The University of Iowa

CS:4420 Artificial Intelligence


Course Description and Goals

The overall goal of this course is to introduce students to a number of topics and techniques in Artificial Intelligence (AI). Students should be prepared to put in considerable time and effort into reading to become familiar with these topics, and into programming to gain experience with these techniques. At the end of the semester, students should have the knowledge required to identify areas they would like to investigate in more depth in related courses. This knowledge includes:


Tue and Thu, 3:30am - 4:45pm, E215 CB

Staff & Office Hours


Prof. Cesare Tinelli
201D MLH
(319) 335-0735
cesare-tinelli + @ +

Office hours: Mon 2:00pm-3:30pm, Wed 11:30am-12:30pm, and by appointment.

Teaching Assistants

Farley Lai
101N MLH
farley-lai + @ +

Office hours: Wed 2:00pm-3:30pm, Thu 12:30pm-2:00pm, and by appointment.



Web Sites

Most of the information about the class, including handouts and assignments, will be available from the class web site:

We will also use Piazza, a class discussion service highly catered to getting students help fast and efficiently from classmates as well as the teaching staff:

We will use ICON for homework submissions and grade posting.

Students are expected to check both the class web site and the Piazza discussion board on a regular basis (at least every other day) for announcements regarding the course.

Textbook and Readings

The required textbook is

Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach (Third edition)
by Stuart Russell and Peter Norvig, 2012

Additional reading materials will be made available on the course web site as needed.

Topics Outline

The topics that will be covered in the course are outlined below. This outline is tentative and will be adjusted as necessary during the course of the semester. The readings refer to the textbook.

Topic Readings
Introduction Chap. 1
Intelligent Agents Chap. 2
Problem Solving and Search Chap. 3, 4, 6
Knowledge Representation, Reasoning and Planning Chap. 7-11
Logical Inference Chap. 9
Uncertain Knowledge and Reasoning Chap. 13-15
Learning Chap. 18, 20, 21

Computer Accounts and Software

You may need to use your account on the CS lab machines which will have a working installation of software tools we will use in the course. Instructions on how to access those machines, on-site or remotely, and use the installed software will be provided on the course website.

Although you are welcome to use your own computer for course work, you are responsible for installing any necessary software. We regret that will not be able to provide assistance for any problems with your own installation.

Homework Assignments

Several small written assignments and programming assignments will be given, covering the material from the text and the lectures. All assignments will be collected and graded. They are to be done individually.
Programming assignments will be in Scala, a modern multi-paradigm programming language. A few lectures will be spent on the notable features of Scala and declarative programming. However, students are expected to have enough knowledge and practice of programming languages to be able to learn the rest on their own. Pointers to Scala manuals, handouts and tutorials will be provided on the course web site.


There will be a course project to be done in teams of two-three people consisting in developing an AI application from a list provided by the instructor. Team members will be asked to submit a confidential evaluation of how well they and their teammates performed as team members. Each evaluation will be be incorporated into an individual calculation of the project grade.


There will be one midterm exam and one final exam. The midterm will be held during class time. The final exam will be held as per university schedule.


The weighting of items in grade determination will be the following:

Item Weight
Class participation 05%
Course Project 20%
Homework 20%
Midterm Exam 25%
Final Exam 30%

The following cutoffs will be used to determine letter grades. In the ranges below, x stands for your total score at the end of the semester. Final scores near a cutoff will be individually considered for the next higher grade. Plus(+) and minus(-) grades will also be given; their cutoffs will be determined at the end of the semester.

Score Grade
88 <= x < 100 A
75 <= x < 88


60 <= x < 75 C
50 <= x < 60 D
00 <= x < 50 F

Grades are not curved in this course. It is theoretically possible for everyone in the class to get an A (or an F). Your final grade depends only on your own final score and not on that of others.

Academic Excellence and Workload

The University of Iowa expects students to set high academic standards for themselves and work hard towards achieving them. You can achieve true academic excellence only through dedicated work. An average workload of 6 hours a week besides class attendance should be considered the norm for this course. More effort might be needed depending on your background, predisposition and academic ambition.


Academic dishonesty will not be tolerated. In particular, under no circumstances should you pass off someone else's work as your own. This also applies to code or other material that you might find on the Internet.

Graded Homework: Sharing solutions of graded homework (assignments and project) between teams or copying someone else's work, including posted solutions from previous editions of the course, is not allowed. Doing that will result in a zero on the assignment and a report to the CS department's chair and the college.
You are allowed and encouraged to discuss with students in other teams concepts and ideas that relate to the class and the homework assignments. However, it is important to ensure that these discussions do not lead to the actual exchange of written material.

Exams: The midterm exams are individual tests. Each student must be complete them without any help from others. Exam answers showing strong similarities and/or duplication will receive a fail grade and the students involved will be reported to the Department and the College.
If you are unclear about what constitutes academic dishonesty it is your responsibility to contact the instructors or consult the CLAS policy (online version). Be aware that repeated academic dishonesty offenses lead to suspension or expulsion from the University.

General Course Policies

Communicating with the Instructors: We welcome questions related to the course. Students are strongly encouraged to post their class-related questions on Piazza (publicly or privately, as appropriate) rather than emailing questions to the teaching staff. Questions sent by email will receive lower priority. We will try to answer all questions, posted or emailed, by the end of the following day.
We will occasionally send email announcements to all students in the class. Recall that you are responsible for all official correspondence sent to your Hawkmail address (see General CLAS Policies on electronic Communication below).

Assigned Readings: Students are expected to study all the material assigned as required readings, even if that material is not explicitly discussed in class or in the homeworks.

Additional Readings and Discussions: Students are encouraged to go over any specifically suggested readings and consult any relevant materials beyond those provided on the course's web site. They are also encouraged to discuss the course topics with their classmates. It is a genuinely helpful learning activity having to formulate one's own thoughts about the material well enough to express them to others.

Attendance: Students are expected to attend all classes. Their knowledge and therefore their grade depends on it. They are responsible for all announcements and material covered during class even if they did not attend.

Extra Credit: No extra-credit assignments or tests will be given on an individual basis (although they maybe given to the whole class).

Make-up Exams: Make-up exams will be offered only if there is a serious, documented reason for not being able to take a scheduled exam, and if the request is made at least a week before the exam.

Regrading: Students thinking a graded assignment or test has been misgraded and deserves a regrading are invited to let the instructor know. The instructor welcomes and will give full consideration to all well motivated regrading requests.

College Policies

This course follows the general policies of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (see