Sunday, January 08, 2012

Disqualifying the chess champion

Computer chess has gotten too good. In 1996, a computer beat the human world chess champ. In 2005, a state-of-the-art chess program was released as GPL open source, and the field got a lot more competitive. Now the good computers are far better than the best humans.

One program wins every year:
On December 4, 2005 a free, downloadable chess program named Rybka 1.0 Beta was initially released and took a sizable lead on all then-existing chess program strength ranking lists, surpassing all commercial programs. Rybka then proceeded to rapidly widen its lead with subsequent versions. Rybka went on to become a commercial engine in 2006. Working with Grandmaster Larry Kaufman, one of the world’s leading position evaluation specialists, Rajlich issued the seminal Rybka 3 in 2008. Rybka 3 was over 100 Elo points stronger than Rybka 2, an enormous improvement in what was already the leading commercial program. The latest public edition of Rybka (Rybka 4.1) is more than 300 Elo points stronger than the top competitors that existed in late 2005 on comparable hardware.
But in A Gross Miscarriage of Justice in Computer Chess, Rybka has been banned from tournament play.

It is a little hard to see how Rybka could have been plagiarized when it is some much better than it has won every tourneyment it has entered. The Wash. Times wrote:
Yet another world champion has been brought low for suspected use of a banned performance-enhancing substance.

Rybka, the chess-playing computer program that won the past four World Computer Chess Championship titles, was summarily stripped of its silicon crown this week amid charges its programmer plagiarized the software of two rival programs. ...

As for Rybka, it will now be remembered as just another champion that didn’t respect the rules of the game.
No, Rybka may be remembered for advancing the state-of-the-art more than any other chess program. Here is the rule that it is accused of violating:
Each program must be the original work of the entering developers. Programming teams whose code is derived from or including game-playing code written by others must name all other authors, or the source of such code, in their submission details. Programs which are discovered to be close derivatives of others (e.g., by playing nearly all moves the same), may be declared invalid by the Tournament Director after seeking expert advice. For this purpose a listing of all game-related code running on the system must be available on demand to the Tournament Director.
There is some evidence that early versions of Rybka had components similar to what is in the open-source programs. Rajlich admits that he studied them. But I don't see how Rybka could be called a close derivative when it plays so much better. There don't seem to be any standards for how much one program can use the ideas of another.

It appears to me that the real problem is that Rybka got so good that no one else had any chance of winning the tournaments. The losers had to gang up to disqualify the champ so that the others would have a chance at winning.

I think that the real problem with Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Lance Armstrong, etc. is that they were so good at what they did. Others are jealous, and will do anything to bring down the champ.

1 comment:

Liberal Bias  said...

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