Computer Science 373 is an introduction to Artificial Intelligence (AI). Artificial Intelligence is a concept that has been pondered by many, from computer scientists to philosophers to novelists and screenwriters. While many popular notions of AI can trace their roots back to the vision of the field's pioneers, the popular view of AI doesn't begin to touch the surface of this rich discipline.
Many familiar concepts in computer science have emerged (either directly or indirectly) from research in AI. Compilers, timesharing, and the object-oriented programming paradigm can all trace roots back to the early days of AI. More recently, the field of AI has expanded considerably to include topics that don't necessarily mimic human thought and behavior, but instead go beyond it. Robots now explore areas that humans can't reach; cars drive themselves without needing coffee to keep them awake; and data-mining algorithms find patterns in terabytes of data that no human could possibly analyze.
There are far too many topics within AI to consider all of them in twelve weeks. Indeed, each topic is rich enough to be a course on its own. We will devote most of the semester to the study of core AI topics: problem solving and search, probabilistic reasoning, and learning. In the remainder of the course we will touch on a selection of related topics, primarily focusing on current research in the field (e.g., deep learning, new results in complex games). We will also spend some time discussing questions around intelligence (what is it? how can we measure it?), as well as the ethics of building and deploying intelligent agents.
During the final quarter of the semester, you will have the opportunity to explore in depth a topic of your choice. The exploration will take the form of an extended project - from investigation of relevant literature to the development of a large software system, which you will present to your classmates.
In order to help prepare you for the project, I will have you complete five programming assignments. There will be no final exam. Instead, there will be a take-home exam in March.