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Monday, September 6, 2010

Quantum physics applied to chess

In the quantum chess computer game created by computer science student Alice Wismath (right), a piece that should be a knight could simultaneously also be a queen, a pawn or something else. Wimath based the game on an idea proposed by computer science professor Selim Akl, left. (Kristyn Wallace/Queen's University).

Hello Everyone,

What if while playing chess your Queen is also a Rook, a Bishop, a Knight or a Pawn but you don't know which till you touch it?

Fascinating. And, really crazy? Right? Welcome to the world of quantum physics and chess.

How would you ever plan ahead in such a chess game?

A computer professor and his student have just created a fantastic program that applies the laws of quantum physics to chess.

Computers can search all possible outcomes of all possible moves in conventional chess and beat even top human players, says the computer science professor Salem Akl.

He decided to have the pieces mimic the behaviour of very small particles such as atoms and electrons, which follow the laws of quantum mechanics. According to the principle of superposition in quantum physics, such particles can simultaneously be in multiple states at once, but collapse into a single state when an attempt is made to measure their position, momentum or some other aspect.

"I thought of a game that provides the same kind of unpredictability to both players," Akl said. "The computer cannot possibly search all the possibilities because we can show there are an uncountable number of them."


You can read the full story here.

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