CSCE421/821, Fall 2012: Course Syllabus

1. General Information

Prereq: CSCE310, Data structures and algorithms or Instructor Permission.

Course description: 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 goal of this course is to prepare students to conduct research in this area. The course will be intensive and will require thorough study of the theory and the algorithms, and a significant implementation effort. Students are expected to be self motivated, and demonstrate intellectual independence and collegial collaboration.

Lectures: Monday, Wednesday, Friday from 3:30 p.m. to 4:20 p.m.
Location: Avery Hall, Room 118.

Make-up Class/Recitation: Monday from 5:00 p.m. to 5:50 p.m.
Location: Avery Hall, Room 118.

Instructor:   Prof.  Berthe Y. Choueiry
      Office location: Room 360, Avery Hall,
      choueiry AT, tel: (402)472-5444.
      Office hours: Wednesday/Friday 4:30--5:30 p.m. or by appointment.

Volunteer GTA's: TBA

"Constraint Processing" by Rina Dechter, 1st edition. The textbook will not be followed sequestially, but should be used for reference.

Topics include but are not restricted to:


2. Contact Us

For a quick response, send your questions to Piazza. Your message will be read by the TA and the instructor and they will respond to you ASAP.

You may also choose to drop us a note in the Anonymous Suggestion Box.

3. Protocol of the Course

The course syllabus is our `contract' and we will abide by it.

The course consists of lectures by the instructor, three times per week.


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:

Surprise quizzes:


There will be a pre-test only. The pre-test cannot be made up except by instructor's permission.

Project research, report, and presentation:



4. Grading Policy

Grade Distribution

Grade Conversion



[94, 97[


[90, 94[


[87, 90[


[84, 87[


[80, 84[


[75, 80[


[67, 75[


[60, 67[


[57, 60[


[54, 57[


[51, 53[




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.

5. Department and University Policies

The Student Resource Center is located in Avery 13A. It is a valuable place to go for general CSE related issues.

It is CSE Department policy that all students in CSE courses are expected to regularly check their email so they do not miss important announcements.

All homework assignments, quizzes, exams, etc. must be your own work. No direct collaboration with fellow students, past or current, is allowed unless otherwise stated. The Computer Science & Engineering department has an Academic Integrity Policy. All students enrolled in any computer science course are bound by this policy. You are expected to read, understand, and follow this policy. Violations will be dealt with on a case by case basis and may result in a failing assignment or a failing grade for the course itself.

The CSE Department has an anonymous suggestion box that you may use to voice your concerns about any problems in the course or department if you do not wish to be identified.

Students with disabilities are encouraged to contact the instructor or teaching assistant for a confidential discussion of their individual needs for academic accommodation. It is the policy of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to provide flexible and individualized accommodations to students with documented disabilities that may affect their ability to fully participate in course activities or to meet course requirements. To receive accommodation services, students must be registered with the Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) office, 132 Canfield Administration, 472-3787 voice or TTY.

6. How to Secure a Good Final Grade

Make a Presentation

Give a presentation of a research paper in class: 10% per presentation. Maximum 2 presentations per student. One presentation must be made by Friday, Nov 16, 2012, and one by Friday, Nov 30, 2012.

Critical Summary

Write a critical summary of research papers/topics discussed in class: 5% per summary. Maximum 4 summaries per student. Two summaries must be submitted by Friday, Nov 16, 2012, and two by Friday, Nov 30, 2012.

Write up

Write a chapter of a textbook: 20% per chapter. Maximum 2 chapters per student. One write-up must be submitted by Friday, Nov 16, 2012, and one by Friday, Nov 30, 2012.


A bonus will be awarded to students who attend all lectures, interact lively, and participate in class discussions.


Students who return, every Monday before class, a glossary of terms listed in handouts will be credited for up to 8% bonus, computed proportionally to the list of terms they return. Rules for glossary:

Participation and feedback

If you find errors in the discussions, respond to challenges, constructively participate in class discussions, you will be awarded bonus points. A bonus point will also be given to students who confirm having filled the course evaluation forms (word of honor).

Additional Work

Closely monitor your grade. If you feel that your grade is slipping, contact the instructor immediately. We may be able to assign to you an additional task to put you back on the right track.

7. Books on Reserve at the Math Library in Avery

Constraint Processing

Constraint Networks, Christophe Lecoutre (e-textbook, available from UNL's libaries).
Foundations of Constraint Satisfaction by Edward Tsang. Also, available online.


Artificial Intelligence, A Modern Approach (AIMA), by Russell Norvig. Second Edition.
Artificial Intelligence, 3rd Edition.  Winston. ISBN 0201533774.
Essentials of Artificial Intelligence. Ginsberg. ISBN 1-558s60-22-6.  Call number Q335.G55 1993.
Artificial Intelligence: A New Synthesis. Nilsson. ISBN 1-55860-535-5. Call number Q335.N496 1998.
Paradigms of Artificial Intelligence Programming. Norvig. ISBN 1-55860-191-0. Call number QA76.6.N687.
Artificial Intelligence. Structures and Strategies for Complex Problem Solving. Luger and Stubblefield


Common Lisp, The Language, Second Edition. Guy L. Steele, Jr. Digital Press, ISBN: 1555580416
LISP, 3rd Edition. Winston & Horn. ISBN 0-201-08319-1.
ANSI Common Lisp; Graham. ISBN 0-13-370875-6.
Paradigms of Artificial Intelligence Programming. Norvig. ISBN 1-55860-191-0. Call number QA76.6.N687.
Object Oriented Common Lisp. Slade. ISBN 0-13-605940-6 Call number QA76.64 .S576


A mathematical introduction to logic by Enderton, Herbert B, CALL NO. QA9 .E54 1972.

8. (AI) References

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" by AAAI
Dictionary of Algorithms, Data Structures, and Problems
Online resources (wikipedia) and web search engines.

8. Online Resources

Puzzles Built @ the ConSystLab

Interactive Game of Set . Built by Amanda Swearngin (2011).
Interactive Minesweeper. Built by K. Bayer, J. Snyder, and R. Woodward.
Interactive Sudoku Solver. Built by Ch. Reeson.

Benchmark Problems

Coloring Australia map: In the xml format of CP Competition (courtesy of Ken Bayer).
The list of benchmark problems usually used in the CP Solvers programming competetion. Check also the related XCSP tools.
The organizers of the International Workshop on Constraint Propagation and Implementation organize a Solver Competition and make available the benchmark problems used during the competition. Such as the ones used in the 2005 competition. Such problem instances are typically written using the new standards for representing CSP instances: an XML representation and also a table representation.
(Seems gone for now..) CLib: Configuration Benchmarks Library.

Archives and On-Line Systems

A list of Constraint Solvers
Pointers to various generators from the ConSystlab web page.
Various models of random generators in Java by Bart Craenen
The ECLiPSe Constraint Logic Programming System
Random generator in C at LIRMM
Random generator in Common Lisp by Patrick Prosser
Random generator in C courtesy of Fahiem Bacchus (and P. van Run).
JACK: a library providing constraint programming and search for Java (high-level language, generic search engine, and a visualization tool).

Main publication venues


Constraint Programming (CP), AAAI, IJCAI, ECAI, FLAIRS, ISAIM, etc.


AI Journal (index at the Love Library), Constraints (index at the Love Library, online access).

Constraint Processing Online

Research Centers

Cork Constraint Computation Centre (4C), Microsoft Research (Cambridge), Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, PARC, NASA Ames, (to be completed)


Academic Research Groups

Latex Resources

Last modified: Mon Aug 20 15:23:19 CDT 2012