The AI Education Repository
Deepak Kumar
Department of Mathematics & Computer Science
Bryn Mawr College Bryn Mawr, PA 19010

Curriculum Descant
From ACM Intelligence Magazine
Volume 11, Number 1, January 2000
ACM Press


Five years ago, as part of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence's (AAAI) Fall Symposium Seriers, the symposium, "Improving the Instruction of Indtroductory AI" was held. Barbara Grosz, then president of AAAI concluded the symposium by accepting the following two action items for the association (see SIGART Bulletin, 6, 2, April 1995):

1. Have available at the AAAI Web site a central repository of programs, tools, assignments, and papers, and

2. Organize tutorials to be given at AAAI's national conferences and the International Joint Conferences on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI) on how to teach the more specialized protions of the introductory AI course, such as vision, NLP, and robotics.

Five years have passed since that symposium and it is almost time for AAAI to host another one. In this installment, I would like to discuss the AAAI Educational Repository mentioned in Action Item 1 above.

The repository, is a centralized distribution point that (1) focuses on Web educational resources and materials to be used in undergraduate AI pedagogy, (2) identifies and organizes such resources by topic, and (3) provides diverse resources applicable to various levels of student expertise and budgetary considerations. The repository includes information on current AI textbooks, links to syllabii, sample programming and written assignments, on-line tutorials, information on tools and environments that may be used in the classroom, and papers on AI pedagogy, etc. Also included are mechanisms for submitting your own AI education resources. The repository can be accessed at by clicking on the link, AI Resources and, under the heading, "Source Information," clicking on the link AAAI Education Repository. The repository is currently maintained by Bill Manaris of the University of SW Louisisna.

At the aforementioned symposium, Pat Hayes and Ken Ford had issued a challenge for the creation of a WWW-based "textbook". The tchapters in the textbook would cover specific topics, each an up-to-date survey of a subarea of AI, written by people with thorough knowledge of that area. The idea was to have such a text continuously revised and expanded to adapt to changes in AI. This multi-author text would exist as distributed content managed by sufficient editorial control and commentary to ensure common vocabulary and style. While I am uncertain about the progress on the challenge, I would like to have you consider using the educational repository as a possible infrastructure for the creation of such a text. Use it to obtain materials for which you may not have expertise, and contribute educational materials for the topics in which you do have expertise.

As for organizing tutorials on teaching of specific topics (Action Item 2), I think AAAI and IJCAI could do a better job. Although some tutorial-like sessions have been held at these conferences, most focus on informing AI researchers and practitioners rather than educators. I believe that AAAI, and its membership, ought to extend beyond AAAI, IJCAI and other topic-specific AI conferences to offer tutorials. Teaching of AI is largely carried out by computer science faculty who may not be directly involved in doing AI research. Possibly the best place to hold tutrorials is at the annual meetings of ACM's Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education(SIGCSE). SIGCSE meetings have a rich tradition of offering educators workshops on the teaching of new methodologies, technologies, and ideas emerging in computer science. More than half the attendees at the SIGCSE annual meetings enroll in these workshops. For more information on ACM SIGCSE and its Workshop Program for educators, check out their WWW page at:


Fall 1997
Inaugural Installment of the new column.
(Deepak Kumar)

Summer 1998
Teaching about Embedded Agents
Using small robots in AI Courses
(Deepak Kumar)

Fall 1998
Robot Competitions as Class Projects
A report of the 1998 AAAI Robot Competition and how robot competitions have been successfully incorporated in the curriculum at Swarthmore College and The University of Arkansas
Lisa Meeden & Doug Blank)

Winter 1998
Nilsson's New Synthesis
A review of Nils Nilsson's new AI textbook
(Deepak Kumar)

Spring 1999
Pedagogical Dimensions of Game Playing
The role of a game playing programming exercise in an AI course
(Deepak Kumar)

Summer 1999
A New Life for AI Artifacts
A call for the use of AI research software in AI courses
(Deepak Kumar)

Fall 1999
Beyond Introductory AI
The possibility of advanced AI courses in the undergraduate curriculum
(Deepak Kumar)

January 2000
The AI Education Repository
A look back at AAAI's Fall 1994 Symposium on Improving the Instruction of Introductory AI and the resulting educational repository
(Deepak Kumar)

Spring 2000
Interdisciplinary AI
A challenge to AI instructors for designing a truly interdisciplinary AI course
(Richard Wyatt)

Summer 2000
Teaching "New AI"
Authors of a new text (and a new take) on AI present their case
(Rolf Pfeifer)

Fall 2000
Ethical and Social Implications of AI: Stories and Plays
Descriptions of thought provoking stories and plays that raise ethical and social issues concerning the use of AI
(Richard Epstein)

January 2001
How much programming? What kind?
A discussion on the kinds of programming exercises in AI courses
(Deepak Kumar)

Spring 2001
Predisciplinary AI
A follow-up to Richard Wyatt's column (above) and a proposal for a freshman-level course on AI
(Deepak Kumar)

Spring 2001
Machine Learning for the Masses
Machine Learning comes of age in undergraduate AI courses
(Clare Congdon)

About Curriculum Descant
Curriculum Descant has been a regular column in ACM's Intelligence magazine (formerly published as ACM SIGART's Bulletin). The column is edited by Deepak Kumar. The column features short essays on any topic relating to the teaching of AI from any one willing to contribute. If you would like to contribute an essay, please contact Deepak Kumar.