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AlphaGo – Definition & Overview

AlphaGo – Definition & Overview


AlphaGo is a computer program created by DeepMind, a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc. (Google’s parent company), designed to play the board game Go. Additionally, it was the first AI program to defeat a professional human player (Fan Hui) in October 2015 on a standard board without handicaps.

Development of AlphaGo:

The development of AlphaGo comprises several steps and innovations, showcasing the prospective of AI and ML in mastering multifaceted tasks.

  • AlphaGo was developed by DeepMind in London.
  • The program was trained using deep neural networks, a form of artificial intelligence that learns and makes decisions similar to human thought processes.
  • AlphaGo’s initial training involves supervising learning, which studies a large dataset of expert human Go games.
  • DeepMind later developed AlphaGo Zero, a better version that learned completely through self-play without using human expert data.
  • DeepMind continued its study in AI, applying similar techniques to other games, including chess and shogi, with the development of AlphaZero.

What are the Components of AlphaGo?

The board game depends on several key components & algorithms. Here are the key components of the board game:

  1. Monte Carlo Tree Search (MCTS):

AlphaGo uses MCTS, a probabilistic algorithm simulating moves and evaluating potential outcomes by navigating a tree structure.

  1. Neural Networks:

Deep neural networks play a vibrant role in AlphaGo’s decision-making process. Two main types of neural networks are employed: Policy Networks & Value Networks.

  1. Supervised Learning:

AlphaGo primarily learns from human expert games using a supervised learning approach. However, the program analyzes a large dataset of expert moves to forecast the best moves in different positions.

  1. Simulation and Evaluation:

The MCTS algorithm simulates multiple games by making casual moves and using the value network to evaluate the resulting positions.

AlphaGo Training:

The training of AlphaGo involves a multi-step process that combines supervised learning, reinforcement learning, and extensive self-play.

Supervised Learning:

  • Data Collection: AlphaGo’s training arose with the collection of a large dataset of expert human Go games.
  • Neural Network Training: A neural network, precisely the policy network, was trained using the expert dataset. The policy network is well-read to predict human expert moves in different board situations.

Reinforcement Learning:

  • Self-Play: AlphaGo engaged in self-play, playing games against itself without relying on external human data.
  • Policy and Value Networks: The policy network was refined through policy ascents, enhancing moves that led to success in self-play. Simultaneously, the value network learned to assess board positions and predict the chances of winning.

Historic Matches of AlphaGo:

AlphaGo made history in March 2016 by beating Lee Sedol, one of the world’s top Go players, in a five-game match. Additionally, the program, developed by DeepMind, showcased the influence of artificial intelligence in mastering the ancient and complex game.

Furthermore, AlphaGo’s victory in the early Chinese game, famous for its massive decision space, strategic depth, and intuition-driven play, marked a significant milestone in machine learning.

Consequently, the matches were able to seize global attention, illustrating the prospective of advanced algorithms, neural networks, and reinforcement learning to exceed human expertise in domains requiring deep strategic thinking and intuition.

Achievements of AlphaGo:

Below are the achievements of this board game:

  • In March 2016, in a five-game match, AlphaGo defeated Lee Sedol, a world champion Go player.
  • AlphaGo demonstrated an extraordinary ability to play the ancient game of Go at a superhuman level, showcasing advanced strategic thinking and intuitive decision-making.
  • AlphaGo’s achievement deeply impacted the field of artificial intelligence, inspiring amplified interest and investment in AI research globally.
  • Building on AlphaGo’s success, DeepMind developed AlphaZero, a system that achieved superhuman performance in chess and shogi. Hence showcasing the adaptability & simplification of the underlying AI techniques.


In conclusion, AlphaGo’s victory over human Go champions marked a crunch moment in artificial intelligence. Developed by DeepMind, AlphaGo exhibits the unprecedented capabilities of neural networks, reinforcement learning, and innovative algorithms.

Consequently, its historic victories, remarkably against Lee Sedol, underscored AI’s potential to outperform human intuition in strategic decision-making. AlphaGo’s legacy extends beyond the realm of Go, prompting advancements in machine learning and inspiring research in diverse fields.

Furthermore, this ground-breaking achievement demonstrated the adaptability and power of AI. It fueled a wider exploration of free learning, leaving an stubborn mark on the trajectory of artificial intelligence research & application.

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