CSCE421/821, Fall 2005: 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
stories. Check the list of previous
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
Lectures: Tuesday and Thursday, 11:00 a.m.--12:15
Location: AVH 111
Make-up Class/Recitation: Wednesday, 5:00 p.m.--6:00 p.m.
Location: AVH 111
Instructor: Berthe Y. Choueiry, AVH 123B,
email: firstname.lastname@example.org, tel: (402)472-5444.
Office hours: Tuesday & Thursday from
12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. (right after class).
Important note: No GTA is allocated to this class. All
questions will have to be made to the instructor during office hours,
make-up class, by email, or by appointment. We will follow a
`peer-correction system' by which students grade each other's
glossaries and homework under close monitoring by the instructor.
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 restricted to:
- 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 Math
Library in Avery.
- 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
- 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. (Note that we will not use web handin.)
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 up.
- Tests: There will be a pre-test only. The
pre-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 in the language of their
choice. Results will be compared, winner will receive a gift
certificate for a book.
- 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
- Textbook "Constraint Processing" by Rina Dechter, 1st
edition. The textbook will not be followed sequestially, but should be
used for reference.
- Discussions among students, instructor, and TA are encouraged.
However homeworks 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
- Absence: maximum 4 sessions
including make-up class/recitation, advanced notice
required. Attendance is taken. Students are responsible for the
material covered and announcements made during the class. Also,
there will be surprise quizzes.
- Grades will be allocated as follows
- Pretest: 3%.
- Quizzes: 37%
- Assignments: 25%
- 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 2 presentations per
student. One presentation must be made by November 17, 2005, and
one by December 1, 2005.
- Make a critical summary of research papers/topics discussed in
class: 5% per summary. Maximum 4 summaries per
student. Two summaries must be submitted by November 17, 2005 and two
by December 1, 2005.
- Write a chapter of a textbook: 20% per chapter. Maximum 2 chapters per student. One write-up must be
submitted by November 17, 2005 and one by December 1, 2005.
- Do the weekly and final glossaries: maximum 8%. Deadline for submitting final glossary December 1,
- 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 Math Library in
- Foundations of Constraint Satisfaction by Edward
- Artificial Intelligence, A Modern Approach (AIMA), by
Russell & Norvig. Second Edition.
- Artificial Intelligence, 3rd Edition. Winston.
Books and references 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.
Industrial companies and start-ups: (listed in random order)
- COSYTEC, I2 Technologies, Red Pepper (PeopleSoft, Oracle),
Blue Pumpkin, Ilog, Trilogy, Parc Technologies Ltd (now
CISCO), Carmen Systems, Firepond, On Time Systems Inc., ConfigWorks., etc.
Archives and on-line systems:
Main publication venues:
Berthe Y. Choueiry