Artificial Intelligence: Structures and Strategies for Complex Problem Solving


Elham S. Khorasani


Artificial Intelligence: Structures and Strategies for Complex Problem Solving
by George F. Luger
6th edition, Addison Wesley, 2008

The book serves as a good introductory textbook for artificial intelligence, particularly for undergraduate level. It covers major AI topics and makes good connection between different areas of artificial intelligence. Along with each technique and algorithm introduced in the book, is a discussion of its complexity and application domain. There is an attached website to the book that provides auxiliary materials for some chapters, sample problems with solutions, and ideas for student projects. Besides Prolog and Lisp, java and C++ are also used to implement many of the algorithms in the book.

The book is organized in five parts. The first part (chapter 1) gives an overview of AI, its history and its various application areas. The second part (chapters 2–6) concerns with knowledge representation and search algorithms. Chapter 2 introduces predicate calculus as a mathematical tool for representing AI problems. The state space search as well as un-informed and heuristic search methods is introduced in chapters 3 and 4. Chapter 5 discusses the issue of uncertainty in problem solving and covers the foundation of stochastic methodology and its application. In chapter 6 the implementation of search algorithms is shown in production system and blackboard architectures.

Part 3 (chapters 7–9) discusses knowledge representation and different methods of problem solving, including strong, weak and distributed problem solving. Chapter 7 begins with reviewing the history of evolution of AI representation schemes, including semantic networks, frames, scripts and conceptual graphs. This chapter ends with a brief introduction of Agent problem solving. Chapter 8 presents the production model and rule-based expert systems as well as case-based and model-based reasoning. The methods of dealing with various aspects of uncertainty are discussed in chapter 9. These methods include Dempster-Shafer theory of evidence, Bayesian and Belief networks, fuzzy logics and Markov models.

Part 4 is devoted to machine learning. Chapter 10 describes algorithms for symbol-based learning, including induction, concept learning, vision-space search and ID3. The neural network methods for learning, such as back propagation, competitive, Associative memories and Hebbian Coincidence learning were presented in chapter 11. Genetic algorithms and evolutionary learning approaches are introduced in chapter 12. Chapter 13 introduces stochastic and dynamic models of learning along with Hidden Markov Models, Dynamic Baysian networks and Markov Decision Processes.

Part 5 (chapters 14 and 15) examines two main application of AI: automated reasoning and natural language understanding. Chapter 14 begins with an introduction to weak methods in problem solving and continues with presenting resolution theorem proving. Chapter 15 deals with the complex issue of natural language understanding by discussing main methods of syntax and semantic analysis of natural language corpus. The chapter ends with examples of natural language application in Database query generation, text summarization and question answering systems. Finally, chapter 16 is a summary of the materials covered in the book as well current AI's limitations and future directions.

One criticism about the book would be that the materials are not covered in enough depth. Because of the space limitation, many important AI algorithms and techniques are discussed briefly without providing enough details. As a result, some chapters (e.g., 8, 9, 11, and 13) of the book should be supported by complementary materials to make it understandable for undergraduate students and motivating for graduate students. Another issue is with the structure of the book. The order of presenting chapters introduces sequentially different challenges and techniques in problem solving. Consequently, some topics such as uncertainty and logic are not introduced separately and are distributed in different chapters of the book related to different parts. Although interesting, this makes the book hard to follow.

In summary, the book gives a great insight to the readers that want to familiar themselves with artificial intelligence. It covers a broad range of topics in AI problem solving and its practical application and is a good reference for an undergraduate level introductory AI class.

Elham S. Khorasani,
Department of Computer Science
Southern Illinois University
Carbondale, IL 62901, USA


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