About

Postdoctoral Researcher at Maastricht University's Department of Data Science and Knowledge Engineering (DKE).

Research Interests

My research interests centre predominantly around the use of Artificial Intelligence and Data Science techniques applied to games. This includes research that uses AI techniques to help play, create and analyse games; but also how we can utilise games as a testbed for developing solutions to real-world problems.

I am currently working as the primary data scientist for the Digital Ludeme Project, which aims to improve our understanding of traditional games using modern AI techniques. This project can be summarised as a computational study of different games throughout recorded history, hoping to chart their historical evolution and explore their role in the development of human culture.

My PhD research focussed on implementing various AI techniques for physics-based video games and simulations. This involved developing intelligent agents that can reason and interact within a physical environment, as well as generating content that satisfies the physical limitations of such environments.

I have also conducted research into many other fields of AI, including topics such as procedural content generation, data mining, general AI, portfolio agents, computational complexity and computer vision.

Resume

A printable version of my Resume can be viewed here.

Summary

Matthew Stephenson

Postdoctoral Researcher at Maastricht University's Department of Data Science and Knowledge Engineering, with 6+ years of experience researching and teaching AI.

  • Room 2.014, Paul-Henri Spaaklaan 1, Maastricht, the Netherlands
  • matthew.stephenson@maastrichtuniversity.nl

Work Experience

Postdoctoral Researcher

2019 - Present

Maastricht University, Maastricht, the Netherlands

  • Primary data scientist for the Digital Ludeme Project.
  • Utilised state-of-the-art data science techniques to profile and compare traditional games throughout history.
  • Responsible for managing and integrating multiple large-scale computational and historical datasets.
  • Assisted with the research and development of new general AI techniques.
  • Secured additional funding through secondary grants.

External Consultant

2020 - Present

Australian National University, Canberra, Australia

  • Grant co-author and consultant for project on Science of Artificial Intelligence and Learning for Open-world Novelty.

Research Scientist

2015 - 2016

Human Interface Technology Laboratory, Christchurch, New Zealand

  • Part-time researcher and developer for the company QuiverVision.

Teaching

Lecturer

2019 - Present

Maastricht University, Maastricht, the Netherlands

  • Guest lecturer for Intelligent Search & Games (KEN4123).
  • Invited speaker on Open Science Data Principles for FAIR lecture series.
  • Supervised multiple Master's and Bachelor's student theses.
  • Presented at over a dozen international conferences and symposiums.
  • Organised several tutorials, workshops and competitions.

Tutor

2014 - 2015

University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand

  • Tutor for the School of Computer Science and Software Engineering.

Education

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

2016 - 2019

Australian National University, Canberra, Australia

  • Generation and Analysis of Content for Physics-Based Video Games.

First Class Honours Degree; Computer Science

2012 - 2015

University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand

  • Novel Methods for Reflective Symmetry Detection in Scanned 3D Models.

Projects

Published software can be found on GitHub.

Digital Ludeme Project

Project involving computational study of traditional games throughout recorded human history.

Ludii

General game system designed to play, evaluate and generate a wide range of board games.

AIBIRDS

Competition focussed on developing intelligent agents to solve Angry Birds levels.

GVG-AI

Framework for developing general agents that can play a variety of 2D arcade games.

Kaggle

Collection of data science competitions, challenges and datasets.

Publications

Publications can also be viewed on Google Scholar or ResearchGate.

2022

M. Stephenson, W. Crist, C. Browne, Measuring Network Distance between Games, Board Game Studies (BGS'22), Leeuwarden, Netherlands, May 2022. [bib] (pdf file)

2021

M. Stephenson, E. Piette, D. Soemers, C. Browne, Automatic Generation of Board Game Manuals, Advances in Computer Games (ACG'21), Maastricht, Netherlands, November 2021. [bib] (pdf file) (video presentation) (YouTube)

D. Soemers, E. Piette, M. Stephenson, C. Browne, Optimised Playout Implementations for the Ludii General Game System, Advances in Computer Games (ACG'21), Maastricht, Netherlands, November 2021. [bib] (pdf file) (video presentation) (YouTube)

C. Browne, E. Piette, M. Stephenson, D. Soemers, General Board Geometry, Advances in Computer Games (ACG'21), Maastricht, Netherlands, November 2021. [bib] (pdf file) (video presentation) (YouTube)

