Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

545-Person Programming War Declares a Winner

Soulskill posted about 3 months ago | from the bring-me-the-severed-subroutine-of-your-fallen-foe dept.

Programming 57

An anonymous reader writes: A while back we discussed Code Combat, a multiplayer game that lets players program their way to victory. They recently launched a tournament called Greed, where coders had to write algorithms for competitively collecting coins. 545 programmers participated, submitting over 126,000 lines of code, which resulted in 390 billion statements being executed on a 673-core supercomputer. The winner, going by the name of "Wizard Dude," won 363 matches, tied 14, and lost none! He explains his strategy: "My coin-collecting algorithm uses a novel forces-based mechanism to control movement. Each coin on the map applies an attractive force on collectors (peasants/peons) proportional to its value over distance squared. Allied collectors and the arena edges apply a repulsive force, pushing other collectors away. The sum of these forces produces a vector indicating the direction in which the collector should move this turn. The result is that: 1) collectors naturally move towards clusters of coins that give the greatest overall payoff, 2) collectors spread out evenly to cover territory. Additionally, the value of each coin is scaled depending on its distance from the nearest enemy collector, weighting in favor of coins with an almost even distance. This encourages collectors not to chase lost coins, but to deprive the enemy of contested coins first and leave safer coins for later."

cancel ×

57 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Uhm, trademark problem.... (1)

The New Guy 2.0 (3497907) | about 3 months ago | (#47232207)

I thought Greed was "The Multimillion Dollar Challenge" where teams of five tried to answer trivia questions but each round one player was randomly paid to try to take another player out of the game, or be thrown out trying....

Re:Uhm, trademark problem.... (4, Funny)

SQLGuru (980662) | about 3 months ago | (#47232233)

I thought Greed was getting kickbacks from the lobbying groups to buy your support for questionable bills.

Re:Uhm, trademark problem.... (5, Funny)

mu51c10rd (187182) | about 3 months ago | (#47232571)

I thought Greed was getting kickbacks from the lobbying groups to buy your support for questionable bills.

No, that's called Politics.

Re:Uhm, trademark problem.... (1)

FacePlant (19134) | about 3 months ago | (#47232779)

a skunk by any other name ...

Re:Uhm, trademark problem.... (1)

dj245 (732906) | about 3 months ago | (#47233179)

I thought Greed was getting kickbacks from the lobbying groups to buy your support for questionable bills.

What he has done is effectively apply game theory in deciding which coins to target and how to spread his resources. It is quite clever but applying this solution to this style of problem isn't really unexpected.

Change coin to insurgent (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47232225)

and upload this to the drone control network.

Re:Change coin to insurgent (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47232351)

...I have the sudden need for a house to be filled with popcorn

Re:Change coin to insurgent (2)

barfy (256323) | about 3 months ago | (#47233291)

...It's a moral imperative!

Re:Change coin to insurgent (2)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | about 3 months ago | (#47232375)

That would only make sense if there were two competing drone networks trying to kill the same people.

Re:Change coin to insurgent (1)

lgw (121541) | about 3 months ago | (#47232839)

And why wouldn't there be?

Re:Change coin to insurgent (1)

rogoshen1 (2922505) | about 3 months ago | (#47233037)

Well because the US and Israel are allies.
(i keed i keed)

Re:Change coin to insurgent (1)

Cenan (1892902) | about 3 months ago | (#47235297)

For now. US and Iran used to be allies too.

$5.74 == Wow hardware resources have become cheap! (3)

origin2k (302035) | about 3 months ago | (#47232263)

The final ranking was performed with a 673-core computer cluster, which simulated 153,439 games in under one hour for just $5.74

$5.74 == Wow hardware resources have become cheap! (3, Interesting)

schmatz (1846876) | about 3 months ago | (#47232367)

They sure have! We just spun up 20 c3.8xlarge spot instances on Amazon, AWS is pretty magical.

Re:$5.74 == Wow hardware resources have become che (1)

lgw (121541) | about 3 months ago | (#47232875)

Spot especially, as it's relatively cheap - quite cheap as supercomputing cluster time goes!

Re:$5.74 == Wow hardware resources have become che (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 3 months ago | (#47232373)

Please, I ran a simulation just like this on a 1992 super computer, and I haven't paid a cent.

I guess the agreement did say payment was due when processing finishes next decade, though.

