10 February 1996

The IBM supercomputer, Deep Blue, defeats Garry Kasparov in chess.

Deep Blue and Kasparov played each other on two occasions. The first match began on 10 February 1996, in which Deep Blue became the first machine to win a chess game against a reigning world champion under regular time controls. However, Kasparov won three and drew two of the following five games, beating Deep Blue by a score of 4–2. The match concluded on 17 February 1996.

Deep Blue was then heavily upgraded and played Kasparov again in May 1997, winning the six-game rematch 3½–2½, ending on 11 May. Deep Blue won the deciding game six after Kasparov made a mistake in the opening, becoming the first computer system to defeat a reigning world champion in a match under standard chess tournament time controls.

The system derived its playing strength mainly from brute force computing power. It was a massively parallel, RS/6000 SP Thin P2SC-based system with 30 nodes, with each node containing a 120 MHz P2SC microprocessor, enhanced with 480 special purpose VLSI chess chips. Its chess playing program was written in C and ran under the AIX operating system. It was capable of evaluating 200 million positions per second, twice as fast as the 1996 version. In June 1997, Deep Blue was the 259th most powerful supercomputer according to the TOP500 list, achieving 11.38 GFLOPS on the High-Performance LINPACK benchmark.

The Deep Blue chess computer that defeated Kasparov in 1997 would typically search to a depth of between six and eight moves to a maximum of twenty or even more moves in some situations. David Levy and Monty Newborn estimate that one additional ply increases the playing strength 50 to 70 Elo points.

Deep Blue’s evaluation function was initially written in a generalized form, with many to-be-determined parameters. The optimal values for these parameters were then determined by the system itself, by analyzing thousands of master games. The evaluation function had been split into 8,000 parts, many of them designed for special positions. In the opening book there were over 4,000 positions and 700,000 grandmaster games. The endgame database contained many six piece endgames and five or fewer piece positions. Before the second match, the chess knowledge of the program was fine tuned by grandmaster Joel Benjamin. The opening library was provided by grandmasters Miguel Illescas, John Fedorowicz, and Nick de Firmian. When Kasparov requested that he be allowed to study other games that Deep Blue had played so as to better understand his opponent, IBM refused. However, Kasparov did study many popular PC games to become familiar with computer game play in general.

Writer Nate Silver suggests that a bug in Deep Blue’s software led to a seemingly random move which Kasparov misattributed to “superior intelligence”. Subsequently, Kasparov experienced a drop in performance due to anxiety in the following game.

10 February 1967

The 25th Amendment of the United States Constitution is ratified.

Twenty-fifth Amendment, amendment (1967) to the Constitution of the United States that set forth succession rules relating to vacancies and disabilities of the office of the president and of the vice president. It was proposed by the U.S. Congress on July 6, 1965, and it was ratified on Feb. 10, 1967. While the first section of the Twenty-fifth Amendment codified the traditionally observed process of succession in the event of the death of the president—that the vice president would succeed to the office—it also introduced a change regarding the ascent of the vice president to president should the latter resign from office. In the event of resignation, the vice president would assume the title and position of president—not acting president—effectively prohibiting the departing president from returning to office.

Prior to the passage of the amendment, nine presidents—William Henry Harrison, Zachary Taylor, Abraham Lincoln, James Garfield, William McKinley, Woodrow Wilson, Warren G. Harding, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Dwight D. Eisenhower—experienced health crises that left them temporarily incapacitated, with death resulting in six cases. After the passage of the amendment, Pres. Ronald Reagan was incapacitated for some 24 hours while undergoing surgery for a gunshot wound resulting from a failed assassination attempt, though no official designation of presidential responsibility was ever made. Indeed, this portion of the Twenty-fifth Amendment has never been invoked.