Problems and methods encountered in artificial intelligence hold great promise for inspiring interest in computer science in general and AI in particular. The challenge faced in using such problems in introductory computer science courses is three-fold: to prune the complexity that is beyond beginning students, but to preserve the engaging nature of the problems, and still exercise the topics or skills from the beginning courses. In this paper, I present a number of extended exercises that attempt to balance those three challenges. These projects have been used multiple times in CS1 and CS2 courses; the projects include: animated swarming of multiple critter types, cellular automata, neural networks, searching game trees, and a simple genetic algorithm. Lessons learned from employing these projects, drawn from personal reflection and anecdotal reports from students, suggests using AI problems benefits both the students and the instructor.
Subjects: 1. Applications.
Submitted: Jan 25, 2008