Cmput 455 Course Outline, Fall 2021


Course: CMPUT 455 - Search, Knowledge, and Simulations, Fall 2021

Time and location: VVC 2-215 (Tue Thu 2:00pm - 3:20)

Credits: 3

eClass course site: Open September 1 – December 31.

Instructors (emails in domain):

Calendar Description

(3-0-0) CMPUT 455: Search, Knowledge, and Simulations.

Description: When making decisions, computers rely on three main ideas: search, knowledge and simulations. Knowledge is created by machine learning techniques and can be encoded as deep neural networks. Search and simulations help to understand the short and long-term consequences of possible actions. This course leads from basic concepts to state-of-the-art decision-making algorithms.

Prerequisite: any 300 level course in Computing Science.


The successful student will acquire a clear grasp of decision making processes in humans and computers, and their differences; understand the structure of modern heuristic search methods - search, knowledge and simulation, with machine learning as the main design tool; learn to make informed choices about which state of the art methods to use when designing a new decision-making program.


Decision-making in humans and machines; search; knowledge; simulation; machine learning techniques for acquiring knowledge, including feature learning and neural networks.

Many Python 3 programs will be provided to illustrate algorithms and concepts. The running example is a series of programs to play the game of Go on a small 7x7 board.

Coursework and Assessment

Coursework consists of: pre-class activities, assigned readings, quizzes, assignments, a midterm, and a final exam.

Pre-class Activities

Pre-class activities are completed by each student on their own. These activities can include a variety of tasks such as performing small experiments with a piece of Python 3 code, watching a short video, or working out a small problem with pencil and paper.

Activities help each student prepare for doing the assignments, and deepen the understanding of the course material.

Assigned Readings

Readings will be assigned for each lecture. Readings consist of (parts of) research and survey papers, or newspaper articles. Some optional readings will be suggested for students who want to learn more deeply about a topic.


Short weekly online quizzes on eClass will be based on the content of activities, readings and lectures. One goal of quizzes is to assess the students' ongoing understanding of the course material. A brief in-class review will follow each quiz.


Four relatively small coding assignments ask you to extend or improve a given games program, and test your new functionality.

Midterm and Final Exam

These exams will be written online on eClass. Questions will be in the usual quiz format, including yes/no, multiple choice, and short-answer questions. Study guides will be provided before the midterm and final exams. They will provide more details about the content of these exams, and suggestions on how to prepare for them.

Assessments, Weights and Times

Course Work



Online quizzes

starting week of Sep 1


Four assignments

due Sep 20, Oct 18, Nov 15, Dec 14


90 minute midterm

Oct 12


3 hour final exam



Lecture Slides and other Learning Resources

Created: Jul 18, 2016 Last modified: Aug 14/2021

Martin Müller and Ting-Han Wei