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AI Challenge Forums • View topic - Are more bots better than one?

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Are more bots better than one?

Ideas for the Future

Are more bots better than one?

Postby BenJackson » Sat Dec 03, 2011 8:37 pm

My bot does not rely on having ant orders followed exactly by the server. In other words, if I tell (1,1) to go north I don't save any expectation of an ant at (0,1) on the next turn. I suspect many bots are like this.

Given that property it should be possible to construct a "voting wrapper" which runs multiple bots as children and takes all their orders together as votes and produces a unified set of orders to the game engine. Would that bot be better than its parts or just more mediocre?

Since I don't have "many" bots to play with I was thinking of implementing this as a tcpclient proxy so people could connect to the proxy and when 3 people are connected to the proxy it would join fluxid (or whatever) and play the majority-rules orders to the server.
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Re: Are more bots better than one?

Postby Scryer » Sat Dec 03, 2011 11:22 pm

While it's certainly the case that my bot treats its own ants as newly discovered on each turn and could contribute to the Delphi operation in the same way, I find it difficult to believe that my moves would do anything but dilute yours. I stole the only defense I'm using so far from a very early version of your bot, and I don't think I do any phase of the game as well as you: defense, tactics, expansion, area control, Blitzkrieg, sieges (either side) or foraging.

It may be that you could put together a consortium whose strengths you can use to put together a winning idea. For example, find the one with the best ant ratio over the first hundred moves and weight that one higher if you're in an expansion phase; or the one that has been shown to take out a BJ-style 4-ant X hill defense in the fewest moves on average if you see one of those; or the one that collects the most food when you're in siege mode.

You might also want to limit it to bots in the top 500 (live) or 70% (fluxid), or some such numbers.

OTOH, "the rest of the world" gave Kasparov a good game, so perhaps there's something to the idea. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kasparov_versus_the_World)
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Re: Are more bots better than one?

Postby tmc » Sun Dec 04, 2011 1:09 am

That's an interesting idea, but I doubt it would work. Scryer's should, though.

There are few places in which you could combine the output of separate units to produce something better than the best component, such as opponent prediction and move generation. You would want a single function for evaluating the quality of moves though.

When it comes to opponent prediction, see the excellent explanation at
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Re: Are more bots better than one?

Postby McLeopold » Sun Dec 04, 2011 7:43 am

I suspect it would make a bot with fewer flaws, but not many strengths.

Imagine if you did the same for check. Most programs would not pick bad moves. The ones that did would be outvoted. Many bots may not be able to see as far a the best one, so the "best" move made by that bot would be missed by everyone else and outvoted.

I think the current sophistication of bots at this point is low enough that a bot without flaws might win. If used as testing bot, it might help others identify better strategies. (that is assuming you can tell what it is doing or why ;) )
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Re: Are more bots better than one?

Postby fourmidable » Sun Dec 04, 2011 10:48 pm

That's an interesting question. I remember (but can't find a reference to) an old experiment with chess programs that were combined by voting in a similar fashion. If memory serves, the result was actually weaker than the strongest voting computer.

One issue is that programs, chess or ants, choose moves to implement a strategy (explicit or implicit), and that voting moves doesn't share this strategy. It is easy for the crowd to switch frequently from one strategy to another, causing the collective to wander around aimlessly. Better a bad strategy than no strategy! GK against the world is different, because participants actively shared strategies in addition to moves.

This could still be fun to try.
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