General game players are computer systems able to play strategy games based solely on formal game descriptions supplied at "runtime". (In other words, they don't know the rules until the games start.) General Game Playing (GGP) is an interesting application in its own right. It is intellectually engaging and more than a little fun. But it is much more than that. It provides a theoretical framework for modeling discrete dynamic systems and for defining rationality in a way that takes into account problem representation and complexities like incompleteness of information and resource bounds. It has practical applications in areas where these features are important, e.g. in business and law. More fundamentally, it raises questions about the nature of intelligence and serves as a laboratory in which to evaluate competing approaches to artificial intelligence.
This course is a hands-on introduction to GGP. Theoretical background is provided through lectures and readings, but the main pedagogical value of the course derives from the use of this theory to create GGP players able to perform effectively.
All work in the course is done in teams; and, except in extreme circumstances, all team members receive the same grade. Grades for the course are based on (1) performance on weekly assignments, (2) participation in class discussions, and (3) performance in weekly competitions and a final competition at the end of the course.
All of the course materials are online. There are links to notes, videos, background readings, software resources, assignments, the Arena competition management system, and a Piazza course forum. The website will be open once the course begins, and it will be accessible via a link on this page at that time.
Note that this course is taught in "flipped classroom" mode. There are a few lectures in class, but students are expected to master most of the material using the online resources. In lieu of lectures, classroom time is devoted largely to discussion and demonstrations and competitions. Although the bulk of the material is available online, attendance in class sessions is mandatory. Classes take place in Room 370-370 Wednesdays from 4:30 pm to 6:20 or so.
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