George Mason University
School of Engineering
Department of Computer Science


CS 499 Knowledge Engineering


Meeting time: Thursday 4:30 pm - 7:10 pm
Meeting location: Innovation Hall 327


Instructor: Dr. Gheorghe Tecuci, Professor of Computer Science

Office hours: Monday and Thursday 7:20 pm - 8:10 pm
Office: Nguyen Engineering Building, Learning Agents Center, Room 4613
Phone: 703 993 1722
E-mail: tecuci at gmu dot edu


Course Description


Prerequisite: C or better in CS 310 and CS 330


This course presents the theory and practice of knowledge engineering, the discipline concerned with the design, development, and maintenance of intelligent agents that use knowledge and reasoning to perform problem solving and decision making tasks. It covers the basic concepts, principles, methods, and tools for the main stages in the development of a knowledge-based agent: understanding the application domain, modeling problem solving in that domain, developing the ontology, learning the reasoning rules, and testing the agent. The classes will consist of three parts: theory, tools, and project. In the theoretical part, the instructor will discuss various methods for developing knowledge-based agents. In the second part the students will experience the use of advanced agent development tools. In the project part the students will design and develop cognitive assistants for evidence-based reasoning in domains of their choice (e.g., cybersecurity, science education, medicine, intelligence analysis, forensics, etc.). Such a cognitive assistant can learn complex problem-solving expertise directly from human experts, can support experts and nonexperts in problem solving and decision making, and can teach their problem-solving expertise to students.


Students will have accounts on Blackboard and can download the lecture notes by going to and logging in using their Mason IDs and passwords.


The Disciple agent development environment used in this course is available only for Windows. If you have a Macintosh computer and want to install the software on it, you will have to use either a virtual machine or BootCamp to install Windows on your Macintosh computer. VMWare Fusion and Windows are available at no charge through your enrollment in Volgenau School courses. Instructions for obtaining the software are in the Microsoft DreamSpark & VMWare FAQs on



- A knowledge of evidence-based reasoning and knowledge-based reasoning.

- A knowledge of modeling expert problem solving.

- A knowledge of designing and developing ontologies.

- A knowledge of developing reasoning rules through agent teaching and learning.

- An ability to design and develop knowledge-based agents.


Course Topics

- Artificial Intelligence, Knowledge Engineering, and Intelligent Agents

- Evidence-Based Reasoning

- Methodologies and Tools for Agent Design and Development

- Modeling the Problem Solving Process

- Ontology Design and Development

- Reasoning with Ontologies and Rules

- Learning for Knowledge-Based Agents

- Rule Learning

- Rule Refinement

- Abstraction of Reasoning

- Design Principles for Cognitive Assistants


Grading Policy

- Project Assignments and Class participation: 15%

- Final Project: 25%

- Mid-term Exam: 30%

- Final Exam: 30%



- Tecuci G., Marcu D., Boicu M., and Schum D.A. (2016), Knowledge Engineering: Building Cognitive Assistants for Evidence-based Reasoning, Cambridge University Press.

- Tecuci G., Lecture Notes on Knowledge Engineering, Fall 2016 (provided by the instructor).

- Additional papers required or recommended by the instructor.


Email Communication

- Please use your Mason email and include CS499 in the subject of any message you are emailing to Dr. Tecuci.

- Please try to limit the size of the files you are emailing.


Mason Email Accounts

Students must activate their Mason email accounts to receive important University information, including messages related to this class.


Office of Disability Services

If you are a student with a disability and you need academic accommodations, please see me and contact the Office of Disability Services (ODS) at 993-2474. All academic accommodations must be arranged through the ODS.


Other Useful Campus Resources

- Writing Center: A114 Robinson Hall; (703) 993-1200;

- University Libraries: Ask a Librarian

- Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS): (703) 993-2380;


University Policies

The University Catalog,, is the central resource for university policies affecting student, faculty, and staff conduct in university affairs. You may also review the University Policy web site,


Honor Code

You are expected to abide by the Mason honor code. Information on the university honor code can be found at

Additional departmental CS information: