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n°24  |  March   2008
At a glance
Bull and INRIA competing against the Go grand masters
High-Performance Computing and artificial intelligence at the Paris Go tournament

The French Go Federation is organizing the 36th Go tournament in Paris, open to amateurs and professionals from Europe and Asia. Europe’s biggest Go tournament, the event will bring together over 400 players from some 20 countries.

In 1997, Garry Kasparov – at the time the world Chess champion – was beaten for the first time by a computer. A decade later, a team of researchers at the University of Alberta in Canada announced that they had developed a software program that successfully mastered the game of checkers (draughts). But the game of Go was still the exclusive preserve of human players.

This year, however, Marc Jégou, the joint organizer of the tournament, came up with the idea of staging the first ever ‘IA-GO Challenge 2008’: for the first time ever pitting the grand masters of the game against a machine – a Bull supercomputer – and a ‘brain’ – the MoGo artificial intelligence engine developed by INRIA and currently recognized as one of the best software programs in the world.

Quite apart from the intellectual and emotional challenge that this represents – designing a machine to win against the Go grand masters – our involvement in this tournament will help us make advances in parallelization techniques that could have an impact not only on the game itself but on many areas of everyday life,” explained Yann Kalemkarian from Bull’s HPC R&D team, who initiated the project.

“The IA engine that INRIA has developed and we have optimized for a Bull NovaScale supercomputer uses the ‘Monte-Carlo’ method, the name referring to gambling games used in Monte-Carlo,” Yann Kalemkarian continued. “This method allows extremely complex problems to be solved very quickly by using an approach based on the laws of probability. There is enormous interest in improving this technique, because it is used in atomic research, in medicine (for example, to make very rapid calculations of the right doses of radiation needed in certain cancer treatments), and in finance (as part of risk analysis).”

The event will take place from 22-24 March.

For more information:
Tournament Web site >>
Article about radio broadcast on France-Culture discussing the IA-GO challenge >>
Wikipedia page about the Monte-Carlo method >>

* INRIA: The French National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control

01net, the leading IT portal in France, publishes the Bull Guide to Open Source software

In partnership with Bull, the French IT magazine 01informatique has just published the first French Open Source software guide on its portal, designed and coordinated by Bull and its partners. Launched by Bull in June 2007, is the leading comparative and interactive portal for Open Source enterprise software in France. Its aim is to bring together expert opinions and shared experiences, so IT Departments can exploit the full potential of Open Source in their information systems.

With more than 200,000 visits recorded since it was launched, the site has been a resounding success: to the point where it has attracted the attention of 01net, the leading IT portal in France. Their initiative involves offering visitors a new more comprehensive guide to Open Source software, to replace the concise one that had been available on the site until recently. Since February 2008, it’s done and, in partnership with Bull, 01net has just published the guide on its site. It provides a summary of each of the 150 leading Open Source enterprise applications, and includes links to the site itself, to enhance the collaborative dimension (a scoring system enables users to register their own assessments of individual software items).

Discover the guide on (in French) >>
Find out more at including blogs, experts opinions and users’ first-hand experiences of Open Source software >>

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