CS-0263 - Artificial Intelligence in 3D Virtual Worlds


Instructor Info
Lee Spector
Email Address    lspector@hampshire.edu 
Office Extension    x5352 
Office Hours  
  Tuesday    10:30 AM - 12:00 PM 
  Thursday    01:30 PM - 03:30 PM 
Jonathan Klein
Email Address    jkCS@hampshire.edu 
Office Extension    x2807 
Office Hours  
  Wednesday    02:00 PM - 04:00 PM
TA Info
Raphael Crawford-Marks
Email Address    rpc01@hampshire.edu 
Term 2004S  
Meeting Info
Tuesday    09:00 AM - 10:20 AM 
  Adele Simmons Hall (ASH) Room 126  
Wednesday    08:15 PM - 10:30 PM 
  Adele Simmons Hall (ASH) Room 112  
Thursday    09:00 AM - 10:20 AM 
  Adele Simmons Hall (ASH) Room 126  
Description Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a branch of computer science concerned with the construction of computer systems that "think." This course introduced the core ideas of AI through the development of programs for "intelligent agents" that inhabit three-dimensional virtual worlds. A high- level simulation and graphics package will be used to provide realistic physics and 3D animation for experiments in intelligent agent design. AI topics to be covered include pattern matching and production systems, heuristic search, genetic algorithms, neural networks, and logic-based approaches. We will also discuss the philosophical foundations of AI and the implications of AI for cognitive science more broadly. Prerequisite: one programming course (in any language)  
Course Objectives
  • To gain familiarity with the range of concepts and computational techniques that have been developed by AI researchers over the past 50 years.
  • To apply several of these concepts and techniques to hands-on research and development activities involving "intelligent agents" in three-dimensional virtual worlds.


Evaluation Criteria You will be evaluated on the basis of participation (including weekly demonstrations), a portfolio of BREVE/steve code, and a retrospective essay that discusses your portfolio and the relation of the code that it contains to AI concepts. You should demonstrate through your participation that you have read and thought about the course readings.

You will be expected to present a demonstration of new, running BREVE/steve code, preferably related to the topics covered recently in class, every Tuesday (except for the first Tuesday of the semester). The code that you demonstrate can be a new component of an ongoing project, a new mini-project undertaken just for one week, or anything else as long as it is new, running BREVE/steve code. One suggestion is to start with small exercises and mini-projects at the beginning of the semester and to work up to a larger project (demonstrating new components of the larger project each week) as the semester progresses. This is only a suggestion, however, and you are free to work on large or small projects as you wish. Demos will be strictly limited to 5 minutes, with 1 minute set-up time. You should be certain before class each Tuesday that you can get all of the necessary files in place and begin your demo within 1 minute of the start of your demo time. You should also be certain that you can complete your demo within 5 minutes after setup.

Your code portfolio (and the associated retrospective essay) should demonstrate facility with the BREVE/steve environment/language and engagement with several of the class topics at the implementation level.

Additional Info


Artificial Intelligence: A New Synthesis, by Nils J. Nilsson. San Francisco, CA: Morgan Kaufmann Publishers, Inc. 1998. ISBN 1-55860-467-7 (cloth) ISBN 1-55860-535-5 (paper)

Vehicles: Experiments in Synthetic Psychology, by Valentino Braitenberg. MIT Press, 1984. ISBN 0-26252-112-1

Additional readings will be distributed in class or available on reserve.


Films related to the topics covered in class will be shown every Wednesday evening at 8:15 PM in the ASH auditorium. Some of the films will be technical in nature (for example, "Genetic Programming: The Movie"), while others will provide cultural or social perspectives on artificial intelligence (for example, the documentary "Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control," which profiles four men including MIT roboticist Rodney Brooks). Still others will be shown mostly for fun (for example "Pi" and particular episodes of the Twilight Zone and Star Trek), though all of the films will highlight AI themes .


This course will not follow a rigid, pre-specified schedule but will instead be paced to the progress and interests of the students. The basic sequence of topics and readings is presented below but other topics and readings may also be added; changes will be discussed and announced in class.

Topic Core Readings
Introduction to AI and the BREVE simulation environment Nilsson Ch. 1 (Introduction)
Braitenberg (Vehicles 1-4 + notes)
Turing (Computing Machinery and Intelligence)
Lem (The Washing Machine Tragedy)
Stimulus-Response Agents Nilsson Ch. 2 (Stimulus-Response Agents)
Braitenberg (Vehicles 5-8 + notes)
Brooks (Intelligence Without Representation)
Neural Networks Nilsson Ch. 3 (Neural Networks)
Braitenberg (Vehicles 9-12 + notes)
McClelland et al. (The Appeal of Parallel Distributed Processing)
Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Nilsson Ch. 4 (Machine Evolution)
Spector et al. (Introduction to Advances in GP 3)
Spector et al. (The Push 2.0 Programming Language Description)
Heuristic Search and Games Nilsson Ch. 7 (Agents that Plan)
Nilsson Ch. 8 (Uninformed Search)
Nilsson Ch. 9 (Heuristic Search)
Nilsson Ch. 12 (Adversarial Search)
Braitenberg (Vehicles 13-14 + notes)
Logic, Knowledge, and Planning Nilsson Ch. 13 (The Propositional Calculus)
Nilsson Ch. 14 (Resolution in the Propositional Calculus)
Nilsson Ch. 18 (Representing Commonsense Knowledge)
Nilsson Ch. 22 (Planning)