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Man v machine: part one

It took 50 years of development for the field of computer science to beat the world chess champion.

On 10 February 1996, world chess champion Garry Kasparov lost the first game of a six-game match against Deep Blue, an IBM computer. Ironically, the opening game “coincid[ed] with the 50th anniversary of the first electronic computer.”

This was the first match between a human and a computer in a regulation, six-game contest. The rules: each player has two hours to make 40 moves; two hours for the next 20 moves; and a final hour to complete the game. You might remember such timed moves from 2020’s The Queen’s Gambit.

During Game 1 at the Convention Center in Philadelphia, Kasparov conceded defeat on move 37. History was made.

In Game 2, Deep Blue conceded on the 73rd move. Games 3 and 4 were ties.

Game 5 lasted more than four hours. Kasparov won in 48 moves. One game to go.

In Game 6, Deep Blue “mismanaged its pawns” and conceded, giving Kasparov the win. “For the first time in the history of mankind, I saw something similar to an artificial intellect,” Kasparov said.

It took 50 years of development for the field of computer science to beat the world chess champion.

For IBM, this journey began in the 1950s. By 1958, the IBM 704 could play chess. IBM’s development accelerated in the 1980s.

In 1985, a graduate student at Carnegie Mellon University, Feng-hsiung Hsu, began working on his dissertation project: a chess playing machine he called ChipTest. A classmate of his, Murray Campbell, worked on the project, too, and in 1989, both were hired to work at IBM Research. There, they continued their work with the help of other computer scientists, including Joe Hoane, Jerry Brody and C. J. Tan. The team named the project Deep Blue…

The architecture used in Deep Blue was applied to financial modeling, including marketplace trends and risk analysis; data mining — uncovering hidden relationships and patterns in large databases; and molecular dynamics, a valuable tool for helping to discover and develop new drugs.

To assist in programming Deep Blue, the IBM team hired “grandmasters such as Joel Benjamin, who, at 13, had become the youngest-ever U.S. chess master.”

“Chess is an enormously complex game, and that’s why it took us, as a field, 50 years of development to finally beat the world champion.”

#scitech #STEM (021/365)

📷 Adobe Stock Photo

By Kathy E. Gill

Digital evangelist, speaker, writer, educator. Transplanted Southerner; teach newbies to ride motorcycles! @kegill

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