Re:$5.74 == Wow hardware resources have become che (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47232379)

under 1 hour... so let's assume half an hour... that is still like $250 a day for a cluster like that could be built for under $10,000... break even is within 2 months of use including electricity, so really those prices are still pretty high, it's just that most people only need that kind of power for short bursts of time.

the great Google App Engine vs. Amazon Elastic Beanstalk wars are coming.

Re:$5.74 == Wow hardware resources have become che (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47232493)

Build me a cluster of 673-cores (please let it be cores equivalent of the current XEON architecture) for $10000 and I will buy it. For this price you will get only a hand full of processors, not considering: mainboard, RAM, hdd / ssd, cases, racks, network equipment, cooling equipment, manual labor, electrical bill.

Re:$5.74 == Wow hardware resources have become che (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | about 3 months ago | (#47232845)

under 1 hour... so let's assume half an hour... that is still like $250 a day for a cluster like that could be built for under $10,000... break even is within 2 months of use including electricity, so really those prices are still pretty high, it's just that most people only need that kind of power for short bursts of time.

the great Google App Engine vs. Amazon Elastic Beanstalk wars are coming.

$10,000 barely gets you ONE modern well-equipped 20 core server system (I am thinking in particular of the Dell R820/R920 platforms) so no, while you could probably heap together 100 or so ARM cores for $10/core and get something to run on it, a supercomputer it is not.

Re: $5.74 == Wow hardware resources have become ch (2)

guruevi (827432) | about 3 months ago | (#47233009)

I can get 8 core systems sub $1k. It depends on the type of hardware really which it doesn't specify; 20+ cores in a single machine has been available since at least the turn of the century they always cost an arm and a leg though because of the complexities of integrating that many CPUs in a single machine. A combination of boxes amounting to the same amount of CPU, RAM etc has always been cheaper but also larger and harder to use.

Re: $5.74 == Wow hardware resources have become ch (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | about 3 months ago | (#47234173)

I can get 8 core systems sub $1k. It depends on the type of hardware really which it doesn't specify; 20+ cores in a single machine has been available since at least the turn of the century they always cost an arm and a leg though because of the complexities of integrating that many CPUs in a single machine. A combination of boxes amounting to the same amount of CPU, RAM etc has always been cheaper but also larger and harder to use.

The less you spend per core (by having them less concentrated) the more you will spend on interconnecting them in a way befitting a supercomputer (i.e. massive parallelism). A pile of machines totaling 600 cores on a gigabit switch is of very little use compared to a few mega-core machines on a better, smaller network. And you don't want to know how much all the fabric would cost to properly integrate all of those 8 core systems.

Re: $5.74 == Wow hardware resources have become ch (3, Informative)

guruevi (827432) | about 3 months ago | (#47234741)

It really depends on your calculations (yes, I work in academic research). You can get very large, very parallel problems and have enough with 56k modems in between nodes and there are those where 12x Infiniband is not enough. It also depends on the person implementing the system, how well versed they are in the subject matter and cluster programming, the languages they use and whether or not what they write is aware of what is happening where.

The fabric can be relatively cheap actually, 24 port 10Gbps and QDR Infiniband switches can be had sub-5k these days (unless you go Cisco off course) especially in blade systems. All-in-all the hardware for clusters has gotten very, very cheap. Amazon wouldn't be selling it at $5/h if it weren't profitable.

Large research clusters BTW (such as the ones at Fermilab, CERN or your average University) are usually large sets of 2/4/8 core systems, sometimes with a few very large nodes thrown in or these days a set of GPU nodes. 20-core nodes are rare in actual clusters a la Blue Gene/Q

Re:$5.74 == Wow hardware resources have become che (1)

gringer (252588) | about 3 months ago | (#47234081)

$10,000 barely gets you ONE modern well-equipped 20 core server system

I get 4x16 core AMD Opteron 6366HE on a Dell PowerEdge m915 for $5,578.70:

http://configure.us.dell.com/d... [dell.com]

So that's a bit less than $10,000 for 100 cores on a standard issue Dell machine. It's not completely crazy to expect you could increase that to 600 cores without too much extra cash laid down.

