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#20 Duffy O'Craven on The World's Fastest Scrabble Program

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James M. and David K.


Important: please arrive before 7pm, which is when the front door locks! If you arrive after 7pm, use the keypad beside the outside door and buzz 8882 to be let in.


Duffy O'Craven will be presenting The World's Fastest Scrabble Program ( by Andrew W. Appel and Guy J. Jacobson.

Scrabble originated in 1938, well before the computer era. By the 1980s, Brian Sheppard had created a computer program, Maven, that revolutionized how even expert players played Scrabble. In between, where you find our story, Andrew W. Appel and Guy J. Jacobson published an architectural expose of how they had wrangled the nearly-infinite possibilities of "searching for the best word" into an artificial intelligence. One that could do it in real-time. Computers are now a trillion times larger, and 100,000 times faster than they were then. But it is revealing how mankind first got "intelligence" across the threshold.

Paper link:

Doors open at 6:30 pm, presentation will begin at 7:00 pm. There will be food and refreshments provided by Shopify.


Duffy O'Craven has been programming professionally since 1980 and during that long career saw things like the invention of C++ and Python. Now international adjudicator for the BACnet network protocol, when time permits he is still hobby programming with an emphasis upon AI in Human-Computer Interfaces. Chatbots, taken up a notch, are the future focus. He would be interested in connecting with anyone who wants to help move that horizon forward.

80 Spadina Ave. 4th Floor · Toronto, ON