By Noah S., Age 16

Game theory is actually not the name of a youtube channel. It is, but that term is actually derived off a complex study called “Game Theory”. Game theory is the study of interactions between intelligent “things”. Whether this thing is a human, AI, or some other kind of rational thinking thing it up to you. Game theory is most commonly used in political science and economics, although its use can also be widened to cover topics like logic and computer science. This is what I researched while I made my battleship, which utilized 2 intelligent things as well, the player (you) and the AI. This topic is very broad, so I will discuss some examples and try to tie them together at the end of this post.

One famous study of game theory is the “prisoner’s dilemma”. Two prisoners, A and B, are being interrogated for the same crime. If both prisoners rat each other out, they get 5 years of prison. If A rats out B, A is set free while B must serve 10 years, and vice versa. If they both stay quiet, however, they each only have to serve 2 years in prison. Even though they both have a significantly better outcome if they both stay silent, the probability of them cooperating is actually very low, and the odds of at least one of them ratting the other out is significantly high. While the reasons are really implied since there is no direct answer (like how in english class there are many ways to interpret something, while in math there is only 1 answer), the risk of getting rewarded by being set free outweighs all other costs, including not receiving the most severe punishment of 10 years, leads many to do so. In addition, mistrust of the other also magnifies this effect.

Another example is battleship. I actually made a program that runs battleship with a complex AI. The board layout is actually determined both a combination of statistics and game theory. When playing battleship, one of the player’s primary goals is to aim for more open spaces to shorten the game and give themselves a better chance at winning. But where should a player aim to give themselves the largest chance at hitting a target? This is determined by game theory. While there is no way to play battleship to give yourself a 100% chance at winning, as it is a luck-based game, there are spots you can fire that give yourself a slight edge. For example, if you see a 4 space opening, you know that a carrier (5 slots) cannot fit there. If you see a spot completely surrounded on all sides by misses, you know that there cannot be a ship in there, and as a result that space may as well count as a miss. This is what I coded into the AI in my battleship game to make it more human-like. By covering the board with probabilities of locations that are most likely to harbor a ship (pun intended) in relation to the amount of ships left and the different types they are, a player (or AI) can use game theory to their advantage to win the game.

To tie these together, game theory is a super broad study that has many different uses. Anything that requires an interaction between intelligent beings all comes back to this idea of game theory. Being able to mathematically predict the most possible and reasonable outcome is very useful in many occupations. I hope I can apply game theory to many different projects in the future. But for now, I will continue to improve upon the battleship game I am making right now.

By Laker N., age 14

CodeWars is an online collection of programming challenges ranked by difficulty. It’s community driven, meaning that, though the problems require thinking, they are satisfying to complete. One problem on CodeWars that caught my attention was “Mine Sweeper” by the user myjinxin2015, a prolific creator and the second highest holder of honor, gained by solving and making the site’s code challenges. “Mine Sweeper” is a kyu 1 code challenge, the hardest on the site. (Kyu, or difficulty, ranges from 1 to 8, with 8 as the easiest and 1 as the hardest.)

Despite its ranking, I’ve always liked the idea of Minesweeper. “Mine Sweeper,” however, didn’t involve programming the game; “Mine Sweeper” is kyu 1, because the task is to program an algorithm to solve Minesweeper. Specifically, given a board configuration with a number of the squares identified, fill in the rest.

Though the problem intrigued me, I was at a loss for how to attack it. After some brainstorming, however, I came up with a rule my algorithm could apply to a board configuration to solve unknown squares. If a square has as many empty tiles around it as it needs mines to fulfill its number, then all surrounding squares are mines. If a square needs no more mines, then all unknown surrounding tiles are safe. In code, I assigned each tile the number of mines needed to satisfy its number minus the number of mines already flagged around it. This number I called the tile’s working number. For example, a tile with the number three and two flagged mines around has a working number of one: any unknown tiles around it can act as though it only needs one mine. With working numbers, a tile with number five, three mines flagged around it, and two remaining unknown tiles knows to flag all surrounding unknown tiles. I call the first rule Easy Logic, because most Minesweeper players rely on it before thinking harder.

In a collaboration with Chicago public schools and Northwestern University, Apple decided to offer free professional learning to teachers in Chicago. This will allow educators a way to bring coding and computer science into the classroom.

“Teachers make a world of difference in their students’ lives, and we owe so much of our own success to their creativity, hard work and dedication,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “At Apple, we believe every student should have the opportunity to learn to code and we are thrilled to help provide new learning opportunities for Chicago-area teachers so they can bring coding into their classrooms.”

