March 09, 2016

AlphaGo playing the top Go player of the past decade in five matches and has won the first match

AlphaGo, the first computer program to beat a professional Go player, is playing its first match with the legendary Lee Sedol—the top Go player of the past decade—in a five-game match in Seoul, Korea. Go is a profoundly complex game, which is why this has always been regarded as the outstanding grand challenge for artificial intelligence.

GO is far more complex than chess and an artificial intelligence beating the best human player would be a big milestone.

In October 2015, AlphaGo became the first computer program ever to beat a professional Go player by winning 5-0 against the reigning 3-times European Champion Fan Hui (2-dan pro). That work was featured in a front cover article in the science journal Nature in January 2016.

AlphaGo has won the first match against Lee Sedol.

AlphaGo uses a mix of deep neural network machine learning, and tree search techniques. DeepMind taught AlphaGo how to play the game by studying the play of human Go masters play. Instances of AlphaGo then played against each other many times. Having instances compete is reinforcement learning.

The matches will start at 8pm PST on these days:
March 8: First match - Won by AlphaGo
March 9: Second match
March 11: Third match
March 12: Fourth match
March 14: Fifth match

The matches will be played under Chinese rules with a komi of 7.5 (the compensation points the player who goes second receives at the end of the match). Each player will receive two hours per match with three lots of 60-second byoyomi (countdown periods after they have finished their allotted time). Each match is expected to take 4-5 hours.
The games will be even (no handicap), with $1 million USD in prize money for the winner. If AlphaGo wins, the prize money will be donated to UNICEF, STEM and Go societies.

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