Canada Research Chair in Computational Intelligence
Tier 1 - 2001-01-01
The University of British Columbia
Natural Sciences and Engineering
Artificial intelligence; building and studying intelligent systems
Understanding nervous systems; deciphering the principles that make intelligent behaviour possible. Problem-solving-from medical diagnosis to crossword puzzles. Robotics. E-games.
Alan Mackworth gave the world the first soccer-playing robots.
Today, the UBC professor is known as the "founding father" of the International RoboCup Foundation, where epic robot soccer matches have emerged as a major testing ground for artificial intelligence. The robots Mackworth builds must learn to acquire information about the world, integrate that information into their internal models, and then act on that information to change the world.
These teams of mobile robots, operating with real-time, visually based control systems, have many practical applications for navigation, telerobotics and e-games. Research teams of students and professors who compete at the RoboCup use it as an opportunity to test their evolving theories and algorithms. The robots demonstrate and explore the nature of perception, reasoning, and manipulation as they incorporate the information they're collecting about the current state of play into the knowledge of game plays and strategies programmed into their makeup. Then the robots have to act in a way to help their team win.
Mackworth's robots and the new projects this research chair will enable him to carry out are designed to create new scientific techniques to understand cognitive systems. They also have the cross-disciplinary benefit of developing new engineering approaches and computer computation systems.
Now Mackworth intends to build a model to link neuroscience and cognitive systems, using computational intelligence. He will use an approach he pioneered-that of constraint-based systems. This principle involves supplying a hybrid intelligent system with the constraints that a solution to a problem must satisfy, instead of giving it the details of how to solve the problem. This approach has already been adopted in a variety of computer languages.
As the foremost representative in Canada in the area of artificial intelligence, Mackworth's work is based on understanding the principles that make intelligent behaviour possible. Already, his research has illuminated the areas of pattern recognition, vision systems for navigation, knowledge representation, and problem solving. Further advances will bring our space-age vision of the future even closer to the 21st Century that we live in.