Go, a board game born in Asia, is played around the world. Go can often be regarded as an international language; playing Go with just a board and stones enables us to communicate with players regardless of nationality and without words.
Among various games that have been investigated by computer scientists, Go was known to be one of the most challenging. The large board size with many possible moves together with the difficult concept of strong/weak stones and complex positional judgment, including dead/alive stones, has hindered various approaches for program development.
However, one major breakthrough emerged in 2006—the Monte-Carlo approach. After this breakthrough, the computer Go programs have shown rapid progress. At the event Computer Shogi Challenges Professional Players! at the University of Electro-Communications in March 2012, the computer Go program Zen won games against the professional player Masaki Takemiya (9 dan) given handicaps of five and four stones. This was never imagined 10 years ago by any computer Go program developers, which showed dramatic progress.
Based on this, an agreement was made between the Nihon Ki-in and the University of Electro-Communications on June 22, 2012, aiming at, through the development of computer Go, contributing to the development of information and communication technology, cognitive science, and the Go world. And it was decided not only this competition but also the Densei-sen competition, a regular Go competition between professional players and computer Go programs, would be held.
We consider it very important to hold such competitions in order to stimulate this area. It is also academically meaningful to record the development of programs by holding competitions as a benchmark to measure the development of new technology every year.
The Computer Go UEC Cup has been held since 2007, organized by the University of Electro-communications and the Cognitive Science and Entertainment (E&C) Research Station with the help of the Computer Go Forum. From this year, additionally gaining cooperation from Toshin High School , the UEC Cup aims to not only let programs compete, but also encourage academic and technological communication between the participants.
To achieve this goal, unlike other computer Go competitions held online, the UEC Cup hopes to function as a place where program developers can meet face-to-face and make technological exchanges.
Although the competition is with computers playing the game of Go, we should never forget the human being using the programs to play the game. Computer Go program technology should be useful for and able to enrich the hearts of human beings. In this tournament, it is not only a strength to compete, but we also hope that entrants will create entertainment programs that very aggressively focus on the creation of new technologies and unique interfaces. "The Best Presentation Prize" until last year has been renamed "The Creative Award": this award is given to the program that focuses on a new aspect besides strength. We hope that the UEC cup will be a success through your positive participation and lead to further progress in computer Go technology.
December 22, 2012
The University of Electro-Communications, Japan
Chairperson, Competition Organizing Committee