Called the ultimate AI achievement by Q and with an ultimate storage capacity of eight hundred quadrillion bits and a total linear computational speed rated at sixty trillion operations per second, has Data displayed the ability of a top tier strategist?

As example; In “Peak Performance” TNG 2x21 Data beats a 3rd level Strategema Grandmaster from a race feared for their innately strategic minds and in "The Hunted" TNG 3x11, he out-strategizes the genetically enhanced Angosian super-soldier Roga Danar. These are only two of the many examples of his superior strategic prowess.

An example of Data's military strategy programing: From "The Hunted:


Roga and Data are still talking, the atmosphere more
relaxed than before...

        Were you built for combat,

        No. But my program does include
        military strategy... that is how
        I was finally able to anticipate
        your last tactic and capture you.

        You did that? Perhaps you would
        be better at combat than you
  • 4
    Actually, Data was only able to match the Strategema Grandmaster, not beat him. And after having already being fooled by Roga Danar once, he was able to suspect that Roga was misleading the crew, but was unable to determine his actual goal. And "eight hundred quadrillion bits" is only roughly 100 petabytes, which I'd bet we'll see in personal storage drives within the next century. On paper, Data really isn't that technically impressive.
    – Xantec
    Commented Apr 3, 2014 at 20:48
  • @Xantec WHAT?! He 'busted up' the Grandmaster and captured the Super Soldier. Not that technically impressive? Tough crowd methinks.
    – Morgan
    Commented Apr 3, 2014 at 20:59
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    He also lost a chess game to Counselor Troi.
    – Stan
    Commented Apr 4, 2014 at 1:00
  • 1
    @Xantec Yet another example of Data's superior strategic and tactical abilities, even in the face of countermanding orders and a subversive 1st Officer, while busting a Romulan sneak and creep during the Klingon civil war. "Redemption, Part II" TNG 5x1 youtube.com/watch?v=98iNFU0IDo0
    – Morgan
    Commented Apr 4, 2014 at 1:16
  • 1
    @Xantec, IBM has a machine with more than Data's storage capacity, and the USAF has a machine with a couple times Data's processing power. (And the USAF's machine is primarily made of PlayStation 3 consoles...) We may not have commercial devices that can beat Data, but the world has computers that can. The next step is miniaturization!
    – Brian S
    Commented Apr 4, 2014 at 14:25

2 Answers 2


There are examples of Data making poor tactical decisions as well.

  • In the episode Cause and Effect, Data's suggestion leads to the destruction of the Enterprise-D - not just once, but several times, for 17 days. Only when the temporal loop gets to a high enough 'feedback level' and the crew can begin messaging themselves in the past (via Data) does he realize that Riker had the superior tactic.

  • Data doesn't strictly beat the Strategema player; he loses once and then plays him to a stalemate. While forfeiting could be considered an admission of defeat or an implicit loss, it is 'on a technicality'.

  • Troi apparently beat Data at 3-dimensional chess at least once, during the opening scene of Conundrum.

  • Data did not appreciate Captain Picard's strategy for escaping the snare in the episode Booby Trap until the slingshot effect had already been executed.

  • While meaning well, Data shows an inability to strategize emotionally in the episode In Theory.

  • Data cannot replicate his own design, as seen in The Offspring. Nor could he accurately anticipate and account for the cascade failure in Lal's positronic brain.

  • Counselor. Troi. Beat. Data. At. Chess.

These and other examples go to show that Data is not infallible in his ability to forecast and/or strategize. While some of these are not 'strategy' in the way we'd think of strategizing a battle plan or a game of Risk, they point out the hole in Data's reasoning wherein emotion and intuition often enter play.

  • 1
    Don't forget to mention that he got beaten at chess by the only person to crash the Enterprise on their first day on the job
    – Valorum
    Commented Apr 3, 2014 at 21:27
  • 3
    Are we sure Data didn't let her win, the way we'd let a not-too-bright child win a game to make them feel better about themselves? Commented Apr 3, 2014 at 21:29
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    The characters are fairly well fleshed-out over seven years in their habits and proficiencies though. Riker plays trombone, likes jazz, is a good shuttle pilot, hosts Poker in his quarters; there's no grounds upon which to say "But what if he's also a competent Tetris player eh? Eh? You don't know! You weren't THERE" It's the same with Troi; her activities on the ship don't establish her as the first go-to when trying to conceive of an opponent capable of defeating Data. What she does off-screen is not worth the conjecture, don't you think?
    – Stick
    Commented Apr 3, 2014 at 21:53
  • 3
    It was more the fact that "oh, suddenly she's amazing at chess, despite having never shown any ability at it whatsoever before or since"
    – Valorum
    Commented Apr 3, 2014 at 22:49
  • 2
    And for what it's worth - maybe Troi did crash the Enterprise not once but twice. She didn't crash it for 17 days. Data ran Admiral Frasier's Miranda-class Cadillac into the starboard nacelle for 17 days. It took that long to figure out, what with all the echoes of deja-vu and memory and whatnot, that maybe don't trust Mr. Tricorder to make the call on this. Picard's deference to Data in this situation was arguably the most destructive act the two have ever conspired to commit.
    – Stick
    Commented Apr 4, 2014 at 0:16

Data has been called the ultimate AI achievement by Q (he should know). He has also been complemented for his fluid tactical ability by a genetically and chemically enhanced Angosian super-soldier, Roga Danar. He has also demonstrated the able to play the difficult strategy game 'Strategema' to a draw against galactically renowned strategist Sirna Kolramia himself, a famed 3rd level Grandmaster from a race feared for their innately strategic minds. It's obvious that Data has been programed to be a master strategist. Maybe not the 'best ever' but obviously programed to be a formidable master level strategist and combat tactician.

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