CS886 - Spring 2013: Sequential Decision Making and Reinforcement Learning

Instructor: Pascal Poupart (office DC2514)
Email: ppoupart [at] uwaterloo [dot] ca
Website: http://www.cs.uwaterloo.ca/~ppoupart/teaching/cs886-spring13/cs886-spring13.html
Discussion forum: piazza.com/uwaterloo.ca/spring2013/cs886b
Q&A sessions: Monday & Wednesday 11:00 - 12:20 (E5-3052)
Video Conferencing: contact Mike Willson (mike [dot] willson [at] uwaterloo [dot] ca) for an account
Office hours: by appointment (only for personal matters that cannot be dealt with in the Q&A sessions or piazza).

Course Format:

This course will follow a "flipped" model.  This is a new format that is gaining in popularity.  Instead of learning the material by sitting in lectures and then digesting the material after the lectures on your own, you will learn from online material (videos and lecture slides) on your own while deepening your understanding of the material in class by participating in Q&A sessions.  There will not be any lecture!  Class time will be used to go over examples and to discuss the material with the instructor and other classmates.  We will also use a special classroom (E5-3052) equipped for "hybrid" teaching that allows in class and online students to participate.  Hence, you may take this course without ever being on campus.  There are two important benefits to the flipped model:

1) Fewer constraints: since you will be learning from online material such as videos and slides instead of live lectures, you can go through the material at your own pace, anytime, from anywhere.  You can also replay any part of the material as often as you wish.

2) Greater interactions: Class time will be used entirely for Question & Answer sessions.  Every Monday and Wednesday, from 11 am to 12:20 pm, you can come to E5-3052 or login the video conferencing server and participate live in the Q&A sessions.  The Q&A sessions will be recorded for postviewing.  We will go through examples and I will answer questions about the material.  We will also use piazza for written discussions outside of class time.  I do not intend to hold office hours except for personal matters that cannot be dealt with in the Q&A sessions or in piazza.

First videos and slides will posted on May 6.  Checkout the schedule webpage on May 6.  Videos and slides will be gradually posted on that webpage as the course progresses.

First Q&A session will be on May 13.  The classroom E5-3052 won't be available before May 13 and there is no need to hold a Q&A session until you have gone through the material of the first week, hence the Q&A sessions will start in the second week on May 13.

Video Conferencing: If you plan to participate in some of the Q&A sessions by video conferencing, you need an fast and stable internet connection, a video camera and a microphone (most laptops and tablets are already equipped with this).  You will also need an account with the video conferencing server. Send an email to Mike Willson (mike [dot] willson [at] uwaterloo [dot] ca) who will create an account for you and help you install a client on your PC/latop/tablet.