SGI 2000 Plays Critical Role in Taking Artificial Intelligence to a New Level

Artificial intelligence is the name of the game, literally, for researcher Dr Jonathan Schaeffer and his colleagues at the University of Alberta. His goal is to create applications that have the illusion of intelligence. With the computer games industry bringing in $20 billion US annually, he applies his research to applications in this area as a way of showing the benefits of the research.

In the department of Computing Science, Schaeffer and the GAMES (Game-playing, Analytical methods, Minimax search and Empirical Studies) research group are making globally recognized advances in artificial intelligence. Acknowledged as leading researchers, the members of this research group are known for their creation and development of programs such as Chinook (the first world computer champion in any game, checkers; a feat recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records), Phoenix (a former world computer chess champion, before Deep Blue came along), and Poki (the strongest poker-playing program in the world). Their research has moved from traditonal board and card games to the world of interactive entertainment. Joint research with Electronic Arts (Vancouver; the world’s largest computer games company) and Bioware (Edmonton; the world leader in role-playing games) is bringing their artificial intelligence research to a world-wide audience of enthusiasts.

Much of the research has wider applicability. For example the search techniques they developed have been applied to DNA sequence analysis. The “human-like” game-playing characters they are developing can be used to increase the effectiveness of immersive training programs. This diversity of applications allows the GAMES group's research to open new frontiers and build bridges with industry.

Access to high performance computing is a critical component of the GAMES research group. MACI (and C3) provides Schaeffer and his colleagues access to an essential – and otherwise prohibitively expensive – resource for this world-class research.

jonathan@cs.ualberta.ca

Selected Publications

  • M. Brockington and J. Schaeffer. APHID: Asynchronous Parallel Game-Tree Search, Journal of Parallel and Distributed Computing, vol. 60, pp. 247-273, 2000.
  • S. MacDonald, D. Szafron, J. Schaeffer and Steve B. Generating Parallel ProgramFrameworks from Parallel Design Patterns, EuroPar, pp. 95-104, 2000.
  •  D. Novillo, R. Unrau and J. Schaeffer. Identifying and Validating Irregular Mutual Exclusion Synchronization in Explicitly Parallel Programs, EuroPar, pp. 389-394, 2000.
  • J. Romein, A. Plaat, H. Bal and J. Schaeffer. Transposition Table Driven Work Scheduling  in Distributed Search , American Association for Artificial Intelligence, pp. 725-731, 1999.
  • K. Charter, J. Schaeffer and D. Szafron. Sequence Alignment using FastLSA, International Conference on Mathematics and Engineering Techniques in Medicine and Biological Sciences (METMBS'2000), pp.239-245, 2000.
  • A. Junghanns and J. Schaeffer. Sokoban: Enhancing General Single-Agent Search Methods Using Domain Knowledge, Artificial Intelligence, to appear, 2001.
  • D. Billings, A. Davidson, J. Schaeffer and D. Szafron. The Challenge of Poker, Artificial Intelligence, to appear, 2001.