The first part of this commentary reviews a number of artificial intelligence contests that our chapter has held during the last eight years in the department. The second part contains a description of this contest, as well as how it was held. Finally, the last part summarizes our plan to keep on holding these contests in the future.
1. A Review on Artificial Intelligence Contests in University of Tehran
Formerly, the members of ACM student Chapter, under supervision of faculty members of artificial intelligence group, held some competitions based on analysis and design of algorithms. The following paragraphs include their brief accounts.
1.1 Dots and Boxes Contest
The contest was held in February 2005 as the final project of Artificial Intelligence course (presented in the spring semester of 2005), in which 30 students (from freshman to seniors) participated. The Contest began in the early morning at the computer center of the department with a video projector, to make it visible on the wall of the computer center. It then continued according to a timetable for the matches, which had been designed before the contest, and finished at noon. The final match held in the presence of the department dean, who awarded the prizes of the first three teams.
It is noteworthy that the core of the game was implemented by some students according to the rules of the game. The teams who had applied learning algorithms in their codes were given a bonus.
This was the famous game known as Othello, in which two players play with pieces that have two distinct faces on an 8*8 square. These pieces are like coins with black and white faces, with each face representing one of the players. The core of the game was written by one of the students and the implementation of the intelligent agent was assigned to the participants.
The contest was held in December 2006 in the presence of 100 students of our department with two video projectors, and sixteen teams of students from freshmen to seniors participated in it. It lasted for two hours. The winner and the best team of the-first-two-years students were each awarded a gold coin, and a flash memory was the award of the next two teams. The contest was totally financed by some faculty members of the department.
1.3 Multiplicative Squares
This was an online competition in the webpage http://www.recmath.org in March 2007, in which players were ought to find an arrangement of numbers from 1 to N2 and put them in an N*N table to maximum or minimum a given expression.
In this contest, 12 students from second-year students to seniors participated. It was a great challenge, and efficient algorithms in local search that are not introduced in artificial intelligence courses were applied by competitors. The first two teams were awarded by the chapter.
2. Description of the Dots and Boxes Contest
ACM student Chapter held the dots and boxes competition in fall semester of 2010. The core of this game was written by a number of students, and competitors were supposed to implement the part of the game related to the decision making process. A graphical user interface was also fully implemented and was provided to participants as well as the core.
2.1 Call for the Contest
As other programs held by the chapter, several posters were prepared. Also, considering the experience of similar contests in the past and the unfamiliarity of students with these kinds of contests, we introduced the whole process and demonstrated a sample match three weeks before the main contest. The program started at 1 pm, in which two intelligent agents competed in an exciting atmosphere.
The fact that the graphical sections and the core of the game had already been implemented motivated many lower age students to participate. Although the contest was mainly designed for computer engineering students, it also grasped the attention of some students of electrical engineering. After this call, interested students had the opportunity to implement their intelligent agent and upload their codes in the website in three weeks.
2.2 Holding the Contest
The contest began in January 10, 2011 at 1 pm, and intelligent agents implemented by students played with each other through the server. During the contest, the players movements were shown by video projectors on the walls of the department computer center, and so students had the chance to discuss about the algorithms and share their knowledge of the algorithms implemented.
Around 60 students came to watch matches. The total number of participants was 33 individuals in the form of two- to four-member teams. Totally 13 teams were involved in the contest. To be fair, intelligent agents were to play twice, each play beginning with one of the players. The contest ended after about four hours.
There was a lot of excitement among the teams of second-year students during the contest, and surprisingly, one of them won the contest. After the contest, the top three teams were awarded as follows.
• The first team: $100 Gift Card
• The second team: $50 Gift Card
• The third team: $25 Gift Card
These were financed by Fanap Corporation. However, in order to encourage second-year students, we gave a special gift to their first team, which was a $ 25 Gift Card.
2.3 Relevant Theoretical Fields
The algorithmic basis of the contest is related with some of the issues raised in Data Structure, Algorithm Design and Artificial Intelligence courses. However, due to the simplicity of implementation of this program, basic knowledge from the first two courses was sufficient for participation in the contest.
3. Future Plan
Considering the permanent need for motivating students to employ their academic studies in algorithm design, ACM Student Chapter at University of Tehran intends to hold annually artificial intelligence contests in two phases. The first is going to be held locally (participants form University of Tehran) every year in October, while the second will be held countrywide in March.