532C / 554C (cross-listed)

Human-Centred AI
Fall  2019
Cristina Conati

Class Data Course Description Coursework Sample Contents Schedule and Readings Marking Scheme Important deadlines

 Class data
Time: Th.  2pm - 5:00 pm.
Location: ICICS/CS 246
Instructor Office: ICICS/CS 107
Office Hours: By appointment
Email: conati@cs.ubc.ca
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Course description

This course explores  how to design and evaluate  AI-driven, human-centered interactive  systems capable of both performing useful tasks as well as  being well accepted by their users. A key aspect of this endeavour is enabling AI systems to predict and monitor relevant properties of their users (e.g., states, skills, needs) and personalize the interaction accordingly, in a manner that maximizes both task performance as well user satisfaction, abiding to principles  of transparency, interpretability, predictability and   user-control

Tackling these challenges requires an interdisciplinary effort that integrates research in different areas of Artificial Intelligence (e.g., machine learning, reasoning under uncertainty, natural language processing, planning, Explainable AI) with research in Human  Computer Interaction, and  Cognitive Science. During the course we will explore representative work in this field, spanning the above disciplines

(click  on each activity below for more information)


Most classes will be devoted to the discussion of a selection of research papers, which will be posted on the course reading list (to be posted) Students are required to read the papers in advance.

Summary/Questions on the readings

Discussion on the assigned readings will be the main activity in the course. To provide good ground for the discussion, participants must

  • send   at least two questions and a brief summary as specified on the course reading list 

  • part of the summary/questions for each class will be due by 12noon the morning of   Monday before class; the rest  will be due by 9pm of the Wednesday before class.  

    • Details on which material to send, and when, will be posted on the course reading list. 

    • Material sent after the deadline will be marked as zero. However

    • Each student has 2 "no paper" bonuses can avoid  sending the material for 2 papers with no penalty.

  • Clarification questions are welcome. However, there should be  at least two   questions on each paper  that do one or more of the following:

    • address weaknesses in the presented research

    • relate the research to general issues in the field

    •  make connections/comparisons with other readings

    • here are  some sample questions

  •  Each paper summary should be based on the following template and be no more than 2 pages long. As shown in the template , the summary should include 4 headers addressing  the following points, described in more details here

    • What are motivations for this work?
    • What is the proposed solution?
    • Has the proposed solution been evaluated, and if so how ?
    • What are the contributions of this work?


Beside improving  participation to the discussion, the objective of these activities  is to help participants learn how to read papers with a critical eye, as a reviewer for a conference or journal would do.

Paper presentation/discussion leading

One or more  times during the term (depending on class size), each participant will present  a  reading for  that class and will lead the discussion on it

Paper presentation involves preparing a few slides with a critical summary of each assigned paper, including

  • the same 4 points to be covered in a regular paper summary
  •  a categorization of  each paper/system following  schemas  from the intro class

This part should take at most 10'. If you have more than 10-12 slides, your presentation is likely too long. Time your presentation to make sure that it is of the right length.

Discussion leading will  include

  • collecting the questions posed by the rest of the class
  • structuring  the discussion around (a selection of) these questions
  • proposing answers
  • having questions/discussion points ready to stimulate the discussion

Presenters do  not need to send summaries/questions on their assigned papers


  • Participants will  be expected to complete a course project. The project will be decided in consultation with the instructor and will typically involve implementing a simple adaptive system.

  • Projects can be done in teams of two students

  • Each student/team  is  expected to set up individual meetings with the instructor to discuss project options. The earlier this is done, the easier it will be  to come up with a suitable proposal, but plan to schedule at least one meeting before   October 10). 

  • The project will include the following stages:

    • a project proposal (max. 3 pages in the following format) ), to be presented during the class of October 17

    • presentation on project progress for the class of. November 14  The project  should be  in an advanced state of completion  by this date.

    • Project completion and  written report (max. 20 pages using  the following format) (for the class of. November 28 )


    For a team project,  the proposal must clearly define  the contribution of  each group member. Each group member must present his/her contribution during project presentations

  • GUIDELINES for selecting a  project


Marking Scheme

(The instructor reserves the right to adjust this grading scheme during the term, if necessary)

Questions  on readings 15%
Summary  on readings 15%
Class Participation 15%
Paper presentation 10%
  • proposal (written + presentation) 20%
  • Progress report 15 %
  • final presentation 15%
  • report 50%


Summary of Deadlines

12noon Monday  Send questions/summary for selected papers for that week's class
9pm Wednesday Send questions/summary for rest of papers for that week's class
October 10 Meet with Prof. Conati sometime before this date to discuss project ideas
October 17 Presentation of project proposals during class
November 14 Presentation of progress on project during class
November 28 Final project presentation and project reports due

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