CMPUT 261 (Winter 2024)

Intro to Artificial Intelligence


Between Winter 2019 and Winter 2022 this class was taught as CMPUT 366.

Class Times:
Tuesdays and Thursdays 12:30–1:50pm
First class:
January 9, 2024
ED 2-115
James Wright (
ATH 3-57
Office hours:
Available after class and by appointment.
Lab H01:
Mondays 2:00pm to 4:50pm (CSC 1-25)
Lab H02:
Thursdays 2:00pm to 4:50pm (T LB-002)

Introduction to artificial intelligence focusing on techniques for building intelligent software systems and agents. Topics include search and problem-solving techniques, knowledge representation and reasoning, reasoning and acting under uncertainty, machine learning and neural networks. Prerequisites: one of STAT 141, 151, 235, or 265, or SCI 151. Corequisites: CMPUT 204 or 275.
Students who received credit for CMPUT 366 between Winter 2019 and Winter 2022 cannot also receive credit for CMPUT 261.


After taking this survey course, you will understand the foundations of modern probabilistic artificial intelligence and how they relate to each other, in preparation for taking more advanced courses. You will understand the strengths and weaknesses of the broad families of representations in each area. You will be able to choose appropriate models in application domains, and be able to encode specific problems in those models effectively.

Academic success centre

The Academic Success Centre provides professional academic support to help students strengthen their academic skills and achieve their academic goals. Individual advising, appointments, and group workshops are available year round in the areas of Accessibility, Communication, Learning, and Writing Resources. Modest fees apply for some services.


Grade breakdown

There is no possibility of a re-examination in this course.

Late policy

Assignments are to be handed in electronically via eClass by 11:59pm Mountain time on the due date. Assignments may be handed in up to 2 days late, with 20% deducted.

Academic integrity

“The University of Alberta is committed to the highest standards of academic integrity and honesty. Students are expected to be familiar with these standards regarding academic honesty and to uphold the policies of the University in this respect. Students are particularly urged to familiarize themselves with the provisions of the Code of Student Behaviour (online at and avoid any behaviour which could potentially result in suspicions of cheating, plagiarism, misrepresentation of facts and/or participation in an offence. Academic dishonesty is a serious offence and can result in suspension or expulsion from the University.”

All forms of academic dishonesty are unacceptable at the University. Any suspected offence in this course will be reported to the Faculty of Science. The Faculty of Science is committed to student rights and responsibilities, and adheres to due process and administrative fairness as outlined in the Code of Student Behaviour. Anyone who is found in violation of the Code of Student Behaviour is likely to receive a sanction. Typical sanctions include conduct probation, a mark reduction or a mark of 0 on an assessment, a grade reduction or a grade of F in a course, a remark on the transcript, and a recommendation for suspension or expulsion.

Students are expected to familiarize themselves with the Academic Integrity resources (covering the topics of cheating, collaboration, plagiarism, and substantial assistance) on the website of the Office of the Dean of Students.

Appropriate collaboration

The rules for this course allow consultation collaboration. The specific rules are:

Eligible students have both rights and responsibilities with regard to accessibility-related accommodations. Accommodations are coordinated through the Academic Success Centre. Scheduling ​exam accommodations in accordance with established deadlines and procedures is essential. Please note adherence ​to procedures and deadlines​ is required for U of A to provide accommodations. See Academic Accommodations for further information.

Missed assignments

A student who cannot complete an assignment or midterm exam due to incapacitating illness, severe domestic affliction or other compelling reasons (including missing an in-person assessment due to the requirement to self-isolate when experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or with a positive test result) can apply for an excused absence. To apply for an excused absence, you must contact the instructor within two working days of missing the assessment or as soon as possible. If an excused absence is granted, then the weight of the missed assignment or midterm will be replaced with the final exam grade. An excused absence is a privilege and not a right. There is no guarantee that an absence will be excused. Misrepresentation of facts to gain an excused absence is a serious breach of the Code of Student Behaviour. In all cases, instructors may request adequate documentation to substantiate the reason for the absence at their discretion.

Missed assessments where the cause is religious belief

For an excused absence where the cause is religious belief, a student must contact the instructor(s) within two weeks of the start of Fall or Winter classes to request accommodation for the term (including the final exam, where relevant). Instructors may request adequate documentation to substantiate the student request. Students who failed at the start of term to request exam accommodations for religious beliefs are expected to follow the deferred final examination process outlined below.

Deferred final examination

A student who cannot write the final examination due to incapacitating illness, severe domestic affliction or other compelling reasons (including missing the in-person examination due to the requirement to self-isolate when experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or with a positive test result) can apply for a deferred final examination. Such an application must be made to the student’s Faculty office within two working days of the missed examination and must be supported by appropriate documentation or a Statutory Declaration. Deferred examinations are a privilege and not a right; there is no guarantee that a deferred examination will be granted. Misrepresentation of facts to gain a deferred examination is a serious breach of the Code of Student Behaviour.


Students are responsible only for material that is presented in class. Slides will be made available on the schedule on the day of the corresponding lecture.

Optional readings will be provided from the following texts, all of which are available online:

Recording and/or distribution of course materials

Audio or video recording, digital or otherwise, of lectures, labs, seminars or any other teaching environment by students is allowed only with the prior written consent of the instructor or as a part of an approved accommodation plan. Student or instructor content, digital or otherwise, created and/or used within the context of the course is to be used solely for personal study, and is not to be used or distributed for any other purpose without prior written consent from the content author(s).

Learning and working environment

The Faculty of Science is committed to ensuring that all students, faculty and staff are able to work and study in an environment that is safe and free from discrimination and harassment. It does not tolerate behaviour that undermines that environment.

If you are experiencing harassment, discrimination, fraud, theft or any other issue and would like to get confidential advice, please contact any of these campus services:

Feeling stressed, anxious, or upset?

It’s normal for us to have different mental health experiences throughout the year. Know that there are people who want to help. You can reach out to your friends and access a variety of supports available on and off campus at the Need Help Now webpage or by calling the 24-hour Distress Line: 780-482-4357 (HELP).

Calendar policies

Policy about course outlines can be found in Course Requirements, Evaluations Procedures and Grading of the University Calendar.

Land acknowledgement

The University of Alberta respectfully acknowledges that we are situated on Treaty 6 territory, traditional lands of First Nations and Métis people.

To learn more about the significance of this land acknowledgement, please read this useful article and associated links to more information.


Any typographical errors in this Course Outline are subject to change and will be announced in class. The date of the final examination is set by the Registrar and takes precedence over the final examination date reported in this syllabus.