Friday, October 22, 2010

(Final) Blog questions on AI and Intelligent Agent Design..

1. Consider the game of chess. If you are developing a chess playing agent, is the environment in question accessible? deterministic? static?  There is a variant of Chess called "kriegspiel". Find out what it is and how its environment differs from that of chess (in our three dimensions). 

 2. Is it possible for an environment to be fully observable for one agent and only partially observable for another one?

3. Is it possible that an agent can model the same  environment either as (a) partially observable but with deterministic actions or (b) fully observable but with stochastic actions? Philosophically, what does this tell us about the nature of "randomness ? (bonus points: see if you can make a connection to the way we understand eclipses now vs. the way there were understood by our ancestors). 

4. Suppose you are trying to design an  agent which has goals of achievement (i.e., it is judged based on whether or not it ended up in a state where the "goal" holds). Would you want the agent to be given "hard goals" (i.e., goals that must be satisfied) or "soft goals" (i.e., goals which, if satisfied, will give the agent a reward; but if skipped won't stop the agent from experiencing the rewards it gets from other goals).  Focus on which is a harder "computational" problem.
(bonus: see if you can make a connection between this question and your high-school life vs. your university life..)

5. An environment is called "ergodic" if an agent in that environment can reach any state from any other state.   Can you think of examples of ergodic vs. non-ergodic environments? Which are easier for an agent? (in particular, think of an agent which doesn't want to "think too much" and prefers to do some random action and see what happens. How does such an agent fare in an ergodic vs. non-ergodic environment?)

6. We talked about the fact that the agent needs to have a "model" of the environment--where the model tells it what are properties of a state in the environment, and how the environment "evolves" both when left to itself and when you do an action on it.   A model is considered "complete" if it is fully faithful to the real environment. Do you think it is reasonable to expect models to have (a) complete models (b) no models or (c) partial models?    Suppose an agent has a partial model, and according to its model, it should pick some action A at this point. Should it *always* pick A or should it once in a while "live a little" and pick something other than A?    The question here has something to do with a fundamental tradeoff called "Exploration vs. Exploitation" tradeoff. See if you can relate this to the question of  when you should make the decision about which area of computer science you should specialize in. 


(reply to this mail) Attendance assessment


 As you know there were 10 meetings for ASU 101. Please respond to this mail and let me know

1. how many classes you missed in total

2. which classes, if any, you missed with prior notification to me

Please send this information just to me (*NOT* on the class blog)

(if you need to jog your memory as to what happened in which class, here is the list: )


*Required*: Acquired Wisdom Assignment (to be completed on the Blog)


 Here is the last *required* assignment for ASU101. Please enter your answer to the following question
as a comment on the blog:

  List 5 things (pieces of advice and/or technical ideas) that you took away from this course


Your answers will be a sort of the interactive summary of what actually happened in this class (and will be linked as 
"acquired wisdom" from the class page).


ps: There will be another mail from me with a set of blog questions on the intelligent agents. That one is not required but
recommended (like all the other blog questions were). 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Please come to tomorrow's class with questions...


 As I said, tomorrow is the last officially scheduled meeting for ASU101. Although I have the "intelligent agent design" 
as the scheduled topic, I am happy to convert the class into a general discussion session for your questions. So, please
come prepared with questions if you have any. If you have nothing, then I will do the scheduled topic.


Friday, October 8, 2010

A talk by a CS undergrad that may be of interest (video included)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Yann-Hang Lee <>
Date: Fri, Oct 8, 2010 at 11:07 AM
Subject: FW: a blog about one of your students

A nice presentation by Joseph about Ability Counts. If you teach ASU101, please share it with your students in the class.



(480) 727-7507


From: Ronald Askin
Sent: Friday, October 08, 2010 10:32 AM
To: Regina Duran
Cc: Yann-Hang Lee
Subject: RE: a blog about one of your students


Thanks for forwarding this link.

Ron Askin



Ronald G. Askin, Professor and Director                                                    

School of Computing, Informatics, and Decision Systems  Engineering

Arizona State University

Tempe, AZ   85287-8809


Phone: 480-965-2567



From: Regina Duran
Sent: Friday, October 08, 2010 9:54 AM
To: Ronald Askin
Subject: a blog about one of your students


Mr. Askin,


Joseph Caglio, a Computer Science graduate student, spoke at Ignite @ ASU on September 30th and is featured in the website. He did a fantastic job and we thought that you might be interested in seeing the video.




Regina Duran

Social Embeddedness Intern

Office of University Initiatives

Arizona State University


Agenda for today and the next two classes..


 Just to give you a heads-up, I plan to conclude the discussion of search engines today, and start a new topic (hopefully by the end of today's class, but if not starting next week), on
artificial intelligence and an overview of issues involved in designing intelligent agents.   I picked this as the last topic since several comments on the class blog over the semester
seemed to suggest that many of you are more interested in AI-related issues (robots, game-ai, machine learning), than I realized. Of course, it doesn't hurt that proselytizing unsuspecting populace
into the pleasures of AI is my favorite passtime ;-)


Friday, October 1, 2010

Results of class survey


 8 students (out of 18) took time to do the class survey that I had posted last week. An unedited version of all the comments is available for your viewing at

Thanks to all those who responded; I read them all. 

75% of those who responded seem to think that they are getting useful information out of the meetings; so we will basically stick to that format.

Several students requested for information about career paths in CS and CE. I have sent some resources about this in mail yesterday; and I expect to monitor the blog to 
respond to any questions people have after looking at those resources. We might also devote class time if that seems warranted.