AI programming or programming schools

My daughters boyfriend wants to get into AI programming, are there any schools in CA or any schools that anyone can recommend. Thanks :)

That’s… pretty specific. He’s probably best off looking for schools with a decent computer science curriculum. UC Berkley for example.

Yeah, it’s university material. For applications, MSCS is enough, for actual research, a Ph.D. The leading research universities are best, naturally, including Stanford and MIT, of course. Berkeley, as Gus mentioned, should be good, too, but your average state or liberal arts college simply will not have any appropriate courses, except maybe a lame survey course, because academic AI researchers naturally tend to collect in specific departments.

Unless of course you mean game AI programming. In that case, no study is required, apparently.

Needless to say, anyone can do any kind of programming without training, if they study enough; but it’s rare for anyone to study enough to do good work in the specialized disciplines like AI.

He can get a taste for it by doing this free Berkeley AI programming class, at I took it last fall, just for fun, and thought it was great. It was a good way to brush up my python skills:

Yeah, when I was hired at Interplay to do AI, they were looking for anyone who could program. Which is weird, but not quite as weird as promoting QA people to management and design positions regardless of actual ability in those areas, which is something that is also common in my experience.

Boston U (my alma mater) has a pretty great AI program, IIRC, but it’s definitely far more theoretical than practical, and most of the classes are concentrated in its [highly rated] graduate program that’s an absolute bitch to get into.

Really? That’s interesting. I’ve been mulling over the idea recently (while observing complaints about GW2’s combat/build system) that a lot of the problem with combat systems, especially MMOs, may be that fairly stupid mob AI is what tends to reduce everything to “damage is king” in the end (and also gradually erodes class distinctions, turning everything into hybrid soup).

Do you think actual qualifications in actual AI would be a good thing for developers to look for, or are the two fields so far removed from each other that they’re not relevant? I mean, you’d think actual AI people would be interested in creating computer entities capable of behaving somewhat realistically in interaction with players, and vice-versa, game AI programmers would be interested in what actual AI people are doing. Or is it simply that there’s not yet enough computing power on the average desktop to make programming better AI in games a cost-effective goal yet?

Well, a lot of pathing uses standard AI algorithms from the 60s with minor modifications.

Most of the behavior I see for AI players in strategy or tactical games is so primitive I imagine it’s not been informed by any kind of study of AI, but that’s just what I guess from the outside. There’s plenty of computing power, though, more than enough IMO to do a good job in most turn-based games; the shortfall seems to me to be in programming skill and in investment in good game AI by studios. So for example, SMAC tactical AI is superior to any of the recent Civs despite having being deployed years and years ago on much weaker machines. However, I’ve never worked at a studio making a strategy game, so I don’t really know what kind of skills they demand of their AI programmers. By all accounts the Civ V AI programmer was not a specialist, however.

Generally, game AI has more to do with game design than with actual intelligence. You want the game to behave as though it understands the system…but it doesn’t actually have to understand the system, as it were.

UC Irvine has a specialization in game programming. I can’t vouch for their game programming specialty, but in general the UCI Computer Science department is very solid.

Thanks for all the replies, his father does not have much money and he was looking at a school in Utah I think, like a trade school. Sad when a kid really wants to do something with his education and he might not be able to.

BTW, about 4-6 months after I took the online AI course (which was quite challenging, by the way), from Berkeley (and completed it with a certificate), they sent an email saying that they had been contacted by some large firms who were looking to hire people with skills germane to the course. If I was interested in potentially being interviewed by one of the companies, please fill out a form, etc… but only to fill it out if I was serious about it. I wasn’t serious about turning that into a job, so I didn’t fill it out. There are plenty of good resources to learn various programming languages and thing like AI online. I don’t know anything about the kid in question, but if he can master python and stuff similar to what is taught in that AI course, he’ll be on the road to doing what he wants to do. He can branch into other languages; the algorithms are all the same.