Feeds

Silicon beats carbon in chess battle

Ouch

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

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

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Holy vintage vehicles! Earliest known official Batmobile goes on sale
Riddle me this: are you prepared to pay US$180k?
Criticism of Uber's journo-Data Analytics plan is an Attack on DIGITAL FREEDOM
First they came for Emil – and I'm damn well SPEAKING OUT
'It is comforting to know where your data centres are.' UK.GOV does NOT
Plus: Anons are 'wannabes', KKK says, before being pwned
'Open source just means big companies can steal your code.' O RLY?
Plus: Flame of the Week returns, for one night only!
NEWSFLASH: It's time to ditch dullard Facebook chums
Everything hot in tech, courtesy of avian anchor Regina Eggbert
Hey, you, PHONE-FACE! Kickstarter in-car mobe mount will EMBED your phone into your MUG
Stick it on the steering wheel and wait for the airbag to fire
Bible THUMP: Good Book beats Darwin to most influential tome title
Folio Society crowns fittest of surviving volumes
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Designing and building an open ITOA architecture
Learn about a new IT data taxonomy defined by the four data sources of IT visibility: wire, machine, agent, and synthetic data sets.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
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?