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John A. Birmingham,
a British computer scientist and programmer from Harwell Atomic Energy Research Establishment, near Harwell, Oxfordshire, in the neighborhood of Atlas Computer Laboratory, Chilton.

In the early 70s John Birmingham became interested in chess programming, inspired by the work of Peter Kent from Atlas, who already inproved Alex Bell's program, which was written in Algol. He translated the program, plus all the new improvements, into PL/l and also extended the depth of the search. In 1973 Alex Bell joined the team to develop the chess playing program Minimax algorithm Tester, short Master, which competed the first three World Computer Chess Championships [1], from 1975 with Birmingham [2] and Kent as sole authors. Both authors further improved Master, and as scientists, talked about their secrets in tree searching techniques and Mate at a Glance during the first two Advances in Computer Chess conferences, published as Proceedings by Mike Clarke, and reprinted in David Levy's Computer Chess Compendium.
John Birmingham [3]

Quotes

Alex Bell about John Birmingham [4]:
This change from centre control to actively hunting the opponent's king was very noticeable. At this point a very energetic programmer from Harwell Atomic Energy Research Establishment, John Birmingham, became interested. He translated the program, plus all the new improvements, into PL/l in about 6 weeks of his spare time and also extended the depth of the search. I would say at this point that England at last had a program comparable to MACHACK and we ambitiously christened it MASTER-Minimax Algorithm teSTER; if nothing else we had the patent on a good name.

Selected Publications

[5]

External Links


References

  1. ^ Master's ICGA Tournaments
  2. ^ John Birmingham's ICGA Tournaments
  3. ^ Slide 28: 23.08.74 to 01.11.74 from Rutherford's Photographic Section for the Atlas Computer Laboratory
  4. ^ Alex Bell (1978). MASTER at IFIPS. Excerpt from: The Machine Plays Chess? from Atlas Computer Laboratory, hosted by Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL)
  5. ^ ICGA Reference Database (pdf)
  6. ^ In the ICGA Database John Birmingham is mentioned as sole author

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