The Learning Machine Challenge is a contest sponsored by Artificial Intelligence NV, an Israeli software company. The challenge is to design a computer program that can play a game with unknown rules against an unknown opponent. The contest is to be run in December 2001 with entries no later than October 30, 2001. The winning programmer will receive $2000.

Entry is open to everyone, groups as well as individuals. There is no entry fee. Programs must be able to run under Windows or Linux. Programs must conform to a specific interface API for exchanging information with a "judge" program. Programs should be capable of 10 moves per second. No network connection is allowed. The tournament will be run on an 800 MHz Pentium III with 256Mb of memory and 10Gb of free disk space.

Each game will begin with the judge program informing the playing programs how many valid moves there are in the game to be played and what the symbols are for those moves. Games will have between 2 and 80 legal moves. Between 6 and 12 different games will be used during the tournament. The interface specification is designed to have each program observe moves, make moves, or be told the score (a number between 1 and -1). Games will typically consist of thousands of rounds so that programs have the opportunity to "learn" how to play. The object is to get the highest score.

This sounds like an intriguing competition. Games could be as simple as Rock, paper, scissors or Tic Tac Toe. Conversely, with a possibility of 80 legal moves they could be nearly as complex as chess.

There are sample programs available for download along with the "judge" program so that competitors can test their programs ahead of time and ensure they meet the interface specification.

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