CPSC 100: Principles of Computer Science
Spring 1997
Week 10 Reading Guide

This is the tenth (and last) of the weekly reading guides for Computer Science 100.


Week 10 (June 2 to June 6)

This is the last week of the course. The final exam will be held on Sunday, May 8, at 7:00 PM in our usual classroom. The final will be cumulative, but it will omit a few of the specific topics that we have covered: recursion, the specific assembly language commands for xTurtle, computers and society (Section 5.3), binary numbers and binary arithmetic, the Halting Problem, and building logic circuits from input/output tables. You should expect the majority of the exam to be on Chapters 10, 11, and 12.

There is no lab this Friday; we will have a regular class instead. During class on Wednesday, you'll see a videotape called Giant Brains. This video is about the early history of computing. It includes some material about Alan Turing and artificial intelligence. You can expect a question or two about the video on the final exam.

The reading for this week is Chapter 12, on artificial intelligence. However, you will not be tested on Section 12.3.

In the final week of the course, we turn to the question of artificial intelligence and to the rather philosophical question: "Can Machines Think." In 1950, Alan Turing proposed a test that could be used to determine if a computer is intelligent. He said that any computer that could pass his test would have to be considered intelligent (although there might be intelligent machines that could not pass the test). This test has become known as the Turing Test. No computer has come close to passing this test, and no computer has anything like what would be called "general intelligence". (Yet.)

Much of the research in artificial intelligence has been based on the physical symbol system hypothesis. According to this hypothesis, knowledge can be represented as a data structure, and thinking consists of consulting, modifying, and adding to that data base. The thinking is actually done by following rules that might as well be encoded as a computer program. In other words, the physical symbol system hypothesis claims that standard computers, running standard programs, can be intelligent. (More recently, though, researchers have been looking for other ways to create machine intelligence.)

From the beginning, there have been arguments over whether or not any computer could possibly be intelligent. Turing himself anticipated many of these arguments in his 1950 paper. The debate, however, continues.

Concept List for Chapter 12: