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[Bug-gnubg] common bot protocol

From: Frank Berger
Subject: [Bug-gnubg] common bot protocol
Date: Fri, 6 May 2005 23:43:36 +0200

I've sometimes thought that it's best to just extract this evaluation
functions and build up a whole new interface around it.

(I've also been in contact with Harald Wittman, the author of loner and mloner, and we've been thinking of making a common API for evaluation of
backgammon positions. However, this is difficult as well.)

The separation from the AI and the User interface is quite logical for several reasons. The most important for me is: both parts are real hard work and take a lot of time. An awful lot of time. If there would be a standard for AI's like winboard or UCI for chess engines someone could concentrate on the AI, some other on the user interface. Comparing and experimenting with bots would be easier too. That was one reason, that BGBlitz supported this from the very start (just I failed on getting progamms from other people to plug in; the 4 bots that are running are either from me (TachiAI) or ported and I don't have the rights to publish them). Anyway the notion of of pluggable AI make perfect sense to me.

I just scanned the article about winboard. Using pipes is pretty simple and probably works on most OS, I would only extend it, so that the transport level (pipes in the case of winboard) is separatly treated from the content. E.g. having a plain socket connection, might be useful too if the AI runs on another box.

I personally don't think, that it is too difficult to separate the AI from the rest: - in BGBlitz there are several levels from providing only a neural net, to doing everything include cube stuff. It wasn't particulary diffcult, but naturally I started with that approach. The drawback is, that this is at
  object/method level. Communication should go over some wire.

- Here comes the latest dueller from Tony Lezard into play. Dueller communicates with BGBlitz via TCP/IP. It naturally should be augmented, because the dueller has slightly different demands, but that should be no major problem. The point is, that it was just a few days to get it up and running. It used a proprietary ASCII based protocol. I just asked Tony, whther it is ok to publish it.

- for another project I made BGBlitz available via a custom XML/TCP- IP. Again it was just a few days of work. Naturally one could use a standard XML-Protocol like SOAP or XML- RPC, I just felt that custom XML was more
  appropriate in that case.

So if a proposal is not using integration with dll/shared libraries etc. but with pipes/sockects/any other it is doable. And I assume such a protocol would lead to a proliferation of BG-AIs if there User interface is attractive enough.

If you really want to set up such stuff, you can count on my support and having Harald Wittman on board would be simply great.


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