Home * People * Jack Good

Irving John (Jack) Good, (December 9, 1916 - April 5, 2009)
a British statistician and computer pioneer. During World War II, Good worked with Alan Turing and Conel Hugh O'Donel Alexander at Bletchley Park, with Donald Michie and Shaun Wylie et al. in the section Newmanry headed by Max Newman, contributing to crack the German Lorenz cipher [1] [2]. After the war he worked at the University of Manchester and Atlas Computer Laboratory, and had a variety of defense, consulting and academic positions, until he came to the United States in 1967, becoming a University Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech. In 1965 he originated the concept of an intelligence explosion, now known as technological singularity [3], which anticipates the eventual advent of superhuman intelligence [4]. Jack Good died on April 5, 2009, aged 92 [5].
I.J. Good [6]


I. J. Good, nearest to camera - Cheltenham Chronicle. Final of the
National Chess Club championship, a telephone match. August 20, 1955 [7]

Five-Year Plan

Jack Good was a strong chess player, and he published several papers related to computer chess in Michie's Machine Intelligence series [8], most notably his Five-Year Plan for Automatic Chess in 1968 [9], excerpts reprinted in David Levy's Computer Chess Compendium, covering Material, Quiescence, Turbulence, and Agitation [10].


Theorem-proving was mentioned in the Five-Year Plan for Automatic Chess [11]:
Theorem-proving resembles chess Playing in that we have an objective and an analysis tree, or graph, but differs in that a superficial expected pay-off replaces the iterated minimax. The minimax idea can come in if we are trying to prove a theorem and we imagine that we have an opponent who wishes to disprove it. The value of our game is 1 if the theorem is true and — 1 if it is false. In the proof trees described in the paper by Dr D. C. Cooper [12] the 'and's correspond to moves of the opponent, since we must allow for both branches, whereas the `or's correspond to our own moves. The minimax (strictly maximin) value of the tree tells us whether the theorem is true, and, if we allow for superficial probabilities at the endpoints of the tree, the minimax value is the superficial probability of the theorem.


Jack Good

by Jack Good, 1998 [13]:
In letters to Turing, on September 16 and October 3, 1948, I mentioned the idea of resonance circuits in the brain; especially as a method for noticing analogies... In the postscript I discussed chess-playing machines, which he and I had discussed in 1941, and gave a reasonable definition of a forced variation. I took for granted the need to distinguish between quiescent and non-quiescent positions. Shannon's paper on chess appeared in 1950.

In a letter to F C Williams in July 1951 I said "A facetious question is whether it is intended to display chess positions on the monitoring tubes". Of course today it is no longer at all facetious.

David Levy

David Levy in Computer Chess Compendium [14]:
Perhaps non-linear evaluation functions will become popular at some future date, in which case some of Good's ideas will come into their own.

The Times

Excerpt from the Obituary, The Times [15]
To statisticians, Good is one of the founding fathers of Bayesian statistics, an approach to the discipline based on work of Thomas Bayes in 1764. In it one forms a view of the phenomenon under study, quantifying one's uncertainty in terms of a probability distribution (the prior distribution). One then draws a sample, obtaining data, and uses the data and Bayes's theorem to update this prior uncertainty to give a new distribution, the posterior distribution. This approach - the Bayesian paradigm, as it is now called - was little used before Good's work but was given an important boost by his 1950 book and his extensive subsequent writings, and is firmly established today. Good's other interests included artificial intelligence - in particular, training computers to play chess and philosophy.

From Russia with Love

In 1991, Jack Good analyzed the famous position shown in the film From Russia with Love, Kronsteen vs. MacAdams [16], with the motive of the position was taken from Spassky versus Bronstein 1960 [17]. The difference is that MacAdams had 22...Ne6. [18][19]
- - - - - -
Kronsteen - MacAdams
Spassky - Bronstein

r3rnk1/ppp1qNp1/7p/4b3/5Q2/1B6/PP4PP/5RK1 w - - 0 1
r3rnk1/ppp1qNp1/7p/4b3/5Q2/1B6/PP4PP/5RK1 w - - 0 1

r3rnk1/ppp1qNp1/7p/2P1b3/3P1Q2/1B6/PP4PP/5RK1 w - - 0 22
r3rnk1/ppp1qNp1/7p/2P1b3/3P1Q2/1B6/PP4PP/5RK1 w - - 0 22

