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Subject: Re: Artificial Intelligence in Computer Chess

Author: Uri Blass

Date: 14:18:29 03/28/04

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On March 28, 2004 at 16:18:41, Artem Pyatakov wrote:

>Hello CCC,
>
>I have not posted here in about 3 years, but it's nice to be posting again. My
>college years have flown by, and I am now using the amateur program I had
>written during the summer of my Freshman year as a basis for my Senior thesis.
>Where did the time go?!?
>
>I wanted to get your educated input on the topic I am covering in my thesis,
>before I actually get down to writing the actual text of it (I have spent some
>pretty large number of hours during the year working on the experimental
>results). Disclaimer: The ideas contained below are pretty self-critical of the
>field, but please do not take them personally, since I myself have written a
>chess program that has all the shortcomings I talk about. I am purposefully
>trying to be controversial here, so as to spur debate. Any input at all is very
>much appreciated.
>
>The thesis is titled "Improving Computer Chess through Machine Learning", and
>its main idea is to attack one aspect of an interesting gap I noticed between
>the field of A.I. and Computer Chess. Specifically, in my opinion, the field of
>computer chess has become obsessed with *tricks* (human-generated ideas that
>happened to work without a good theoretical justification and cannot be easily
>generalized to other games). Because these tricks work really really well, the
>field has strayed from research into A.I. techniques. At the same time, any AI
>work has to compare itself with chess engine filled with excellent
>human-generated tricks, so it seems to perform poorly.
>Some examples:
>*ordering captures first during move ordering
>*check extensions
>*futility pruning

I think futility pruning can be easily generalized for other games.
I also think that history based pruning and using history tables and killer
moves can be generalized for other games.



>*evaluation function (trick-filled, but probably has to stay that way for a
>while)
>On the other hand, I think a lot of researchers have been overly ambitious and
>have tried to replace Alpha-Beta & tricks with a neural network or some totally
>different approach.

I see no reason to replace alphabeta with something totally different.
Humans use alpha beta in every game and I see no reason to tell computers not to
use alphabeta and if they find that a move is bad to spend a lot of time on
trying to evaluate exactly how bad it is.

Uri



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