Bryn Mawr College
CS380: Special Topics: Developmental Robotics
Professor: Douglas Blank, 246B Park Hall, 526-6501
My Homepage: http://dangermouse.brynmawr.edu
Course Homepage: http://dangermouse.brynmawr.edu/cs380
Course notes: wiki.cs.brynmawr.edu/?CS380 - Wiki notes
Course management system: http://edventure.brynmawr.edu/ - send email to firstname.lastname@example.org with subject 'password' to reset your password.
Lecture Hours: Tuesdays & Thursdays, 10:00 - 11:30PM
Lab Hours: TBA
Room: Park 230
- Emergent Intelligence Laboratory, Room 230 Park Science
Building. You will be given keys to this room.
- Computer Science Computer Laboratory, Room 232 Park Science
Building. This is a PC lab with Linux installed which is
available for use when classes are not meeting in that room. All
of the software will be available here as well as the EI Lab.
This course will focus on the special topic of developmental robotics,
a newly emerging paradigm of research. The goal of this research is
to create intelligent robots by allowing them to go through a
developmental process, rather than being directly programmed by human
engineers. By endowing a robot with an appropriate initial control
architecture and adaptive mechanisms, it learns through continual
interactions with the world, developing self-organized mental
structures. We will be studying the following sorts of questions.
What should be innate in the robot? What adaptive mechanisms are
needed? What motivates the robot to act? Would such a system need
The course is made-up of two components: seminar discussions and
laboratory work. Each class meeting, we will spend the first half
having a discussion about the assigned readings and the second half
experimenting with various robot control methods.
- Elman, Bates, Johnson, Karmiloff-Smith, Parisi, and Plunkett
(1996). Rethinking innateness: A connectionist perspective on
development, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.
- Articles provided online or in reading packets.
Class Participation & Reaction Notes: 20%
Your reactions to each week's readings will be due by
8:00am on the morning of class. You will be posting your
reactions to the online courseware package Edventure. Your
username on this system will be the same as the username on your
College email account. To get your password to the system, send an
email from your College account to
email@example.com with a subject of
password. Once you post your reaction, you will be able to
read other students' reactions for that week. You should read them
before class time and be ready to respond to at least one question or
comment raised by someone else. Your reactions should not be
summaries of the papers, instead they should be the product the
reading process (e.g., questions that were raised, points that were
not clear, connections to previous material you've read, etc). You
are expected to be an active participant in class discussions and
should come prepared for class every week.
The labs will introduce you to a variety of robot control methods. We
will be using a system called Pyro, which stands
for Python Robotics. Pyro allows you to experiment with various
robots and robot simulators while only having to learn one interface.
You will write the control programs in the
Python programming language.
For a good introduction to Python, try How to think
like a computer scientist: Learning with Python.
Midterm Project: 20%
There will be a mid-semester paper assigned the week of February 17th
and due the week of March 3rd. The goal of
this midterm project is to give you a preview, on a smaller scale, of
what will be expected on the final project.
Final Project: 40%
You will be asked to design a project related to developmental
robotics. During the first half of the semester you should be thinking
about possible project topics. These projects may be carried out
alone or as groups of two or three students. A project proposal is
due in class the week of March 24th. Each
student or team will be asked to present their project to the class at
the end of the semester, either during the week of April 14th or the
week of April 21st. Each student or team will also turn in a research
paper describing the project and the results, including a bibliography
of related work. The final project paper is due on
Friday, May 16 by noon.
||Rethinking Innateness Ch. 1
||Drop/add ends Friday 1/31
||Rethinking Innateness Ch. 2
||Rethinking Innateness Ch. 3
||PyroModuleNeuralNetworks Due: Fri Feb 14, 5pm
||No class on Thursday
||Midterm project assigned
||PyroModuleSelfOrganizingMap Due: Mon Feb 24, 5pm
||Rethinking Innateness Ch. 6-7
||Continue midterm project
||Week 6 papers
||Finish midterm project
||"Bringing Up Robot"
||PyroModuleComputerVision Due: Mon Feb 24, 5pm
||Final project proposal due|
Last day to withdraw Friday 3/28
||PyroModuleComputerVision Due: Mon Feb 24, 5pm
||Continue Lab #7
||Continue Lab #8
||*** No final exam ***
||PROJECT DUE noon, Friday 5/16
- Fodor, J.A. (1997). Review of the book Rethinking innateness: A
connectionist perspective on development. Times Literary Supplement,
May 16, 1997.
