CS 5973: Neuro/Cognitive Robotics Syllabus
- Meeting time: Tu/Th 3:00-4:15
- Location: Carson 438
- Prerequisites: none. However, I will assume a graduate-level background in one of
the related areas (computer science or engineering, cognitive psychology, or
neuroscience). In addition I will assume introductory-level
training in probability and statistics.
Course web page:
- We will also be making heavy use of the
course blackboard at learn.ou.edu
- Instructor: Dr. Andrew H. Fagg
Course Goals and Topics
The goals of this course include:
- Understand how biological systems (primates, in particular)
perform cognitive and motor tasks. We will examine cognitive science
and neuroscience theories that attempt to answer the following:
- What representations/abstractions of the environment are
- How are motor skills represented?
- How can these representations be acquired?
- How is conceptual knowledge grounded in the real world?
- Understand how these theories can be couched in a computational
- Evaluate specific robotic implementations of these theories in
order to understand:
- how to approach robot control in general, and
- what these implementations say about the biological
Topics will include:
The representation and learning of sequential motor skill (with
particular focus on visual attention, reaching, grasping, and
Action-oriented visual processing: the "how" and "what"
visual pathways and their relationship to "affordances"
The use of affordances in the perception of the actions made by
Symbol grounding and proto-language learning through perception and
through interaction with the environment
The direct interface between brain and robot
Agent-agent interaction in learning and collaboration
Final grades will be computed according to the following distribution:
- Class participation (including leading discussions): 35%
- Paper summaries: 20%
- Project proposal: 5%
- Project status report 1: 5%
- Project status report 2: 5%
- Paper draft: 10%
- Final project presentation: 10%
- Final paper: 10%
- Grade questions: Grading questions may be brought to me
at any time during the semester. Please note
that I will examine the entire project or paper summary in question
and your final grade may end up lower.
- learn.ou.edu: The blackboard has a grade book
that is used to store the raw data that is used to calculate your
course grade. It is the responsibility of each student in this class
to check their grades on the blackboard after each project or homework
is returned. If an error is found, bring the graded document to me
and we will correct the record.
Paper Discussion Leaders
We will be reading on the order of 40 papers through the course of the
semester. Everyone is responsible for reading these papers. However,
one student will be designated for each paper as the discussion
leader. This leader is responsible for having read the paper
thoroughly and for putting together an electronic presentation that
he/she will use in class. This presentation should address the following:
Note that the discussion leader does not have to have all of
the answers (i.e., it is fine to say "I really didn't understand *this*,
let's understand it as a group").
- What is (are) the hypothesis (hypotheses)?
- What are the essential components of the experiment?
- What are the results? Do the results support the paper's
hypothesis? How well?
- What new questions does the paper raise?
- How does this paper relate to others (either that we have read
as a group or that you have read on your own)?
Each student should expect to lead the discussion for five papers during
In order to ensure that everyone is keeping up with the readings, I
will be collecting one-paragraph summaries of each paper that we
discuss in class. These summaries should include a discussion of the key
computational points, the experimental approach, and an evaluation
of the experimental results. These summaries must be handed in prior
to the first class in which we discuss the paper (email is
preferred). In order to receive full credit for paper summaries, each
student must hand in a total of 30 summaries during the semester;
these summaries must be on the papers for which the student did
not act as a discussion leader.
The semester-long project constitutes a significant percentage of your
class grade. Projects will be experimental in nature, requiring a
carefully-designed computational hypothesis, a computer
implementation, an experiment, and an analysis of the results.
Project topics must be based on a
set of at least three papers drawn from the literature; one of these
papers must be drawn from the set of papers on the course schedule page. With approval,
students may collaborate on projects in groups of size two. In these
projects, it must be clear that there is a significant and
differentiable contribution that can be made by each student.
A set of project ideas will be made available within the first couple
of weeks of the semester.
For those students who do not have a significant background in
programming, we will make every effort to design an appropriate
All project-related materials must be handed in on the specified due
date: for in-class presentations, you must be ready to present in
class; written materials are due at 23:59. Written materials may be handed in via email or the
Note that any material may be handed in at any time prior to the deadline.