Re:$5.74 == Wow hardware resources have become che (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47233021)

Cluster: $5.74 / 673 = $0.008528975/core/hr

Build-your-own:
Assume you bought a $300 I7-3770 (8-cores @ 77W) and spent an extra $700 on parts for a total of $1000.
Assume the machine's lifetime is 4 years, and assume your time is free (it's not), and assume no parts fail.
Assume 100W for the machine's operation + 300W for cooling = 400W.
Hardware: $1000 / 26297.4 hours / 8 cores = $0.004753322/core/hr
Electricity: 400W * $0.10/kWh / 8 cores = $0.005/core/hr
Total: $0.009753322/core/hr (14.4% more than the cluster)

Conclusion: It's definitely cheaper to buy time on the cluster than to build your own -- especially if you don't use the machine at 100% for its entire lifetime. The build-your-own version price skyrockets if you only use it for a few hours and then walk away. E.g. Using it only 1/2 the time costs $0.014506644/core/hr (70% more than the cluster), and using it only 10% of the time costs $0.05253322/core/hr (that's more than 6x the cost of the cluster).

Re: $5.74 == Wow hardware resources have become ch (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47233125)

The i7-3770 is only 4 cores.

Re: $5.74 == Wow hardware resources have become ch (1)

Blaskowicz (634489) | about 3 months ago | (#47233641)

But 300W for cooling is weird, in fact outside the US most people don't have home A/C and the heat output of one PC (or console, or TV) is simply ignored.

Interdisciplinary crossover (5, Insightful)

upontheturtlesback (2605689) | about 3 months ago | (#47232287)

This is really interesting and exciting work. In 2010, we showed that nearly this exact algorithm is used by neonates (newborns) to govern their visual attention and eye movements, and it explains much of what we know about newborn visual attention. It's exciting to see that when you essentially parallelize the algorithm with multiple agents that are aware of each other, it becomes an extremely efficient algorithm for resource collection in a completely different field/task. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pu... [nih.gov]

Re:Interdisciplinary crossover (4, Interesting)

macklin01 (760841) | about 3 months ago | (#47232641)

We also use very similar force algorithms in our cancer models. :-) e.g., http://www.sciencedirect.com/s... [sciencedirect.com]

The description of the agents and forces in this summary was actually very well done.

Re:Interdisciplinary crossover (1)

macklin01 (760841) | about 3 months ago | (#47232661)

BTW, that's a very cool paper! Have you considered using these techniques towards image processing, segmentation, etc.?

Re:Interdisciplinary crossover (2)

upontheturtlesback (2605689) | about 3 months ago | (#47233193)

That's really cool! I find it really interesting and elegant to see the same simple model describe the behavior of such disparate systems that, on the surface, look complicated, but can be described by the sum of simple mechanisms.

I agree, the summary was really well written.

That's a good question, about using similar techniques for image processing and object segmentation from a scene. From a cognitive standpoint, neonates rapidly build on this simple model over their first few months of life as they begin to represent things in world-centered rather than retina-centered coordinates, and begin to learn the basic visual features in the environment (sort of like an alphabet of shapes) that objects tend to be constructed out of. I'm not familiar with most of the image segmentation literature, but I think they're working on doing things that are conceptually similar -- having a hierarchy of feature detectors built from low-level features that eventually contain enough features to recognize entire objects.

Re:Interdisciplinary crossover (5, Informative)

John Bokma (834313) | about 3 months ago | (#47232749)

"Free full text" but no link to download the PDF (at least, I don't see it). PDF: http://psych.mcmaster.ca/maure... [mcmaster.ca]

Re:Interdisciplinary crossover (2)

gringer (252588) | about 3 months ago | (#47233869)

You need to click on the "Elsevier Open Access" link from NCBI, which is a direct link to the article on the publisher's website (this location is where you click for all PubMed articles, as long as the publisher has provided access in that way). PubMed never displays complete articles.

After clicking through, there's a "Download PDF" link at the top left of the article, just under the green Science Direct header.

Re:Interdisciplinary crossover (1)

John Bokma (834313) | about 3 months ago | (#47234139)

Thanks, for the clear explanation. It's extremely confusing to put it nicely.

Re:Interdisciplinary crossover (1)

gringer (252588) | about 3 months ago | (#47234411)

It's extremely confusing to put it nicely.

