Computer Poker Program ‘Libratus’ Earns ‘Best Use of AI’ Award


The Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC) received not one, but five HPCwire awards at the 2017 International Conference for High-Performance Computing (HPC), Networking, Storage and Analysis (SC17) on Sunday, Nov. 12. One of the three Readers’ Choice Awards that PSC received was for Best Use of AI: CMU School of Computer Science “Libratus” AI on PSC’s “Bridges” wins Brains vs. AI competition.

The Awards

HPCwire represents the leading trade publication in the supercomputing community and their annual Readers’ and Editors’ Choice Awards, given out at the start of the annual supercomputing conference, are well respected in that community. The awards are determined based on a nomination and voting process among the HPCwire community as well as selections from the publication’s editors.

In addition to Best Use of AI, PSC received two more Readers’ Choice Awards — Outstanding Leadership in HPC (Nick Nystrom, Interim Director, PSC) and Best Use of HPC in Energy (PSC with Texas A&M uses OpenFOAM on PSC Bridges & Texas Advanced Computing Center’s Stampede to better understand coolant & heat transfer in high-temperature-jet reactors).

PSC also received two Editors’ Choice Awards — Best Use of High-Performance Data Analytics (PSC’s Bridges for facilitating assembly and analysis of large-scale genomics data) and Best Use of HPC in Life Sciences (the University of California San Diego, San Diego Supercomputer Center & Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center identified structural changes activating the gene-splicing technology, CRISPR-Cas9).

Interim Director of PSC Nick Nystrom said of the awards, “PSC appreciates the readers’ and editors’ support for this exciting set of awards. Their breadth reflects the kinds of high-impact results that PSC’s users are achieving through bringing together HPC, artificial intelligence, and big data.”

“Libratus” and PSC’s “Bridges”

PSC won the Best Use of AI Readers’ Choice Award for Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) School of Computer Science’s AI “Libratus”, which beat out some of poker’s top heads-up players in the Brains vs. AI competition, largely with the help of PSC’s “Bridges” supercomputing system. The competition consisted of 120,000 hands of heads-up no-limit Texas hold’em across 20 days in January of 2017 at Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh.

“Pairing Libratus with the HPE Supercomputer Bridges, we really made history.”

While previous poker bots such as CMU’s “Claudico” had previously battled humans to lesser degrees of success, Libratus proved even more powerful. Unlike its predecessors, Libratus relies on an algorithm that computes the strategy based on millions of core hours of computation made possible by the PSC “Bridges” source rather than having fixed built-in strategies. It also randomizes its actions, making it hard for opponents to decipher whether it is bluffing or not.

In a recent video, Nystrom explained, “Bridges is the largest system in the world that converges high-performance computing with artificial intelligence and big data.” He also said that “Pairing Libratus with the HPE Supercomputer Bridges, we really made history.”

According to some of Libratus’ co-creators, the victory was a major milestone in AI research, and apparently HPCwire readers agreed. In a release from CMU after the competition, Tuomas Sandholm, professor of Computer Science who co-developed Libratus with Computer Science Ph.D. student Noam Brown, explained the significance:

“The best AI’s ability to do strategic reasoning with imperfect information has now surpassed that of the best humans.”

Potential Applications

Head of the Computer Science Department at CMU Frank Pfenning talked about the implications that an AI like Libratus that can bluff could have in other fields which, like poker, are based on imperfect systems of information.

“Developing an AI that can [bluff] successfully is a tremendous step forward scientifically and has numerous applications. Imagine that your smartphone will someday be able to negotiate the best price on a new car for you. That’s just the beginning.”

In a recent video by Great Big Story, Nystrom and Liv Boeree discussed some possible applications that Libratus and Bridges could have in the future.

Nystrom said, “The algorithms in Libratus can be applied to situations where we have missing information. Precision medicine, global hunger, climate, environmental damage. The possibilities really are limited only by our imagination.”

These far-reaching implications represented by the performance of Libratus with the help of PSC’s Bridges supercomputer should make clear why HPCwire readers selected the program for the “Best Use of AI” award. For an in-depth look at more “History and Implications” of AI in poker, check out this PokerNews article.

Lead image c/o www.cs.cmu.edu

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