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Using F# and genetic programming to play computer bridge

May 24, 2016 · Washington, United States of America


In September 2016, Felienne's bridge bot Desiderius (Desi, as she calls him affectionately) will compete in the World Championship of Computer Bridge. In this talk she will explain how she built Desi.

Bridge is a card game with two distinct phases: bidding and playing. For this talk, Felienne will focus mainly on the bidding part, as that is most challenging. In the bidding phase, both pairs of players bid to reach 'the contract': the number of tricks they want to make, and with which trump color. Given the limited bandwidth of communication (players can only communicate with bids) the challenge is to get at the best bid. She made a DSL in F# to describe the bidding rules that her bot will bid with, and she will talk about its design and the choices she made.

For bidding, there are a number of standard systems, but of course she wanted to go a bid further*. Reaching the optimal bid is very important: Failure to make the contract results in a penalty, but not reaching a possible contract does too. Therefore, she used genetic programming to combine different existing bidding strategies to reach the perfect scheme.

*pun intended


Felienne is assistant professor in software engineering at Delft University of Technology, where she researches end-user programming: how can we get people without training in CS to be awesome programmers. In her PhD work she studied the world's most successful programming language: Microsoft Excel, and developed tools for testing, refactoring and measuring spreadsheets.

In her spare time, Felienne teaches a bunch of kids programming, and she loves playing board games, video games, running and dancing Lindy Hop.

Pizza  and Raffled off prizes for the attendees


CoStar Group

    1331 L St NW 
    Washington, DC 20005

    Metro Accessible from McPherson Sq Metro (Blue, Orange, & Silver lines), Farragut North Metro (Red line)

Venue tips

• Building requires an acceptable ID for entry (e.g. driver's license), security has the final say 

• RSVP here on Meetup DC F# with the name matching your ID for quickest/smoothest entry (you will be issued a badge)

• "F# Meetup” Free vehicle-parking entrance is in the rear of the building accessed through the alley east

• Meet in the Auditorium off the lobby entrance.

Event organizers
  • DC F# meetup

    Welcome! This is an F# meetup group that meets in and around the DC area. The goal is to bring likeminded local F# enthusiasts together to learn, play, and explore the F# language and ecosystem. Programmers of all skill levels and backgrounds are welcome. Tweet at us at @DCFsharp! As an affiliated user group of fsharp.org, the F# Software Foundation, we strive to build a great communi...

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