World Champion in computer poker and international AI expert visits campus

october 13, 2017

From 1-3 November the world champion in computer poker, prof. dr. dr. h.c. Tuomas Sandholm from Carnegie Mellon University will visit the Brightlands Smart Services Campus. He will present at the AI | IA Conference on November 2 and will give a 3 hour workshop for professional and academic data scientists on November 3.

Prof Sandholm recently got world-fame by succeeding to develop together with his PhD student Noam Brown the first program that was able to defeat world-class human poker players in a Texas hold’m tournament. Before, Tuomas and Noam had won the world championship in computer poker.

While poker is at first place just a card game and therefore Prof. Sandholms’ contributions seem to have only relevance for (online) casinos, the techniques developed here have widespread applications and consequences. Poker serves as a prototypical situation of strategic interaction with many counterparts in business. Earlier, AI was able to defeat world champions in Chess and Go, but in both games the state of the game is fully observable by both players. Indeed, there is nothing to hide on the game board. The only uncertainty are the next moves of the opponent. In contrary, poker lives by the uncertainty about the cards in the opponents’ hands. This opens the door for bluffing and makes the game far more complex. This feature caused the interest of a whole armada of AI researchers, and Prof Sandholm made is their world champion. It also makes the result much more relevant for business, as in almost every strategic interaction in the business world, for example in contract negotiation, there is this uncertainty involved.

Amazingly, being world champion in computer poker is by far not the only achievement of Prof Sandholm. Prof. Sandholm is as well working on topics like advertisement auctions, kidney exchanges. He has built optimization-powered electronic marketplaces since 1989, and has fielded several of his systems. In parallel with his academic career, he was Founder, Chairman, and CTO/Chief Scientist of CombineNet, Inc. from 1997 until its acquisition in 2010. During this period the company commercialized over 800 of the world's largest-scale generalized combinatorial multi-attribute auctions, with over $60 billion in total spend and over $6 billion in generated savings.

For more information, please contact the BISS Institute.

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