How many games of checkers can you win in a row before someone beats you? Quite a few? Doesn’t matter, eventually you’ll lose right? You think, “it’s only a matter of time.” Well some Computing Sciences researchers at the U of A have figured out why – it’s because humans make mistakes. They’ve solved checkers, completely, and have software that is invicible:
After more than 18 years and sifting through 500 billion billion (a five followed by 20 zeroes) checkers positions, Jonathan Schaeffer and his colleagues have built a checkers-playing computer program that cannot be beaten. Completed in late April, the Chinook program may be played to a draw but will never be defeated.
Their research and “proof” were to be published in today’s edition of the journal Science.
This is pretty incredible when you think about it. It speaks to the advances we’ve made not only with technology, but with our understanding of how to harness it to do things that previously seemed impossible.
I generally consider checkers to be a fairly simple game, but don’t let that fool you:
The popular game may be simple to play, but it holds a potential 500 billion billion positions. That’s one million times more complicated than any other game solved before, says Jonathan Schaeffer, the computer science professor who began the project in 1989.
Congratulations to Schaeffer and his team! I can’t imagine what they’ll figure out next.
2 thoughts on “Checkers solved at the U of A”
Why researchers do not spend their time doing something actually useful, like solving global warming mathematical problems?
What is the point in killing games? they have killed checkers. It is true that still people will play it, but there is no mistery to the game anymore. And chess will follow. These are games that have grown up with humanity. Thousand of books have been written on chess. These "scientists" are destroying all that heritage.
Seriously, these folks should be doing better things with taxpayer’s money instead of killing ancient, wonderful games.
It all depends on how you look at it. Just because they have solved checkers doesn’t mean that people will stop playing.
Furthermore, games research is all about problem solving. Math, algorithms, etc. It may not be immediately obvious, but the lessons they learn really can be applied to the rest of the world’s problems. If you can figure out an efficient, reliable way to solve a game that has certain restraints, you can then take your solution and apply it to a real-world problem that has certain restraints.
It’s not a waste of time or money at all.