In addition to any writing you may do on homework assignments, you will write one large research paper this semester. The goals for assigning a big paper include:
I hope that you will view this paper not as a burden but as an opportunity to explore a topic that interests you and to practice your professional writing skills.
You are free to propose any sort of research paper that interests you, but I envisage one you doing one of three types of paper:
A survey defines a topic, identifies the interesting questions in the area, and then describes the different kind of work that has been done to seek answers to these questions. For example, you might select the topic of AI and the law and write a survey of legal reasoning systems that use AI.
The emphasis of a survey paper is on the description of what has been done. Your contribution as survey author lies in how you organize the questions and how you describe the work.
A tutorial aims to teach the topic to readers with sufficient general background who lacks specific background in the topic. Such a paper presents the important concepts in the area, relates them to one another, and identifies open questions for further study. For example, you might select the topic of case-based reasoning and write a paper that would help your classmates learn the topic without having to read the whole literature.
The emphasis of a tutorial paper is on teaching the concepts of the topic, almost like a textbook chapter. Your contribution as tutorial author lies in what concepts you select, how you organize them, and how you present them to the reader.
A problem analysis aims to describe a specific problem and to describe how it might be solved (in this course, with AI techniques). Such a paper defines the problem in the vocabulary of the problem domain, considers one or more AI approaches that could be applied to the problem, and then selects one approach and explains why it is the best or most promising. For example, you might select the topic of AI in music and do an analysis of how a computer program might compose a symphony.
The emphasis of a problem analysis paper is on the problem being studied. You discuss and analyze AI techmiques and tools in the context of just that problem. Your contribution as analyst lies in your presentation of the domain, your careful presentation of options and trade-offs among them, and the suitability of your recommended technique.
You may propose to do a different sort of paper, but if you do you will need to justify both the topic and your paper format.
Any topic within AI is fair game, as is an application of AI to any problem domain. Select a topic from your own experience and interests, and you will find the project more engaging. The result will be a more interesting -- and, usually, better -- paper.
If you decide to look for a topic in the text or lectures, identify a problem or issue that goes beyond what we read about or discuss. For example, if you find that you really like the area of planning systems, you might select an open question in planning, such as how best to replan in the face of a changing environment, and write a survey of techniques for solving the problem. Or, if you find that you really like the topic of learning, you might select a learning technique that we don't discuss in great detail and write a tutorial.
Here are some topics that interest me. If one of them interests you, consider writing your paper on it.
Your paper should take the form of an article published in a professional journal. Use a paper from such a journal, preferably one of the same type, as a template for your work. You can scan through a generalist CS journal such as Communications of the ACM for surveys, tutorials, and problem analyses. (Keep in mind, though, that such a general will have relatively few AI articles in it.)
Grades will be determined on the basis of content and form.
I really do care about the quality of your writing. Please use this as an opportunity to practice and to learn.
The following schedule lists the important dates for the paper.
Due by Monday, September 17, at 4:00 PM. By e-mail, send me a 400- 500-word description of the topic you'd like to explore and the type of paper you'd like to write. I will try to help you make sure that you have a topic of the right scope and that there is sufficient material available for your research. (I will also try to ensure that I don't end up with 30 papers on the same topic!)
Notice that our class does not meet during the week of September 10-14. Use this time to think, explore topics, do research, and draft your proposal. Unless we discuss otherwise in advance, your paper should follow your proposal and our subsequent discussions of it.
Notice that by this point in the semester, we will have covered only thirteen chapters or so in our text. In order to select a topic, you may want to skim ahead in the text to learn a bit more about what topics are available. Ginsberg's first couple of chapters give a nice overview of the text, so you may want to start there. And feel free to discuss any ideas you may have ahead of time with me. I'll try to point you in a good direction.
Due by Monday, October 22, at 4:00 PM. By e-mail, send me a draft of approximately 2000 words of one or two sections of your paper. This draft should demonstrate that you have done significant research into at least one part of your topic and should contain a draft outline for the rest of the paper. Include a full bibliography of ten or so articles, book chapters, etc., that you have found for research, even works not yet cited in your initial draft.
Unless we discuss otherwise in advance, your draft must follow from the topic we agree on after you submit your proposal.
Notice that our class does not meet during the week of October 15-19, except for an exam on Tuesday. Use this time to think, explore topics, do research, and write your draft.
Due by Friday, December 14, at 4:00 PM.