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Subject: Re: What is Botvinnik's legacy to computer chess?

Author: Eelco de Groot

Date: 16:04:08 02/22/00

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On February 21, 2000 at 12:31:36, Tom Kerrigan wrote:

>On February 20, 2000 at 17:24:00, Eelco de Groot wrote:
>>They, Botvinnik and his programmers, obviously failed to generalize enough or
>>even at all the few rules they may have found for some positions. I don't know
>Evidently so.
>The program should have at least been able to play random moves. That's a
>starting point, however small. As far as I know, it couldn't even do that.

Yes , sure, but if you want a program that somehow emulates human thought-
principles a move generator is not necessarily the first thing you want to work
on. I would guess that a human player first looks at the situation on the board,
the characteristics of the position. There probably follows an interplay between
"static" characteristics and possible moves that allow a good chess player to
quickly determine what parts of the board are important at the moment, which at
the same time helps him to narrow down the number of moves he should consider.
Of course your program at some point has to produce *some* legal moves but not
necessarily all. If illegal moves show up however in the calculations that is
another thing, that's not very likely to make your program stronger. Some would
say "to err is human" but I don't see that help the Botvinnik team's case.
Bruce's arguments make more sense to me.

The question then is more whether the material the programmers produced has any
scientific value. Based on what I have read here nobody seems to think it has.
Maybe there was value in it but if they failed to bring that across then the
scientific value is still zero. The insights of a world champion can be valuable
even if they can't be implemented in a practical way so I can understand why
those were published.

Question two then is whether it was a fraud. Bruce mentions the  weird elements.

Question three; was Botvinnik the godfather. I still like to believe that he,
personally, was not carrying on his research without believing that he could
make his ideas work. What did he stand to gain, people? Now all I wanted to do
is give a link to the yellow bishop computer club. How did I end up here?


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