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CS156Spring 2015Sec1Home Page/Syllabus

Introduction to Artificial Intelligence

Instructor: Chris Pollett
Office: MH 214
Phone Number: (408) 924 5145
Office Hours: MW 4:15pm-5:30pm
Class Meets:
Sec1 MW 1:30pm-2:45pm in MH223


To take this class you must have taken: CS146 and CS151 with a grade of C- or better.

Texts and Links

Required Texts: Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach. 3rd Ed.. Stuart Russell and Peter Norvig
Online References and Other Links: Official Python Website.
Python Implementation of Code from the Book.

Topics and Outcomes

Algorithms which allow computers to simulate various abilities of living organisms are used in many different areas of computer science. In computer gaming it is important to be able to be able to create agents which behave intelligently in response to human players. In search engines it is important to be able to classify the types of queries which are arriving to better tailor search results. Question answering systems used in medicine have recently attracted attention after the defeat of the top Jeopardy champions by Watson, a computer program from IBM. This course will survey the major areas of AI. The course will begin with problem solving algorithms. In particular, search space exploration strategies such as iterative deepening, A*, and several local search algorithms will be considered. Techniques to solve constraint satisfaction problems will then be discussed. This will be followed by a description of the minimax algorithm and alpha-beta pruning which is used in games such as chess. The focus will then shift to representation schemes for knowledge, logical reasoning and theorem proving techniques. Then task planning algorithms will be considered. Finally, the semester will conclude with an introduction to neural nets, learning algorithms, and AI related to information retrieval. The following are the learning outcomes for this course: The following are the learning outcomes for this course off the canonical class syllabus: LO1 (Learning Outcome 1) -- By code or by hand find solution nodes in a state space using the A* algorithm. LO2 -- By code or by hand translate sentences in first-order logic to conjunctive normal form (CNF). LO3 -- By code or by hand find proofs by using resolution. LO4 -- Students should be able to explain the advantages and disadvantages of breadth-first search, compared to depth-first search. LO5 -- Students should be able to explain the advantages and disadvantages of informed search, compared to uninformed search. LO6 -- Students should be able to explain the advantages and disadvantages of hill climbing. LO7 -- Students should be able to explain the advantages and disadvantages of forward checking in constraint satisfaction. LO8 -- Students should be able to explain the advantages and disadvantages of alpha-beta pruning. LO9 -- Students should be able to explain the advantages and disadvantages of the STRIPS representation for planning. LO10 -- Students should be able to describe the frame problem. LO11 -- Students should be able to describe default reasoning. LO12 -- Students should be able to describe or implement at least one learning algorithm.

Below is a tentative time table for when we'll do things this quarter:

Week 1: Jan 26Jan 28 Start Ch 3
Week 2: Feb 2, Feb 4 Finish Ch3, Start Python
Week 3: Feb 9, Feb 11 Finish Python, Read Ch 4 Beyond Classical Search
Week 4: Feb 16, Feb 18 Read Ch 5 Adversarial Search
Week 5: Feb 23, Feb 25 Ch 6 Constraint Satisfaction
Week 6: Mar 2, Mar 4 Read Ch 7-8 Logical Agents and First-order Logic
Week 7: Mar 9, Mar 11 Read Ch9 Inference in First-Order Logic
Week 8: Mar 16, Mar 18 Review, Midterm
Week 9: Mar 23, Mar 25 Spring Recess
Week 10: Mar 30, Apr 1 Finish First-Order Logic
Week 11: Apr 6, Apr 8 Read Ch10 Classical Planning
Week 12: Apr 13, Apr 15 Yet More Ch 10
Week 13: Apr 20, Apr 22 Finish Ch 10, Ch 12 Knowledge Representation
Week 14: Apr 27, Apr 29 Finish Ch12, Ch 13 Reasoning with Uncertainty
Week 15: May 4, May 6 Read Ch18 Learning from Examples
Week 16: May 11, May 13 Read Ch20 Learning Probabilistic Models, Review
The final will be 12:15pm-2:30pm, Wednesday, May 20


Homeworks and Quizzes 50%
Midterm 20%
Final 30%

Grades will be calculated in the following manner: The person or persons with the highest aggregate score will receive an A+. A score of 55 will be the cut-off for a C-. The region between this high and low score will be divided into eight equal-sized regions. From the top region to the low region, a score falling within a region receives the grade: A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, C-. If the boundary between an A and an A- is 85, then the score 85 counts as an A-. Scores below 55 but above 50 receive the grade D. Those below 50 receive the grade F.

