lost his world championship title to a computer program in 1994 and now that same program has become unbeatable; its creators have proved that even a perfectly played game against it will end in a draw. Jonathan Schaeffer and his team at the University of Alberta, Canada, have been working on their program, called Chinook, since 1989, running calculations on as many as 200 computers simultaneously. Schaeffer has now announced that they have solved the game of American checkers, which is played on an 8 by 8 board and is also known as English draughts. The team directed Chinook so it didn't have to go through every one of the 500 billion billion (5 * 1020) possible moves.


How poker and other games help artificial intelligence evolve

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When he was growing up in Ohio, his parents were avid card players, dealing out hands of everything from euchre to gin rummy. Meanwhile, he and his friends would tear up board games lying around the family home and combine the pieces to make their own games, with new challenges and new markers for victory. Bowling has come far from his days of playing with colourful cards and plastic dice. He has three degrees in computing science and is now a professor at the University of Alberta. But, in his heart, Bowling still loves playing games.


Computers Solve Checkers—It's a Draw

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And now, after putting dozens of computers to work night and day for 18 years--jump, jump, jump--he says he has solved the game--king me!. "The starting position, assuming no side makes a mistake, is a draw," he says. Schaeffer's proof, described today in Science (and freely available here for others to verify), would make checkers the most complex game yet solved by machines, beating out the checker-stacking game Connect Four in difficulty by a factor of a million. "It's a milestone," says Murray Campbell, a computer scientist at IBM's T. J. Watson Research Center in Hawthorne, N.Y., and co-inventor of the chess program Deep Blue. "He's stretched the state of the art." Although technological limits prohibit analyzing each of the 500 billion billion possible arrangements that may appear on an eight-by-eight checkerboard, Schaeffer and his team identified moves that guaranteed the game would end in a draw no matter how tough the competition.


One Jump Ahead: Computer Perfection at Checkers: Jonathan Schaeffer: 9780387765754: Amazon.com: Books

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The new edition of this extraordinary book depicts the creation of the world champion checkers computer program, Chinook. In only two years, Chinook had become a worthy opponent to the world champion, and within four years had defeated all the world's top human players. Jonathan Schaeffer, the originator and leader of the Chinook team, details the mistakes and technical problems made and the lessons learned in the continuous effort to improve Chinook's performance, revealing the human factor behind the program's design. The development of Chinook begins in 1988 as an innocent question asked over lunch and is followed to the final match against then world champion, Marion Tinsley, and ultimately to its recent triumph, solving checkers. Schaeffer's unwaveringly honest narrative features new anecdotes, updated material and technology descriptions, and additional photos and figures, providing an engrossing account of an obsessive quest to achieve perfection in computer checkers.