Dr Joanna Bryson

Dr. Bryson supervises two sorts of projects: AI projects, primarily those to do with making the design of AI systems easier, and NI projects, primarily those modelling the evolution of social and cognitive behaviour. NI projects normally include a systems AI component, since the tools we use for modelling natural intelligence are all AI. Improving the AI or tools is one way to make the computer science component of the project clear. Being your own user is also the best way to make sure your tools are actually useful.

Similarly, for the AI projects, even if improving a tool is their main thrust, you should still have a science or game development project to conduct as well, since developers don't tend to really improve tools they aren't actively using. See the AmonI software page for details of some of our existing projects, and related papers on the designing intelligent systems page.

Dr. Bryson meets with all her students once a week in a group meeting, so her students can also experience peer supervising and supervision. There will of course also be a few longer individual meetings at critical periods in both terms. She is not on campus until late August, but can be contacted by email to negotiate projects. She sometimes accepts novel project proposals from strong students, and is happy to negotiate about and adjust her own proposals to the interests and capabilities of a particular student. However, please note that not every project below can be adjusted to suit every student's capabilities.

Previous projects and students.

Examples of possible AI projects for this year:

Building Debugging into an AI IDE

As a result of a grant on something completely different, an interactive development environment used within my group will be ported to eclipse by the end of September (current / old version is here). What we'd really like to do though is to make that tool into a profiler / debugger. Requires strong java skills and an interest in real-time AI systems such as robots and/or game characters (see e.g. the next two projects).

A Behaviour Library for LEGO Robots

The department has recently acquired a set of LEGO robots to be used by final-year students (mostly in the Spring). We would like to make them compatible with Behavior-Oriented Design (BOD). Ultimately, we'd like to have this work also with ABODE too (see above) so there may be a chance to collaborate with another project student; however both projects would need to be clearly & independently defined so that if one student falls behind the other is unaffected.

The Behavior-Oriented Design of an Artificial Football Team

Behavior-Oriented Design (BOD) is a way of making artificial intelligence based on combining object oriented design and POSH reactive plans. The goal of this project is to write a critical analysis of BOD, improve on the IDE for POSH, and to create a good team for the Robocup Football Simulator League (that's VR, not robots.) This project will be in Java, we have already connected a Java version of POSH plans to the robocup simulator. Note: this project requires a very competent programmer. Interest in sport is not particularly useful & could even get in the way!

Visualization and Maintenance of an Emotional Virtual Agent

Previous PhD student Emmanuel Tanguy built the Emotionally Expressive Facial Animation System (EE-FAS). The basic system is very modular, having been built on top of psyclone. However, understanding the architecture is not trivial for new users. This project would involve making it easier to see what EE-FAS is doing, and possibly to maniuplate the system. One way to do this might be to make a general GUI tool for enhancing the usability of psyclone. Another would be to focus on the emotion model of EE-FAS, showing their levels and interactions, allowing the interactions to be adjusted, or even for new basic emotions to be added. A truly exceptional project might do all these things.

The Behavior-Oriented Design of Online World Avatars.

Behavior-Oriented Design (BOD) is an iterative methodology for building artificial intelligence. It is based on both object oriented design, dynamic AI plans and somewhat like extreme programming. Previously it has been applied to robots, scientific simulations an unreal-tournament characters. We would like to extend this to either on-line games or VR social spaces, such as Second Life. The first part of the project would be evaluating games or realities for their accessibility & appropriateness to AI techniques like BOD.

Examples of possible NI projects this year include:

Modelling matriarchical dominance structures non-human contexts

Modelling the social structure of lemurs or spotted hyenas. This would be interesting in itself, but particularly interesting if we could understand why these species have evolved to have female dominant social structures. This project requires spatial agent-based modelling, and developing a good understanding of some concepts from contemporary biology, particularly inclusive fitness.

Modelling fission / fusion social behaviour and its impact on information dissemination

Modelling the fission/fusion society and inter-troop relations of chimpanzees, spider monkeys or Mongolian Asses. There are two existing models that could be extended for this project, or a new one could be written. This also requires reading some biology, but would probably not require the level of theoretical sophistication of the female dominance project.

Modelling the impact of in-group & out-group assessments on regional economics

This project extends from a recent grant run in our group on Understanding Cultural Variation in Anti-Social Punishment. It would however require a new model, probably a spatial agent-based model, but a strong independent student could possibly look at this with game theory.

Deriving Individual Semantics from Small Text Corpra

This project extends from an undergraduate dissertation by Avri Bilovich on using simple vector-based automatic text analysis to track the change of meaning in texts over time. We would now like to see if we can track individual differences in word use and even shifts in semantics looking at corpra in the public domain, such as Enron's email corpus, government records or social media. See Detecting the Evolution of Semantics and Individual Beliefs Through Statistical Analysis of Language Use. Bilovich's software is written in common lisp, it could be reused or a new version could be written.