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Subject: Re: On naming one's chess program

Author: Robert Hyatt

Date: 07:24:13 03/27/04

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On March 27, 2004 at 00:17:56, Steven Edwards wrote:

>On naming one's chess program:
>I've written several chess programs over the past twenty-five years, but have
>only given names to those that have played in human competition, or in the case
>of Symbolic, an intent to compete against humans.  My first named program was
>called Vorpal after the nasty sword in _Jabberwocky_.  A close derivative of
>that z80 assembly language program got the name Oracle when I registered it with
>the USCF some twenty years ago.  Back in those days, an oracle in AI is what is
>now more commonly called a KS (an encapsulated knowledge source).
>My mostly C language program Spector got its name because one of my goals was to
>develop a chess player with a sense of introspection.  The idea, not really
>successful, was to enable a monitoring facility of some sort that would observe
>the progress of the traditional A/B search and re-direct it when the search was
>being unproductive.  I punted on this attempt (for Spector, not for Symbolic)
>because of the then difficult work required to get multithreading working in a
>portable fashion on the old, pre-BSD Macintosh operating system.
>Symbolic is named as such in part because all of its high level processing is
>done symbolically instead of numerically.  (Perhaps I should rename the
>underlying toolkit "Numeric".)  Also, I couldn't think of a better name; some
>decent alternatives have already been taken by various well known programming
>efforts in non-chess AI fields.
>I note that many chess programs have customized identifying logo artwork.
>Unlike many Macintosh enthusiasts, I have absolutely no talent in the graphic
>arts.  So my logo for Symbolic is very simple: a couple of Lisp cons cells drawn
>in box and arrow notation.  The first cons has its cdr pointing to the second
>cons which has a nil cdr pointer.  The car pointer of the first cons connects to
>a Lisp atom with a black knight, and the car of the second cons points to a
>white king atom.  These were chosen as my first non-paper chess programming
>attempt was a "knight chases king" routine on my 1976 HP-25 calculator with its
>49 step program memory.
>Interestingly, in the Early Days chess programs were rare beasts and so were
>known by the names of their author(s) instead of having an identification of
>their own.  I believe that Richard Greenblatt's famous program was the first to
>get its own moniker: MacHack Six.  For the youngsters here, its "Mac" part
>pre-dates Macintosh computers by almost twenty years; it refers to the MAC (Man
>And Computer) Program then active at MIT.
>Cool/amusing program names over the years:
>"Treefrog" ([my favorite] mid 1970s, by Hunsen, Calnek, and Crook)
>"Patsoc" ("Plays a terrible sort of chess" by Berliner)
>"TinkerBelle" (Thompson's experimental version of Belle; unusable today because
>of probable Disney lawsuit)
>"Kaissa" (from Russia, a good pick for an internationally known program)
>"Iron Fish" ([another favorite] mid 1970s)
>"Chaos" (also from the 1970s)
>Dumb (IMHO) naming ideas:
>1. Naming a program after a famous dead GM.
>2. Naming a program after a famous live GM.
>3. Naming any program from before the mid 1980s with any of "expert", "master",
>or "grandmaster" but with absolutely no chance of playing at such a level.
>Finally, the Best Chess Program Source Module Name That Can Appear In A Family
>"SuperBananaBeyond" from Chess 4.x



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