Sprouts 2019 was yesterday and we had some excellent talks. Here are my little summaries of them!
Nick Paolini: "Machine Learning in Combinatorial Games"
Nick gave an intro to Machine Learning as a subcategory of AI, including explaining historic data, models, objective functions, and some optimization. He described Erik Jarlberg's recent work on Nim (This explored a question I've been really curious about for years!) Erik's work found that learning players can figure out how to make correct moves in Nim even when trained on a random player. Nick also talked about developments with AlphaZero, an AI player for Go, Chess, and Shogi. Nick then talked about his interest in trying to calculate NimSums via machine learning.
Nathan Mozinski: "Displaying Col Moves Online"
Craig Tennenhouse: "Towards an Impartial Short Tafl Variant"
Craig talked about Hnefetafl and some impartial variants he's been exploring. In his rulesets, there is a King and one or more soldiers (who may or may not be attempting a coup). To make it short, the King can only move North and West and the game ends when it cannot move. The different rulesets are each based on a different rule for the movement of the soldiers. Surprisingly, even with only one soldier and a ruleset such as "The soldier must move closer to the king", P-positions appear in very unexpected places! For the rule "The soldier can only move south or east and can't go past the king", Craig seems to have solved for all the P-positions.
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