If you do better than an A- in this class and want me to write you a letter of recommendation, I will generally be willing provided you ask me within two years of taking my course. Be advised that I write better letters if I know you to some degree.

Homework and Project Info

This semester we will have five homeworks and weekly quizzes. Every Monday that we meet this semester, except the first day of class; there will be a quiz on the previous week's material. The answer to the quiz will either be multiple choice or true-false, and will basically make sure you reviewed the previous weeks notes. Each quiz is worth a maximum of 1pt. Out of the total of thirteen quizzes this semester, I will keep your ten best scores.

Links to the current list of homeworks, quizzes, and projects can be found on the left hand frame of the class homepage.

After an homework has been returned a link to its solution (based on the best student solutions) will be placed off the homework page. Material from assignments may appear on midterms and finals. For homeworks you are encouraged to work in groups of up to three people. Only one person out of this group needs to submit the homework assignment; however, the members of the group need to be clearly identified in all submitted files. Homeworks for this class will be submitted and returned completely electronically. To submit an assignment click on the submit homework link for your section on the left hand side of the homepage and filling out the on-line form. Hardcopies or e-mail versions of your assignments will be rejected and not receive credit. Homeworks will always be due by the start of class on the day their due. Late homeworks will not be accepted and missed quizzes cannot be made up; however, your lowest score amongst the five homeworks and your quiz total will be dropped.

When doing the programming part of an assignment please make sure to adhere to the specification given as closely as possible. Names of files should be as given, etc. Failure to follow the specification may result in your homework not being graded and you receiving a zero for your work.


The midterms will be during class time on: Mar 18.

The final will be: 12:15pm-2:30pm, Wednesday, May 20.

All exams are closed book, closed notes and in this classroom. You will be allowed only the test and your pen or pencil on your desk during these exams. Beeper or cell-phone interruptions will result in immediate excusal from the test. The final will cover material from the whole quarter although there will be an emphasis on material after the last midterm. No make ups will be given. The final exam may be scaled to replace a midterm grade if it was missed under provably legitimate circumstances. These exams will test whether or not you have mastered the material both presented in class or assigned as homework during the quarter. My exams usually consist of a series of essay style questions. I try to avoid making tricky problems. The week before each exam I will give out a list of problems representative of the level of difficulty of problems the student will be expected to answer on the exam. Any disputes concerning grades on exams should be directed to me, Professor Pollett.


If you believe an error was made in the grading of your program or exam, you may request in person a regrade from me, Professor Pollett, during my office hours. I do not accept e-mail requests for regrades. A request for a regrade must be made no more than a week after the homework or a midterm is returned. If you cannot find me before the end of the semester and you would like to request a regrade of your final, you may see me in person at the start of the immediately following semester.

Academic Honesty

Your own commitment to learning, as evidenced by your enrollment at San Jose State University, and the University's Academic Integrity Policy requires you to be honest in all your academic course work. Faculty members are required to report all infractions to the Office of Student Conduct and Ethical Development. The policy on academic integrity can be found at

Specifically, for this class, you should obviously not cheat on tests. For homeworks, you should not discuss or share code or problem solutions between groups! At a minimum a 0 on the assignment or test will be given. A student caught using resources like Rent-a-coder will receive an F for the course and be referred to University for disciplinary action.

Additional Policies and Procedures

I have created a discussion group for this class which I encourage students to use for asking questions that others might benefit from knowing the answer to. If you know the answer to a question, and the answer does not involve sharing a program solution feel free to answer it on the board. If possible I will answer questions through the board as well. Let's keep the tone on the board positive and encouraging. I will monitor posts and reserve the right to deny posting privileges if message tones become uncivil.

The campus policy to ensure compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act is:
"If you need course adaptations or accommodations because of a disability, or if you need special arrangements in case the building must be evacuated, please make an appointment with me as soon as possible, or see me during office hours. Presidential Directive 97-03 requires that students with disabilities register with
Accessible Education Center to establish a record of their disability."

More information about SJSU policies and procedures can be found at the following links: