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A New Start: Innovative Introductory AI-Centered Courses at Cornell

By Eric Breck, David Easley, K-y Daisy Fan, Jon Kleinberg, Lillian Lee, Jennifer Wofford and Ramin Zabih


We describe an array of novel introductory-level courses based on exciting topics in modern artificial intelligence. All present a great deal of often research-level technical content in a rigorous manner while keeping the material accessible to lower-level students. On the other hand, they differ in subject matter and style, since a “one-size-fits-all ” approach cannot be expected to be effective given the wide variety of student interests and backgrounds. Thus, the courses cover topics ranging from computer vision to natural language processing to game theory and emphasize perspectives from hands-on implementation with robots to mathematical foundations to societal implications. The courses range in format from labstyle to seminar discussion-style to large lectures with outof-class blogging activities, and some have been held during summer sessions expressly to attract high-school students. The evidence shows that these courses are succeeding in drawing a broad audience to learn about ideas in computing. For example, several exceeded their initial enrollment estimates or limits; one drew over 200 students from 25 different majors in its first running; one reports over 30 % female enrollment. Course materials are available on the Web and two textbooks based on some of these classes are in progress

Year: 2008
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