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## Rules-Unknown Artificial Intelligence Competition176

OOglyDOOde writes: "This link points to a competition being hosted by a company that makes research on artificial intelligence. The task? Build a program that can play a number of games whose rules are totally unknown -- and earn the best score while competing against various opponents. Your program is told the possible choices available, when it should make a move, what did the opponent do; and what was your score for the last turn. There are no entry fees yet there is a cash prize. Submissions can be done in various languages, or in Linux or Windows binaries." This is certainly one of the odder ones I've ever seen, but has interesting prizes (trip to Israel) and rules (fairly broad entry categories).
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## Rules-Unknown Artificial Intelligence Competition

• #### Easier than I feared (Score:3, Interesting)

on Sunday August 05, 2001 @03:36AM (#2117860) Homepage
The first question that popped into my head was "How do we know what the opponents move means?"

I was under the misconception that at each turn in the game, the judge will inform the player of all possible moves (as in chess, checkers, or the like) but looking at the specification, it seems that the moves are detailed at the outset of the game, and then are available to each player at each stage in the game.

now the odd thing to me is the measure of 'state' in the game. Is the score that's returned after each move the current cumulative score, the score for that move alone, or what? Also, what is the goal of the game? It would be short-sighted to assume it's to amass the highest score. In effect, the score is just another input variable, along with the opponents move, which may or may not be useful for judging what is a good move or a bad move.

For example, if you were trying to make an algorithm to solve the A8 puzzle (the 'sliding tile puzzle' with 15 tiles and 16 spots), and the computer judged your score by totalling up manhattan distances to the goal state, that may or may not be a fair scale of how many moves away you are from winning in an ideal case.

The system is still underspecified. Without knowing what 'score' means, and whether it is an estimate or a deterministic function, then the project is pretty much a game of luck, and coding is not an effort of skill.
• #### Paranoia (Score:1, Interesting)

by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 05, 2001 @05:45AM (#2124370)
Don't you think this could be used for piloting weapons ? The site is dead at this time so I can't get more insight. yours, Britney
• #### This should prove entertaining. (Score:3, Interesting)

on Sunday August 05, 2001 @03:43AM (#2126665) Homepage
Heck, I'd like to see a competition where HUMANS play a game where they don't know the rules. That could be just as intereting.

• #### That recall me a couple of clever hack... (Score:5, Interesting)

by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 05, 2001 @03:43AM (#2126666)
...where the problem was to make a program that played the old paper/rock/scissor game.

The entries had to be given in the form of a subroutine that played the next move (given the current score and the history). The judges were linking two of them together and run the resulting binary.

Of course, there have been an entry that looked in the stack and modified the scores.

But the greatest was one (IMHO) that fork()ed and returned one possible response in each of its child. At next turn, the one that did not make the point (ie: had top score), exit()ed.

That program was the "Fork Bot"

Cheers,

--fred

• #### tit-for-tat algorithm (Score:4, Interesting)

on Sunday August 05, 2001 @06:56AM (#2136471) Homepage Journal

If this is a 2+ player competition and they're the right sorts of games (like the rock-paper-scissors game that it mentioned), whoever wins it might have to figure out a way to consistently beat the tit-for-tat algorithm.

Tit-for-tat [umich.edu] is one of the dead simplest game playing algorithms, and collectively it's one of the most successful.

It's based on the rule of "always do what the other player did last move". Under most circumstances it's impossible for it to actually win a game because the other player is always one step ahead. But its strength is in winning tournaments.

While it always loses, it never loses by much. This is different from other algorithms which usually have about as many weaknesses as they have strengths and will usually flunk out in at least some trials.

If someone can beat it consistently in a tournament situation, they really will have accomplished something in AI. Of course, this whole thing depends on exactly how the rules are structured, the scoring system and the information available to the program.

• #### I might know how to win or get an unfair advantage (Score:4, Interesting)

on Sunday August 05, 2001 @05:42AM (#2139053) Homepage
Seems to me that since it is a round-robin for all contestants (the site was /.ed, but I saw another post claiming that this was the case), all you have to do is team up with a lot of friends and have them enter fake programs into the contest (i.e cheating). These programs will start by identifying themselves with an "ID-string", consisting of, say, the first 10 replies (this can obviously be done generically even with unkown rules, just pick the moves randomly with the same seed). When my program sees this ID it replies a similar code. When the fake programs sees this, they start cooperating with my program (by playing as badly as they can muster). If the fake programs does not get this reply, they start playing as well as they can and will (since there will probably be large element of luck in each game) steal a considerable amount of points from the pool. The "real" program never risks anything since it never sends its own ID before being statistically sure that the opponent indeed is a fake. This method was inspired by a similar trick in the famous Prisoner's dilemma game.
• #### rand() (Score:2, Interesting)

on Sunday August 05, 2001 @03:55AM (#2144238)
I took an AI class this year where we had a challenge to use PERL to design a Stratego-playing AI. One of the professors quickly wrote a script that moved a random piece a random direction (verifying the move was legal), and had a surprisingly high win %.

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