I feel compelled to tell the world about a more confusing part of NCBI that I'm trying to navigate myself around at the moment: The Transcriptome Shotgun Assembly Sequence Database. Submitting sequences is... a little tricky. Here's a simplification of the process:

  1. Create a BioSample record for the organism that you're submitting data for
  2. Download a sample template tab-delimited file, and fill in arbitrary descriptions about your organism
  3. Upload the template file (using your web browser), and finish the remainder of the BioSample submission process
  4. wait for email confirmation of your BioSample record, after which it will have an "official" ID
  5. Create a BioProject record for your transcriptome assembly project, and link in the BioSample record (I don't think you need to wait for email confirmation to get an ID for that)
  6. Create a Sequence Read Archive (SRA) record for your transcriptome assembly project
  7. Create an experiment record (in the SRA record) for your transcriptome assembly project, one for each different method of sequencing that was used
  8. Get md5 sums of all the raw data files that will be uploaded to NCBI
  9. Create a run record (in the experiment record), and add in the file names and md5 sums of the raw data files
  10. Upload your files to the NCBI servers using an FTP client
  11. Wait for files to be transferred from the NCBI FTP server to the SRA server, after which the run record will get an official run ID
  12. Create a Transcriptome Shotgun Assembly (TSA) record for your transcriptome assembly project, and link in the BioProject and BioSample records, as well as the run IDs from the SRA record
  13. Use a web form to create a metadata file to download to your computer
  14. Use a custom NCBI program to merge the metadata file with your transcriptome assembly
  15. Upload the [large] merged file to NCBI using your web browser
  16. Wait for email confirmation, after which the TSA record will get an official ID

Congratulations, you are now the proud owner of a Transcriptome assembly ID, which you can insert into a single sentence in your research paper: "The transcriptome that was created for use in this study has been uploaded to NCBI (reference ID: GAAA00000000)."

Re:Interdisciplinary crossover (1)

smaddox (928261) | about 3 months ago | (#47233879)

Anyone else find it odd that he used a distance squared force for a 2D problem? The surface of a circle depends linearly on the radius.

Re:Interdisciplinary crossover (2)

cbhacking (979169) | about 3 months ago | (#47234535)

The goal is that the attraction to the coins is greater when you're close (so you don't wander past one, pulled by that large cluster off to the side) and the repulsion is lesser when you're further away (so two allies can turn directly towards each other to pick up coins that lie between both, even though they repel each other).

Reduced to a linear problem (1)

tomxor (2379126) | about 3 months ago | (#47235135)

Anyone else find it odd that he used a distance squared force for a 2D problem? The surface of a circle depends linearly on the radius.

Linearly being the key word... take it one step at a time (before looking at what geometry inverse square law could represent). The rule is derived entirely from distance... Distance reduces the number of spacial dimensions into one, it doesn't matter how many spacial dimensions you have so long as you can find a scalar distance between two points.

For a less abstract explanation think of a 2D simulation as a geometrical subset of a 3D simulation (that subset doesn't have to be axis aligned), a 2D simulation could exist within a plane at any orientation in a 3D simulation...

So a 2D simulation will behave in the same way for distance based rules as a 3D simulation restricted to a plane would. what you do with that scalar distance is up to you (inverse square law just happens to describe lots of nice things like gravity and magnetism etc), there are also other rules that describe other forces based upon distance such as inter molecular forces (known as potentials in molecular dynamics). However all of these rules are compatible with both 2D and 3D simulation.

Re:Interdisciplinary crossover (1)

kahizonaki (1226692) | about 3 months ago | (#47234835)

It actually sounds like a "Schema Architecture" that Arkins proposed in 1998 http://mitpress.mit.edu/catego... [mit.edu] . You can implement it in about 10 lines of python because it's just that: the sum of attractive (goals) and repelling (obstacles) force vectors, weighted by the inverse of the distance squared. I was surprised OP didn't mention the Schema architecture, because it is exactly that, and since it sounds like a (simulated) robot game...

Your paper on newborn looking is really interesting. I build robotic models of the early visuo-motor system and am super interested in neonates but it's extremely hard to get any data from them and so I pretty much don't have any data from less than 8 weeks, which is really unfortunate.

Re:Interdisciplinary crossover (1)

kahizonaki (1226692) | about 3 months ago | (#47234837)

EDIT* Arkins original Robot Schema paper was in *1989*, not his 1998 book http://ijr.sagepub.com/content... [sagepub.com]

Is 'Wizard Dude' an AFRICAN? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47232355)

Thought not. How did I know? How did you ALL know this?