  • [Event "URS-ch"]
    [Site "Leningrad"]
    [Date "1960.??.??"]
    [Round "?"]
    [White "Boris Spassky"]
    [Black "David Bronstein"]
    [Result "1-0"]
    1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 d5 4.exd5 Bd6 5.Nc3 Ne7 6.d4 0-0 7.Bd3 Nd7 8.0-0 h6 9.Ne4 Nxd5 10.c4 Ne3 
    11.Bxe3 fxe3 12.c5 Be7 13.Bc2 Re8 14.Qd3 e2 15.Nd6 Nf8 16.Nxf7 exf1Q+ 17.Rxf1 Bf5 18.Qxf5 Qd7 
    19.Qf4 Bf6 20.N3e5 Qe7 21.Bb3 Bxe5 22.Nxe5+ Kh7 23.Qe4+ 1-0

See also

Selected Publications

[20] [21]


1940 ...

1950 ...

1960 ...

1970 ...

1980 ...

1990 ...

  • Jack Good (1991). Analysis of the chess position shown in the film From Russia with Love, Kronsteen vs. MacAdams. Chess Monthly, Vol. 56, No. 5
  • Jack Good (1998). The first game of randomized chess played in a regular chess match. Chess Monthly, Vol. 63, No. 5

2000 ...

External Links


  1. ^ Jack Good, Donald Michie, Geoffrey Timms (1945). General Report on Tunny from The Turing Archive for the History of Computing
  2. ^ From Codebreaking to Computing - Video from The Computer History Museum
  3. ^ Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence from Wikiepedia
  4. ^ Jack Good (1965). Speculations Concerning the First Ultraintelligent Machine. Advances in Computers, Vol. 6, pdf, pdf
  5. ^ In Memoriam: I. J. Good, University Distinguished Professor and pioneer of modern statistics, Obituary from Virginia Tech
  6. ^ VT Image Base Photographs Creator: Pat Hill of OMNI Magazine 1979, January issue
  7. ^ VT Image Base Photographs Creator: Pat Hill of OMNI Magazine 1979, January issue
  8. ^ Machine Intelligence series
  9. ^ Jack Good (1968). A Five-Year Plan for Automatic Chess. Machine Intelligence Vol. 2, pdf
  10. ^ David Levy (1988). Computer Chess Compendium - 3.2 A Five-Year Plan for Automatic Chess (excerpt).
  11. ^ Jack Good (1968). A Five-Year Plan for Automatic Chess. Machine Intelligence Vol. 2, pp. 93
  12. ^ David C. Cooper (1966). Mathematical proofs about computer programs. Machine Intelligence, Vol. 1
  13. ^ Excerpts from Acceptance Speech for the 1998 Computer Pioneers Award from the IEEE - Jack Good hosted by Atlas Computer Laboratory
  14. ^ David Levy (1988). Computer Chess Compendium, 3 Position Evaluation pp. 112
  15. ^ Obituary, The Times - Brilliant mathematician and Bletchley Park codebreaker who laid the foundations of modern statistics hosted by Atlas Computer Laboratory
  16. ^ Jack Good (1991). Analysis of the chess position shown in the film From Russia with Love, Kronsteen vs. MacAdams. Chess Monthly, Vol. 56, No. 5
  17. ^ The Chess Game in the James Bond classic From Russia, With Love from Ernst's Home Page
  18. ^ OPEN CHESS DIARY 241-260, 250. July 6, 2004: You are requested to make a blunder by Tim Krabbé
  19. ^ The name is Spassky – Boris Spassky from ChessBase news, September 2, 2004
  20. ^ ICGA Reference Database (pdf)
  21. ^ I.J. Good's Shorter Publications List (pdf) from Virginia Tech
  22. ^ Good–Turing frequency estimation
  23. ^ Paul Rushton, Tony Marsland (1973). Current Chess Programs: A Summary of their Potential and Limitations. INFOR Journal of the Canadian Information Processing Society Vol. 11, No. 1, pdf
  24. ^ Adriaan de Groot (1988). A Rejoinder to I.J. Good's Comments. ICCA Journal, Vol. 11, No. 2/3
  25. ^ Banburismus from Wikipedia
  26. ^ Good–Turing frequency estimation from Wikipedia
  27. ^ David McAllester, Robert Schapire (2000). On the Convergence Rate of Good-Turing Estimators. COLT 2000, CiteSeerX

What links here?

Up one level