Computing & Software Systems 482:
Basic Course Information
CSS 482 will introduce you to a completely different way of programming, in which
you specify rules of behavior, rather than algorithms. This is an especially powerful
approach for problems that change often or where solutions involve application of
human knowledge, rather than intricate calculations. Since their commercial
introduction in the early 1980s, expert systems have undergone tremendous growth,
representing one of the most successful application of artificial intelligence technology.
Today, they are used in business, science, engineering, manufacturing, etc. Example
applications include: business rules, customer support, computer configuration, fault
diagnosis, computer-aided instruction, data interpretation, planning and prediction,
and process control.
This course will have an additional focus on building expert systems applications
as part of larger systems, including web-based and enterprise systems. Besides
rule-based programming, expert systems operation, and knowledge engineering,
topics will include some aspects of Java that are useful for developing these systems,
such as JavaBeans, serialization, applets, servlets, J2EE, JavaServer Pages, Tomcat,
web services, and XML.
Prerequisites: CSS 343. No prior Java experience is required, just a desire to learn
about it. We will mostly be modifying example Java code; the bulk of the
programming will be in JESS.
- Mondays and Wednesday, 1:15–3:15PM, room UW1-031.
- Michael Stiber firstname.lastname@example.org, room UW1-360D, phone
352-5280, office hours Mondays and Wednesdays 3:30-4:30PM.
- Friedman-Hill, Ernest, JESS in Action, Manning,
Greenwich, CT, 2003.
- Arnold, Ken, James Gosling, and David Holmes, The
Java Programming Language, Fourth Edition, Prentice Hall, 2005.
- 30% homework + 30% midterm + 30% project + 10% participation
(including project reports).
- Assignments will be due at specific dates and times. I will not
accept any lateness in this class — if your assignment is submitted late,
it will not be graded, and you will receive a zero for that assignment.
Except for special circumstances, such as medical and other emergencies,
no exceptions will be made to this policy. You are more than welcome to
submit work before the due date.
Your name, student number, and email address should be written on your
hard copy submissions. Please strive to either write/draw clearly or use
a computer and high-quality printer to prepare your documentation; I
cannot give you credit for what I cannot read.
- The University of Washington is committed to providing
equal opportunity and reasonable accommodation in its services,
programs, activities, education and employment for individuals with
disabilities. If you believe that you have a disability and would like
academic accommodations, please contact Disability Support Services at
425.352.5307, 425.352.5303 TDD, 425.352.3581 FAX, or at email@example.com.
DSS will be happy to provide assistance. You will need to provide
documentation of your disability as part of the review process.
- You are expected to do your work on your own (unless, of
course, it is a group project). If you get stuck, you may discuss the problem
with other students, provided that you don’t copy from them. Assignments
must be written up independently. You may always discuss any problem
with the instructor. You are expected to subscribe to the highest standards
of honesty. Failure to do this constitutes plagiarism. Plagiarism includes
copying assignments in part or in total, debugging computer programs for
others, verbal dissemination of algorithms and results, or using solutions
from other students, solution sets, other textbooks, etc. without crediting
these sources by name. Any student guilty of plagiarism will be subject to
- I strongly encourage you to come to class (and, in fact, a
portion of your grade will depend on active participation, as well as project
reports). You will be held responsible for all material covered in class,
regardless of its presence (or lack thereof) in the textbook.
- Please turn off cell phones during class. I have no problem
with you using a laptop to take notes, but if you are using it for anything
else, please sit at the back of the class to avoid distracting other students.
Please use the restroom before class to avoid disturbing everyone as you
enter and leave the room; under no circumstances will I allow anyone to
leave the room during an exam and return to finish it.
- If you have problems with anything in the course, please come
and see me during office hours, make an appointment to see me at some
other time, or send email. I want to make you a success in this course.
Deliverables represent hard deadlines; this is to prevent your schedule from
slipping so much that you won’t be able to complete the class. I will not
give out grades of “incomplete” except in circumstances in which
you are making good progress and an extraordinary, unexpected event has
made it impossible for you to finish the quarter. A large amount of work
in another class is not an extraordinary, unexpected event.
I assume that everyone is past the point where I need to carefully check the details of
your program execution. In other words, I expect you to turn in a fully
documented program, including reasonably commented and formatted source code,
design documentation sufficient for me to understand how your program
works, and execution logs sufficient to convince me that your program does
indeed work (that it satisfies the requirements outlined in the assignment
document). Please submit your assignment electronically to the CSS 482 drop
Projects and Project Proposals
The purpose of this project is to design and implement an expert system that
performs some real and interesting function (small though it may be). For logistical
reasons, I desire to limit this class to approximately five projects, therefore,
depending on enrollment, you may need to form teams of three or four. Your
project should be accompanied by detailed design documentation in the final
The project is worth 30% of your grade, and the amount of time you spend
should reflect that. I would expect you to spend about 45–50 hours/person working
on the project.
On October 13, I will make appointments with each team for the following week to
hear your project ideas and give you feedback regarding the scope and workload. You
will have only 15 minutes, so come prepared to present your ideas and ask specific
questions. This time is not meant to fish around for ideas from me: you should
already have your own by then (you are encouraged to see me well in advance of this
date to discuss and brainstorm ideas).
Project proposals are due on October 27; each team should hand in only one copy.
