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Unit information: Bio-Inspired Artificial Intelligence in 2019/20

Please note: Due to alternative arrangements for teaching and assessment in place from 18 March 2020 to mitigate against the restrictions in place due to COVID-19, information shown for 2019/20 may not always be accurate.

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Bio-Inspired Artificial Intelligence
Unit code EMATM0029
Credit points 10
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Hauert
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Engineering Mathematics
Faculty Faculty of Engineering

Description including Unit Aims

Nature has found clever solutions for the design of intelligent systems. Chemical networks, cells, brains and societies are able to self-organise to perform seemingly complex tasks. These behaviours result from evolution, development, and learning.

With this course we aim to take inspiration from nature to engineer intelligent systems for real-world applications. Each lecture looks at a biological system and extracts basic principles that can be implemented in reality. Topics covered include neural networks, machine learning, artificial evolution, cellular systems, DNA computing, swarm intelligence, and bio-inspired robotics.

This class is taught using a flipped classroom methodology, meaning 1h lectures are watched at home in preparation for the course, and class-time is dedicated to hands-on activities and discussions including group work, pen and paper exercises, live-coding, and startup pitching.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the unit students will be able to;

  1. Explain the benefits and limitations of bio-inspired approaches.
  2. Extract basic principles from intelligent systems in nature that can be applied to engineering.
  3. Apply bio-inspired AI to engineer solutions for real world applications.
  4. Use insight from engineered systems to improve understanding of natural systems.
  5. Build and pitch a startup idea in artificial intelligence.

Teaching Information

20 Hands-on class-room activities
10 x 1hr Lecture preparation

Assessment Information

30% Exercise hand-in

Students will need to hand in an exercise sheet done during the 2-hour hands-on classroom activities, on six occasions. It is expected that the material can be fully completed in class. Each hand-in is worth 5% of the mark for a total of 30%. (ILO 1-5)

70% Startup pitch and report

For the startup pitch and report, groups are expected to prepare a 3min startup pitch in the area of bio-inspired AI, which will be delivered in the final lecture. Pitches will be prepared and rehearsed during class time. In addition, everyone must hand in an independent report of 5 pages describing their startup idea, motivation, market, how the technology will work, and what ethical/societal considerations should be addressed. (ILO 1-5)

Reading and References

Bio-Inspired Artificial Intelligence: Theories, Methods, and Technologies, Dario Floreano and Claudio Mattiussi, MIT Press, 2008