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Games. CPSC 386 Artificial Intelligence Ellen Walker Hiram College. Why Games?. Small number of rules Well-defined knowledge set Easy to evaluate performance Large search spaces (too large for exhaustive search) Fame & Fortune, e.g. Chess.

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CPSC 386 Artificial Intelligence

Ellen Walker

Hiram College

Why games
Why Games?

  • Small number of rules

  • Well-defined knowledge set

  • Easy to evaluate performance

  • Large search spaces (too large for exhaustive search)

  • Fame & Fortune, e.g. Chess

Example games best computer players sec 6 6 w updates
Example Games & Best Computer Players (sec. 6.6 w/updates)

  • Chess - Deep Blue (beat Kasparov); Deep Junior (tied Kasparov); Hydra (scheduled to play British champion for 80,000 pounds)

  • Checkers - Chinook (world champion)

  • Go (Goemate, Go4++ rated “weak amateur”)

  • Othello - Iago (world championship level), Logistello (defeated world champion, now retired)

  • Backgammon - TD-Gammon (neural network that learns to play using “reinforcement learning”)

Properties of games
Properties of Games

  • Two-Player

  • Zero-sum

    • If it’s good for one player, it’s bad for the opponent and vice versa

  • Perfect information

    • All relevant information is apparent to both players (no hidden cards)

Game as search problem
Game as Search Problem

  • State space search

    • Each potential board or game position is a state

    • Each possible move is an operation

    • Space can be BIG:

      • large branching factor (chess avg. 35)

      • deep search for game (chess avg. 50 ply)

  • Components of any search technique

    • Move generator (successor function)

    • Terminal test (end of game?)

    • Utility function (win, lose or draw?)

Game tree
Game Tree

  • Root is initial state

  • Next level is all of first player’s moves

  • Next level is all of second player’s moves

  • Example: Tic Tac Toe

    • Root: 9 blank squares

    • Level 1: 3 different boards (corner, center and edge X)

    • Level 2 below center: 2 different boards (corner, edge)

    • Etc.

  • Utility function: win for X is 1, win for O is -1

    • X is Maximizer, O is minimizer

Minimax strategy
Minimax Strategy

  • Max’s goal: get to 1

  • Min’s goal: get to -1

  • Max’s strategy

    • Choose moves that will lead to a win, even though min is trying to block

  • Minimax value of a node (backed up value):

    • If N is terminal, use the utility value

    • If N is a Max move, take max of successors

    • If N is a Min move, take min of successors

Minimax values 2 ply example
Minimax Values: 2-Ply Example














Minimax algorithm
Minimax Algorithm

  • Depth-first search to bottom of tree

  • As search “unwinds”, compute backed up values

  • Backed-up value of root determines which step to take.

  • Assumes:

    • Both players are playing this strategy (optimally)

    • Tree is small enough to search completely

Alpha beta pruning
Alpha-Beta Pruning

  • We don’t really have to look at all subtrees!

  • Recognize when a position can never be chosen in minimax no matter what its children are

    • Max (3, Min(2,x,y) …) is always ≥ 3

    • Min (2, Max(3,x,y) …) is always ≤ 2

    • We know this without knowing x and y!

Alpha beta pruning1
Alpha-Beta Pruning

  • Alpha = the value of the best choice we’ve found so far for MAX (highest)

  • Beta = the value of the best choice we’ve found so far for MIN (lowest)

  • When maximizing, cut off values lower than Alpha

  • When minimizing, cut off values greater than Beta

Alpha beta example
Alpha-Beta Example














Notes on alpha beta pruning
Notes on Alpha-Beta Pruning

  • Effectiveness depends on order of successors (middle vs. last node of 2-ply example)

  • If we can evaluate best successor first, search is O(bd/2) instead of O(bd)

  • This means that in the same amount of time, alpha-beta search can search twice as deep!

Optimizing minimax search
Optimizing Minimax Search

  • Use alpha-beta cutoffs

    • Evaluate most promising moves first

  • Remember prior positions, reuse their backed-up values

    • Transposition table (like closed list in A*)

  • Avoid generating equivalent states (e.g. 4 different first corner moves in tic tac toe)

  • But, we still can’t search a game like chess to the end!

When you can t search to the end
When you can’t search to the end

  • Replace terminal test (end of game) by cutoff test (don’t search deeper)

  • Replace utility function (win/lose/draw) by heuristic evaluation function that estimates results on the best path below this board

    • Like A* search, good evaluation functions mean good results (and vice versa)

  • Replace move generator by plausible move generator (don’t consider “dumb” moves)

Good evaluation functions
Good evaluation functions…

  • Order terminal states in the same order as the utility function

  • Don’t take too long (we want to search as deep as possible in limited time)

  • Should be as accurate as possible (estimate chances of winning from that position…)

    • Human knowledge (e.g. material value)

    • Known solution (e.g. endgame)

    • Pre-searched examples (take features, average value of endgame of all games with that feature)

How deep to search
How Deep to Search?

  • Until time runs out (the original application of Iterative Deepening!)

  • Until values don’t seem to change (quiescence)

  • Deep enough to avoid horizon effect (delaying tactic to delay the inevitable beyond the depth of the search)

  • Singular extensions - search best (apparent) paths deeper than others

    • Tends to limit horizon effect, since these are the moves that will exhibit it