Expectation-Based Versus Potential-Aware Automated Abstraction in Imperfect Information Games: An Experimental Comparison Using Poker

Andrew Gilpin, Tuomas Sandholm

Automated abstraction algorithms for sequential imperfect information games have recently emerged as a key component in developing competitive game theory-based agents. The existing literature has not investigated the relative performance of different abstraction algorithms. Instead, agents whose construction has used automated abstraction have only been compared under confounding effects: different granularities of abstraction and equilibrium-finding algorithms that yield different accuracies when solving the abstracted game. This paper provides the first systematic evaluation of abstraction algorithms. Two families of algorithms have been proposed. The distinguishing feature is the measure used to evaluate the strategic similarity between game states. One algorithm uses the probability of winning as the similarity measure. The other uses a potential-aware similarity measure based on probability distributions over future states. We conduct experiments on Rhode Island Hold'em poker. We compare the algorithms against each other, against optimal play, and against each agent's nemesis. We also compare them based on the resulting game's value. Interestingly, for very coarse abstractions the expectation-based algorithm is better, but for moderately coarse and fine abstractions the potential-aware approach is superior. Furthermore, agents constructed using the expectation-based approach are highly exploitable beyond what their performance against the game's optimal strategy would suggest.

Subjects: 7.1 Multi-Agent Systems; 1.8 Game Playing

Submitted: Apr 15, 2008

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