If you haven’t been trained yet in something like App Development, teachers can be trained with Swift course to address the national shortage of high school computer science teachers. Through citywide expansion of Apple’s Code program, there will be coding opportunities for up to 500,000 students. Chicago is ahead of the curve with computer science making it a graduation requirement.

As you know, most of the biggest companies in the world got to that point by leveraging their technology. Each company, such as Apple, is essentially a giant community of engineers and big thinkers with marketing, sales, and HR departments sprinkled in.

With all the money that Apple makes (and will continue to make), it’s important for them to invest in building this community beyond their own company. By collaborating with Chicago public schools, they will be able to hand pick the very best talent that comes out of these programs.

The Coder school is also building a community where it’s easier than ever to learn how to code. While online tutorials are great, they aren’t as impactful as having a Code Coach™ right there by your side guiding you every step of the way.

https://www.apple.com/newsroom/2018/03/apple-announces-new-effort-to-bring-coding-to-chicago-teachers/

If you’re spending time at theCoderSchool or in and around the dreamers of the tech world you’ll no doubt have heard of Augmented Reality. Snapchat may have started it in a sense while Facebook went out of the way to steal the idea but there are thousands of other companies fighting to get a piece of the action.

Snapchat and Facebook isn’t where this “story” ends but hats off to Evan Spiegal and Mark Zuckerberg for recognizing the value of it all before a lot of others. Imagine if your favorite video game played itself out off screen and in your living room and you’ll start to get a sense of what augmented reality can do.

 Pokemon Go, Augmented Reality at its finest!

Pokemon Go, Augmented Reality at its finest!

One company we’re especially excited about is Magic Leap, which started as a road trip to Austin with the question “what if computing could spill outside the computer?” This is a simple thought that a lot of us have had at some point in our lives but Magic Leap is working to make it happen.

Now the company is at the forefront of the augmented reality boom having raised $2.3 billion in funding so far. One of their recent partnerships is with the NBA and Turner with a goal of helping us move entertainment viewing from a “flat, two-dimensional experience into a vivid, three-dimensional experience.”

Imagine having a life-size Shaquille O’Neal talking in your living room (if he could fit, of course!) and that’s the type of entertainment augmented reality can bring to the table. We’re all familiar with the dancing hot dog that that captivated us through Snapchat. It won’t be too long before our entire entertainment experience is off of a two-dimensional screen and right in front of us no matter where we are.

You too can be a part of this revolution by joining theCoderSchool! Remember, coding is about more than just learning to code–it’s about changing the world for the better while advancing your skill set!

While Elon Musk is anti-Artificial Intelligence for fear it may one day turn against us, it isn’t a direct threat just yet. Right now, we’re still figuring out what it can do for the better while making exciting new discoveries along the way.

Take Google’s DeepMind, for example, which aims to “Solve Intelligence. Use it to make the world a better place.”

There are several interesting projects that DeepMind is currently working on. For example, “teaching itself parkour” for the purpose of understanding the “Emergence of Locomotion Behaviours in Rich Environments.”

What does that even mean? You’ll have to watch the video to get a good visual but to put it bluntly, you’re watching artificial intelligence learn how to run and jump!

Another way DeepMind is helping is in games. The best Go player in the world was defeated by the DeepMind AI powered “AlphaGo” which forced him to re-think his approach.

“After my match against AlphaGo, I fundamentally reconsidered the game, and now I can see that this reflection has helped me greatly,” he said. “I hope all Go players can contemplate AlphaGo’s understanding of the game and style of thinking, all of which is deeply meaningful. Although I lost, I discovered that the possibilities of Go are immense and that the game has continued to progress.”

By getting beat by AlphaGo Ke Jie, who is a master of the game, could potentially develop new strategies along the way that he never thought of. The first time a machine beat someone at their own game was when Gary Kasparov was defeated by Deep Blue in 1997. Go, they say, is much more difficult to solve than Chess and most people thought that A.I. was at least 10-years away from accomplishing this feat.

If AlphaGo can help Ke Jie think differently or more efficiently, it could help us do the same with wide scale problems such as global warming or healthcare systems. By relying on A.I. to think through situations, we’ll find new solutions to age old problems.

These simple yet eye-opening experiments will only build over time until we’re able to apply them effectively to large scale societal problems. Here at coder school we’re all about changing the world for the better. By engaging in our after school programs you’ll lay the foundation for a long, lucrative career in an exciting field such as A.I.