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Othello solved using AI

November 8, 2023


Have you ever played Othello? It's a fun and simple board game that involves flipping disks to capture your opponent's pieces. But don't be fooled by its simplicity. Othello is actually a very complex and challenging game that requires a lot of strategy and skill.


In fact, Othello is so complex that it has been one of the grand challenges for artificial intelligence (AI) for decades. AI is the science and technology of creating machines that can perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as playing games, recognizing faces, or translating languages.


AI researchers have been trying to create computer programs that can play Othello perfectly, meaning that they can always win or draw against any human or computer opponent. This is called "solving" the game, and it is not an easy task. Othello has more than 10 octillion (that's 10 followed by 27 zeros) possible board positions, which is way more than the number of atoms in the universe!


But now, a Japanese scientist has achieved this amazing feat. Dr. Hiroki Takizawa, a bioinformatician at a Japanese computer company, has developed an algorithm that can solve Othello. He used a supercomputer called MN-J, which is one of the most powerful and energy-efficient computers in the world, to run his algorithm. He also improved an existing Othello program called Edax, which was already very strong.


Dr. Takizawa announced his breakthrough in a paper published on the online platform arXiv. He said that his algorithm can guarantee a win or a draw from the beginning of the game, no matter what moves the opponent makes. He also provided the optimal game record, which is the sequence of moves that leads to the best possible outcome for both players.


Dr. Takizawa's achievement is a monumental one for humanity, as it demonstrates the remarkable advances in computer science and AI technology. Solving Othello is not only a scientific challenge, but also a cultural one, as the game is inspired by the Shakespearean drama of the same name, which depicts the conflict between the Moor of Venice and Desdemona.


Othello is not the first game that has been solved by AI. Computers have already conquered other games, such as chess, checkers, and Go, which are also very complex and strategic. These games are often used as testbeds for AI research, as they can help us understand how machines can learn, reason, and make decisions.


But Othello is unique in its simplicity and elegance, as well as its popularity around the world. It is also a game that can teach us valuable lessons about life, such as how to balance risk and reward, how to adapt to changing situations, and how to cope with uncertainty and ambiguity.


So, next time you play Othello, remember that you are not only having fun, but also participating in a rich and fascinating history of human and machine intelligence. And don't be discouraged if you lose to a computer. You can always try again and learn from your mistakes. After all, that's what AI does too. Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more of the latest news in artificial intelligence!


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