Title page for ETD etd-10172007-153836

Document Type Master's Dissertation
Author Duminy, Willem Harklaas
Email wduminy@mweb.co.za
URN etd-10172007-153836
Document Title A learning framework for zero-knowledge game playing agents
Degree MSc (Computer Science)
Department Computer Science
Advisor Name Title
Prof A P Engelbrecht Supervisor
  • knowledge discovery
  • game tree searching.
  • classification
  • computational intelligence
  • machine learning
  • coevolution
  • particle swarm optimisation
  • Checkers
  • knowledge representation
  • games
Date 2007-04-29
Availability unrestricted

The subjects of perfect information games, machine learning and computational intelligence combine in an experiment that investigates a method to build the skill of a game-playing agent from zero game knowledge. The skill of a playing agent is determined by two aspects, the first is the quantity and quality of the knowledge it uses and the second aspect is its search capacity. This thesis introduces a novel representation language that combines symbols and numeric elements to capture game knowledge. Insofar search is concerned; an extension to an existing knowledge-based search method is developed. Empirical tests show an improvement over alpha-beta, especially in learning conditions where the knowledge may be weak. Current machine learning techniques as applied to game agents is reviewed. From these techniques a learning framework is established. The data-mining algorithm, ID3, and the computational intelligence technique, Particle Swarm Optimisation (PSO), form the key learning components of this framework. The classification trees produced by ID3 are subjected to new post-pruning processes specifically defined for the mentioned representation language. Different combinations of these pruning processes are tested and a dominant combination is chosen for use in the learning framework. As an extension to PSO, tournaments are introduced as a relative fitness function. A variety of alternative tournament methods are described and some experiments are conducted to evaluate these. The final design decisions are incorporated into the learning frame-work configuration, and learning experiments are conducted on Checkers and some variations of Checkers. These experiments show that learning has occurred, but also highlights the need for further development and experimentation. Some ideas in this regard conclude the thesis.

University of Pretoria
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