A Scalable Machine Learning Approach to Go

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 19 (NIPS 2006)

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Lin Wu, Pierre Baldi


Go is an ancient board game that poses unique opportunities and challenges for AI and machine learning. Here we develop a machine learning approach to Go, and related board games, focusing primarily on the problem of learning a good eval- uation function in a scalable way. Scalability is essential at multiple levels, from the library of local tactical patterns, to the integration of patterns across the board, to the size of the board itself. The system we propose is capable of automatically learning the propensity of local patterns from a library of games. Propensity and other local tactical information are fed into a recursive neural network, derived from a Bayesian network architecture. The network integrates local information across the board and produces local outputs that represent local territory owner- ship probabilities. The aggregation of these probabilities provides an effective strategic evaluation function that is an estimate of the expected area at the end (or at other stages) of the game. Local area targets for training can be derived from datasets of human games. A system trained using only 9 × 9 amateur game data performs surprisingly well on a test set derived from 19 × 19 professional game data. Possible directions for further improvements are briefly discussed.