CSCI 545: Introduction to Robotics
Summer 2010









Reading Materials

Academic Integrity Policy


In this course, the basics of robotic manipulators, such as kinematics, inverse kinematics, dynamics and control would be taught. Furthermore, mobile robots kinematics, control, and localization would be discussed.


Basic linear algebra and programming skills are needed to succeed in this course.  Some of the related topics would be reviewed in the class but it is expected that the students would spend further to learn as much as needed.


The textbook for the course is "Robot Modeling and Control" by Spong, Hutchinson, and Vidyasagar is used. We will follow the textbook reasonably closely but will not cover all of the chapters and, from time to time, cover topics not contained in the book.

Lectures and Sessions

The lecture slides will be made available on the class website. The lectures are meant to summarize the readings and stress the important points. Thus, it will be extremely helpful for you if you do the readings, ideally before class. If you miss a class, it is your responsibility to find out what we talked about, including the announcements we made in class.

If there is something that you don't understand, please feel free to ask questions. If you have a question the odds are that others do as well. Your active participation in class is crucial in making the course successful. Please also use your colleagues as a resource (they are working towards the same goal as you are), for example, by forming study groups or posting questions on the discussion forum. If you need additional help, please come by during our office hours and talk to us. We are there to help you. If lots of students are confused, the TAs will give help sessions with additional examples. So, please let us know if you get confused!


There will be one midterm and one final. The midterm will be in class, and the final on the last day of classes. No makeups will be given. You won't need calculators.

Projects & Homeworks

There will be four/five hws which may include coding (small projects). We will not accept late projects and you will get zero credit for them. The only exceptions are late solutions that are accompanied with a NOTE from a doctor (or a similar note that verifies the problem). WE MUST TOLD ABOUT THE ISSUE IMMEDIATELY WHEN IT ARISES (not: when you realized that it would affect your performance!).

The projects are individual projects. All solutions have to be the work of only the people listed on it. Do not copy from others or let others copy your work. In particular, you have to cite all of the resources you relied on for coming up with your answers. This includes web pages, publications, people, and so on, other than the textbook, instructor, and teaching assistants. 

All students are responsible for reading and following the Student Conduct Code. Note that the USC Student Conduct Code prohibits plagiarism. Some examples of what is not allowed by the conduct code: copying all or part of someone else's work (by hand or by looking at others' files, either secretly or if shown), and submitting it as your own; giving another student in the class a copy of your assignment solution; and consulting with another student during an exam. If you have questions about what is allowed, please discuss it with the instructor.

Students who violate university standards of academic integrity are subject to disciplinary sanctions, including failure in the course and suspension from the university. Since dishonesty in any form harms the individual, other students, and the university, policies on academic integrity will be strictly enforced. Violations of the Student Conduct Code will be filed with the Office of Student Conduct.


We will NOT grade on a curve. If everyone does well, everyone will get a good grade. However, it is our experience that there will be students who get a C or worse since they do not perform sufficiently well on the projects or exams. To receive a good grade, you will therefore need to perform well on both the exams and the projects. (A scaled score of 90% or better is in the A/A- range; and a scaled score in the 80's is in the B-/B/B+ range; etc.)

 Homework:   50%
 Midterm:      25%
 Final:           25%

If you believe that we made a grading mistake, please write a note explaining the problem and give it to us along with your assignment. We will look at the whole assignment again (not just your answer in question), re-grade it, and return it to you. Please also monitor your score on blackboard to catch possible transcription mistakes.


We cannot make any exceptions to our policies, especially since this class is a very large class with only one instructor. SO, DO NOT ASK FOR ANY EXCEPTIONS without good reasons. For example, please do not ask for extensions of the project deadlines, even if you have to present a paper at the conference. (Instead, hand in the projects early.) Please do not ask us to change the weight associated with the projects and exams, even if you performed poorly on one of them, and so on.

Problems and Concerns

At some point, you will have questions. For example, you might not be able to get code to run that we provided, there is something in the textbook that you do not understand, and so on. In this case, we encourage you to first post the question to the newsgroup and see whether someone can help you. William will try to monitor the newsgroup as well and provide help. If this approach does not generate the desired result, then we are happy to help you in person. We do answer email but, unfortunately, often will not manage to answer it on the same day. (Sometimes we will be out of town and it will take even longer.)

It is very important to us that you voice your concerns about any aspect of the class as soon as they arise. Please send us e-mail, call us, or talk to us in person. We will accept anonymous notes and treat them seriously, as long as they are sincere and constructive. Your comments will have an effect on the class, so please do not be hesitant to provide them.

There are only a few situations that you will need to avoid because we will not be able to help you. We will not be able to deviate from the grading criteria for you, we will not be able to avoid involving the Office of Student Conduct in case there is evidence that you violated the standard of academic integrity (as specified in the Student Conduct Code), and we will not be able to accept excuses unless you provided us with a note from a doctor (or similar professional) that verifies the problem and you told us about the issue IMMEDIATELY WHEN IT AROSE (not: after it has already affected your performance in class). We are sorry that we cannot make exceptions to these rules. So, please do not ask for them.

Artificial Intelligence is a fun topic, and we hope that all of us will have lots of fun.




Last Updated: June 30, 2010