Computer Chess Club Archives




Subject: Re: Artificial Intelligence in Computer Chess

Author: Anthony Cozzie

Date: 16:56:18 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
>*evaluation function (trick-filled, but probably has to stay that way for a
>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 think that with the current state of AI tools, these
>efforts are bound to fail.
>In my thesis, I take the middle-road and keep the alpha-beta and general
>framework while at the same time trying to get rid of as many tricks in my
>original program as I can (while hopefully keeping it competitive). Given the
>very limited time, I have focused my efforts on move ordering tricks - such as
>the history heuristic, killer heuristic, SEE, etc. Most of these heuristics are
>designed to share information found in one part of the tree with the others,
>which I think is a great area to tackle, because it can lead to great
>improvements in search while at the same time not requiring precise answers.
>If there is more interest in this, I can share the details of the research I did
>in the area, but I didn't want this message to get too long.
>CCC, what do you think of this whole approach?
>Do you want more details?
>Any comments, questions, ideas?
>Any related research or work I have missed?
>To clarify, the Senior Thesis is a significant project but is not anywhere close
>to a Ph.D. dissertation, which is why I am not addressing question in
>excruciating detail or with great precision.
>Thanks guys, you are the best!

You and Steven E (aka "That symbolic guy") will get along great.


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