# The minimax algorithm in 3 minutes

TLDRThe minimax algorithm, a cornerstone of AI research, is explored through the lens of game theory. It's used to determine the optimal move in two-player games with perfect information. The script explains how to represent a game, evaluate positions, and understand the strategic preferences of players, MAX and MIN. Using the game of Nim as an example, the algorithm is illustrated, showing how it calculates the game-theoretic value of positions by exploring the search space and 'backing up' values to make decisions. This summary provides a concise insight into the algorithm's application in strategic decision-making.

### Takeaways

- 🧠 The minimax algorithm is a cornerstone of AI research, used to make optimal decisions in games and other two-player zero-sum scenarios.
- 🎲 It begins with representing the problem, akin to how the human brain conceptualizes a game like Go.
- 🤖 Standard AI search algorithms use heuristic knowledge, such as Greedy search, uniform-cost, and A*, to find solutions.
- 👥 In games with multiple players, the 'best' option is determined by considering the moves and counter-moves of all players.
- 🔢 A function evaluates the 'goodness' of the next positions, with MAX aiming for the highest score and MIN for the lowest.
- 🌰 The game of Nim is used as an example to illustrate how minimax works with matches arranged in bundles.
- 📊 Graphics are essential to visualize the entire search space and understand the flow of moves in games like Nim.
- 🔄 The algorithm alternates between MAX and MIN, assigning values to positions based on the outcomes of possible moves.
- 🏁 Ending positions are assigned a utility of 0 for a loss and 1 for a win, standard in game theory.
- 🌳 Intermediate positions are valued by 'backing up' the values from the leaf nodes of the search tree.
- 🔝 At the top of the search tree, the first player's optimal move is determined, revealing the game-theoretic value of the position.

### Q & A

### What is the minimax algorithm?

-The minimax algorithm is a classic AI search method used to evaluate the best move in two-player games by considering both the player and the opponent's best moves.

### How does the minimax algorithm handle multiple players in a game?

-The minimax algorithm accounts for the fact that most games have more than one player by assigning roles: MAX (the player seeking to maximize the score) and MIN (the opponent seeking to minimize the score).

### How do AI search algorithms like greedy search or A* relate to minimax?

-AI search algorithms like greedy search, uniform-cost, and A* also incorporate heuristic knowledge, but they are not specifically designed for two-player games like minimax is.

### What is the objective of the minimax algorithm in a game scenario?

-The objective of the minimax algorithm is to determine the optimal move for a player, assuming that the opponent also plays optimally.

### How does the minimax algorithm evaluate moves?

-The minimax algorithm evaluates moves by assigning a value to game states. MAX picks the highest value move, while MIN picks the lowest value, reflecting the opponent's strategy.

### What role does the game of Nim play in explaining the minimax algorithm?

-The game of Nim serves as an example to show how the minimax algorithm works. Players split bundles of matches, and the minimax algorithm calculates the game-theoretic value for each move.

### How does the minimax algorithm use 'utility' in its calculations?

-The minimax algorithm assigns utility values to game positions, where 0 represents a loss for MAX and 1 represents a win, allowing the algorithm to determine optimal moves.

### What is the significance of 'backing up' numbers from the leaves in minimax?

-'Backing up' numbers means that values from terminal positions (the leaves) are propagated upwards through the game tree, helping to evaluate intermediate positions and the best overall strategy.

### How does the minimax algorithm handle situations with multiple possible moves?

-In situations with multiple moves, MIN chooses the smallest value, while MAX selects the largest value, ensuring each player's strategy is reflected in the game outcome.

### What does the minimax algorithm conclude about the first player in the Nim example?

-The minimax algorithm determines that the first player in the Nim example will lose if both players play optimally, as MIN will choose a move leading to a win for itself.

### Outlines

### 🤖 Introduction to Minimax Algorithm

The paragraph introduces the minimax algorithm, a cornerstone in AI research, emphasizing its application in games with multiple players. It discusses how AI search algorithms use heuristics, such as greedy search and A*, to find the best moves. The minimax algorithm is particularly useful for two-player games where one player aims to maximize their score while the other seeks to minimize it. The paragraph sets the stage for understanding how the algorithm can be used to evaluate game positions and determine optimal strategies.

### Mindmap

### Keywords

### 💡Minimax algorithm

### 💡Heuristic knowledge

### 💡Game theory

### 💡Greedy search

### 💡Uniform-cost search

### 💡A* search algorithm

### 💡MAX and MIN

### 💡Game of Nim

### 💡Search space

### 💡Utility

### 💡Backpropagation

### Highlights

The minimax algorithm is a cornerstone of AI research.

The algorithm begins with representing the problem, similar to how the human brain represents a game of Go.

Standard AI search algorithms use heuristic knowledge, such as Greedy search, uniform-cost, and A*.

In games with multiple players, determining the 'best' option is more complex.

The minimax algorithm evaluates game positions by considering both MAX and MIN player preferences.

MAX aims to choose the option with the highest value, while MIN selects the lowest.

The game of Nim serves as an example to demonstrate the minimax algorithm.

Nim is played with matches arranged in bundles, and players can split them into new bundles.

The search space for small games like Nim can be visualized and analyzed.

The minimax algorithm assigns values to game positions by 'backing up' the numbers from the game's end states.

Ending positions are assigned 0 for a loss and 1 for a win, following traditional game theory utility expressions.

Intermediate positions are evaluated based on the moves available to both MAX and MIN.

MIN prefers the move that leads to the smallest value, while MAX opts for the highest.

The algorithm determines the game-theoretic value, indicating whether the current player can force a win.

In the Nim example, the first player is shown to be at a disadvantage after the first move.

The minimax algorithm is instrumental in calculating strong play strategies in two-player, zero-sum games.