University of Birmingham > Talks@bham > Artificial Intelligence and Natural Computation seminars > Learning Through Programming Games: Teaching AI With Pac-Man and Netlogo

Learning Through Programming Games: Teaching AI With Pac-Man and Netlogo

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Per Kristian Lehre.

Teaching Artificial Intelligence to students from across a range of degree programmes carries a number of problems:

  • first making the materials seem relevant
  • finding consistent example problems that can illustrate a range of topics, and
  • the desirability of providing practical experience without the overheads of learning many different s/w packages or the risk of turning tutorials into programming debugging sessions.

I describe a series of practical exercises designed to aid the teaching of introductory topics in Artificial Intelligence using the metaphor of the well-known arcade game “Pac Man”. They are aimed at level one students from a range of disciplines and motivated by a view of Artificial Intelligence as a means of automating the problem solving process. Therefore each piece of practical coding is preceded by an exercise to illuminate the human cognitive activities involved. The first set of exercises start with search strategies and gradually build up via rule-based and expert-system approaches to create a pac-man player based on “traditional AI”. The second semester’s activities concentrate on how computational approaches such as artificial neural networks and evolutionary computation provide a radically different approach to generating and improving controllers. The exercises are all developed in the Netlogo package which provides an intuitive user interface and a simple language for agent-based programming.

The results of this new approach have been greatly improved attendance and participation in lectures and tutorials sessions, and early indications are of unproved assessment performance.

This talk is part of the Artificial Intelligence and Natural Computation seminars series.

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