Computer program can't lose at checkers

CheckersGame over. Computer scientists at the University of Alberta have solved checkers, the popular board game with a history that dates back to 3,000 B.C.

After 18-and-a-half years and sifting through 500 billion billion (a five followed by 20 zeroes) checkers positions, Dr. Jonathan Schaeffer and colleagues have built a checkers-playing computer program that cannot be beaten. Completed in late April this year, the program, Chinook, may be played to a draw but will never be defeated.

An average of 50 computers—with more than 200 running at peak times—were used everyday to compute the knowledge necessary to complete Chinook. Now that it is complete, the program no longer needs heuristics—it has become a database of information that "knows" the best move to play in every situation of a game. If Chinook's opponent also plays perfectly the game would end in a draw.

"We've taken the knowledge used in artificial intelligence applications to the extreme by replacing human-understandable heuristics with perfect knowledge," Schaffer said. "It's an exciting demonstration of the possibilities that software and hardware are now capable of achieving."

Source: Physorg
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