A graphical representation of the increasing strength of computer Go programs

Graph, 1989-2015
Graph, 2008-2015

This page uses graphs to show the strength of the leading computer Go programs, plotted against time.

The source of all the data is the page Human-Computer Go Challenges, which lists all the "official" human-computer go games that I am aware of. These are games and matches that have been well-publicised, or which have been played at the end of a computer Go tournament between the winner or winners and a human, as part of the event. Inclusion criteri are listed below.

Criteria for inclusion in the graph

A game is treated as a data point for the graph if all of these are true:

The data file used to create the graphs is in this text file.

Weaknesses in the data

There are many weaknesses in the data.

Assumptions

To make all the data comparable so that it can be included in one graph, I have made some assumptions:

Details of the graphs

Wherever a human of known strength (taking account of the handicap used) lost to a leading program, there is a black ribbon extending downwards from one stone weaker than the human's adjusted strength to the bottom of the graph. The ribbon indicates that it is slightly improbable that the program was weak enough to fall in the strength range shown by the ribbon.

Likewise, wherever a human beat a leading program, there is a white ribbon extending upwards from one stone stronger than the human's adjusted strength to the top of the graph, indicating that it is slightly improbable that the program was strong enough to fall in the strength range shown by the ribbon.

The ribbons are all partly transparent, allowing the combined effect of several overlapping ribbons to be seen for games played on the same or close dates.

For example, at the end of 1997, three Taiwanese inseis (whom I have treated as amateur 6-dan) played against Handtalk, then the world's leading program, all giving 11-stone handicaps. One insei won his game, the other two lost. The adjusted rating of a 6-dan giving 11 stones is 6-kyu, so the graph shows, at the end of 1997, a black ribbon extending down from 7-kyu and a white ribbon extending up from 5-kyu. The black ribbon is actually two overlaid black ribbons for the two games lost by the inseis, so is somewhat denser than the white ribbon.

Graph, 1989-2015

Graph, 2008-2015

Reasons for the continuing improvement in strength

Last updated: 2016-02-08