- D. Blank, D. Kumar, and L. Meeden (2002). Bringing up robot:
Fundamental mechanisms for creating a self-motivated, self-organizing
architecture. Presented at the conference on Simulation and Adaptive
Behavior. Available online via PostScript, and PDF
- Y. Munakata, J. McClelland, M. Johnson, and R. Siegler
(1997). Rethinking infant knowledge: Toward an adaptive process
account of successes and failures in object permanence
tasks. Psychological Review, Volume 104, Number 4. Available
- K. Plunkett, C. Sinha, M. Moller, and O. Strandsby (1992). Symbol
grounding or emergence of symbols? Vocabulary growth in children and a
connectionist net. Connection Science, Volume 4, Numbers 3 and
- D. Mareschal, K. Plunkett, and P. Harris (1995). Developing
object permanence: A connectionist model. In Proceedings of the
Seventeenth Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society,
edited by J.D Moore and J.F. Lehman, pages 170-175. Available online
- J. Weng, J. McClelland, A. Pentland, O. Sporns, I. Stockman,
M. Sur, and E. Thelen (2001). Autonomous Mental Development by Robots
and Animals. Science, Volume 291, Number 5504. Available
- P. Cohen, T. Oates, N. Adams, and C. Beal (2001). Robot Baby
2001. Invited talk at the Twelfth International Conference on
Algorithmic Learning Theory. Available online
- T. Oates (2002). An Unsupervised Algorithm for Finding Recurring
Patterns in Time Series. Submitted to The Nineteenth International
Conference on Machine Learning (ICML-2002). Available online
- C. Mautner and R. K. Belew (1999). Evolving robot morphology and
control. In K. Aihara, editor, Proceedings of the Artificial Life and
Robotics Conference (AROB99). Available online
- F. Dellaert and R. D. Beer (1994). Toward an Evolvable Model of
Development for Autonomous Agent Synthesis, Artificial Life IV.
- J. Kodjabachian and J. Meyer (1995). Evolution and development of
control architectures in animats. Robotics and Autonomous Systems,
Volume 16, Numbers 2-4. Available online
- Angelo Cangelosi, Stefano Nolfi, and Domenico Parisi (In press).
On Growth, Form and Computers. In press Kumar, S and Bentley, P.J
(eds). Available online
- Frederic Gruau, Kameel Quatramaran (1996). Cellular Encoding for
Interactive Evolutionary Robotics. Available online
- M. Schmill and P. Cohen (2001). A Motivational System That Drives
the Development of Activity. University of Massachusetts Computer
Science Department Technical Report 01-12. Available
- Jean-Yves Donnart and Jean-Arcady Meyer (1996). Learning Reactive
and Planning Rules in a Motivationally Autonomous Animat. IEEE
Transactions on Systems, Man and Cybernetics - Part B:
Cybernetics, Volume 26, Number 3. Available online
- Jeffery Elman (1993). Learning and development in neural networks:
The importance of starting small. Cognition, v. 48. Available
- Stefano Nolfi and Jun Tani. Extracting
Regularities in Space and Time Through a Cascade of Predicting
Networks: the case of a mobile robot navigating in a structured
environment. online: ps, pdf.
- Generalization and scaling in reinforcement learning (1990). David
Ackley and Michael Littman. ps, pdf
- Blank, D.S., Meeden, L.A., and Marshall, J. (1992). Exploring the
Symbolic/Subsymbolic Continuum: A case study of RAAM. In The Symbolic
and Connectionist Paradigms: Closing the Gap. ps, pdf.
- Meeden, L.A., McGraw, G.E., and Blank, D.S. (1993). Emergent
Control and Planning in an Autonomous Vehicle. In Proceedings of the
15th Annual Cognitive Science Society Conference. ps, pdf.