Final Release of Ethereal, V12.75

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Dann Corbit
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Re: Final Release of Ethereal, V12.75

Post by Dann Corbit » Fri Oct 09, 2020 8:13 am

xr_a_y wrote:
Fri Oct 09, 2020 8:09 am
"Congrats to Stockfish for the incredible achievement. My middle finger to everyone else using it."

I think I tried hard to explain in many places why NNUE is not Minic official evaluation, how it is a copy/paste of code and technology, and how it is just an experiment for me do dig into the NN world. Maybe the good thing to do was to not try it at all. I feel very sorry for the trouble. "alea jacta est".
Stockfish has nothing to do with the achievement.
Nothing whatsoever.
Not only did they not invent it, they blindly attached the code, not even understanding that they were also pasting in a term for evaluation of drops from Shogi pieces in hand which has no place in standard chess.
Taking ideas is not a vice, it is a virtue. We have another word for this. It is called learning.
But sharing ideas is an even greater virtue. We have another word for this. It is called teaching.

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Re: Final Release of Ethereal, V12.75

Post by smatovic » Fri Oct 09, 2020 8:22 am

...everybody needs now and then a break from chess programming, some people come back some do not, leave your door ajar, maybe it will be interesting again in some time, or alike.

--
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Re: Final Release of Ethereal, V12.75

Post by mvanthoor » Fri Oct 09, 2020 8:42 am

Thank you for your efforts, Andy.

If your main goal is to compete with a hand-crafted engine against another hand-crafted engine, as was the tradition from 1968-2018, then it is a good time to quit. With neural network engines, a stronger engine can be created by just throwing more hardware at training the network, and to train it for longer with more games and data. The fun of creating and hand-crafting your engine from scratch, teaching it better chess with each commit, is gone. The creation of a super strong chess engine has been automated.

Fortunately for me, I'm writing my own chess engine with a different goal.

You know of that tradition, where people spend years of effort to learn penmanship, where people use flex-nib (fountain) pens to write beautiful documents, like it's 1850? In current society, there isn't a lot of use for that, but some people spend the effort because of the sheer beauty of it.

I'm writing my chess engine in the same vein: in the tradition of "teaching a computer to play chess", completely by hand, to see the engine get stronger with each commit or added eval term... things *I* taught it. I want to write a massive website / book collecting everything from A-Z that goes into this chess engine, so there's basically a manual called "How to write a classic chess engine", with all the information in one place.

The reason I can do this is because my goal is different than yours; I write this chess engine to be my personal chess computer. (Running on a Raspberry, connected to a DGT board.) That is the primary goal, and making it stronger is just to see how far I can take this.

At some point I may look into a way to write a replacement for PicoChess on the Raspberry Pi... because I detest the fact that it's written in Python.

Good luck with whatever you choose to do. Writing Go programs is (almost) as useless now, if you're doing it for the competition, because they're all based on MCTS and / or neural networks now.
Author of Rustic, an engine written in Rust.
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Re: Final Release of Ethereal, V12.75

Post by Dann Corbit » Fri Oct 09, 2020 8:58 am

Long ago, boots were made by hand. They had this thing called a "last" that was the exact shape of the wearer's foot. Craftsmen painstakingly toiled to make an enclosure with an interior the exact shape of your foot.
Today, I can go to Walmart, and buy a pair of steel toed boots for $24:
https://www.walmart.com/ip/Brahma-Men-s ... _cQAvD_BwE
Now, those boots won't fit like the $3000 custom made boots. They won't last like the custom made boots. They won't look as nice and they won't be as nice. But they will probably do the job, and eventually they will conform to my feet.
Meanwhile, the thirteen million people who cannot afford the $3000 boots can still get to work.

A lot of people who have spent a lot of hours toiling on evaluation are keenly disappointed. But the nets have not overtaken the search yet, so why not focus on the real area of possible revolution, search?

How did Fruit kick everybody's butt? An early form of LMR.
How did Rybka kick everybody's butt? A savage, simple search improvement (and a lot of testing)
All of the really huge revolutions (up till NNUE) have been search improvements.
So stop jealously guarding your evaluation functions, which are made of terms extracted from any decent chess book, and focus on the really interesting part of a chess engine.
Search.

IMO-YMMV
{dons plastic baggie, in expectation of the rotten tomatos}
Taking ideas is not a vice, it is a virtue. We have another word for this. It is called learning.
But sharing ideas is an even greater virtue. We have another word for this. It is called teaching.

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Re: Final Release of Ethereal, V12.75

Post by Hrvoje Horvatic » Fri Oct 09, 2020 9:16 am

Ethereal has one of the most readable, cleanest codebases out there... I enjoyed reading it... :) plenty of comments in code, too...

it is not only one of the strongest engines, it's code is just beautiful... If I were to recommend to someone to clone/steal an engine codebase, it would be Ethereal... :P

first we lost Gull and Fizbo... after that, Andscacs... it seems Xiphos is not coming back either... and now Ethereal...

people get scared too easily from this neural monsters like leela and SF NNUE... This shows that more effort needs to be put in eval functions, and not only in perfecting search...

