Course 9.S915: "What is Intelligence?" Fall 2011

Sep 06, 2011

Class Times: Friday 11:00-2:00 pm
Units: 3-0-9
Location: 46-5193
Instructors: Shimon Ullman and Tomaso Poggio

Office Hours: TBA
Email Contact:

Course description

The problem of intelligence – its nature, how it is produced by the brain and how it could be replicated in machines – is a deep and fundamental problem that cuts across multiple scientific disciplines. Philosophers have studied intelligence for centuries, but it is only in the last several decades that developments in a broad range of science and engineering fields have opened up a thriving "intelligence research" enterprise, making questions such as these approachable: How does the mind processes sensory information to produce intelligent behavior, and how can we design intelligent computer algorithms that behave similarly? What is the structure and form of human knowledge – how is it stored, represented and organized? How do human minds arise through processes of evolution, development and learning, and what are their roots in genetics? How does collective intelligence arise in social and economic systems? How are cognitive domains including language, perception, social cognition, planning and motor control combined and integrated? Are there common principles of learning, prediction, decision or planning that span across different domains?

This course will explore these issues with an approach that involves the integration of the fields of cognitive science, which studies the mind, neuroscience, which studies the brain, and computer science and artificial intelligence, which develop intelligent hardware and software. Each week, different faculty members will lecture on a research topic that relates to the problem of intelligence. Lectures will be complemented with readings, discussion, and individual or group projects.

The course is open to all graduate students; undergraduates can take the course with instructor permission.


Grading will be based on participation and a final project.





Class 01 Fri 09 Sep Learning Theory Tomaso Poggio and Lorenzo Rosasco
Class 02 Fri 16 Sep Neural Circuits Michale Fee
Class 03 Fri 23 Sep Bayesian Approaches to Cognition Josh Tenenbaum
Class 04 Fri 30 Sep Language Edward Gibson and Tim O'Donnell
Class 05 Fri 07 Oct Cognitive Development and the Evolution of Behavior Laura Schulz and Andrew Lo
Class 06 Fri 14 Oct Learned and Innate Strcutures in Categorization Shimon Ullman
Class 07 Fri 21 Oct Planning and Motor Control Matthew Wilson and Russ Tedrake
Class 08 Fri 28 Oct Evolutionary Games and Social Cognition Martin Nowak and Rebecca Saxe
Class 09 Fri 04 Nov General and Domain Specific Structures and Nature vs. Nurture Nancy Kanwisher and Mriganka Sur
    Veteran's day - no class  
Class 10 Fri 18 Nov Social and Collective Intelligence Thomas Malone and Sandy Pentland
    Thanksgiving - no class  
Class 11 Fri 02 Dec Computers and Games David Silver
Class 12 Fri 09 Dec Perception and Language, and Stories Patrick Winston and Boris Katz


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