Algorithm That Mastered Pong Now Excellent at Flappy Bird, Still Single

Improving on a deep-learning method pioneered for Pong, Space Invaders, and other Atari games, Stanford University computer science student Kevin Chen has created an algorithm that’s quite good at the classic 2014 side-scroller Flappy Bird. Chen has leveraged a concept known as “q-learning,” in which an agent aims to improve its reward score with each iteration of playing, to perfect a nearly impossible and impossibly addicting game. Chen created a system wherein his algorithm was optimized to seek three rewards: a small positive reward for each frame it stayed alive, a large reward for passing through a pipe, and an equally large (but negative) reward for dying. Thus motivated, the so-called deep-q network can outplay humans, according to the report Chen authored: “We were able to successfully play the game…


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