Computer Science Club competes for $1 million prize

Chronicle Staff

By Claire Hong

A $1 million prize will be awarded to the person who can create a program replicating the board game Go, where the computer can beat a human player.

Members of the Computer Science Club have been working on creating this program since the beginning of the last school year. The club’s president, Katherine Casey ’10, said that “the strategies for playing Go are extremely complex, more complex than even chess.”

Students are currently working on a joint program that was started last year. All members have access to this program so that “the most updated version might become the one someone worked on over the weekend.”

During first semester, members had been working on iPhone programming, but at the start of the second semester, the majority of the club’s members decided there was not enough time to learn a completely new programming language. This and the addition of new member Will Aalto ’11, who wanted to work on creating the game Go, persuaded the rest of the club on picking up the program again.

Member Gabe Benjamin ’11 is the only one to continue with iPhone programming.

“It’s a pretty difficult proposal, but I think it’s possible. The hardest part is translating how a human player’s mind works during the game into computer code. It’s tough because we take our senses and how we think for granted, then we realize the computer can’t see the board the way we do and strategize based on that. We have to abstract the whole game,” Casey said.

Casey said that although the prize “may have been our initial incentive to start working on the project, we’re just having fun with it now without thinking of the prize.”