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August 14, 2008
AMSTERDAM and PORTLAND, Ore., Aug. 14 -- At the 24th Annual Congress of the game Go, held in Portland, Ore., from Aug. 2-10, the brand-new Dutch supercomputer Huygens defeated a human Go professional in an official match with a 9-stones handicap. It is the first victory of a computer playing Go against a human being. The application 'MoGo Titan', developed by INRIA France and Maastricht University, runs on the national supercomputer which is located at SARA in Amsterdam.
After the victory of IBM's Deep Blue against Garry Kasparov, the game of Go has replaced chess as test bed for AI research. Although there has been quite some research in the Go domain for 40 years, the progress in Computer Go has been slow. The best programs played on a (weak) amateur level. All kinds of AI techniques, which were able to produce good results in either games or other application domains, failed to make an impact. Since 2006, when a new algorithm called Monte-Carlo Tree Search was proposed, the level of Go programs has improved drastically.
On Aug. 5, before the "real game", three blitz games where played with various handicaps. Kim MyungWan was stronger than the computer at these blitz games. So people were expecting the professional to win the non-blitz game. This made the victory of the computer even more spectacular.
Huygens, an IBM Power 575 Hydro-Cluster system, is the new Dutch national supercomputer. The system has a peak speed of 60 trillion calculations per second (Teraflop/s), 3328 Power6 processor cores at 4.7 GHz, a total memory capacity of more than 15 TB, and almost 1000 TB disk capacity. The complete system has been in production since Aug. 1 of this year. With the dedicated help of the SARA staff, the Go application could run on the new system within a very short time.
The research in this project has been financed through the GoForGo project by the Physical Sciences council of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), while the CPU hours of Huygens were granted by the Netherlands National Computing Facilities Foundation (NCF).
More information is available at http://www.sara.nl/news/press/20080813/Go_computer_victory_eng.html.
Source: Maastricht University, NCF, NWO Physical Sciences and SARA
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