Your assignment is to write a 2000 word or longer essay sketching what would be involved: how would you design it, what features would it have to have, what kinds of issues would arise, what kinds of problems would be easy, what kinds of problems would be hard, how it could be evaluated, and so on.
The design is largely up to you. In particular, it is your decision whether:
Limited version: If you want, you may restrict the category of people in some way. E.g. two politicians, or two athletes, or two authors. If you plan to do this, please check with me well in advance. Obviously, I will expect a more detailed analysis for this category than for the general problem.
In preparing this assignment, you should look at a number of examples of pairs of individuals, and consider what would be needed to answer the questions for them. For example:
George Washington -- Martha Washington: Yes. George Washington -- Abraham Lincoln: No George Washington -- John Adams: Yes George Washington -- Edward Braddock: Yes George Washington -- Gilbert Stuart: Yes George Washington -- Wolfgang A. Mozart: Probably not (actually, certainly not, but I don't think that can be determined from the Wikipedia articles) George Washington -- Benjamin Franklin: Yes, though from the Wikipedia articles it would hard to say more than that it is very probable. Giuseppe Verdi -- Richard Wagner: No Ludwig van Beethoven -- Wolfgang A. Mozart: Yes Emperor Komei [of Japan] -- Commodore Matthew Perry: No. Emily Dickinson -- Laura Ingalls Wilder: Almost certainly not. Oscar Wilde -- Walt Whitman: Yes. John Updike -- Saul Bellow: Almost certainly. John Updike -- Francis Crick: Probably not. Francis Crick -- John Steinbeck: Yes (at the 1962 Nobel prize ceremony) John Havlicek -- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Yes Rod Laver -- Ken Rosewall: Yes Rod Laver -- Roger Federer: Almost certainly. Arthur Ashe -- Roger Federer: Almost certainly not.
Note: Some of these are extremely easy; for example, the article on Oscar Wilde says, ``Wilde also met Walt Whitman ...'' George Washington died before Abraham Lincoln was born, so that can easily be answered "No". (If queries are picked at random from the space of all people, then a very large fraction of queries can be answered "No" just on that basis.) Others would require an very sophisticated (by the standards of AI programs) understanding of social realities. For instance, inferring from the Wikipedia articles that John Updike probably met Saul Bellow requires knowing in the twentieth century, any two leading figures in the same line of work (novelist) from the same country have probably met. Your paper should certainly describe how the proposed program could solve easy cases. You should discuss some more difficult cases, but which difficult cases you want to deal with is up to you.
Your paper can analyze any or all of the above examples, or you can find your own examples, but you should certainly analyze some number of specific examples.
Your system may, and should, use techniques and algorithms that we have discussed in class. However, you should not spell out the details of these, unless you want to propose an original technique/algorithm which for some reason is particularly suited to this particular problem. Similarly, if your system requires solving an AI problem that is known and not wholly solved, then you should mention the problem, but you should not go into detail about how it is solved unless you have something new to say about it in this context. For instance, doing this well will obviously require anaphoric resolution (e.g. the article on Verdi says of Verdi and Wagner "They never met".) You should mention this, but you should not regurgitate the standard techniques for anaphoric resolution, unless you think that there is something distinctive about doing anaphoric resolution for this application, or for Wikipedia pages.
However, it is very important that you should give specific examples of rules that you would use in a knowledge-based system or of attributes in a learning system, and demonstrate how they would apply to specific examples.
A discussion of the issue of evaluation (how you would measure the correctness of the program) is welcome but not required.
If you want you can email me a first draft of your paper, not later than November 27, and I will send back suggestions for improvements. However, I must receive the final version by the due date.