COMP 131 - Syllabus

This course is an introductory survey of artificial intelligence. The course will cover the history, theory, and computational methods of artificial intelligence. Basic concepts include representation of knowledge and computational methods for reasoning. One or two application areas will be studied, to be selected from expert systems, robotics, computer vision, natural language understanding, and planning.

Prerequisites: Comp 15 and either COMP/MATH 61 (formerly 22) or familiarity with both symbolic logic and basic probability theory.

By the end of the semester, students should be able to

  1. identify the major classical and modern AI paradigms, and explain how they relate to each other
  2. analyze the structure of a given problem such that they can choose an appropriate paradigm in which to frame that problem
  3. implement a wide variety of both classical and modern AI algorithms.

The textbook for the course is Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach (3rd edition). Stuart Russell and Peter Norvig, Prentice Hall (2010) ISBN: 0-13-604259-7

Anselm Blumer

ablumer (at) cs dottufts dot edu
Halligan Hall, Room 211
Office Hours: Mondays 1:30-2:30, Wednesdays 10-11
or by appointment.
If requesting an appointment, please send an email suggesting some possible times for appointments.
Home page

Tom Williams

williams (at) cs dottufts dot edu
200 Boston Avenue, Suite 2510
Office Hours: none, will check Piazza periodically

Home page

Teaching assistant:
Sepideh Sadeghi

Sepideh dot Sadeghi (at) tufts dot edu
Office hours: Mondays 6-8 PM and Fridays 3-5 PM in Halligan 121
Home page

Homework will be assigned regularly in the course. These will typically take one of the following three forms:

Late Homework:
Because of the size of the class and the amount of homework 20% of the total number of points for the assignment will be deducted per weekday for written assignments and per calendar day for programming assignments. No homework will be accepted after one week. There are two exceptions to this policy:

  1. If serious illness prevents you from completing a homework assignment on time, you should report your illness using the "Illness Notification Form" available at, after which alternate arrangements can be made. Illnesses of this severity must be reported before the assignment in question is due.
  2. Under extreme circumstances (e.g., family emergencies and bereavements) you may ask your associate dean for undergraduate education to contact us, after which alternative arrangements can be made. Such arrangements with your dean must be made before the assignment in question is due.
It is hoped that this course can be graded 100% on homework, but the instructor reserves the right to give exams if there is a significant case of academic dishonesty. In that case, there will be in-class exams on October xx and November xx and possibly a final on December xx at yy, during the regularly scheduled final time. The final is cumulative. Exams are closed book and no electronic devices are allowed, but one 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper with notes on both sides can be brought to in-class exams and two such sheets for the final.

Grade Calculation:
Ideally, the course will be graded entirely based on the homework assignments and quizzes, with homeworks worth varying amounts based on estimated difficulty.

If no exams are given, then homeworks will count for 90% of the course grade, and quizzes will count for 10%.

If there is a significant case of academic dishonesty, then exams will count for 50% of the course grade, homework for 45%, and quizzes for 5%. If there is a final it will count as two in-class exams.

We will be using Piazza for class discussion. This system is designed for getting help quickly and easily from classmates, the TA, and the instructors. Rather than emailing questions to the teaching staff, we encourage you to post your questions on Piazza. All course announcements will also be made through Piazza, so please check it frequently. You are also encouraged to help each other, so long as you follow the guidelines listed below:

Electronic Devices Policy:
Research has demonstrated that the use of electronic devices (e.g., laptops, tablets, cellphones) significantly impairs the learning of students using them. What is more, the learning of students seated near students using electronic devices is impaired. We thus discourage the use of electronic devices in the classroom. By class referendum, the official classroom policy will be that electronic devices are permitted only in the back row of the classroom.

Academic Integrity:
Academic integrity is taken very seriously. While plagiarism may be the worst violation of academic integrity (and as such we may examine your work for plagiarism using automated heuristics), we are required to report any suspected violation of academic integrity to the University's Judicial Officer. As described in Tufts' brochure on academic integrity, located at:, penalties for violation can be very severe, including suspension or expulsion from Tufts. If any student does not understand these terms or any outlined in The Academic Code of Conduct it is his/her responsibility to talk to the instructor.

In particular, on your homework you must acknowledge students with whom you discussed exercises or course material, as well as give citations for any print or electronic references. You do not need to acknowledge course staff, the web site, or the course text.

Your thoughts and concerns on this course are important. You are encouraged to give feedback to the instructor and teaching fellow throughout the term. As always students will be asked to fill out a course evaluation at the end of the term.