Mod Note: We'll be doing a regular (weekly? biweekly?) feature of awesome games and academic researchers here in the Games in Academia forum! If you're a researcher looking to be spotlighted in an AMA within the forum, feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org . If anyone has suggestions of what kind of researcher or work they'd like to see in the forum, feel free to send an email as well and I can track them down. Questions were provided by myself (shindigs):
Who are you and what do you research?
My name is Dave Churchill and I'm a 4th year PhD student at the University of Alberta. My research is on artificial intelligence for real-time strategy video games, with a focus on heuristic search algorithms for StarCraft. I am also an organizer and competitor in the annual AIIDE StarCraft AI Competition, which is now in its 4th year.
What do you think is the most interesting aspect of your StarCraft AI work?
I think that the most interesting part of my research is trying to solve complex real-time problems which aren't present in AI for traditional board games like chess or go. In StarCraft not only do you have to worry about things like economy, build orders, and micro (which are all very hard problems on their own) but you have to do them in real-time (24 frames per second for BroodWar).
How did you get to work on such an awesome StarCraft related project?
I actually started my PhD in robotics at UofA. However, I did a course in AI with my current supervisor Michael Buro and found out that he was interested in doing StarCraft research, which was so cool that I switched programs. It's pretty fun being able to watch GSL and claim you're doing research :)
What projects have you worked on?
My main projects so far have been:
- Organizing and competing in the AIIDE StarCraft AI Competition ( http://www.StarCraftAICompetition.com )
- Writing my StarCraft AI Bot: UAlbertaBot ( https://code.google.com/p/ualbertabot/ )
- Writing a StarCraft combat simulation package called SparCraft: ( https://code.google.com/p/sparcraft )
- Writing papers! ( http://scholar.google.ca/citations?user=teRseTgAAAAJ&hl=en )
I'd love to answer any questions any of you have about academic games research, or about the StarCraft AI competitions :)
Here are my StarCraft related academic publications:
- Build-Order Optimization in StarCraft AIIDE 2011
- Fast Heuristic Search for RTS Game Combat Scenarios AIIDE 2012
- Incorporating Search Algorithms into RTS Game Agents AIIDE 2012 - RTS Workshop