CMSC 671 -- Fall 2005

Who, what and where

This course will serve as an introduction to artificial intelligence concepts and techniques. We will use the Lisp programming language as a computational vehicle for exploring the techniques and their application. Specific topics we will cover include the history and philosophy of AI, Lisp, the agent paradigm in AI systems, search, game playing, knowledge representation and reasoning, logical reasoning, planning, uncertain reasoning and Bayes nets, multi-agent systems, and machine learning. If time permits, we may also briefly touch on robotics, perception, and/or natural language processing.


CMSC 341 and strong programming skills. CMSC 441 or exposure to the theory of complexity of algorithms will also be useful. You should know the fundamentals of propositional and first-order logic, probability theory, and big-O complexity analysis. A pretest will be given to assess your familiarity with this material.

When and Where

Tuesday and Thursday from 11:30-12:45 in AC IV 013.



This syllabus and course schedule are subject to change. We will follow the Russell and Norvig textbook fairly closely, with some additional background material on Lisp and other topics of interest.


We will be using the following:


As you will learn, I am a strong believer in two-way communication. I expect all students to participate in classroom discussions, both by asking questions and by expressing opinions.

In return, I will make myself available to answer questions, listen to concerns, and talk to any student about topics related to the class (or not). I welcome your feedback throughout the semester about how the course is going.

In addition to regular office hours, I maintain an open-door policy: you should feel to stop by to ask questions, or just say hello, whenever my door is open (which it generally will be unless I am out of the office, in a meeting, or deep in thought). (I'm not that great at remembering names, so please don't be offended if I ask you several times to re-introduce yourself!) I will also make a concerted effort to answer e-mail within 24 hours.


Course grades will be based on the following work. The final weighting may be changed slightly.
Homework (six biweekly assignments) 40%
Course project 25%
Midterm exam 10%
Final exam 20%
Class participation 5%

Please refer to the class grading policy.


There will be six homework assignments. The homework assignments will have a mix of written and programming components. Each assignment will have a due date and is expected to be turned in on time. Extensions of up to one week may be granted on an individual basis, if requested in advance. Repeated requests for extensions, or requests for extensions at the last minute, will be denied other than in extraordinary circumstances.

Homeworks will be due at the beginning of class on the due date.  A penalty for late homework will be applied as follows:

Please do not walk into class 20 minutes late and expect your homework to be counted as on time. Homeworks (both written and programming assignments) must be handed in as hardcopy, with Lisp code also submitted electronically using the submit program on the gl machines. If for some exceptional reason (printer problems, traffic problems, illness) you are unable to submit a hardcopy on time, you may submit your homework electronically, with a hardcopy delivered as soon as is reasonably possible.


There will be one in-class midterm examination and a final examination. The material covered by the exams will be drawn from assigned readings in the text, from lectures, and from the homework. Material from the readings that is not covered in class is fair game, so you are advised to keep up with the readings.

Academic Honesty

This course adheres to the Provost's statement on academic integrity:

"By enrolling in this course, each student assumes the responsibilities of an active participant in UMBC's scholarly community in which everyone's academic work and behavior are held to the highest standards of honesty. Cheating, fabrication, plagiarism, and helping others to commit these acts are all forms of academic dishonesty, and they are wrong. Academic misconduct could result in disciplinary action that may include, but is not limited to, suspension or dismissal. To read the full Student Academic Conduct Policy, consult the UMBC Student Handbook, the Faculty Handbook, or the UMBC Policies section of the UMBC Directory."

Cheating in any form will not be tolerated. All work submitted must be your own work, and use of any outside sources or help must be clearly documented. The penalty for violation of the class policy on academic honesty will be, at a minimum, a zero on the entire assignment. All students must read the course academic honesty policy and sign a statement saying that they have read and understood the policy.


We will be using CLISP, a public-domain implementation of Common Lisp that is installed on the department's Unix machines (/usr/local/bin/clisp). You can also download a version that will run on a PC (but not a Mac), under Linux or Windows.

671 mailing list

You should subscribe to the class mailing list by sending a message to with the line: Class announcements, hints, and discussion of assignments will be posted on this list. You can also send messages to the list to ask questions of your fellow students and/or TA and professor.

General questions (i.e., anything that another student may also be wondering about) should be sent to the list, so that everyone will be able to benefit from the answers. Students are welcome to post answers to questions, even if the questions were directed at the instructor. However, the academic integrity policy above must be strictly adhered to. Clarifications of homework questions and pointers to useful resources are fine; answers (or even hints at answers) to homework questions are not. When in doubt, ask the professor.

Individual concerns, requests for extensions, questions about individual grades, and the like should be sent directly to Prof. desJardins.


Thanks to Tim Finin (UMBC), Berthe Choueiry (University of Nebraska - Lincoln), and Daphne Koller (Stanford University) for making their course materials publicly available on the web. Some of the course materials (slides and homeworks) have been adapted from those sources.