COMP 440/COMP 557

Artificial Intelligence

Course Policies

Course workload and attendance

You must attend the TTh lectures at 9:25 am. Help outside of class hours is available on piazza. You should expect to work about 8-10 hours per week for this class, including lecture time.

Grade determination

For comp440, your course grade will be based on assignments (30%), two exams (20% each), term project (15%), and in-class participation and quizzes (15%).

For comp557, your course grade will be based on assignments (30%), two exams (20% each), term project (15%), in-class participation and quizzes (15%). You will solve additional required problems in each problem set.

Course handouts

Lecture material (PDFs of powerpoint slides used in class) is available in the Files section of Canvas. Assignments and quizzes will be posted under Assignments in Canvas.

Course reference material

The required textbook for the class is Artificial Intelligence: A Modern approach, 3rd edition. We will also draw on material from online sources. I will provide URLs to all the online resources we draw upon in the Resources section of this website.

Homework Policies

The purpose of the assignments is to train you to solve problems and to help deepen your understanding of concepts introduced in class.

The role of the weekly quizzes is to give you rapid feedback on your understanding of the concepts covered that week. A few of the quizzes are timed and typically range from 30 minutes to an hour.


All course related discussions and questions should be posted on piazza. Please do not send personal email to me or to the TAs — piazza is the fastest way to get a response from us and from the class community. Piazza allows you to ask questions in private as well as anonymously. We request you not to post code or answers to homework or programming assignments on piazza. If you are having difficulty with a programming assignment and need to show the teaching assistants your code, please make your piazza post on it private.

Term project

Pacwar is an exciting problem and has always been the highlight of the comp440 experience at Rice. We have a reigning pacmite champion (which was created in 2000 and closely recreated in 2016) and I hope you will all create mites that give this long-reigning champion a run for the money! All resources for the Pacwar project are available from the Assignments tab above.


There will be two in-class examinations: the midterm and the final. The midterm examination will be held on October 5, 2017 from 7 pm to 10 pm. If you have a conflict with that time or day, you can take the exam earlier on October 4 during a three hour period between 9 am and 4 pm. The final exam will be held at a time and place scheduled by the registrar during the finals period. It will be a three hour examination.

Grading and Regrades

Grades and other performance statistics will be posted on Canvas. If you believe we have made an error in grading your homework or exams, please bring the matter to our attention within one week. No makeup exams will be given.

Computing Resources

A laptop should suffice for all the work in this class. All required software will will be available from the Modules tab on this page. For the chatbot project for comp557 students, please sign up for a freee student account on Amazon AWS.

Academic Integrity

(adapted from Mehran Sahami’s course)

We take the Honor Code very seriously. The work you submit for this class is expected to be the result of your own work or work with your partner for homeworks and programming assignments. Attempting to take credit for someone else’s work by turning it in as your own constitutes plagiarism, as defined by our own Honor Code.

Students with Disabilities

Any student with a documented disability needing academic adjustments or accommodations is requested to contact me ( during the first two weeks of class. All discussions will remain confidential. Students with disabilities will need to also contact Disability Support Services in the Ley Student Center.