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Deep Blue team awarded

The brains behind the brawny box receive the $100,000 Fredkin Prize for defeating chess champion Garry Kasparov.

IBM's Deep Blue team received the $100,000 Fredkin Prize for Computer Chess today in recognition of their victory over world chess champion Garry Kasparov this May.

Dr. Feng Hsiung Hsu, who designed Deep Blue's chess processing chip, Dr. Murray Campbell, who programmed Deep Blue, and Dr. Joseph Hoane, an expert in parallelism who worked on the systems performance, received the prize.

The prize was awarded by Carnegie Mellon University, where it was established by computer science professor Edward Fredkin 17 years ago to encourage research in computer chess. The prize originally consisted of three separate awards: $5,000 for the first team to develop a machine achieving master status, $10,000 for the first group to create a machine of international master status, and $100,000 for the first team to develop a computer capable of beating the world chess champion.

The first milestone was reached by a pair of scientists from Bell Laboratories in 1981, while the second award was given in 1988 to five Carnegie Mellon graduate students who built Deep Thought. Two of those researchers, Hsu and Campbell, participated in the Deep Blue team receiving today's award.

Deep Blue lost an earlier match against Kasparov before beating him this year. The difference, according to Murray, wasn't so much raw computing power as the efficiency and effectiveness of the computer's chess strategy.

IBM is now looking to convert the research done on Deep Blue into more mundane but profitable applications. And now that the team has beat the world champion, it's looking for some new avenues of research. "We're definitely going to spend some more of our time now on real-world applications," said Murray. Among the applications under consideration are such complex, compute-intensive tasks as molecular dynamics, financial analysis, and data mining.

For today, however, the team is happy to receive their award. "Ever since computers have been around people have been thinking about how to program a computer to play chess," noted Murray. "The victory by Deep Blue is something that's only going to happen once."

Today's event marks the retirement of the Fredkin award.