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Artificial intelligence : a modern approach
Russell S., Norvig P., Pearson Education, 2003. 1132 pp. Type: Book (9780137903955)
Date Reviewed: Jan 6 2005

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a broad topic; as stated in its preface, this book tries to explore the full breadth of the field, by covering the most central ideas in the main part of each chapter, and then by providing the reader with a set of pointers in the bibliographical notes.

The book is divided into eight parts. Part 1 (chapters 1 and 2) is an introduction to the whole book. It presents a brief history of AI, and provides a roadmap of intelligent agents that are considered (in the book) as central to the approach to AI.

Part 2 (chapters 3 through 6) discusses “search,” which is the act of constructing a sequence of actions that achieve a specific goal. Multiple search algorithms, such as breadth-first search and depth-first search, are detailed in chapter 3. Chapter 4 addresses optimality, or how to reduce search costs by introducing heuristics in search algorithms. Chapter 5 examines constraint satisfaction problems. Game playing was one of the first tasks undertaken in AI; chapter 6 addresses games, and how to play well in practice.

Part 3 (chapters 7 through 10) discusses representation. Chapter 7 explains the role of agents in the process of deriving world representations, in order to take effective actions. Chapters 8 and 9 discuss first-order logic, which is used for knowledge representation (chapter 10).

Part 4 (chapters 11 and 12) discusses planning, a very important aspect of AI. The book defines planning as the task of coming up with a sequence of actions that will achieve a goal.

Part 5 (chapters 13 through 17) addresses uncertain knowledge and reasoning, and explains the process of taking both simple and complex actions in the case of uncertainty.

Part 6 (chapters 18 through 21) discusses learning. Learning is the process of improving behavior based on past experiences. This part describes the process of learning from observations, and studies learning methods.

Part 7 (chapters 22 through 25) covers the three crucial capabilities of agents: communication, perception, and action.

Part 8 (chapters 26 and 27) concludes the book with a set of philosophical foundations.

Without a doubt, this book is one of the most complete references on AI. The writing style is very clear, and each chapter ends with a set of bibliographical and historical notes. I highly recommend this work for classroom use; it is not a surprise that it is has now been adopted by more than 600 universities, in 60 countries.

Reviewer:  Ghita Kouadri Review #: CR130610 (0508-0873)
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