M. Stephenson, D. Soemers, E. Piette, C. Browne, General Game Heuristic Prediction Based on Ludeme Descriptions, IEEE Conference on Games (IEEE-COG'21), Copenhagen, Denmark, August 2021. [bib] (pdf file) (video presentation)

E. Piette, M. Stephenson, D. Soemers, C. Browne, General Board Game Concepts, IEEE Conference on Games (IEEE-COG'21), Copenhagen, Denmark, August 2021. [bib] (pdf file) (video presentation)

C. Gamage, M. Stephenson, V. Pinto, J. Renz, Deceptive Level Generation for Angry Birds, IEEE Conference on Games (IEEE-COG'21), Copenhagen, Denmark, August 2021. [bib] (pdf file) (video presentation)

C. Gamage, V. Pinto, C. Xue, M. Stephenson, P. Zhang, J. Renz, Novelty Generation Framework for AI Agents in Angry Birds Style Physics Games, IEEE Conference on Games (IEEE-COG'21), Copenhagen, Denmark, August 2021. [bib] (pdf file) (video presentation)

W. Crist, M. Stephenson, The Digital Ludeme Project Games Database: Compiling Evidence to Reconstruct Historical Games, Board Game Studies (BGS'21), Paris, France, April 2021. [bib] (pdf file) (video presentation)

E. Piette, L. Rougetet, W. Crist, M. Stephenson, D. Soemers, C. Browne, A Ludii analysis of the French Military Game, Board Game Studies (BGS'21), Paris, France, April 2021. [bib] (pdf file)

2020

D. Soemers, E. Piette, M. Stephenson, C. Browne, Manipulating the Distributions of Experience used for Self-Play Learning in Expert Iteration, IEEE Conference on Games (IEEE-COG'20), Osaka, Japan, August 2020. [bib] (pdf file) (video presentation)

E. Piette, D. Soemers, M. Stephenson, C. Sironi, M. Winands, C. Browne, Ludii - The Ludemic General Game System, European Conference on Artificial Intelligence (ECAI'20), Santiago de Compestela, Spain, August 2020. [bib] (pdf file) (video presentation)

M. Stephenson, J. Renz, X. Ge, The Computational Complexity of Angry Birds (Extended Abstract), International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI'20), Yokohama, Japan, July, 2020. [bib] (pdf file) (video presentation)

M. Stephenson, D. Anderson, A. Khalifa, J. Levine, J. Renz, J. Togelius, C. Salge, A Continuous Information Gain Measure to Find the Most Discriminatory Problems for AI Benchmarking, IEEE World Congress on Computational Intelligence (WCCI'20), IEEE Congress on Evolutionary Computation (CEC'20), Glasgow, United Kingdom, July, 2020. [bib] (pdf file) (video presentation)

2019

P. Bontrager, A. Khalifa, D. Anderson, M. Stephenson, C. Salge, J. Togelius, “Superstition” in the Network: Deep Reinforcement Learning Plays Deceptive Games, The Fifteenth Annual AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Digital Entertainment (AIIDE'19), Atlanta, GA, October 2019. [bib] (pdf file)

R. Gaina, M. Stephenson, “Did You Hear That?” Learning to Play Video Games from Audio Cues, IEEE Conference on Games (IEEE-COG'19), London, United Kingdom, August 2019. [bib] (pdf file)

M. Stephenson, E. Piette, D. Soemers, C. Browne, Ludii as a Competition Platform, IEEE Conference on Games (IEEE-COG'19), London, United Kingdom, August 2019. [bib] (pdf file)

C. Piette, E. Piette, M. Stephenson, D. Soemers, C. Browne, Ludii and XCSP: Playing and Solving Logic Puzzles, IEEE Conference on Games (IEEE-COG'19), London, United Kingdom, August 2019. [bib] (pdf file)

M. Stephenson, E. Piette, D. Soemers, C. Browne, An Overview of the Ludii General Game System, IEEE Conference on Games (IEEE-COG'19), London, United Kingdom, August 2019. [bib] (pdf file)

