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Why did TD-Gammon Work?

Neural Information Processing Systems

Although TD-Gammon is one of the major successes in machine learning, it has not led to similar impressive breakthroughs in temporal difference learning for other applications or even other games. We were able to replicate some of the success of TD-Gammon, developing a competitive evaluation function on a 4000 parameter feed-forward neural network, without using back-propagation, reinforcement or temporal difference learning methods. Instead we apply simple hill-climbing in a relative fitness environment. These results and further analysis suggest that the surprising success of Tesauro's program had more to do with the co-evolutionary structure of the learning task and the dynamics of the backgammon game itself. 1 INTRODUCTION It took great chutzpah for Gerald Tesauro to start wasting computer cycles on temporal difference learning in the game of Backgammon (Tesauro, 1992). After all, the dream of computers mastering a domain by self-play or "introspection" had been around since the early days of AI, forming part of Samuel's checker player (Samuel, 1959) and used in Donald Michie's MENACE tictac-toe learner (Michie, 1961).


Why did TD-Gammon Work?

Neural Information Processing Systems

Although TD-Gammon is one of the major successes in machine learning, it has not led to similar impressive breakthroughs in temporal difference learning for other applications or even other games. We were able to replicate some of the success of TD-Gammon, developing a competitive evaluation function on a 4000 parameter feed-forward neural network, without using back-propagation, reinforcement or temporal difference learning methods. Instead we apply simple hill-climbing in a relative fitness environment. These results and further analysis suggest that the surprising success of Tesauro's program had more to do with the co-evolutionary structure of the learning task and the dynamics of the backgammon game itself. 1 INTRODUCTION It took great chutzpah for Gerald Tesauro to start wasting computer cycles on temporal difference learning in the game of Backgammon (Tesauro, 1992). After all, the dream of computers mastering a domain by self-play or "introspection" had been around since the early days of AI, forming part of Samuel's checker player (Samuel, 1959) and used in Donald Michie's MENACE tictac-toe learner (Michie, 1961).


TDLeaf(lambda): Combining Temporal Difference Learning with Game-Tree Search

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

In this paper we present TDLeaf(lambda), a variation on the TD(lambda) algorithm that enables it to be used in conjunction with minimax search. We present some experiments in both chess and backgammon which demonstrate its utility and provide comparisons with TD(lambda) and another less radical variant, TD-directed(lambda). In particular, our chess program, ``KnightCap,'' used TDLeaf(lambda) to learn its evaluation function while playing on the Free Internet Chess Server (FICS, fics.onenet.net). It improved from a 1650 rating to a 2100 rating in just 308 games. We discuss some of the reasons for this success and the relationship between our results and Tesauro's results in backgammon.