Kenneth D. Forbus

Walter P. Murphy Professor of Computer Science and Professor of Education
Northwestern University

forbus_bw (105K)

I am currently the head of the Cognitive Systems Division, which is housed in the Ford Engineering Design Center. I am also serving as the Past Chair of the Cognitive Science Society.

Research Interests

For more information, including descriptions of ongoing projects, please see our group's web page, and also the CogSketch page at the Spatial Intelligence and Learning Center.


My normal teaching schedule looks like this:

Fall: Cognitive Science 207: Introduction to Cognitive Modeling.
This is the first course in Cognitive Science. It does not require programming at all. Instead, you'll be using some off-the-shelf AI systems as a way to get experience with cognitive modeling. Ultimately, I think it useful for every cognitive scientist to have some programming experience, but not for the reason you might think. It's not about writing code per se, but about understanding how to think procedurally. One of the insights that the field of Cognitive Science is founded on is the idea that minds are a kind of computation. So computation is actually one of the languages for expressing theories, not just a means of simulation. It's hard to get certain intuitions about computation without programming, but that can come later, if you decide that you're deeply interested in the field.

Winter: I alternate between two advanced AI courses:

Both of these courses are taught studio-style, using a combination of lecture and hands-on work. I think ultimately all courses with a serious programming component will be taught this way. However, evolving a method of studio instruction that works for computer science is still very much an ongoing effort.

If you are interested in Artificial Intelligence, you really should take both of these courses. There is a lot of programming in 344, in Common Lisp, so taking EECS 325 at the same time or even before is a good idea.

Spring: I typically alternate between :

One focal area of the Cognitive Systems Division is interactive entertaiment. A course which I taught once, and may teach again, pushes on some frontiers in that area:

EECS 392-22: Artificial Intelligence for Interactive Entertainment. This was an experimental course, which covered both the kinds of AI techniques used in strategy games and the application of advanced natural language and reasoning technology to building new kinds of conversation-oriented entertainment systems. The poster for the course is here.

Teaching this year (2012-2013):

For 2009-2010, it was CogSci 207 for Fall, EECS 344-Design of Computer Problem Solvers for Winter, and EECS 395-22, Human-level Artificial Intelligence, for Spring.


If you are one of my advisees, please look here.


Contact Information

Email: forbus <the at sign> northwestern <the usual> edu
Voice: (847) 491-7699
Fax: (847) 491-5258

I strongly prefer email over either fax or telephone. Voicemail gets checked at best infrequently

Physical mail:
EECS Department
Northwestern University
Ford 3-313
(Deliveries go to Ford 3-320)
2133 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL, 60208

Last edited 1/7/13, by KDF.