E. Piette, M. Stephenson, D. Soemers, C. Browne, An Empirical Evaluation of Two General Game Systems: Ludii and RBG, IEEE Conference on Games (IEEE-COG'19), London, United Kingdom, August 2019. [bib] (pdf file)

D. Soemers, E. Piette, M. Stephenson, C. Browne, Learning Policies from Self-Play with Policy Gradients and MCTS Value Estimates, IEEE Conference on Games (IEEE-COG'19), London, United Kingdom, August 2019. [bib] (pdf file)

T. Liu, J. Renz, P. Zhang, M. Stephenson, Using Restart Heuristics to Improve Agent Performance in Angry Birds, IEEE Conference on Games (IEEE-COG'19), London, United Kingdom, August 2019. [bib] (pdf file)

C. Browne, M. Stephenson, E. Piette, D. Soemers, A Practical Introduction to the Ludii General Game System, Proceedings of Advances in Computer Games (ACG'19), Macau, Springer, August 2019. [bib] (pdf file)

E. Piette, D. Soemers, M. Stephenson, C. Sironi, M. Winands, C. Browne, Ludii - The Ludemic General Game System, Conférence Nationale en Intelligence Artificielle, Toulouse, France, July 2019. [bib] (English pdf file) (French pdf file)

M. Stephenson, E. Piette, C. Browne, Teaching and Learning with LUDII, Board Game Studies (BGS'19), Bologna, Italy, May 2019. [bib] (pdf file)

2018

M. Stephenson, J. Renz, Deceptive Angry Birds: Towards Smarter Game-Playing Agents, The Twelfth International Conference on the Foundations of Digital Games (FDG'18), Malmo, Sweden, August 2018, (honourable mention). [bib] (pdf file)

D. Anderson, M. Stephenson, J. Togelius, C. Salge, J. Levine, J. Renz, Deceptive Games, Proceedings of EvoGames 2018 (EvoStar'18), Parma, Italy, April 2018. [bib] (pdf file)

2017

M. Stephenson, J. Renz, X. Ge, The Computational Complexity of Angry Birds and Similar Physics-Simulation Games, The Thirteenth Annual AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Digital Entertainment (AIIDE'17), Snowbird, UT, October 2017. [bib] (pdf file)

M. Stephenson, J. Renz, Creating a Hyper-Agent for Solving Angry Birds Levels, The Thirteenth Annual AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Digital Entertainment (AIIDE'17), Snowbird, UT, October 2017. [bib] (pdf file)

M. Stephenson, J. Renz, Generating Varied, Stable and Solvable Levels for Angry Birds Style Physics Games, IEEE Computational Intelligence and Games Conference 2017 (IEEE-CIG'17), New York, NY, August 2017. [bib] (pdf file)

D. Perez-Liebana, M. Stephenson, R. Gaina, J. Renz, S. M. Lucas, Introducing Real World Physics and Macro-Actions to General Video Game AI, IEEE Computational Intelligence and Games Conference 2017 (IEEE-CIG'17), New York, NY, August 2017. [bib] (pdf file)

2016

M. Stephenson, J. Renz, Procedural Generation of Levels for Angry Birds Style Physics Games, The Twelfth Annual AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Digital Entertainment (AIIDE'16), Burlingame, CA, October 2016. [bib] (pdf file)

M. Stephenson, J. Renz, Procedural Generation of Complex Stable Structures for Angry Birds Levels, IEEE Computational Intelligence and Games Conference 2016 (IEEE-CIG'16), Santorini, Greece, September 2016. [bib] (pdf file)

2015

M. Stephenson, A. Clark, R. Green, Novel Methods for Reflective Symmetry Detection in Scanned 3D Models, The 30th International Conference on Image and Vision Computing New Zealand (IVCNZ'15), Auckland, New Zealand, November 2015. [bib] (pdf file)

2020

M. Stephenson, J. Renz, X. Ge, The Computational Complexity of Angry Birds, Artificial Intelligence (AIJ), 2020. [bib] (pdf file)
Published version of the paper can be accessed here.

