Strategy Grafting in Extensive Games

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 22 (NIPS 2009)

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Kevin Waugh, Nolan Bard, Michael Bowling


Extensive games are often used to model the interactions of multiple agents within an environment. Much recent work has focused on increasing the size of an extensive game that can be feasibly solved. Despite these improvements, many interesting games are still too large for such techniques. A common approach for computing strategies in these large games is to first employ an abstraction technique to reduce the original game to an abstract game that is of a manageable size. This abstract game is then solved and the resulting strategy is used in the original game. Most top programs in recent AAAI Computer Poker Competitions use this approach. The trend in this competition has been that strategies found in larger abstract games tend to beat strategies found in smaller abstract games. These larger abstract games have more expressive strategy spaces and therefore contain better strategies. In this paper we present a new method for computing strategies in large games. This method allows us to compute more expressive strategies without increasing the size of abstract games that we are required to solve. We demonstrate the power of the approach experimentally in both small and large games, while also providing a theoretical justification for the resulting improvement.