Artificial Intelligence Systems Developed by High School Students

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Artificial intelligence (AI) systems that can analyze and support decision-making processes in areas ranging from eye ailments and contagious diseases to Red Sea fish and air force missions have been created by Israeli high school students taking part in an experimental curriculum designed at the Institute and supported by the Israeli Ministry of Education.

Developed by Prof. Ehud Shapiro of the Department of Applied Mathematics and Computer Science in collaboration with Dr. Zahava Scherz, Bruria Haberman and Noa Ragunis of the Department of Science Teaching, the curriculum has already been adopted by a vocational school in each of four Israeli cities: Ashdod, Rishon Lezion, Ramle and Naharia.

Students participating in the program begin with tenth-grade courses in logic programming and the computer language Prolog. In an eleventh-grade introductory course in artificial intelligence they develop techniques for programming in Prolog, problem solving and knowledge representation. By the twelfth grade each youngster designs an AI "expert system" capable of drawing and justifying conclusions on the basis of knowledge and rules of behavior gleaned from interviews with experts and from a survey of professional literature.

One such system is designed to aid in the selection of weaponry, aircraft, fuels, pilots, deployment and strategy for various air force missions, while calculating the expenses for each option. A second one is able to diagnose diseases such as measles and chicken pox, as well as analyze the likely means of contagion. Yet other expert systems deal with the tracing of human skeletal remains to different historical ages, the requirements for and rights accruing from Israeli citizenship, and optimal planning of trips. About 75 different systems have been designed and implemented so far by individual students at the various schools.