GNAA wants you! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47233317)

Sounds like you could benefit from joining a society of like minded folks. The Gay Nigger Association of America wants you! Are you gay? Are you a nigger? Are you a gay nigger? Post a reply here to learn more!

two words (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47232363)

core wars

neat! (2)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 3 months ago | (#47232583)

This is a very fun game! I've been looking for stuff like this. Normally I have fun writing stuff like this in games until they ban me for "Hacking" when really the hacking was the only fun part of me. Now the hacking bit IS the game.

Maybe I can ditch my EVE mining bots now ;-)

neat! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47232843)

Ditto, writing bots made Puzzle Pirates fun for me again ('til I got banned), and I used to do the same for MUDs. Kind of a shame though, I don't actually have any interest in "beating" human players, I'd much rather have an even playing field against other bots. Looks like this competition is the best place to be for it.

Re:neat! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47232849)

I wish CCP did a better job of detecting/banning botters -- they ruin the economy.

Re:neat! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47233147)

I stopped playing years ago when, no matter what empire region, within seconds orders were outbid. For a long time I could get by with hundreds of orders out and just check on them every few hours. Now not even five seconds will go by before the market bots will update to beat you. There is no way to run profitable margins as a human anymore.

Re:neat! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47235195)

Actually market bots have been driven off pretty effectively. Haven't been insta-sniped for ages.

Ratting/mining bots can still be seen from time to time but their profitability also seems to be getting low.

Supercomputer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47232587)

673 cores is a supercomputer? You can get that much in a single blade enclosure these days depending on your vendor. Two blade enclosures from almost any vendor would handle that quite easily. 673 cores was only kind of super 10 years ago. Maybe they just meant "networked computers".

Does Wizard Dude have a stock market algorithm? (1)

Jason Goatcher (3498937) | about 3 months ago | (#47233273)

Inquiring minds want to know. Although, one of the richest men in the US, who's name escapes me, was a contrarian investor, so I guess I kind of have my answer right there.

Freakin' coders. (3, Interesting)

Kazoo the Clown (644526) | about 3 months ago | (#47233367)

You can tell these guys are all lamer coders, they can't document worth squat. In the forum some guy asks for clear docs and they repond in essense with "just run our simulator, it's too complicated to explain." What a bunch of hosers. A competition like this ought to have clearly deliniated parameters. From reading their page I can't tell a darn thing about what the "Greed" environment is, what the problem to be solved is, and the summary of the winning solution on the Slashdot article here presumes you already know exactly what the conditions and goal with which the warring program must run. I see references on the linked contest site to coins that "randomly appear" and not much more. There's no way he could submit his solution to a journal except the "Journal for Irreproducible Results." Lazy bastards. There may be an interesting solution to something here, but there's seems no way to tell exactly what without reverse engineering their simulator.

Re:Freakin' coders. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47235269)

There's no way he could submit his solution to a journal except the "Journal for Irreproducible Results."

No big deal. AFAIK they aren't submitting it anywhere but to the competition. It's for fun.
Documentation is boring. They aren't getting paid so of course they won't do much, if any, documenting. Did you document your entry?

There may be an interesting solution to something here, but there's seems no way to tell exactly what without reverse engineering their simulator.

Not really. Using attraction fields for controlling units has been around for some time. It isn't novel. Nor should it be. It's a competition, not an AI conference.

Re:Freakin' coders. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47235443)

For someone that actually knows how to code (you obviously don't) code documents itself. This isn't for corporate reuse or maintenance by others (after the usual fire the senior coder who costs a lot more and probably his right hand man junior to save money & then hire on lamo noob kids to take over since they cost a lot less usually).

And simulated 12 previous rounds of competition... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47233555)

Until the 'winner' was able to land on a winning algorythm... How to win a competition without actually competing. How do we actually know that this didn't happen, given that it would only cost $6 per round, and would give the 'winner' ample time to adjust his algorythm accordingly.

jordans shoes for sale (0)

juanlusv (3696347) | about 3 months ago | (#47251345)

Hi! everybody, give you recommend a good shopping place. http://www.jerseysoncn.com/ [jerseysoncn.com] Cheap jerseys/NBA/NHL/NFL/MLB/Hats/Belts/Jewelry/ High quality and best service. Believe you will love it. You must not miss it.
Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>