CPSC 352 -- Artificial Intelligence -- Syllabus Fall 2011


Course Description

In his book, The Singularity is Near (Viking Press, 2005), Raymond Kurzweil, a well-known AI researcher and futurist, argues that computers will inevitably surpass human intelligence during the 21st century. "The Singularity is an era in which our intelligence will become increasingly nonbiological and trillions of times more powerful than it is today -- the dawning of a new civilization that will enable us to transcend our biological limitations and amplify our creativity." Kurzweil is the developer of advanced speech recognition and language understanding software. Is Kurzweil's claim credible? Can a machine really think, feel, create art? Is it inevitable, as Kurzweil claims, that in the 21st century computers will surpass human intelligence? Or, is this just hype? The overall goal of this course is to provide you with enough of a foundation in AI so that you can address these issues from your own perspective. I doubt that we will all agree on the answers.

In this course, we will study a selection of the basic principles, algorithms, and applications in artificial intelligence. The course lectures and assignments will cover fundamental topics and tools such as logic, recursive search, knowledge representation, PROLOG, machine learning, pattern recognition, problem solving, neural networks, genetic algorithms, and others. In addition, sidebar topics, focusing on AI applications and problem solving approaches will be investigated independently by students and distributed to the rest of the class via the course Web page.

Computational and biological evolution. As a special focus this year, during the final two weeks of the semester we will focus on the exciting area of genetic algorithms, evolutionary computation and their relation to biological evolution. This 2-week long case study will start with a guest lecture on evolutionary biology that focuses on the history and science of evolution. The second lecture will focus on the fundamental details of evolutionary computation, emphasizing the connections between algorithms used in computation and their analogs in nature. The third lecture will focus on applications of evolutionary computation and will include examples from a wide range of application areas -- e.g., breaking ciphers, creating art, computing search plans. The final lecture will focus on the broader societal implications of evolutionary computation.

Course Work

Attendance Policy

Class attendance is required. All absences, whether for illness, travel, oversleeping, and so on, must be made up by writing a 2-3 page paper summarizing that day's class topic. Failure to hand in an acceptable paper will cost 1 point off your final course average.


AI Resources on the WWW