2019

J. Renz, X. Ge, M. Stephenson, P. Zhang, AI meets Angry Birds, Nature Machine Intelligence, 2019. [bib] (pdf file)

M. Stephenson, J. Renz, X. Ge, P. Zhang, Generating Stable, Building Block Structures from Sketches, IEEE Transactions on Games (IEEE-TOG), 2019. [bib] (pdf file)

2018

M. Stephenson, J. Renz, X. Ge, L. Ferreira, J. Togelius, P. Zhang, The 2017 AIBIRDS Level Generation Competition, IEEE Transactions on Games (IEEE-TOG), 2018. [bib] (pdf file)

2019

M. Stephenson, J. Renz, Agent-Based Adaptive Level Generation for Dynamic Difficulty Adjustment in Angry Birds, Workshop on Games and Simulations for Artificial Intelligence at AAAI-2019, Honolulu, HI, January 2019. [bib] (pdf file)

2018

M. Stephenson, J. Renz, X. Ge, P. Zhang, Generating Stable, Building Block Structures from Sketches, Computer Games Workshop at IJCAI-ECAI'18, Stockholm, Sweden, July 2018. [bib] (pdf file)

2019

M. Stephenson, D. Perez-Liebana, M. Nelson, A. Khalifa, A. Zook, Game Complexity vs Strategic Depth, NII Shonan Meeting 130, Artificial General Intelligence in Games: Where Play Meets Design and User Experience, Shonan, Japan, March 2019. [bib] (pdf file)

C. Browne, D. Soemers, E. Piette, M. Stephenson, M. Conrad, W. Crist, T. Depaulis, E. Duggan, F. Horn, S. Kelk, S. Lucas, J. Pedro Neto, D. Parlett, A. Saffidine, U. Schädler, J. Nuno Silva, A. de Voogt, M. Winands, Foundations of Digital Archæoludology, CoRR arXiv:1905.13516, 2019. [bib] (pdf file)

2019

M. Stephenson, J. Renz, Generation and Analysis of Content for Physics-Based Video Games, PhD Thesis, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia, 2019. [bib] (pdf file)

2015

M. Stephenson, A. Clark, R. Green, Novel Methods for Reflective Symmetry Detection in Scanned 3D Models, Honours Thesis, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand, 2015. [bib] (pdf file)

2020

M. Stephenson, C. Browne, Designing, Playing and Testing Games with Ludii, IEEE Conference on Games (IEEE-COG'20), Osaka, Japan, August 2020. (video presentation) (YouTube)

2022

D. Soemers, E. Piette, M. Stephenson, C. Browne, Spatial State-Action Features for General Games, CoRR arXiv:2201.06401, 2022. [bib] (pdf file)

2021

D. Soemers, V. Mella, E. Piette, M. Stephenson, C. Browne, O. Teytaud, Transfer of Fully Convolutional Policy-Value Networks Between Games and Game Variants, CoRR arXiv:2102.12375, 2021. [bib] (pdf file)

2018

M. Stephenson, J. Renz, X. Ge, P. Zhang, The 2017 AIBIRDS Competition, CoRR arXiv:1803.05156, 2018. [bib] (pdf file)

Master's Theses

L. Vanparijs, Procedural Level Generation for 2D Auto-Runner Games Based on Musical Features, 2022. (pdf file)

L. Clappers, Simulation-Based Believable Procedurally Generated Video-Game Villages, 2021. (pdf file)

C. Hacking, AI Game Design Generation and Evaluation for 3D Platformer Games, 2020. (pdf file)

Bachelor's Theses

M. Naryzhnyaya, Improve Offline Adaptation of General Video Game Playing Agents, 2022. (pdf file)

T.H.P. van Loo, Finding Noble Uncertainty, A Study of Uncertainty in Games, 2021. (pdf file)

F. Barbero, Agents for Fast Game Length Estimates, 2021. (pdf file)

Group Projects

Move-Based Game Distance, 2021. (pdf file)

Chance and Skill in Games, 2021. (pdf file)

Understanding fully expanded games, 2020. (pdf file)

Game Distance Metrics, 2020. (pdf file)

Ludii - English Translation of Formal Rule Sets, 2020. (pdf file)

Visual Tutorials for Games, 2020. (pdf file)

Recommender System for Board Games, 2020. (pdf file)

Contact

Email:
matthew.stephenson@maastrichtuniversity.nl

Address:
Room 2.014
Paul-Henri Spaaklaan 1
Department of Data Science and Knowledge Engineering
Maastricht University
Maastricht, 6229 EN
Limburg, the Netherlands