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Microsoft AI Programming Games

Microsoft Research Takes On Go 175

mikejuk writes "Microsoft Research has used F# and AI to implement a consumer-quality game of Go — arguably the most difficult two-person game to implement. They have used an interesting approach to the problem of playing the game, which is a pragmatic cross between tree search with pruning and machine learning to spot moves with a 'good shape.' The whole lot has been packaged into an XNA-based game with a story."
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Microsoft Research Takes On Go

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  • Confusing title (Score:4, Interesting)

    by PhrostyMcByte ( 589271 ) <> on Sunday January 02, 2011 @05:04AM (#34735902) Homepage

    When I saw "Microsoft takes on Go", I thought of Google Go []. It only adds to the confusion that both F# and Go attempt to solve some concurrency issues, though I thought it odd to compete with an imperative language using a functional one. I had to do a double-take to understand it was talking about a game.

    Sheesh, I need sleep. And perhaps to stop learning so many useless programming languages.

  • Go is not a game (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Kim0 ( 106623 ) on Sunday January 02, 2011 @05:12AM (#34735922)

    Go is not a game because it does not have rules that are clearly interpretable, except the new Tromp/Taylor rules.
    One sign of this is that Japanese monks have for about 400 hundred years quarreled about how certain patterns should be interpreted.

    When I started to learn the game, I was told that it was exceedingly simple, but learned that there was a thick book of how to interpret patterns, which obviously is not simple. And after playing it a little, and thinking about it, it became apparent to me that there were end game effects that were simply ignored. The Japanese versus Chinese "rules" give very different endgames, but the practice is to simply ignore that and pretend there is no problem. One just stops when the players agree that the rest of the game would be obvious and boring, without that necessarily being true.

    Robert Jasiek has done extensive analysis of Go, and seems to be the only one actually understanding the game as it is played in practice.
    Here are a short list of the major mistakes that Go rulesets contain. []
    Here are lots of short analyses of different scoring methods. []
    Here are some game patterns that give different problems in different rulesets. []

    When it is not even possible to analyze parts of games then true optimal play regresses to quarreling about it, which is precisely what the Japanese tradition has done for at least some hundred years. Robert Jasiek has made the only consistent interpretation of the Japanese "rules", and it is somewhat insane to read, with 3 levels of recursion. It means that instead of there just being an ordinary game tree, the rules at each node in the game tree are determined by hypothetical game trees at these nodes, and the same goes for the hypothetical game trees. Gaaahrgle!

    Those programming Go players typically do statistics on games played by humans instead of having a scoring function, or they use the Tromp/Taylor rules.

    So Go is riddled with quarrels and pretense. Not a game in practice. More like politics, or Zen.


  • I seem to recall (Score:3, Interesting)

    by thesk8ingtoad ( 445723 ) on Sunday January 02, 2011 @05:16AM (#34735934) Homepage

    Reading a research paper a few years ago that presented the idea that the best way to approach the game was through catastrophe avoidance. The idea was to identify the moves that would lead to a massive loss, then to take another move at random. I wonder how their AI would fare in comparison.

  • Re:Go is not a game (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 02, 2011 @06:39AM (#34736198)


    Go is a great game. The chinese and aga rules are precise and assign a score to every position in a simple way with no arguement. The japanese rules are potentially complex but in practise the sort of positions in which difficulties arise rarely if ever occur. The Japanese rules are more conveniant to play with although not as mathematically complete. Still, in 10 years of tournament play I have never seen a position the outcome of which depended on the rules employed.

  • Re:Hikaru no Go (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 02, 2011 @09:37AM (#34736826)

    Watashi ha Hikaru. Why I no go? I must know. Naze da! Naze da! Sabedu ka!

    Please, Hikaru is good. Hikaru go, OK?

  • Re:Go is not a game (Score:4, Interesting)

    by shadowofwind ( 1209890 ) on Sunday January 02, 2011 @11:38AM (#34737404)

    This is like saying that real numbers are political and not mathematical because of the funny way that infinities are defined and handled.

"The eleventh commandment was `Thou Shalt Compute' or `Thou Shalt Not Compute' -- I forget which." -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982