Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Simulating the Soccer World Cup 2014

You cannot wait for the soccer World Cup to start? We proudly present a peek preview of the World Cup 2014 - played by teams created with evolutionary algorithms. Using our evolutionary tool FREVO for designing self-organizing systems we have evolved neural networks that make robots playing soccer. During the evolution phase, a fitness function combines different aspects of gameplay like zone defense, man-marking, passing, shots, and goals. By tweaking the weights for these parameters we can influence the playing style of a team while the overall gameplay is still generated automatically by the evolutionary process. Thus we can simulate playing styles of different national teams and then match them against each other.

The following video shows a simulation of Brazil versus Croatia, the opening game of the world cup. The commentary is from Toni Polster, a legendary Austrian soccer player.

While the result is credible, we have not done this to exactly predict the outcome of the games - this would spoil the whole tournament! Furthermore, our approach is not meant for prediction but a system to train a distributed agent-based system to achieve an emergent cooperative behavior in a self-organized way. Setting up this work helped us in improving our understanding how we can create and guide self-organizing systems. We have chosen the soccer simulation as a demonstration because in soccer the global goal (no pun intended) can be achieved in so many different ways , for example with a defensive, offensive, kick-and-rush, pass-intensive, etc. style. And it is nice to watch - who said good science can't be fun!

Further readings: