Technical Report MSC-2021-24

Title: Train on Small, Play the Large: Scaling Up Board Games with AlphaZero and GNN
Authors: Shai Ben-Assayag
Supervisors: Professor Ran El-Yaniv
PDFCurrently accessibly only within the Technion network
Abstract: Playing board games is considered a major challenge for both humans and AI researchers. Because some complicated board games are quite hard to learn, humans usually begin with playing on smaller boards and incrementally advance to master larger board strategies. Most neural network frameworks that are currently tasked with playing board games neither perform such incremental learning nor possess capabilities to automatically scale up.

In this work, we look at the board as a graph and combine a graph neural network architecture inside the AlphaZero framework, along with some other innovative improvements. Our ScalableAlphaZero is capable of learning to play incrementally on small-scale boards, and advancing to play on large ones. Our model can be trained quickly to play different challenging board games on multiple board sizes, without using any domain knowledge. We present an extensive empirical study in which we apply our model to three different board games, including the highly complex game of Go. We demonstrate the generalization power and the effectiveness of our model and show, for example, that by training it for only three days on small Othello boards, it can defeat the AlphaZero model on a large board, which was trained to play the large board for 30 days.

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