CSCE421/821, Fall 2003: Foundations of Constraint
will try to have at least one researcher from the industry to talk
about the market of this technology, techniques implemented in
industrial products, and commercial success
Prereq: CSCE310 (Data
structures and algorithms) and CSCE476/876 (Introduction to AI) or
permission of instructor.
Constraint satisfaction has emerged as a powerful approach to
articulate and solve many problems in computer science, engineering,
and management. It is now the basis for new programming
languages and innovative commercial systems for production scheduling,
product configuration, personnel planning and timetabling, etc.
The course will review the foundations of constraint satisfaction and
the basic mechanisms for constraint propagation. It will cover
aspects of modeling and representation, and will examine islands of
tractability and methods for theoretical and empirical evaluation of
problem `difficulty.' If time permits, we will examine new
methods for decomposition and symmetry identification, designed to
overcome the complexity barrier and to support interactions with
Time: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 10:30
a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Place: Burnett Hall 119.
Instructor: Berthe Y. Choueiry
Room 104, Ferguson Hall,
email: firstname.lastname@example.org, tel: (402)472-5444.
Office hours: Monday & Wednesday from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30
p.m. (right after class)
TA: Cate Anderson
Office location: Bld 501, Room 6, Desk
Monday: 12:30-1:30 p.m. and
Friday: 11:30-12:20 p.m.
For quick response, email email@example.com. Your
message will be forwarded to the TA, GRAs, and instructor.
In an effort to provide you
with the best possible support, the following research assistants will
be holding office hours in Building 501, Room 3:
- Ryan Lim (ugrad): Tuesday, 1:00--2:00 pm
- Joel Gompert (MS): Wednesday, 2:30--3:30 pm
- Anagh Lal (MS): Thursday, 12:00--1:00 pm
the page will be regularly updated. Check it out regularly for
reference to required and recommended reading material, homework
texts, and announcements.
Topics include but are not
- Properties, computational complexity, and practical importance.
- Global and local consistency: algorithms, properties and
- Islands of tractability for minimality and global consistency.
- Intelligent backtracking.
- Look-ahead techniques.
- Ordering heuristics.
- Theoretical and empirical comparison of hybrid search
- Phase transition.
- Modeling and reduction methods between representations.
- If time permits: Decomposition. Symmetries and their
approximations. Temporal constraint networks. Stochastic search.
Reformulation and abstraction. Dynamic/conditional Constraint
Satisfaction (CSP). Constrained Optimization Problem (COP).
- Other, depending on class interests.
- Rina Dechter, Constraint Processing, 2003, Morgan
Kauffmann. Available from bookstore.
- Edward Tsang, Foundations of Constraint
Satisfaction. Available from instructor and on reserve at the Love
- Technical papers given by instructor or available from the Electronic Reserve at the Love Library.
Protocol of the course:
- Lectures by instructor, three times per week.
- The workload will consist of:
- Required and recommended reading: as indicated
in the Class schedule. The
content of the course will be dynamically adapted to students
interests and performance.
- Programming, theoretical, and library-search
assignments:Programming assignments homework must be
turned in using the UNIX handin program on cse.unl.edu and turned
in before class on the due date. Pen-and-paper assignments
must be given to the instructor right before the lecture on the due
date. Late homeworks are subject to a 20% deduction per day (including
week-ends), any second after the due date counts as an entire
day. Programming assignments can be done in any programming
language. When code and data structures are provided, they will
be mostly in Common Lisp (advice: use Allegro Common Lisp on Linux or
a sun workstation). Students are kindly requested to indicate
how much time they approximately spend on each exercise; this
information will be aggregated and used for planning purposes: it does
not affect grading and the evaluation of individuals.
- Surprise quizzes:There will be surprise quizzes
throughout the semester (with a frequency inversely proportional
to students' attendance). Quizzes will address all
material covered during the lectures and/or by the required
reading. No books or personal notes are allowed during the
quizzes, unless explicitly specified. Quizzes cannot be made
- Tests:There will be a pre-test only. Test
cannot be made up except by instructor's permission.
- Search competition: Students will receive code and
data that model a real-world application, all in LISP. Students will
choose some search mechanism and implement it. Results will be
compared, winner will receive a book-gift certificate.
- Project research, report, and presentation:
The project can be either a literature study/survey or the
implementation of algorithms. A presentation to the class is
mandatory. The grade will take into account the quality of the
research, report, and presentation.
- It is the student's responsibility to ensure an account on
- Optional Text Book "Constraint
Processing" by Rina Dechter, 1st edition.
- Discussions among students, instructor, and TA are
encouraged. Homeworks however are a strictly individual
activity: no sharing is permitted (unless when specified by
instructor). Unethical behavior will be heavily sanctioned
(e.g., a null grade on the task, department will be
informed). Absolute rule: Always acknowledge any help received from
other individuals and always fully reference material used (e.g.,
encyclopedia, book, paper, journal, web site).
maximum 6 sessions, advanced notice required. Attendance is
taken. Students are responsible for the material covered and
announcements made during the class. Also, there will be
- Grades will be allocated as follows
- Pretest: 3%.
- Quizzes: 32%
- Assignments: 30%
- Individual project
- Search competition: Solving a real-world optimization problem (in Lisp): 35% (Code: 25%, Report: 10%)
- Project: 35%. (Research and report: 25%. Presentation: 10%.)
How can I imporve my grade?
- Make a presentation of a research paper in class: 10% per
presentation. Maximum two presentations per
student. Presentations must be made before December 1st,
- Make a critical summary of research papers/topics discussed in
class: 5% per summary. Maximum four
summaries per student. Deadline for submitting summaries December
- Write a chapter of a textbook: 20% per chapter. Maximum two chapters per student. Deadline for
submitting chapter write-ups December 1, 2003.
- Do the weekly and final glossaries: maximum 10%. Deadline for submitting final glossary December 5,
- Bonuses will be awarded to students who attend all lectures,
interact lively, and participate in discussion in class.
Reminder from the College of Arts & Sciences: a C (2.0) is the minimum passing grade in a PASS/NO PASS course (NOT a C-) as well as the lowest grade one can receive and still count the class toward a major.
Books on reserve at the Love Library (LL):
- Foundations of Constraint Satisfaction by Edward
- Artificial Intelligence, A Modern Approach (AIMA), by
Russell & Norvig. Second Edition.
- Artificial Intelligence, 3rd Edition. Winston.
Books available at the Love Library (LL):
- Artificial Intelligence, A Modern Approach (AIMA), by
Russell & Norvig. CALL number Q335 .R86 1995.
- The MIT Encyclopedia of the Cognitive Sciences. CALL number
BF311 .M556 1999, LIB USE ONLY.
- Encyclopedia of artificial intelligence, 1992, SECOND EDITION,
call number Q335 .E53, LIB USE ONLY.
- AI Topics of the
American Association for Artificial Intelligence
- Web search engines (Google,
Related material from the Web:
Some industrial companies and start-ups implementing advanced constraint-based systems: (listed in random order)
- COSYTEC, I2 Technologies, PeopleSoft/Red Pepper, J.D. Edwards/Numetrix (production
Blue Pumpkin, Ilog, Trilogy, Parc Technologies Ltd, Carmen Systems, Firepond, On Time Systems Inc., OnTarget,
Archives and on-line systems:
- Lisp resources
- Latex resources
Berthe Y. Choueiry