9.S912: What is Intelligence?

Fall 2012

Class Times: Friday 11:00-2:00 pm
Units: 3-0-9
Location: 46-5193
Instructors: Shimon Ullman and Tomaso Poggio (TA Alessandro Rudi)
Office Hours: TBA
Email Contact : sullman@mit.edu
Previous Class: FALL 2011


9/07/2012: Only today the class will be in room 46-5193

10/05/2012: From now on the class will be in room 46-5193

Class projects: The final assignment is a short paper, about 5 pages or so. It needs to be related to the study of intelligence, but other than that it's open. It can take one of several forms.

Course description

The problem of intelligence – its nature, how it is produced by the brain and how it could be replicated in machines – is a deep and fundamental problem that cuts across multiple scientific disciplines. Philosophers have studied intelligence for centuries, but it is only in the last several decades that developments in a broad range of science and engineering fields have opened up a thriving "intelligence research" enterprise, making questions such as these approachable: How does the mind processes sensory information to produce intelligent behavior, and how can we design intelligent computer algorithms that behave similarly? What is the structure and form of human knowledge – how is it stored, represented and organized? How do human minds arise through processes of evolution, development and learning, and what are their roots in genetics? How does collective intelligence arise in social and economic systems? How are cognitive domains including language, perception, social cognition, planning and motor control combined and integrated? Are there common principles of learning, prediction, decision or planning that span across different domains?

The second iteration of this course will explore these issues with an approach that involves the integration of the fields of cognitive science, which studies the mind, neuroscience, which studies the brain, and computer science and artificial intelligence, which develop intelligent hardware and software. Each week, different faculty members will lecture on a research topic that relates to the problem of intelligence. This year speakers will complement last year's lectures. The class will also consist of readings, discussion, and individual or group projects.


The course is open to all graduate students; undergraduates can take the course with instructor permission.


Grading will be based on participation and a final project.


Date Title Instructor(s)
Class 01 Fri 07 Sep Lines, shading, and 3D Shape Edward H. Adelson
Class 02 Fri 14 Sep Planning and action in complex domains Leslie Pack Kaelbling
Fri 21 Sep No Class
Class 03 Fri 28 Sep   Vladimir Vapnik - Lorenzo Rosasco - Tomaso Poggio
Class 04 Fri 05 Oct A Regularization Tour of Machine Learning Lorenzo Rosasco - Tomaso Poggio
Class 05 Fri 12 Oct Statistical processing in early vision Ruth Rosenholtz
Class 06 Fri 19 Oct Early stages in the development of visual intelligence Pawan Sinha
Class 07 Fri 26 Oct   James DiCarlo
Class 08 Fri 02 Nov Technologies for Analyzing How Brain Circuits Generate Intelligence Edward Boyden
Class 09 Fri 9 Nov Object recognition and attention Robert Desimone
Class 10 Fri 16 Nov   Drazen Prelec
Fri 23 Nov No Class
Class 11 Fri 30 Nov   Shimon Ullman
Class 12 Fri 7 Dec The computational magic of the ventral stream: sketch of a theory Shimon Ullman - Tomaso Poggio