While STILMAN Advanced Strategies is a young company, it has a rich history spanning 28 years of world-class research and technology development. This history begins with Russian visionary and former World Chess Champion, Mikhail Botvinnik. The Soviet Union’s domination in chess - interrupted only once since the 1930s by Bobby Fischer - was due, in large part, to the efforts of Botvinnik. Though he died 6 years ago, Botvinnik’s presence is still felt through his star pupil, current World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov.
In addition to being an extraordinary chess player, Botvinnik also worked full-time as a scientist. His dream was to create a computer chess program that played in the same way as a human. He scorned the Western approach to artificial intelligence, which to this day remains heavily oriented to the strengths of our advances in hardware speed. (For example, IBM’s Deep Blue calculated 200 million positions per second by using an array of 256 processors and rudimentary search algorithms.) Botvinnik wanted a software solution, based upon the mathematical expression of human thought. For this, he needed a mathematician to whom he would give a flow chart of the grandmaster player’s thinking patterns. This mathematician was Boris Stilman, co-founder and named principal of our company.
Botvinnik told Stilman that humans don’t search through all the possibilities, like computers do. Instead, humans strive to understand the relationships between the forces at play in the problem domain - whether it is chess or another strategic “game” like engineering - and after they do, the solution comes instantly. This approach was forsaken as impossible in the West, but Botvinnik would hear nothing of it. Stilman worked 80-100 hours a week (a tradition he still continues) for years, and in 1977 the progress was evident, when numerous chess problems were solved without search.
Two factors prohibited Botvinnik and Stilman from showing their work, however. First, the icy relations of the Cold War prevented disclosure of these scientific advances. Second, even though the software was tremendously advanced, it still needed to run on hardware, and the Soviet computers were hopelessly unreliable, making demonstrations impossible. Stilman and Botvinnik continued to work together until Stilman moved to the West in 1990, where he became a Professor at the University of Colorado at Denver. Since 1979, Stilman has devoted his energy toward solutions for more formal engineering problems. He and Botvinnik worked for the Soviet department of energy, and with further advances in their “game” software, managed to run the maintenance scheduling of the power grid for the entire Soviet Union—without, it should be noted, a single software failure in providing optimum results.
Since the successful utilization of the software, efforts have been focused upon further research of the software’s applicability to a virtually unlimited set of problem domains associated with real commercial and governmental needs. Recent events have shown that Stilman’s great efforts have produced a breakthrough on a level that could create a complete paradigm shift in basic and applied complex system research and development. At this point, it was evident that the efforts should be privatized.
STILMAN Advanced Strategies came together from the intense desire of its founders to map, model, and translate human excellence into computer science. We believe we have found the winning team to do so.