CS 520, Intelligent Systems

Fall 2011

This is the promise of the Semantic Web — it will improve all the areas of your life where you currently use syllogisms.

Which is to say, almost nowhere.

Clay Shirky, The Semantic Web, Syllogism, and Worldview

Table of Contents

Course Description

Introduces methods and algorithms used to incorporate intelligence into computer programs. Topics include search techniques, representation and reasoning, and machine learning. Applications of these methods are stressed. The course also covers implementation of some of the fundamental algorithms. Prerequisites: Mathematical Foundations of Computer Science (CS 502), and Data Structures and Algorithms (CS 503).

The course is divided into seven sections. See the schedule for details.

Classes meet twice on Wednesdays for an hour and 40 minutes each, first from 11 a.m. to 12:40 p.m., and then from 1 p.m. to 2:40 p.m. Class starts on Wednesday, 7 September 2011 and ends on Wednesday, 14 December. Tuesday, 8 November is the last day to withdraw from class with a W on your transcript. Classes will met on Wednesday, 23 November, the day before Thanksgiving.


By the end of this course, you should have a practical understanding of high-level knowledge representation techniques oriented around the Semantic Web.


R. Clayton, rclayton@monmouth.edu. Office hours are from noon to 12:50 on Wednesdays and Fridays in HH 318 (schedule).


The usual grade ranges are in effect:
95 A
90 A-<95
83.3B <86.6
80 B-<83.3
73.3C <76.6
70 C-<73.3
All grades are kept with one digit of precision to the right of the decimal point and 0.05 rounded up. No grades are adjusted to a curve; that means, for example, that 89.9 is always a B+, never an A-.

Final Grade

The final grade is the average of the four tests (three tests and the final exam) with the lowest grade dropped. That is, the final grade is the straight, unweiged average of the three higest scores among the scores of the tests during the semester and the final exam.


There are three tests, one test at the end of evey other section starting with the first section; see the schedule for the schedule. Tests are given in class, and are open book; you may use any materials you think helpful. The tests are cumulative, covering everything taught up to and including the class before the test. Tests will take the full class period. Test answers will be available on the schedule.

There are no midterms, but there is a final exam. See the schedule or WebAdvisor for the final exam schedule.

Programming Assignments

There are no programming assignments.



There are many intelligent systems textbooks, all more or less the same. There’s no assigned textbook for this course; instead, pick a textbook or two you’re comfortable with. As a first cut, compare the book’s table of contents with the schedule to make sure the topics mentioned in the schedule appear in the table of contents. You can glean further advice from a small annotated bibliography of intelligent systems books.

Please do not interpret “There’s no assigned textbook for this course” to mean “Great! I don’t need a textbook.” Absorbing everything you need to know from lectures won’t be possible, not the least because there won’t be time to cover everything in lectures. Working it out over a textbook or two will give you the time and space to learn what you need to know. In addition, the tests are written assuming knowledge found in basic intelligent systems textbooks.

This is a programming course, and you’ll be programming in Java. You should have at hand at least one Java programming language book to help you recover the old details persue futher the new details. The book from CS 175 and 176 should be fine. Also recommended are Core Java 2, Vol. 1 — Fundamentals by Cay Horstmann and Gary Cornell, Sun Microsystems Press, 2008. and Java in a Nutshell by David Flanagan, O’Reilly Media, 2005.


Feel free to send e-mail to rclayton@monmouth.edu . Unless I warn you beforehand, I’ll usually respond within a couple of hours during the usual work days; if I don’t respond within a day, resend the message.

Mail relevant to the class are stored in a hyper-mail archive. If your message is of general interest to the class, I’ll store it, suitably stripped of identification and along with my answer, in the archive.

Home page

This is the class home page; if you’re reading this on paper, you can also find it at www.monmouth.edu/rclayton/web-pages/f11-520/index.html ( tinyurl.com/mucs520f11h ). I’ll make the class notes, assignments, and quizzes available off the schedule www.monmouth.edu/rclayton/web-pages/f11-520/schedule.html ( tinyurl.com/mucs520f11s ); you should get in the habit of checking the schedule regularly.


The lectures for this class will be recorded and made available via vimeo.com . There's an rss feed for new screencasts. Screencasting is experimental, and lecture availability will most likely be unreliable.


Follow the course on identi.ca ( identi.ca/mucs520 ) or twitter ( twitter.com/mucs520 ). The same messages appear on both services.



People who need assistance or accommodations above and beyond what is usually provided in class should contact the University’s ADA/504 coordinator to get those needs met. See the Disability Services page for more details.


I have no class attendance policy; you may attend class or not as you see fit. However, I hold you responsible for knowing everything that goes on in class; “I wasn’t in class for that.” is not an acceptable excuse for a wrong answer, or for giving no answer at all.

My attendance policy applies only to lecture attendance; it does not apply to other kinds of attendance which may be required for the course. Repeated failures to meet the attendance expectations set for tests, meetings, projects, labs or other forms of course work will have a bad influence on your grade.


I deal with suspected cheating by failing first and asking questions later. Although cheating has many forms, I generally consider cheating to be any attempt to claim someone else’s work as your own; also, I consider both the provider and the user of the work guilty of cheating. See the chapters on Academic Information and the Student Code of Conduct in the Student Handbook for more details.

Complaining about Grades

I recognize and encourage a student’s sacred right to complain about their grade. There are, however, a few rules under which such complaining should take place, and those students who don’t follow the rules will be less successful in their complaints than those students who do follow the rules.

First, the only complaint that matters is that something got marked wrong when it was actually right. When you come to complain, be prepared to present, in explicit detail, what it is you did and why you think it’s right.

Second, complaints about a particular test or assignment are only valid until the next test or assignment is due; after that point the book is permanently closed on all previous test or assignment grades.

Late Assignments

Assignments must be turned in by their due date; assignments turned in after their due date are late. You should contact me as soon as possible if you need to negotiate a due-date extension. The longer you wait to negotiate, the less likely it is you’ll be successful; in particular, you have almost no chance of getting an extension if you try for one the day before the due date, and you have no chance of getting an extention on the due date.

A late assignment is penalized ten points a day for each day it’s late. I use a 24-hour clock running from midnight to midnight to measure days; note this means that an assignment handed in the day after it’s due is penalized ten points: five for the day it was due and five for the next day.

Missing Tests

There may occasionally be a conflict between taking a test and doing something else, particularly among those working full time. If you’re going to be out of town, or on jury duty, or whatever, on a test day, let me know beforehand and we’ll discuss a make-up test.

A make-up test must be scheduled to be taken by the date of the test following the missed test (or the final exam if you miss the last test). If a missed test is not made up by the time of the next test, you get a zero for the missed test.

There will be only one make up given per missed test. If more than one person misses the same test, those people will have to coordinate among themselves to pick a mutually agreeable date for the make up.


A collection of AI web pages.

This page last modified on 2011 November 16.

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