Andy, thanx for Ethereal, and I wish you all the best in RL...

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Re: Final Release of Ethereal, V12.75

Post by chrisw » Fri Oct 09, 2020 9:19 am

AndrewGrant wrote:
Fri Oct 09, 2020 7:08 am
Hello all. Today I am releasing the final version of Ethereal, version 12.75, and ending development.

I'm leaving the Computer Chess Development world
Well done, kid. I’ll say to you what was said to me by one person many years ago, not much older than you then. I quit my safe teaching job after five years, they all thought I was crazy, what are you going to do? It’s a job for life and you just threw it up.
Pfah. I had no idea but I wasn’t doing that anymore, ever.
Then one day, about a week before end of term, job, career, I was walking through the staff room, past a woman teacher who usually was alone, never spoke, was kind of crippled somehow, she had trouble walking, needed callipers, English teacher, an outsider, always alone. Anyway I walked past her, same as every day for last N years, and she spoke: “well done, you are going to save your life”. Just a few words, often it’s the weird outsider ones who know the truth.
Good luck, don’t come back. Blow the bridges up behind yourself.

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Re: Final Release of Ethereal, V12.75

Post by Gabor Szots » Fri Oct 09, 2020 9:22 am

flok wrote:
Fri Oct 09, 2020 7:47 am
Imho "choose life instead of chess programming" is a stupid remark. Something that is fun to do IS life.
+1
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Re: Final Release of Ethereal, V12.75

Post by AndrewGrant » Fri Oct 09, 2020 9:22 am

An hour after I make this post I'm filled with regret.

[1] Do people really want to see a bunch of NNUE engines, all running the same evaluation function, occupying the top slots of computer chess?
[2] Would people really find it interesting to have Ethereal use whatever "best" network is out there?
[3] Are people still interested when engines replace 50% of what made them unique?
[4] Do people want to continue to have Ethereal, acting as a Stockfish-lite, for new programmers?
[5] Is Chess doomed to go the route of Shogi and Go? We share the Networks, but have our own searches? Is that okay?
[6] Is this chess world okay with me plunking in a Network file and never changing it again?

If someone can convince me of all of those things, or at least most of them, then maybe there is still work to be done. The OCD in me likes the idea of refactoring all of the garbage in the NNUE libs. Likes to idea of coming up with a cleaner solution than what I did to hack the code in with such speed. I'de have to look at benchmarks. If NNUE is the "great equalizer", then its of little substance. But if NNUE is +160 elo flat across the board, then maybe its not the end of the world.

At the same time, NOT quitting goes against everything I've preached in this forum for the last few years. I don't even like people using Ethereal data to tune their engines. Alayan and I were going to release datasets to go with my tuning paper, but I did not like the idea of people converging to Ethereal. But now its okay that I drag and drop 2,000 lines from Stockfish? Its okay that I just run whatever Network Fishtest has brewing or Dkappe has brewing or someone else?

I'm not a net trainer. I won't do it, its not interesting. Ethereal's tuner has lots of things akin to net training. Lots of knobs to tweak. but it is a means to and ends, and that ends is putting human chess knowledge into the engine. The ends of Network training is to get a "better" black box.

I don't know if I'm ripping myself away from something I love for no reason. If I'm doing it because I see the pain in the future. If I'm doing it because I feel the pain now but am too daft to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I need someone to convince me that this hobby is still worth pursuing. That beating Leela and Allie and Scorpio is worth something. That doing so is not just a result of NNUE, but also a result of the ten thousand hours I've put into the project. That I'm not sacrificing my ideals and my principles by continuing on in this new era.

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Re: Final Release of Ethereal, V12.75

Post by Gabor Szots » Fri Oct 09, 2020 9:35 am

I don't understand this gloom about NNUE. It's just a new evaluation term. Search is still there. Even if all engines implement SF NNUE's the rankings will remain, you only have to add 300 to the current one.

And if you don't like to bother with NNUE's, don't use them. Develop your engine without them. For me it looks like you don't want to lose your place on the tribune and you want to retire while you are on it.
Last edited by Gabor Szots on Fri Oct 09, 2020 9:38 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Final Release of Ethereal, V12.75

Post by AdminX » Fri Oct 09, 2020 9:36 am

AndrewGrant wrote:
Fri Oct 09, 2020 9:22 am
An hour after I make this post I'm filled with regret.

[1] Do people really want to see a bunch of NNUE engines, all running the same evaluation function, occupying the top slots of computer chess?
[2] Would people really find it interesting to have Ethereal use whatever "best" network is out there?
[3] Are people still interested when engines replace 50% of what made them unique?
[4] Do people want to continue to have Ethereal, acting as a Stockfish-lite, for new programmers?
[5] Is Chess doomed to go the route of Shogi and Go? We share the Networks, but have our own searches? Is that okay?
[6] Is this chess world okay with me plunking in a Network file and never changing it again?
I don't think OTB players do, however it seems that is what most Computer Chess Fans do. Clearly there are people who fall somewhere in the middle.
"Good decisions come from experience, and experience comes from bad decisions."
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