- Sept 15: 1-page project proposal due
- Sept 20: In-class presentation of project proposal
- Oct 18: In-class presentation of project status
- Nov 8: In-class presentation of project status
- Nov 15: Draft of final paper due
- Nov 22: Peer paper reviews due
- Dec 6: Final paper due
- Dec 8: Final project presentations
- Final period (date TBD): project presentations
- Attendance: Class time will largely be dedicated to the
discussion (and, hopefully, mutual understanding) of the
reading material. This is especially the case given that
everyone is coming into the class with different backgrounds.
Attendance is therefore absolutely critical to the success of
the class and to your success in the class.
- Class Web Page: Most of the material that you will need
can be found on the class web page located at:
- Class Blackboard: This class will also use the
blackboard software, located at:
Login with your 4+4 (usually the first four letters of
your last name followed by the last four digits of your student
number), using your standard OU password. If you have difficulty
logging in, call 325-HELP. This software provides a number of useful
features, including a list of announcements, an
electronic mailing list, newsgroups, and grade book.
I will update the main web site and the blackboard page several
times a week. When I update the site in any significant way, I will
post an announcement on the blackboard telling you what has been added
and where it is located. You are responsible for things posted on the
site within 48 hours of the post.
- Class Email Alias: Urgent announcements will be sent
through email. It is your responsibility to:
- Have your university supplied email account properly
forwarded to the location where you read email.
- Make sure that your email address in learn.ou.edu is
correct, and forwards email to the place
where you read it. I'll send out a test message during the first week of class. If you do not
receive this message, it is your responsibility to get the problem resolved immediately.
- Have your email program set up properly so that replying to your email will work correctly the
first time. You can send email to yourself and reply to yourself to test this. I will not make any
attempt to get bounced email messages delivered.
If you need assistance in accomplishing any of these tasks, contact 325-HELP.
- Examinations: There will not be any exams in this
class. The final exam period will be used for some of our
final project reports.
- Projects: a significant component of your final grade
will be based on your performance for the semester-long
project. Collaborative projects (no more than 2 students) will
be allowed if I can be convinced that there can be a significant,
differentiable contribution by each of the students.
- Newsgroups and Email: The newsgroup on learn.ou.edu should
be the primary method of communication (outside of class). This
allows everyone in the class to benefit from the answer to your
question, and provides students with more timely answers since I check
at least once a day. Matters of personal interest should be directed to email instead of to the
newsgroup, e.g. informing me of an extended personal illness.
- Academic Misconduct:
Feel free to discuss papers and projects with other members of the
class or myself. However, do not copy another student's work, as this is considered
cheating. If you have been approved for a collaborative project,
then project-related materials may be shared.
You may make use of the net as a reference as you are working on paper
summaries and projects. However, downloading specific
solutions or wording from the net is also considered cheating.
Making use of net-available libraries (e.g., for basic
mathematical or image processing functionality) must be
approved. When in doubt -- ask.
Upon the first documented occurrence of cheating, I will report the academic misconduct
to the Campus Judicial Coordinator. The procedure to be followed is documented in the University
of Oklahoma Academic Misconduct Code (
http://www.ou.edu/studentcode/OUStudentCode.pdf). In the unlikely event that
I elect to admonish the student, the appeals process is
described in http://www.ou.edu/provost/integrity-rights/.
- Incompletes: The grade of "I" is intended for the rare circumstance when a student who has been
successful in a class has an unexpected event occur shortly before the end of the class. I will not
consider giving a student a grade of "I" unless the following three
conditions have been met.
It is within two weeks of the end of the semester.
The student has a grade of C or better in the class.
The reason that the student cannot complete the class is properly
documented and compelling.
Accommodation of Disabilities: The University of Oklahoma is committed to providing
reasonable accommodation for all students with disabilities. Students with disabilities who
require accommodations in this course are requested to speak with the professor as early in the
semester as possible. Students with disabilities must be registered with the Office of Disability
Services prior to receiving accommodations in this course. The Office of Disability Services is
located in Goddard Health Center, Suite 166, phone 405/325-3852 or TDD only 405/325-4173.
fagg [[at]] ou.edu
Last modified: Thu Sep 8 13:25:35 2005