Introducing Chinook: The Unbeatable Checkers-Computer

Scientist at the University of Alberta has come up with an unbeatable checkers computer. The invention of Chinook is evidence that if two players play flawlessly, the outcome of the game will be a draw.

Checker grandmasters believe that the outcome of a perfect play would be a draw. However, until then, there has been no proof of such. The first checkers computer appeared in 1963. It was created by an artificial intelligence originator named Arthur Samuel.' His invention managed to win against a human.

Jonathan Schaeffer, who is head of the computer science department in Alberta, produced Chinook for the purposes of marshaling parallel processing and get lots of storage to take on the top players. In 1990, Chinook managed to qualify for the checkers World Championships. Two years later, it faced Marion Tinsley, the current world champion and considered as the best checkers player.

It was a narrow win for Tinsley. Two years later, the two had had a rematch but Tinsley got sick and withdrew in the middle stages of the game. Afterwards, Tinsley succumbed to pancreatic cancer.

The research conducted by the scientists at the University of Alberta highlighted the importance of raw computing skills in artificial intelligence. In the early years of artificial intelligence, Schaeffer and his group attempted to make computers imitate human thought. However, the group had a difficult time and they realized that human-like techniques are not necessarily the top computational tactics.

A better strategy for solving complex jobs such as checkers, according to A.I. proponents, was "brute force" instead of mastering human strategies. In this method, the computer would depend on the ""limited knowledge" of game specifics and utilize exceptional processing skills to discover and evaluate all possible moves. This was the method used by chess playing computers, such as Deep Blue, who defeated Garry Kasparov in 1997.

According to the researchers, the fact that Chinook managed to solve the game is a solid proof of the capacity of limited knowledge to artificial intelligence. Brute force will only gain more power as computers themselves become faster and more affordable, However, the researchers believes that it will still take some time to solve games as complicated as chess.

Chinese checkers consists of positions that are approximately in the square root of positions in chess. It took a lot of effort to solve the game, thus, chess will remain unsolved for some time, provided new technology comes along. The researches believe that othello, another popular board game, can be solved. It will require more tools than those used to solve checkers but eventually there would be unbeatable Othello playing computers as well.


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