About Me

I am a full professor at the University of Alberta. My research focuses on machine learning, games, and robotics, and I'm particularly fascinated by the problem of how computers can learn to play games through experience. I am the leader of the Computer Poker Research Group, which has built some of the best poker playing programs on the planet. The programs have won international AI competitions as well as being the first to beat top professional players in a meaningful competition. I am also a principal investigator in the Reinforcement Learning and Artificial Intelligence (RLAI) group and the Alberta Ingenuity Centre for Machine Learning (AICML). I completed my Ph.D. at Carnegie Mellon University, where my dissertation was focused on multiagent learning and I was extensively involved in the RoboCup initiative. My research has been featured on the television programs Scientific American Frontiers, National Geographic Today, and Discovery Channel Canada, as well appearing in the New York Times, Wired, on CBC and BBC radio, and twice in exhibits at the Smithsonian Museums in Washington, DC.



January, 2015: Cepheus in Science

Cepheus is our new poker-playing program capable of playing a nearly perfect game of heads-up limit Texas hold'em. It is so close to perfect that even after an entire human lifetime of playing against it, you couldn't be statistically certain it wasn't perfect. We call such a game essentially solved. This work just appeared in Science. You can read the paper. You can query Cepheus about how it plays and play against it. Or you can read the many news articles on the result.

June, 2013: Promotion

I have been promoted to full professor!

June, 2011: Alan Blizzard Award

The CMPUT250: Computers and Games teaching team was awarded the Alan Blizzard Honourable Mention Award, which is a national award for "exemplary collaboration in university teaching". It has been great to be a part of this course and team.

January, 2010: Sabbatical at Yahoo!

I'm on sabbatical at Yahoo! Research until the end of June. I'm looking at some cool real problems on learning about opponents... I mean users... and applications of game theory to control abuse.

November, 2008: Wired Article

Polaris recently defeated some of the world's top heads-up, limit Texas Hold'em poker players (see News item below). Wired decided this would make a nice story for an in-magazine comic book entitled Ante Up, Human: The Adventures of Polaris, the Poker-Playing Robot! Michael Johanson and myself have been immortalized in complete comic glory. The likeness is incredible and art liberties hysterical. Check it out in the December issue or the link above.

Summer, 2008: Polaris Defeats Top Poker Pros

Polaris, the Computer Poker Research Group's latest poker-playing AI, defeated some of the world's elite heads-up, limit Texas Hold'em poker players in the Second Man-Machine Poker Championship held in Las Vegas in July. The final standings for Polaris was 3 wins, 2 losses, and 1 draw. You can find out more about the event on our own pages or you can read or listen to some of the stories in the media. Later in July, the group also won 3 of the 4 events in the the third annual AAAI Computer Poker Competition.



Current Students and Post-Docs

Anna Koop (PhD)
Marlos C. Machado (PhD)
Trevor Davis (PhD; MSc, 2015)
Dustin Morrill (PhD; MSc, 2016)
Zaheen Ahmad (PhD)
Tim Yee (MSc)
Zach Holland (MSc)
Fushan Li (MSc)

Former Students and Post-Docs

Neil Burch (PhD, 2017)
Viliam Lisy (PDF, 2015-2017)
Michael Johanson (PhD, 2016; MSc, 2007)
James Neufeld (PhD, 2016; MSc, 2008)
Nolan Bard (PhD 2016; MSc, 2008)
Martha White (PhD, 2014; MSc, 2009)
Srinivasan Sriram (MSc, 2014)
Ujjwal Das Gupta (MSc, 2014)
Chris Rayner (PhD, 2014)
Joshua Davidson (MSc, 2014)
Marc Bellemare (PhD, 2013)
Mostafa Vafadoost (MSc, 2013)
Chris Archibald (PDF, 2012-2013)
Joel Veness (PDF, 2011-2012)
Arash Afkanpour (PhD, 2013)
Marc Lanctot (PhD, 2012)
Parisa Mazrooei (MSc, 2012)
Michael Joya (MSc, 2012)
Yavar Nadaf (MSc, 2010)
Kevin Waugh (MSc, 2009)
Dave Schnizlein (MSc, 2009)
Martin Zinkevich (PDF, 2005-2007)
Yaakov Engel (PDF, 2005-2007)
Dana Wilkinson (PhD, 2007)
Tao Wang (PhD, 2007)
Armita Kaboli (MSc, 2007)
Alborz Geramifard (MSc, 2006)
Peter McCracken (MSc, 2005)


Recent Teaching

Winter 2013

INTD 325: Game Design Principles and Practice

Fall 2012/Winter 2013

CMPUT 296/297: Concrete Computing