Major Accomplishments in AI

According to:

Denning, Peter J. (1985), "What Is Computer Science?", The Science of Computing (column), American Scientist 73 (January-February): 16-19 (UGL Per LJ85 .S502).

"Computer science is the body of knowledge dealing with the design, analysis, implementation, efficiency, and application of processes that transform information. The fundamental question underlying all of computer science is `what can be automated'?" (p. 16.)

"The following paragraphs outline the principal content of the eleven areas [of CS], listing the fundamental questions and the major accomplishments of each." (p. 17.)

THEORY. ... Automatic theorem proving.

NUMERICAL COMPUTATION. ... Symbolic manipulators capable of pwoerful and nonobvious reductions, differentiations, and integrations of expressions.

PROGRAMMING LANGUAGES AND METHODOLOGY. ... Functional languages such as ... Lisp, Prolog .... Object-manipulating languages such as Smalltalk ....

ALGORITHMS AND DATA STRUCTURES. ... Identification of general methods applicable across many classes of problems, such as ... lists, ... tree algorithms.

OPERATING SYSTEMS. ... Prototypes of timesharing systems .... High-level command interfaces ... includ[ing] ... pointers such as the "mouse."

NETWORKS. ... Local networks ... Ethernet ...

HUMAN INTERFACE. ... Advanced forms of input and output such as ... the "mouse" pointer.

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE. This area deals with the simulation of intelligence. The fundamental questions are: What is intelligence? What basic models of intelligence are there and how do we build machines that simulate them? To what extgent is intelligence described by rule evaluation and what is the ultimate performance of machines that simulate intelligence by evaluating rules? To what extent is intelligence unpredictable, and can this be modeled by randomness in the machine? The major accomplishments are:

  1. Theories of cognition and thought expressed in terms that could be realized by computer.
  2. Efficient methods of knowledge representation and searching through knowledge bases.
  3. Powerful software systems for logic programming, theorem proving, and rule evaluation.
  4. Special applications such as robotics, image processing, vision, and speech recognition.
  5. Expert systems based on rule evaluation for simulating expert human behavior in a few narrow domains.

Some more recent accomplishments, according to:

Waltz, David L. (1997), "Artificial Intelligence: Realizing the Ultimate Promises of Computing", in Computing Research: A National Investment for Leadership in the 21st Century, CRA (Computing Research Association), 1997. Reprinted in AI Magazine, 18/3 (Fall 1997): 49-52.

"Autonomous vehicles: A DARPA-funded onboard computer system from Carnegie Mellon University drove a van all but 52 of the 2849 miles from Washington, DC to San Diego, averaging 63 miles per hour day and night, rain or shine;

Computer chess: Deep Blue, a chess computer built by IBM researchers, defeated world champion Gary Kasparov in a landmark performance;

Mathematical theorem proving: A computer system at Argonne National Laboratories proved a long-standing mathematical conjecture about algebra using a method that would be considered creative if done by humans;

Scientific classification: A NASA system learned to classify very faint signals as either stars or galaxies with superhuman accuracy, by studying examples classified by experts;

Advanced user interfaces: PEGASUS is a spoken language interface connected to the American Airlines EAASY SABRE reservation system, which allows subscribers to obtain flight information and make flight reservations via a large, on-line, dynamic database, accessed through their personal computer over the telephone." (p. 49).

1997 accomplishments, according to:

Benjamin Kuipers, as cited in Hedberg, Sara (1997), "AAAI-97 Highlights Developments in the AI Field", AI Magazine, 18/4 (Winter 1997): 8-10.

"A computer beat the world champion at chess. A robot is on Mars making a few of its own decisions." (p. 8.)

Copyright © 2001 by William J. Rapaport (

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