Originally Posted by checkersEDMONTON - A team of scientists at the University of Alberta has reached a milestone in artificial intelligence by using computers to "solve" the game of checkers.
The feat essentially means the team's checkers-playing program, Chinook, can never be beaten at the game. It can only be tied - and only when its opponent plays a perfect game.
To date, checkers is the largest, non-trivial game of skill to be solved. It is more than a million times more complex that the previous AI standard, Connect Four.
"This is not a small leap. This is not something that anyone is going to duplicate tomorrow," said team leader Jonathan Schaeffer.
Schaeffer began working on the checkers project more than 18 years ago, in 1989. By the mid-1990s, Chinook was sophisticated enough to consistently beat the top human players in the world.
But Schaeffer pressed on, working to get the program to the point where it could never be defeated.
To solve the game, the team had to sift through an astronomical number of checkers positions and analyse the best way to move the pieces. Almost continuously since 1989, dozens of computers have been working on the problem, constantly updating Chinook's database with more and more positions.
The total number of potential positions in the game is about 500 billion billion.
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