Poker Academy, a software developer of poker products, has donated
$13,000 in software to Lehigh University for students in computer
science and engineering to use in artificial intelligence (AI) research
Hector Munoz-Avila, assistant professor of computer science and engineering at the University, said the donated software will be used in "Artificial Intelligence: Game Programming," a course offered last fall for the first time that will be taught again next fall.
The goal of the students using the donated software in the new class, which Munoz-Avila teaches, will be to make better, more challenging computer games that adapt to a player's behavior, style and level of skill.
"Only a few games currently employ adaptive artificial intelligence, which is also called machine learning," said Munoz-Avila, who has a grant from the Naval Research Laboratory to study game programming. "Most are 'hard-coded' to operate at a fixed level or levels.
"Adaptive AI is code that allows computer software to adapt over time to a players' skill levels and even to improvements they make," said Munoz-Avila. "A chess game equipped with adaptive AI will 'dumb down' in a few moves against an inexperienced player, but play tougher against a grandmaster."
"We are pleased to be part of this on-going research and development initiative of artificial gaming intelligence," said Kurt Lange, president of Poker Academy. "The AI gaming platform for our poker product, which was developed over more than 10 years, has computer opponents that actually think like humans. Since the game gets better as the player improves, the game is always challenging and thus a very effective learning tool. We look forward to seeing what the CSE students come up with."
The students in Munoz-Avila's game-programming class study and develop algorithms, which are methods of encoding programs that tell computers how to solve problems. The students will use their algorithms to study the software robots, or bots, that are created to replace human beings in poker, hearts and other online games.
Other goals of the students will be to determine how "smart" computers can be made and whether AI gives unfair advantages to the bots or machines against which humans play computer games.
Munoz-Avila said that Jarret Raim, a graduate student in computer science, found the Poker Academy online, looked at its API (application program interface, a way in which programs communicate), and found it could "talk" to other programs, making it a good fit for the Lehigh game programming course.
"Our interest is that this game has a very nice API that we can interface with our machine learning programs," said Munoz-Avila.