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). This is a new class, and you should expect that the format and content of the course will change over the semester. I expect that there will be some glitches, too, and I welcome your feedback about how the course is going.
In addition to regular office hours, I maintain a semi-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.
|Discussion leading and note-taking||10%|
|Midterm paper review||5%|
|Agent implementation project||25%|
Class participation (45% total). This class is a graduate seminar, designed not only to teach the students about agent architectures and multi-agent systems, but to hone your skills in reading and evaluating technical papers, discussing and comparing different approaches, and applying these methods in practice. This course format demands that all students participate actively in class discussions (20%). (Students who are not comfortable speaking up in a class, and who do not wish to improve their skills in "public" speaking, should probably not take this class!)
Students are expected to read the assigned papers or chapters prior to each class. A set of discussion questions/topics will be assigned for each paper. Each student will be asked to turn in a short summary (15%) of the assigned reading at the beginning of each class. I will distribute the best of these summaries as study aids. (If your summary is selected for distribution, you will receive extra credit, in an amount to be determined.)
Many classes--particularly in the Agent Architectures part of the class--will be primarily discussion sessions. For these classes, there will be an assigned discussion leader and an assigned note taker (10%). These roles will be assigned randomly, in advance of the class. The discussion leader will give a very brief summary of the key points of the paper, and will then lead the discussion. The note taker will record the highlights of the ensuing discussion, in which everyone is expected to participate. The note taker will type up their notes and give them to the TA, who will prepare copies to distribute to the class. (Notes are due on the following Monday for both Tuesday and Thursday classes.)
Other classes will be structured in a more traditional lecture style; in still others, we will engage in different types of learning exercises. (Translation: we're going to try different things and see what works.)
Midterm paper/study (25%). For the Agent Architectures part of the class, each student will investigate two (or more) of the approaches we are studying, and will write a comparative paper. The research for this paper may include downloading and trying out publicly available software, implementing your own version of the systems, and/or reading in greater depth. Students may work together on these research tasks, but must submit their own paper. A proposal for your midterm paper will be due on February 26 (5% of paper grade); a draft will be due on March 14 (40% of paper grade) and the final paper will be due on April 16 (55% of paper grade).
Midterm paper review (5%). Each student will be randomly assigned another student's midterm paper draft to review and comment on. This will give you an opportunity to learn more about that student's topic, and also a chance to gain hands-on experience with the reviewing process for technical papers. We will discuss the criteria for a "high-quality" review prior to this exercise. The review will be due on April 2.
Agent implementation project (25%). In the Multi-Agent Systems part of the class, students will work in teams or individually to implement an agent for a particular problem domain. The domain will most likely be either a trading agent competition or robot soccer. Both of these domains are available on the web, and are used in the agent research community as testbeds for agent competitions. At the end of the semester, we will have a tournament among students' agents [winning isn't part of your grade, but participating is!]. Each student will submit a project report and/or give a poster presentation on their project. There will be at least one "dry run" testing day (tentatively scheduled on May 7) to try out your agents before the tournament itself.
Late policy. Assignments are expected to be turned in on time. Paper summaries are due at the beginning of class. All other assignments are due at midnight on the due date. Each student will be given seven "days of grace" that they can use over the course of the semester. Each day (or part of a day) that an assignment is late will use one of your grace days. After the grace days are used, any subsequent late assignments will receive a zero grade.
All students must read, understand, and follow the CMSC 691M course policy on academic honesty. Each student will be asked to sign a copy of the academic honesty/grading policy, indicating that they have read and understood it.
Cheating in any form will not be tolerated. In particular, all assignments are to be your own work. You may discuss the assignments with anyone. However, any help you receive must be documented. At the beginning of each assignment, you must include a comment indicating the sources you used while working on it (excluding course staff and text), and the type of help you received from them. Failure to include such a statement will result in the assignment being returned ungraded. You may resubmit such a returned assignment once over the course of the semester.
Written answers on essay questions for homeworks and papers must be your own work. If you wish to quote a source, you must do so explicitly, using quotation marks and proper citation at the point of the quote. Plagiarism (copying) of any source, including another student's work, is not acceptable and will result in at a minimum a zero grade for the entire assignment. http://www.lib.duke.edu/libguide/bib_journals.htm gives an excellent overview of how to correctly cite a source. http://www.indiana.edu/~wts/wts/plagiarism.html has guidelines on acceptable paraphrasing.
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 course staff. Individual concerns, questions about grades, and the like should be sent to Prof. desJardins.