Administrative Details


Course Description

CSC 418 provides students with an overview of philosophical, ethical, and technical issues related to the field of Artificial Intelligence. Topics include philosophical foundations, intelligent agents, search, knowledge representation & reasoning, inference, probabilistic/ stochastic techniques, near-future trends in AI.

CSC 282 Data Structures and Algorithms
Norvig, P., & Russell, S. J. (2010). In Artificial intelligence: A modern approach (Third Edition). Upper Saddle River, N.J: Prentice Hall. (New for Fall 2010)

Learning Objectives

To successfully complete this course, students will:

  1. explain basic concepts and techniques of AI through definitions and examples.
  2. summarize the history and current status of AI.
  3. use objective facts about current AI technologies to project plausible future trends.
  4. analyze problems and recommend AI-based solutions when appropriate.
  5. develop documented and working code exhibiting AI methods.
  6. summarize the philosophical, moral, and ethical issues confronting people doing AI work.


Grading for this course will be based on the following work:

40% Exams / Quizzes during the semester
10% Comprehensive Final
30% Assignments
10% Semester Project
10% Participation
100% Total

A ≥ 93% A- ≥ 90%
B+ ≥ 87% B ≥ 83% B- ≥ 80%
C+ ≥ 77% C ≥ 73% C- ≥ 70%
D+ ≥ 67% D ≥ 60%
F < 60%


There will be several exams during the semester covering readings and in-class lectures. See calendar for exam dates. Please do not miss exam days. Make-up exams can only be given for verified emergencies, and only if you have made arrangements in advance. There will also be a comprehensive final covering material from the previous four exams as well as material from the student presentations.

Programming Assignments

Although this course is not primarily a programming course, there will be several programming assignments. Some of these will be completed individually, and others in pairs or small groups. In-class time allocated for lab work must be spent doing the assigned lab. After you have turned in your lab assignment, you are free to use remaining time checking email, etc. Unless otherwise noted, all labs are due at the beginning of class on the next class day.

Semester Project

During the semester each student will select an AI topic with ethical, philosophical, or spiritual ramifications. Once your topic is approved, you will complete a two-part project. (Details)

  1. Part one consists of researching the historical, current and future development of the specific AI technology you've selected. You will pull the information together into a powerpoint presentation, webpage, website, or other publishable format. Part one will culminate in a 10-15 minute presentation to your peers & other CS students. Presentations will be followed by questions from the audience.
  2. Part two will consist of researching the ethical, philosophical, and spiritual aspects of your chosen technology. You will prepare an annotated bibliography of at least six sources, followed by a 5-8 paragraph persuasive essay on a single aspect of your topic (or on some coherent set of such). Part two will culminate in a 5-8 minute presentation to your peers and other CS students.



Regular attendance and active participation is crucial to your success in this class. In part, this is because we will devote the majority of the class time to the most important and challenging course topics. The best way to master the material is in the context of a learning community — interacting with peers and with the instructor on a regular basis. Sometimes you will find you can contribute to the collective understanding; sometimes you will benefit from what others have to share. In your education at Messiah College, you should aspire to more than mere technical mastery of the material. If you miss class for any reason, speak to a fellow student to find out what was covered in class that day. Participation refers to factors such as timeliness, attitude, engagement, initiative, collaboration, and attentiveness. Preparation refers to completion of reading and other assignments before class on the day they are due.


All assignments must be completed and submitted before the due date. Any student who falls behind in reading or other assignments can no longer actively participate in the daily learning activities of the course, to the detriment of everyone. To make allowance for unforseen circumstances, each student may submit up to three assignments late during the semester, with the following penalties: within the first 24 hours after the due date, a 10% reduction in points; within the next 24 hours, with a 25% reduction in points. After 48 hours, no assignments will be accepted. Once a student has received credit for three late assignments, no further late assignments can be submitted.


Messiah College email will be used for official communication relating to the class. In order to avoid missing important messages, please check your Messiah email at least once a day Monday-Friday. Any email you send me MUST have a subject line that identifies the course and the specific subject of your inquiry (examples: "COSC382 syntax homework due 10/5," "COSC180 question on class lecture for 9/22," "COSC418 absence on 11/5 due to family emergency") Email sent without a subject line or with a generic subject line will be treated as SPAM (examples: "today's homework," "question for you," "missing class").


All assignments are to be submitted in accordance with the instructions provided. Assignments that call for electronic copies must submitted be via Sakai -- no emailed work will be accepted. Assignments that call for hard copies must be submitted at the beginning of class on the due date -- after class begins, no work will be accepted.


In general, it is a good idea to complete learning activities with other students. Unless I specify otherwise, you are encouraged to work collaboratively, with the following provisions: (1) share ideas and thought processes, but not answers; (2) turn in your own individual submission; (3) indicate any such collaboration. Unless explicitly instructed to, NEVER SHARE CODE with another student, even after you have completed the class. Doing so is a violation of academic integrity, and could result in severe penalties, both to the other student and to you EVEN AFTER YOU'VE COMPLETED THE CLASS.

When collaboration is explicitly called for, each student will be asked to evaluate the participation of her/his peers. Make sure your contribution to the project is sufficient.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is taken very seriously. Violations will result in severe consequences, including failing the course. For a complete policy, see the current Student Handbook. Violations include (but are not limited to):

Plagiarism: Examples: failing to cite a reference, failing to use quotation marks where appropriate, misrepresenting another’s work as your own.

Cheating: Attempting to use or using unauthorized material or study aids for personal assistance in examinations or other academic work. Examples: using a cheat sheet, altering a graded exam, looking at a peer’s exam.

Fabrication: Submitting altered or contrived information. Examples: falsifying sources and/or data, etc.

Facilitating Academic Dishonesty: Examples: working together on an assignment where collaboration is not allowed, doing work for another student, allowing one’s own work to be copied.


Messiah College welcomes students with disabilities. If you have a documented disability and wish to discuss needed academic accommodations for this specific course, please speak with the instructor within the first week of class (or within the first week following the documentation of your disability). Campus policy states that disability accommodations must be pre-approved through the Office of Disability Services, located in Hoffman 101/102 (extension 5382).

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