Today I found the following announcement in the website of Alberta University in Canada. Hoki-sen will provide a seminar about the recent advance of computer shogi and Bonanza there. I think he will fly to the venue from Japan. The date of it will be February 3.
February 3, 2012 - 12:00pm - 1:00pmCSC 3-33
Shogi is one of the major variants of chess. The material balance is less important and the branching factor is greater than in Western chess. Because of these properties, creating a decent computer shogi player was a difficult challenge. When Deep Blue defeated the World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov in 1997, the most advanced Shogi program at that time was no better than an ordinary amateur player. Recently, computer shogi programs have started to defeat human experts. The program Akara2010 defeated one of the top female shogi professionals in 2010, another program, Ponanza, achieved the highest rating in blitz games among all players in the most popular online shogi server, Shogi Club 24, in 2011, and most recently Bonkras defeated a retired top professional player, Yonenaga, in 2012. In this talk, two main features of the computer shogi program Bonanza, one of the strongest shogi programs, will be presented. One main feature is the optimization method used to train the full evaluation function with more than ten million parameters. The other is a game tree search method which is more brute-force and less selective than other popular approaches. We close with some comparisons of the algorithmic differences between chess programs and Bonanza.