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Thursday, April 02, 2009

Thrun and Novig Offer Free "Intro to AI" Course at Stanford

If you have studied Artificial Intelligence before, you probably already know who Thrun and Novig are. For those who have no idea, let me first introduce the two prominent researchers in the AI community.

Sebastian Thrun is a Computer Science professor at Stanford University. He also works for Google at the same time. His most famous achievement was to lead the team that won the 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge, a competition where unmanned cars had to cross the Nevada desert fully autonomously. He also helped develop the Google self-driving car, which has been secretly driving all over California freeways and local streets (I am not really sure if this is legal of not). He is also the co-author of a wonderful book, Probabilistic Robotics, which should be, in my opinion, a must read for robotics researchers. I have had the pleasure of meeting him briefly at a AAAI conference.

Peter Norvig, who had worked for Sun and NASA before, is now director of research at Google. He is the co-author of the most famous AI textbook, Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach, a book any AI researcher should have in his/her collection. This book was also my textbook when I took the Intro to AI course at BYU. I was fortunate enough to attend a presentation Dr. Norvig gave at Carnegie Melon Ames Campus and asked him many questions (maybe too many). His current research interest lies in data-driver approaches to solving AI problems, which should comes to no surprise since he works for Google.

So here's the great news!! The two will be teaching the course Introduction to Artificial Intelligence at Stanford during the Fall Semester of 2011 and have decided to open the course to everyone for free. This means not only all the course materials will be publicly available, including videos of the course in 15 minute chunks for your convenience (lecture runs 75 minutes long), you can also do all the homework/course assignments/quizzes and take exams just like a real Stanford student. They will be graded and if you pass the course, you get a certificate of completion from the instructors. You can also compare your grade to the grades of the real Stanford students.

Anyone can sign up for the course for free at this web page up to September 10th. Many of my friends have already signed up. The Intro to AI class I took at BYU is one of my favorite classes ever in my entire life. I am sure the one offered at Stanford will be just as fun. I, however, don't plan to do any of the assignments or take any of the exams, :) and will only enjoy the videos of the lectures.


I think it is wonderful that people are offering their teaching and knowledge to the entire world for free, because of their love and passion for the subjects. In the past, MIT has offered free courses online and there is, of course, the famous and wonderful Kahn Academy. If we all contribute a little to the world without thinking about what we get in return, we can make the world a better place every day!

Picture of the Day:

I was at the little restaurant called The Italian Place enjoying lunch when I found this on my computer. Is this because of the Italian connection?