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Introducing Multiagent Systems to Undergraduates through Games and Chocolate

Introducing Multiagent Systems to Undergraduates through Games and Chocolate
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Author(s): Emma Bowring (University of the Pacific, USA) and Milind Tambe (University of Southern California, USA)
Copyright: 2012
Pages: 15
Source title: Computer Engineering: Concepts, Methodologies, Tools and Applications
Source Author(s)/Editor(s): Information Resources Management Association (USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-456-7.ch511

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Abstract

The field of “intelligent agents and multi-agent systems” is maturing; no longer is it a special topic to be introduced to graduate students after years of training in computer science and many introductory courses in artificial intelligence. Instead, the time is ripe to introduce agents and multi-agents directly to undergraduate students, whether majoring in computer science or not. This chapter focuses on exactly this challenge, drawing on the co-authors’ experience of teaching several such undergraduate courses on agents and multi-agents, over the last three years at two different universities. The chapter outlines three key issues that must be addressed. The first issue is facilitating students’ intuitive understanding of fundamental concepts of multi-agent systems; the authors illustrate uses of science fiction materials and classroom games to not only provide students with the necessary intuitive understanding but with the excitement and motivation for studying multi-agent systems. The second is in selecting the right material — either science-fiction material or games — for providing students the necessary motivation and intuition; we outline several criteria that have been useful in selecting such material. The third issue is in educating students about the fundamental philosophical, ethical and social issues surrounding agents and multi-agent systems:they outline course materials and classroom activities that allow students to obtain this “big picture” futuristic vision of our science. The authors conclude with feedback received, lessons learned and impact on both the computer science students and non computer-science students.

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