You will receive a grade for your proposal, which will count towards your
grade for the course as one-sixth of your project grade (5% of your overall
grade). So, a team should have spent on the order of 7–8 hours/person on
the project design. All proposals and reports must be typed or typeset. It is
acceptable to submit hand-drawn figures, but I encourage you to use a drawing
The proposal itself should be 3–5 pages of 10-point text. It is your responsibility
to justify in this proposal that your project is worth doing and that you should
receive a good grade in this course if you do it well. It should be specific enough
about what you will do and how you will do it that it could be used as a contractual
agreement with me regarding your project content. Components of your
proposal should include (but are not limited to) any of the following that are
- The title should be short and descriptive.
- Team member names.
- A brief description of what the project will do, suitable for someone
unfamiliar with the application area.
- An introduction to the application area, including how your
project fits into the existing state of the art. You should have done a
literature search and read some real (i.e., non-web) reference material
before writing this.
- Course concepts and algorithms covered by the project. This
section is the core justification that successful completion of this project
should result in a good grade for you.
System Operation Outline
- What is your idea of how the system will work
(from the user’s point of view)? Should include things like UI sketches.
- A high-level design (at the level of a context diagram and top-level
system block diagram). It is not necessary to have a detailed design
complete yet, but enough of the design should be done that the reader can
determine what the scope of the work will be.
- Identify high-risk aspects of this project. Discuss possible alternative
approaches (if something goes wrong).
- By proposal time, you should have at least three
quality references. Each reference should be accompanied by an analysis
of its source, including who publishes it, for what audience is it published,
and the impact that papers published in that venue have on the field.
A reference librarian should be able to help you with this (if there is a
call for this, I will try to have someone come to class to talk about these
matters). If you have identified a human expert for your project, then you
should summarize their qualifications. If you are working on a research
paper, then you should have at least five quality references, along with
annotations summarizing the topics that each work covers.
Here are suggestions for project presentations and demonstrations:
- Don’t put too many words/sentences on a single slide. Five sentences is
about the most that should appear.
- Don’t make your slides the complete text of your talk. The visual aid(s)
you use should serve to amplify what you have to say.
- Conversely, don’t just read from your slides. The audience can do that
(and you don’t want them to just read; you want them to pay attention
- Think of what you can put on the slides that adds value to what you have
to say. Pictures are one example of this kind of additional information.
- Just as you shouldn’t read your slides, don’t just read your notes. You
should be prepared enough that you don’t need notes (beyond maybe some
3x5 cards to jog your memory, especially for the first slide or two). Reading
from your notes indicates to the audience that you didn’t think this was
important enough to spend much preparation time on, but nevertheless
you think they should spend their time listening to it. Practice your talk.
- Don’t just paraphrase something you read elsewhere; understand what you
read and convey that to your audience. Give the audience something more
than they could have gotten for themselves. Show that you understand
what you’re talking about, so they will feel their time was well-spent
listening to you.
- Put everything the audience needs to understand a slide on that one slide;
don’t flip back and forth between slides. For example, if you have a diagram
and some necessary text, put them on the same slide. (But a diagram
without the need for text is even better.)
- Don’t just tail off at the end. Plan an end that has finality to it.
- Go through your demonstration beforehand. Make sure that it works
flawlessly. Test it on exactly the machine that you will use for the demo.
The may mean coming in a few days beforehand to try it out on the
e-podium machine in our classroom. If you will be using your laptop, please
let me know so that I can get a laptop cable before the demo day so that
you can try your laptop out on the e-podium.
Your report should include the software you have developed. I would like
to put all these projects on the course web site (if you’d rather that your
project not be there, please let me know). To facilitate this, please set up your
submission for placement on the web. At minimum, you should include an
HTML index.html file, which lists all other files (with relative HTML links),
provides a brief description of your project for someone unfamiliar with this
class, and explains how to run your program. You should include your report
in HTML or some other format. Please submit this to the CSS 482 drop
As a general guideline, your written report should be 10–20 pages long, and
should be submitted by midnight on December 13. It should be typed or
typeset in a 10–12 point font. Figures, code, etc. are not counted in this
page limit, and should be numbered and included throughout the report. A
group should produce a single report. Your report should be an expanded
and completed version of your proposal, with the following changes and
- The Fallbacks section is not necessary.
- The System Operation Outline should be replaced by a User Guide.
- The Design should be complete. It should be extensive enough for someone
else to continue development of the project.
- You should add the following:
- Illustrate the sytem in operation with real
execution examples. This could be part of the user guide. A screencast
video would be appropriate here; please contact me for how to submit
this, as it will almost certainly be too large to submit via Catalyst.
- Discusses other possible ways to implement
- What your project doesn’t do, that it might have, given time
- Problems encountered and solutions applied (or, if not solved,
possible avenues for solution).
- Suggested extensions to your program.
Cutting across these topics, your report should make it clear what you learned,
relating to both the course material and any unexpected problems or issues that gave
you new insight.
Tentative Course Schedule
Welcome; The what and why of
expert systems; A case study;
homework 1 assigned
Facts and rules; The anatomy of
an expert system
Chapters 6, 7
homework 1 due; homework 2
JESS and Java; expert systems as
homework 2 due; homework 3
sign up for project conferences
Computational complexity of
homework 3 due; homework 4
assigned; project conferences this
the expert system development
Design pattern: diagnosis and
Chapters 12, 13
homework 4 due; homework 5
project proposals due
Java inside JESS: facts connected
to the real world
homework 5 due
JESS inside Java: embedding
JESS in web applications
homework 6 assigned
Web app workshop
Intelligent agents: the Wumpus
homework 6 due; homework 7a
Wumpus World competition 1
homework 7a due; homework 7b
Expert systems in context: an
overview of AI
Wumpus World competition 2
homework 7b due
Expert systems in context:
knowledge representation, logic,
and reasoning beyond logic
Project reports due
Last modified: September 20, 2010