I am deeply engrossed at present in a new book, published at the beginning of this year, called ‘Intelligent Systems – Principles, Paradigms and Pragmatics’ by Robert Schalkoff, and published by Jones & Bartlett. Rather strangely, I note the copyright year is 2011, so I guess it fell through some kind of wormhole from the future. I don’t think I have enjoyed reading an IT book as much in the last 20 years.
The book is a modern introduction to the whole field of ‘intelligent systems’ (IS) which is broadly what we used to call AI before the term fell out of favour. It is very much an introduction “suitable for a first course in IS…anywhere from the junior level undergraduate to first year graduate level”. It is 700+ pages of excellence.I’m glad to say that I’m fairly familiar with the ground covered in the first few chapters, despite the absence of a degree in Computer Science. What I really like about it, though, is that it covers a wide range of subjects, is grounded in practical use of freely available tools (Protege, CLIPS, Soar, etc.,) and is written by someone who clearly understands what it is like to be unfamiliar with the subject and the kind of questions that beginners ask. It doesn’t drown you with algebra, but uses enough to illustrate the points being made. It concentrates almost more on worked examples of CSPs, rule sets, blackboards, decision trees, fuzzy logic and all kinds of other stuff than it does on maths. An hey, Microsoft’s BRE even gets a mention in dispatches on page 171 🙂 I’m happy! I have some way to travel yet before I get to the chapters on neural networks, learning systems, genetic algorithms and the like, but I will enjoy the road.
I strongly recommend this book for anyone who is looking for a comprehensive and highly readable introductory overview of IS.