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Researcher details method for teaching computers to win at board games through short training videos

Brian Heater
July 11, 2012
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All right, hotshot -- sure, you can trounce your five-year-old niece in a round of Connect Four, but are you ready to do battle with a machine? Łukasz Kaiser of Paris Diderot University in France has detailed a method for teaching computers how to learn relatively simple games like Tic-Tac-Toe, Breakthrough and the aforementioned eternal vertical struggle between checker pieces, using quick videos generally under two minutes in length. "The presented algorithm requires only a few demonstrations and minimal background knowledge," Kaiser explains, in his paper Learning Games from Videos Guided by Descriptive Complexity, "and, having learned the rules, automatically derives position evaluation functions and can play the learned games competitively." Kaiser adds, having taken on the world of Tic-Tac-Toe and other relatively simple games that, "there is strong theoretical evidence that it will generalize to other problems." Now if only we can sum up the world's issues Connect Four-style, we should be covered.

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