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INFSCI 2480 / ISSP2280: Adaptive Information Systems

(Spring 2020, CRN 31245)

[ Formal Data | Syllabus | Readings | Course Materials | Course Tools ]




Information systems suffer from an inability to satisfy the heterogeneous needs of many users. For example, Web courses present the same static learning material to students with widely differing knowledge of the subject. Most online stores still offer the same selection of "featured items" to customers with different needs and preferences. Virtual museums on the web offer the same "guided tour'' to visitors with very different goals and interests. Health information sites present the same information to readers with different health problems. A remedy for the negative effects of the traditional "one-size-fits-all'' approach is to develop systems with an ability to adapt their behavior to the goals, tasks, interests, and other features of individual users and groups of users. While Adaptive Information systems is a relatively young area, it evolves very fast. More and more commercial Adaptive Information systems become available each year. Starting with a handful or research teams worldwide and a few industrial pioneers such as Amazon.com, adaptation and personalization is now in focus of hundreds of researchers and practitioners.


The goal of the course is to get immersed into the world of the Adaptive Information Systems (AIS). The students in this class will learn about many aspects of AIS, get familiar with key Adaptive Web technologies, and study many examples of modern AIS. They apply their knowledge in real world context by analysing existing AIS and developing their own AIS, which use modern adaptation and personalization technologies. Those who will successfully complete the seminar will join a growing cohort of experts on adaptivity and personalization.

The Web personalization industry is on the rise. Universities, research labs, and companies will need hundreds of experts who understand adaptive systems and personalization to lead various exciting projects. Leading internet companies such as Google, Yahoo, IBM, Microsoft, Ebay, LlinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and others are now already engaged in research and development of various adaptive Web systems and aggresively hire knowlegeable workers.This is your chance to be among the leaders of the new and exciting field.


The course will cover three core types of information access - search, navigation, and recommendation and associated types of information access systems - hypermedia, information retrieval, recommender systems. For each type of information access systems it will cover three princial types of undetlying access engines - metadata, keyword, and social. The following diagram presents the "big picture" of the course.



The course will include two assignments and two group projects - one focused on analysis and one focused on development. While the develoment-focused group project will require considerable programming skills, it is not expected that each student who is taking this course has strong programming skills. Development of AIS requires a range of different skills such as domain analysis, algoritm design, modeling, etc. Each project team will required a range of expertise beyond programming. Students with knowledge of mathematics, statistics, education, psychology, artificial intelligence, etc. are encouraged to take the course regardless of their programming skills.

Course Work and Grading

Components of the Final Grade

Course assessment includes attendance, weekly coursework and projects. Each assignment and project bears certain number of points. The instructor also reserves the right to administer unannounced quizzes for up to 5 points each if he feels that the students are not pursuing a resonable amount of assigned reading. Your final grade depends on the percentage of points you have earned. Score < 50% corresponds to F, 50-62.5 is D range, 65.5-75 is C range, 75-87.5 is B range, and 87.5-100 is A range.

Assignments and Projects

After a brief introduction into the field provided by the instructor we will switch to a regular work mode. Every week will focus on one or two topics. Each topic will be presented in the lecture followed by relevant student presentations and a discussion. The instructor, possible guest speakers, and doctoral students taking the course will alternate in giving a lecture and leading discussions for each of these topics. To complement the "reading part", the students will perform a range of weekly activities. The practical part of the course include one research paper reading projects, one presentation project and the final project, which should be peformed in groups or, as an exception, individually. You will also need to attend two research talk focused on the topic of the course.

Course Policies

Academic Integrity

You are expected to be fully aware of your responsibility to maintain a high quality of integrity in all of your work. All work must be your own, unless collaboration is specifically and explicitly permitted as in the course group project. Any unauthorized collaboration or copying will at minimum result in no credit for the affected assignment and may be subject to further action under the University Guidelines for Academic Integrity. You are expected to have read and understood these Guidelines. A document discussing these guidelines was included in your orientation materials.

Special Considerations

If you have a disability that requires special testing accommodations or other classroom modifications, please, notify both the instructor and Disability Resources and Services by the second week of the term. You may be asked to provide documentation of your disability to determine the appropriateness of accommodations. To notify Disability Resources and Services, call 64807890 (voice or TDD) to schedule and appointment. The office is located in the William Pitt Union, Room 216,

Copyright © 2020 Peter Brusilovsky