Problem and Instance
Basic idea from algorithms
An instance is
Some specific description of a situation
Some description of what is wanted in that situation
A problem is a collection of related instances
A class is a collection of related problems
Instance of natural-number sorting
Given: 1 3 2 Produce: The three numbers arranged in increasing order
Natural Number Sorting Problem
Given: A sequence of natural numbers Produce: The sequence arranged in increasing order
Class of sorting problems includes natural-number sorting, floating-point number sorting, string sorting, 2D sorting, nD sorting, etc
Nearly all sorting problems have algorithms with worst-case asymptotic running time O(n log n) where n is the length of the sequence
If the previous sentence looks unfamiliar or confusing to you, you probably aren't ready for this course yet. Get out, go take a good Algorithms class (our CS 350), and then come back in a future quarter
In AI, a problem is likely to be
Fuzzily specified: want a "smart answer" that is "good enough"
Hard: No efficient algorithm is known to exist for large / hard instances
Human-tractable: Humans demonstrably do a reasonable job on real-world instances
"AI Complete" problems are those for which a good solution will require general intelligence
(Conversely, a general intelligence would handle standard algorithms problems)
Instance: A map
Solution: A good route through that map
How much detail is in the map? Like a Google map? A treasure map? A photo?
Similar: How is the map represented? A graph? An image? Something else?
What is a "good" route? Short? Low-effort? Safe?
Dijkstra's Algorithm or similar search is good for small instances of simple problems
Super-fancy AI techniques are used on some kinds of real-world problem
Abstract away "irrelevant" details
For example, take image to Google Map (fancy graph), Google Map to simple graph
Hard to tell what is irrelevant