Math Off 4: Checkers

Sadly Samuel did not make it to the final round of The Aperiodical’s Big Internet Math Off, but lucky for y’all in a fit of profound arrogance, as well as trying to deal with some potential scheduling issues which could have accompanied victory, they had already made all of their entries. Instead of letting them languish in the dust bin of mathematical communication history Samuel has decided to release them anyway.

This would-be final entry is all about checkers, well checkers and AI and hubris and death and rivalry and the devil’s work. In fact this is really a re-airing of the Series 1 episode Chinook which Samuel will happily tell you is the greatest story they have ever had the story to tell.

Here is the description from the originally episode’s post:

You may not think of checkers as an important game intellectually. It certainly has never had the cachet of chess. That did not stop it from becoming the obsession of the University of Alberta computer science professor for nearly two decades and the center of one of the most ambitious Artificial Intelligence projects ever undertaken. This is their story.

Jonathan Schaeffer is a Computer Science Professor at the University of Alberta where he is also the current Dean of the Faculty of Science.

Download the Uncut Jonathan Schaeffer Interview

Chinook is the greatest checkers player in the world, in fact it is impossible to beat. The product of an 18 year project in computer artificial intelligence, Chinook represents one of the greatest breakthroughs in computer game playing and was the first machine to ever hold a human world championship.


Joe Nathan 007
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Download the Episode

Music and Effects:

Ken MacLeod