Archive for the ‘Google AI Challenge’ Category

The Most Popular Programming Languages

Sunday, September 5th, 2010

The most recent Google AI Challenge had the contestants writing a bot that could play the game of Tron. Participants could periodically submit their latest code to watch it play against bots created by other people from around the world. After all was said and done, we received almost 20,000 submissions from over 1000 people, written in 14 different programming languages.

Lately, a few people have asked me which programming languages ended up being the most popular. Here is the breakdown.

A pie chart of the most popular programming languages

These statistics have been really helpful in planning the upcoming Google AI Challenge, which is based on the game of Galcon. As of right now, we have support for the four most popular programming languages: C++, Java, Python, and C#. We are working on adding support for the next four most popular languages: Haskell, Ruby, Common Lisp, and Perl.

If you would like to help out by translating one of the starter packages into your favorite language, then shoot me an email or post on the contest forums. You will be a hero to many.

Google AI Challenge Goes Viral

Friday, February 5th, 2010


Today I had quite a shock when I checked the Google Analytics page for the Google AI Challenge website.  Yesterday, the daily traffic graph looked like this:

I had been pumping up the contest for a couple days, fighting for every additional visit I could get.  I had finally managed to get over 500 unique visitors in one day!  Very rewarding.
You can imagine my shock when I checked the Google Analytics today to find that the graph looked like this:
Wow.  Yesterday we had about 100 users, mostly from the University of Waterloo.  When I woke up today, we had 300 users from 37 different countries.  That happened fast.
So, what happened?  Where is all this traffic coming from?  Google Analytics tells me that most of the spike is coming from this Hacker News article and this Reddit thread.  I am hoping that the contest is in the early stages of going viral, and that the trend continues upwards.  On the other hand, this could prove to be a one-time spike.  I’ll update in a couple days to let you know what happened!

Google Analytics is More Addictive than WoW

Thursday, February 4th, 2010


It’s been a few days since we opened the Google AI Challenge website.  Since then, I have been having a bit of fun playing with the Google Analytics page that is attached to the contest website.  Google Analytics lets you slice and dice traffic statistics in all kinds of ways.  Here are some highlights.

Website traffic broken down by browser

I knew that usage of Internet Explorer was lower amongst students, but I didn’t expect it to be that low!  IE clocked in at just over 6%.  Firefox was the big winner, with almost half the unique visitors to the site.  My personal favorite, Chrome, weighed in second, followed by Safari.  What the heck is Opera?  :-)

Website traffic broken down by operating systemAlthough Internet Explorer has all but disappeared amongst students, Windows is still the operating system of choice.  I was surprised to see that Linux was ahead of Mac.  I would have been interested to see the breakdown of the different flavors of Linux, but the information was unavailable.

Most of the site’s visit have come from Canada at this point.  However, we’re about to launch a big push to raise awareness of the Google AI Challenge internationally.  I am hoping that by the end of the contest, this world map is all lit up.

Then there’s my favorite feature: the graph.  The graph appears on the front page of the Google Analytics dashboard, and shows your site’s daily traffic rise and fall over time.  It is all-consuming and addictive.  Must… make… the line… go… up!  The graph updates once per day at around 1 AM.  How cruel is that?  Try falling asleep at 11 PM like a normal person when you know that the graph will update in just two short hours!

Google AI Challenge Launched!

Monday, February 1st, 2010

We just officially launched the Google AI Challenge at the University of Waterloo.  Around 50 people attended the kickoff event today in MC 3003.  Many of them have already submitted simple entries, as you can see on the leaderboard!

This sudden onslaught on “real” users has helped focus our attention on a few issues.  First, there is a serious deficit of content on the website to help users get off the ground with their entries.  This should be mostly fixed within a few days.  Also, the Tron simulator that is currently part of the starter packages doesn’t work on Windows.  This seriously sucks, and I have to fix it ASAP.

Otherwise, everything seems to be running smoothly.  The contest backend is chugging along without complaint.  A few contestant expressed an interest in implementing advanced algorithms like A* pathfinding and Alpha-Beta search, which hopefully will keep UW from getting mauled when the competition opens at other schools.

The Contest Codebase

Saturday, January 23rd, 2010

There are currently six people working on the software that runs the Google AI Challenge.  As it happens, pieces of it are written in six different programming languages.  This software is quite an eclectic beast!  Here is the breakdown of programming languages in use, by number of lines of code.

  • Java: 3000 lines
  • C: 1500 lines
  • PHP: 1200 lines
  • Ruby: 1000 lines
  • Bash: 140 lines
  • Python: 130 lines

The grand total is about 7000 lines of code, and still growing.