Talk:Deep Thought (chess computer)

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old talk[edit]

("Deep" here generally refers to the special ability to use multiple processing units.) -- I thought "deep" referred to the design decision to emphasize the depth of plies considered over the board evaluation function. - Steve Metsker

Deep thought was not named after the fictional computer in Hitchhiker's Guide[edit]

I want to remove the statement

It was named after Deep Thought, a fictional computer in Douglas Adams' series, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Hsu said

Well, a machine that could defeat the World Champion would surely be worthy of the name Deep Thought.

Hsu did not say the chess computer was named after the fictional computer. Deep thought was named after the technique used successfully by the chess computer, Singular Extensions.

I also want to explain the why deep is added to the name of many chess programs. Deep means multi processor version of the chess program. Mschribr (talk) 14:28, 20 August 2008 (UTC)

I would be very surprised if the name "Deep Thought" did NOT come from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It would be a very strange coincidence if no one on the Deep Thought team was even aware of the fictional Deep Thought. But a definitive reference would be good. Peter Ballard (talk) 00:00, 21 August 2008 (UTC)
It is a coincidence. If someone could ask 1 of the deep though team members we should be able to get an answer. I am surprised that no one from the team has corrected the common misnomer. Probably some on the team did know about the fictional computer. But the technique Singular Extensions gave the program the ability to analyze a position very deeply and consequently play strong chess. Hence the name deep thought. It would be nice if 1 of the team members came forward and cleared this up. Mschribr (talk) 01:39, 21 August 2008 (UTC)
That explains the "deep" but not the "thought". Why didn't they call it "Deep Analyse" or "Deep Thinker"? "Deep Thought" is not a very intuitive name when you think about it, unless it's borrowing from HHGG. I'm not sure how old you are, but HHGG was very popular in the 1980s, it would have been most surprising if no one on the team knew about it. For another example of HHGG's popularity amongst IT people, it's the source of the name for Babel Fish (website) too. Peter Ballard (talk) 02:23, 21 August 2008 (UTC)
Thought is just another word for compute or process. The computer is computing or thinking many moves ahead.
I am sure they heard about hitchhiker’s guide. But what they had in mind was singular extension. When you give a name to a computer item you try to make it as relevant to the item as possible. This will help remind you what the item means. Programmers write many programs. Each program has many variables. If you don’t give meaningful names things get confusing quickly. Meaningful names are an aid to writing programs without bugs.
What relevance does the fictional computer have to the chess computer? Only that both are powerful computers. The fictional computer has nothing to do with chess or playing games. I remember in the book there were other types of computers. They had a computer with a depressing personality. I think the book was saying that in the future some computers will be even smarter than people. But I heard members of the team say that deep blue was not smart as in people smart. It was just a fast number cruncher.
All this is speculation. Someone from the team could tell us. Mschribr (talk) 10:53, 22 August 2008 (UTC)
It's such an obvious connection, we should assume it's named after HHGG unless they've denied it. I'm happy to qualify it a little by saying "presumably a reference to Deep Thought of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy", but we shouldn't delete the reference. Also you are wrong about project naming. Naming a project is different from naming a variable. It is very common for programmers and engineers to give projects humorous names, code names, or to name them after things in popular culture. Peter Ballard (talk) 12:57, 22 August 2008 (UTC)
To assume is the wrong way to write an encyclopedia. It also goes against wikipedia rules. But as a compromise I agree to a qualifying statement. I emailed Hsu. But I did not get a response. Mschribr (talk) 19:02, 22 August 2008 (UTC)
It's not against the rules when other sources make the same assumption. But for a now compromise may be best. Good on you for emailing Hsu- a definite answer would be good. And sorry I was a little rude in my last reply. Peter Ballard (talk) 04:11, 23 August 2008 (UTC)
CNN attribute the name to HHGG[1]. Not an infallible source, but it is a WP:Reliable Source. Peter Ballard (talk) 06:00, 23 August 2008 (UTC)
Cnn does not give a source for saying the chess computer was named after the fictional computer. The cnn report sounds like cnn assumed if the names are same so the chess computer must be named after the fictional computer. I am not convinced. Mschribr (talk) 11:42, 24 August 2008 (UTC)
As we discussed on talk page for Deep Blue: Hsu says in Behind Deep Blue (p 69) that he had listened to the Douglas Adams radio show prior to naming the computer. Because he was fully aware of the prior art, he did not arrive at the name independently. His conversational style in discussing the origin of the name is a rhetorical technique which by no means negates his knowledge of the previous usage of the name. In addition, he makes no mention of your claim that the name refers to singular extensions, nor is any mention made of "Deep" referring to multiple processors. Isaac Lin (talk) 17:30, 24 August 2008 (UTC)
I found out from team member Dr. Campbell, who was kind enough to write to me, that the Deep Thought name was inspired by the Douglas Adams' book. I guess I was wrong. Mschribr (talk) 10:58, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
Heh, we're all wrong sometimes. Thanks for taking the effort to contact someone on the team. Peter Ballard (talk) 12:15, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

Deep Thought ---> Deep Blue[edit]

In the wake of the fascinating discussion above, I briefly recalled another fact/rumour that I heard around the time that Deep Thought was metamorphising into Deep Blue.

In the Deep Blue article, it is stated that the name is a play on "Big Blue", IBM's nickname. However it is not made clear why they did not carry on with Deep Thought 3 etc.

Correctly or incorrectly, I was told that IBM were a bit uneasy with "Deep Thought" sounding a lot like "Deep Throat", the Linda Lovelace porn flick of the early seventies. Has anyone else any knowledge of this? (- it's not a joke, I promise). Brittle heaven (talk) 15:20, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

Hsu discusses this in Behind Deep Blue, pages 126-127. Some people kept using Deep Throat accidentally, the name Deep Thought might infringe upon Douglas Adams's copyright, and IBM wanted to put its own name on the project. Isaac Lin (talk) 20:01, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
Thanks for that. Nice to know it wasn't just my overly fertile imagination playing tricks! Brittle heaven (talk) 22:14, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
And not a coincidence: The original Deep Thought (in HHGG) was a deliberate play on "Deep Throat". Peter Ballard (talk) 00:02, 26 August 2008 (UTC)