Feeds

Silicon beats carbon in chess battle

Ouch

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

In the battle of man vs. machine, man has been utterly trounced. In fact, supercomputer Hydra's five triumphs out of six over human grandmaster Michael Adams dwarfs even the All Blacks' recent demolition of the British Lions. Adams managed to squeeze a draw in the second bout, salvaging some pride.

Hydra was well equipped for the battle, which concluded last week. With its many, many pieces of well-deployed silicon, it can analyse up to 200 million chess moves per second, and plan its game 18 to 40 moves ahead. As we reported earlier, that is six more moves than IBM's Deep Blue was capable of.

The result is being touted as a demonstration of just how far supercomputers have come in the last decade. In 1996 Garry Kasparov actually beat Deep Blue, although the supercomputer got its own back a year later.

Computers might have the edge over people when it comes to chess, but that doesn't mean they actually understand the game. After each move in chess, there are approximately 30 legal moves that could be made next. This is known as having a branching factor of 30. A sufficiently fast computer can, with the help of some decent software that prunes the dead ends, merely brute force its way through enough moves to calculate the one most likely to win it the match.

Computers have yet to master the game of Go, a much trickier proposition with its branching factor of 250. Brute force is no good here, because the number of moves gets really big, really fast. Researchers at Microsoft's labs in Cambridge have made some improvements to computer Go, using Bayesian ranking to calculate probable good moves. But the researchers concede that even the best programs are pretty easily dispatched by good human players. ®

Related stories

Puny human takes on chess-playing supercomputer
Boffins crack ancient board game with 36 server cluster
Greek govt bans all computer games

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Oz carrier Tiger Air takes terror alerts to new heights
Don't doodle, it might cost you your flight
WRISTJOB LOVE BONANZA: justWatch sex app promises blind date hookups
Mankind shuffles into the future, five fingers at a time
Every billionaire needs a PANZER TANK, right? STOP THERE, Paul Allen
Angry Microsoftie hauls auctioneers to court over stalled Pzkw. IV 'deal'
Oi, London thief. We KNOW what you're doing - our PRECRIME system warned us
Aye, shipmate, it be just like that Minority Report
Apple's Mr Havisham: Tim Cook says dead Steve Jobs' office has remained untouched
'I literally think about him every day' says biz baron's old friend
Cops apologise for leaving EXPLOSIVES in suitcase at airport
'Canine training exercise' SNAFU sees woman take home booming baggage
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.