November 30, 2020

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IIT-Madras, India to offer free AI courses in 2021

The Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT-M) has announced it will offer two free online courses on artificial intelligence (AI) next year. These courses will be available on the National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL) platform.

According to a media report, the courses will begin in January 2021 under Professor Deepak Khemani, from IIT-M’s Department of Computer Science and Engineering. While students will be able to take the course for free, for an e-certification, they will need to pay a fee and clear an examination, which will be conducted by the institute. The certificate will be awarded by IIT-M in collaboration with the NPTEL platform.

AI: Constraint Satisfaction and Artificial Intelligence

This course is 8 weeks long and aims to teach learners AI-centric diverse problem-solving methods. The curriculum will include constraint networks, equivalent and projection networks, search methods for solving CSPs, lookahead methods, dynamic variable and value order, model-based systems, model-based diagnosis, and truth maintenance systems, among others.

AI: Knowledge Representation and Reasoning

This course is 12 weeks long and is designed for slightly advanced learners, who already understand formal languages, programming, and logic. The course is designed to train learners to become problem-solvers. The course curriculum includes proof systems, natural deduction, tableau method, resolution method, description logic (DL), structure matching, classification, default logic, autoepistemic logic, epistemic logic, and multi-agent scenarios, among others.

IIT-M recently began an online BSc programme in data science. It has seen a rise in demand for similar courses and the AI courses are mainly aimed at people who are working professionals or are pursuing another degree elsewhere. They can attend these courses part-time online and increase their qualification level. This programme is aimed at helping people acquire new skills and become job-ready.

The instructor, Prof Khemani, is an alumnus of IIT Bombay whose research focus is knowledge and memory-based reasoning. He said that a common opinion of computers is that they can do everything. The user states the problem, and the computer solves it – that is the broad goal of AI. It is a long-term goal and has not been realised yet. However, the availability of data, increases in computing power, use of AI solutions in fields like medical diagnosis, have brought it into the limelight. “[I] feel that it is important for students and specifically computer science students to opt for AI courses”, he said.

The course has garnered interest from various age groups, the majority of them are professionals. Prof Khemani noted that among the people who have registered, the oldest learners are over 80 years old and the majority are around 30 years of age. These courses are not designed to be a primary degree but a secondary one.

India is expected to become a global leader in the development of AI, which could add up to US $957 billion to India’s economy by 2035. The country hopes to stand out in the international community as a model of responsible AI use for social empowerment. The nation has robust plans to leverage AI for inclusive development, representing the country’s ‘AI for All’ strategy.