Computer Bridge: A Big Win for AI Planning

Stephen J. Smith, Dana Nau, Tom Throop

Abstract


A computer program that uses AI planning techniques is now the world champion computer program in the game of Contract Bridge. As reported in The New York Times and The Washington Post, this program -- a new version of Great Game Products' BRIDGE BARON program -- won the Baron Barclay World Bridge Computer Challenge, an international competition hosted in July 1997 by the American Contract Bridge League. It is well known that the game tree search techniques used in computer programs for games such as Chess and Checkers work differently from how humans think about such games. In contrast, our new version of the BRIDGE BARON emulates the way in which a human might plan declarer play in Bridge by using an adaptation of hierarchical task network planning. This article gives an overview of the planning techniques that we have incorporated into the BRIDGE BARON and discusses what the program's victory signifies for research on AI planning and game playing.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1609/aimag.v19i2.1371

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