How Berkley Won The Starcraft A I Competition

We’re gathered in a conference room on the Berkeley campus, the detritus of a LAN party scattered around us. The table is covered with computers and pizza, and there’s a game of StarCraft projected on the screen. Oriol Vinyals, a PhD student in computer science, is commanding the Terran army in a life-or-death battle against the forces of the Zerg Swarm….

StarCraft is one of the most popular games ever, a huge hit from a company known for hits. It demands great skill of its players, and it is a mainstay of professional gaming leagues. In Korea, the game is so popular that professional StarCraft players are celebrities with six-figure contracts and their games broadcast live on national TV.

It also happens to be a deeply challenging arena for artificial intelligence, and a successful StarCraft AI agent must attempt to solve a number of hard problems. Dan, who also teaches the introduction to AI class at Berkeley, says, “I can literally walk down the list of concepts we cover and show you where every one of them show up in StarCraft and in our agent….” (via

Skynet meets the Swarm: how the Berkeley Overmind won the 2010 StarCraft AI competition (via

Written on January 24, 2011