AI Class has finally finished and I am very glad I took part in this educational experiment. The past ten weeks have been full of adventure and I have learned a lot.

Before this class, I had never heard of Bayes Thereom, let alone Particle Filters.  Now, however, I understand the differences between Breadth First Search, Depth First Search and their badass cousin A* Search.  I can draw Bayes Nets and tell you which nodes are conditionally independent from which.  I can calculate complicated probabilities by using a pseudo-probability trick Thrun taught us.  Do you want to know the probability of being happy on sunny and rainy days?  I got your back.  When someone says “Use Occam’s Razor!”, I understand.

I now know how Bayesian Spam filters work.  I know to use Laplace Smoothing to get better results and avoid that dreaded zero. K Nearest Neighbors–dead simple.  K-Means isn’t that complicated either. Markov Decision Processes are cool, but Hidden Markov Models and Particle Filters are cooler!

I can watch “A Beautiful Mind” with a greater appreciation of what the Nash Equilibrium is.  I can make Minimax game trees and solve them.  I can prune unneeded branches from the trees to optimize searches.  I know that being irrational in a game is not good, but appearing irrational can gain me an advantage.

Furthermore, I understand how pin hole cameras work.  I know about algorithms for extracting features inside images.  I can convolve an image with a kernel to produce a gradient image.  Did I mention I also delved a bit in Linear Algebra because of this class?

Ultimately, with the help of two awesome teachers–Sebastian Thrun and Peter Norvig– I was introduced to the basics of probability theory, machine learning, planning, game theory, computer vision, robotics, and natural language processing.  For this I am eternally grateful.  I look forward to continuing my studies in Artificial Intelligence and to applying the concepts I learned in this class.  In the end, I managed to be in the top ten percent of those who finished the course–not bad for a dumbass from El Paso who only has a high school diploma and a desire to learn.

•  December 31, 2011