Search and Planning Under Incomplete Information: A Study Using Bridge Card Play by Ian Frank

April 15, 2010 at 11:16 am 21 comments

What I know about AI and computer science can be summed up like this: wash your hands thoroughly after handling fresh chilli.

But I do know something about bridge and from that perspective I find this book a remarkable achievement. I became involved with a little group last year thinking we would develop a project for creating a bridge program that can talk in a human-like way about bridge. Frank hasn’t exactly done that. He has, however, got his program to describe non-verbally what it does in a human-like way. From a bridge view point this book is fascinating. I can also see from the dipping into it I’ve so far undertaken, that it accessible even for a person, like me, who knows just less than Manuel.

To make a bridge program that plays at a high level and can talk about it in a human-like way is a challenge far greater than that initiated in the 1940s to create an artificially intelligent chess program. That Frank’s work is so interesting so long after he first undertook it in the early-mid nineties underlies the truth of this.

This book is based on his PhD which won best disseration of the year in the UK when it came out. I can see why.

I happened to meet the author a few weeks ago and as a consequence, I have a freebie to offer you. Anybody who is interested in the area and would like a copy of the book, please send me your name and shipping address. It will be sent to you free of charge.


Entry filed under: thoughts on bridge.

A situation you’ve never been in before, concluded. More on knowing what the score is.

21 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Ian Graham  |  January 20, 2014 at 7:23 am

    Hi Cathy,
    If you have access to Professor Frank, please do me a big favour: ask him if I can possibly obtain a copy of his program, Finesse, either as a working program – I’d love to see it in action – or as source code.

    His thesis offered the source code for download from an Edinburgh university site but the code seems to be lost.

    I’d be happy to pay for it, of course.

    Thanks again

    • 2. cathyc  |  January 20, 2014 at 7:08 pm

      Hi Ian. Ian is not responding to messages. If I get one I will let you know! You might be able to track down his supervisors, there are a couple, I think one is in Zurich and not so long ago was in communication with Ian, so maybe that could be a source of code? Sorry I can’t be more helpful.

  • 3. Ian Graham  |  December 14, 2013 at 9:08 am

    Hi, Would love a copy of Professor Frank’s book if still available. If not can you let me know publisher, please?

    Ian Graham
    P.O.Box 559
    Castle Hill
    NSW 2154

    Thanks a bundle.

    • 4. cathyc  |  December 14, 2013 at 6:28 pm

      H Ian. I have to reply the same to you as I did to John below….Ian isn’t easy to get hold of at the moment. I have written to him about it, but so far without success. It was published by Springer.

      I notice here a download link, but I haven’t tried it, don’t know if it will give you an eversion of the whole thing:

      • 5. Ian Graham  |  December 15, 2013 at 5:32 pm

        Hi Cathy, Thanks and does. Thanks again

  • 6. John Gilliland  |  October 20, 2013 at 11:48 am

    I know I am probably too late but if there are any left I would love a copy. Thanks so much.
    John Gilliland
    5712 Cricket Ridge
    Indianapolis, IN, 46250

    • 7. cathyc  |  December 14, 2013 at 6:29 pm

      Hi John, please see my reply above for a link that might give you an e copy of the book….

  • 8. Collins Williams  |  March 30, 2011 at 7:22 am

    I’m only a year too late but I’d be very interested in either hard or soft copy of this.

    Collins Williams
    6917 Slade Hill Rd
    Raleigh, NC 27615

    • 9. cathyc  |  April 5, 2011 at 6:04 pm

      Hi. That’ll be fine. Ian has just got back to Japan a few days ago and is waiting for his geiger counter. As soon as he has received it and waved it over your book, it’ll be on its way.

      Sorry, that ISN”T a joke.

  • 10. Suit combinations « The Overtrick  |  March 30, 2011 at 6:14 am

    […] Some of you asked for a copy of Ian Frank’s book on Searching and Planning as it related to bridge. Here is the original post: Searching and Planning […]

  • 11. andrew webb  |  April 19, 2010 at 6:47 am

    Hi cathy – me too, if still possible. I like this guy’s stuff.

    • 12. cathychua  |  April 19, 2010 at 12:51 pm

      I had already taken that liberty, Andrew! You were first on the list…

  • 13. Tony Tee  |  April 18, 2010 at 7:58 am

    Hi … if I’m not too late and you can stretch to one more …

    Tony Thomson
    8 Bristow Place
    Wellington 6012
    New Zealand

  • 14. Jonathan Mestel  |  April 16, 2010 at 6:28 pm

    Went to a play about Alan Turing last night (link – The Turing Test – could a machine impersonate a human?) I wonder if computers will ever wonder if we could impersonate them.

    Book sounds interesting. If you’re sure we’re not overstaying the intended numbers:

    Maths Dept
    Imperial College London
    SW7 2AZ

    • 15. cathychua  |  April 16, 2010 at 8:00 pm

      You mean – we aren’t computers?

  • 16. Richard  |  April 16, 2010 at 1:32 am

    I’ll bite.
    Richard Whitehead
    c/o Manhattan Bridge Club
    250 West 57th Street Ste 1427
    New York NY 10107

  • 17. Martin Reid  |  April 15, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    Hi, I’m also v.interested (it seems for far that only Kiwi’s and Ocker’s are curious):

    Martin Reid
    13 Lower Watt Street
    Wellington 6012
    New Zealand

    (happy to contribute to shipping)…

    • 18. cathychua  |  April 15, 2010 at 4:20 pm

      Book and shipping is free! It will be coming from Japan where Ian has an academic post. As for only locals. Well, maybe my blog is not commanding a wide audience. I had a lot of people around the world reading it when I was a good regular reliable blogger. But now that I’m not….

  • 19. chris mulley  |  April 15, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    I too would love a copy:

    School of Law
    University of Notre Dame Australia
    PO Box 1225
    Fremantle 6959

  • 20. phil markey  |  April 15, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    me too

    23 eli street
    torrens park
    adelaide sa 5062

  • 21. Michael Albert  |  April 15, 2010 at 11:57 am

    I’d love to take you up on that offer …

    Michael Albert
    Department of Computer Science
    PO Box 56, Dunedin 9054
    New Zealand



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