[Beowulf] computer Go

Peter St. John peter.st.john at gmail.com
Fri Aug 8 07:15:40 PDT 2008

The American Go Association (which has a free e-newsletter) at
http://www.usgo.org/  reports that a machine won an exhibition game with a
master last night at the US Go Congress. This isn't really historic; the
master, Myungwan Kim, is an 8 dan professional, and gave 9 handicap stones
to the machine.

Very roughly, 8 dan pro would be comparable to 9 dan amateur; and very
roughly, Kim would be able to give me 9 stones too (I'm 1 dan amateur and
amateur handicaps equate one stone to one rank, and the mathematician Don
Weiner 6d beats me easily at 6 stones, althugh I should be able to cope at

9 stones is very roughly comparable to queen odds at chess, but the
statistical distributions of Go and Chess are not the same; a Grandmaster of
chess could maybe give me rook odds, not queen odds; knight odds is roughly
comparable to two standard deviations, a rating difference of about 400
points, and I'm about 800 below the world champion  (and I"m comparable in
go and chess). But again speaking very roughly, this result is in the
ballpark of achieving amateur 1 dan status, about the level that Ken
Thompson achieved with Belle in the mid-80's (the first USCF Expert
machine). Odds games in chess do not have the same probabilistic qualities
as in Go; we almost never play odds games in chess anymore (it was popular
for money in the 19th century) but can't get along without handicapping in
Go, games between quite disparate players can be made interesting.

I haven't found specifics for the machine or the team yet, but to quote the

800 processors, at 4.7 Ghz, 15 Teraflops on borrowed supercomputers

A related article said the machine(s) was sited in Europe.

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