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Artificial Intelligence Challenge


Warning: expectation management (Read this carefully!)

  • This is an extra-curricular course. The course load is not really 2EC, this is only to make it appear on your diploma.

  • We advice to only join if you view this project as a 'hobby': you would enjoy coding for a few hours a week with a group on some real AI challenge you genuinely find interesting, and you have the time next to your regular courses to do so.

  • The course is strongly student managed: you will need to solve the challenges you encounter yourself (i.e., debugging, Googling around for solutions, searching for relevant new methods). Teachers are of course available for advice (on monthly update meetings and if necessary throughout), but there will be no lectures or structure as in a normal course.

  • The responsibility to bring the project forward lies with you. This idea is inspired by the 'student teams' that are often present at technical universities.

  • **Only apply if you read and understood the above. You should consider it fun to, for example, develop a new AI system for some type of cancer diagnosis with a team of students, and bite into this problem for a year. **


Artificial intelligence is increasingly making an impact in the real world. However, a study programme is necessarily quite theoretical, especially in the first years. Students therefore sometimes indicate that they would like to see AI in practice, and work on a real challenge. If you are a student in the CS or DSAI bachelor programmes at Leiden University, and you recognize the above, then join the Artificial Intelligence (AI) challenge!

In this full-year, extra-curricular course, you work on a real-world challenge in groups of 4-6 students. During the year, you develop AI software on a particular problem. The real challenge will be decided together, but could include a medical (e.g., cancer therarpy), biochemistry (drug design), or math (e.g., solving mathematical olympiad questions with AI) challenge.

Eligible students: All bachelor students from the LIACS CS and DSAI bachelor programmes, who passed the first year courses Introduction to Programming and Algorithmics, and have at most two remaining failed first year courses.

Number of teams: 4-6
Team size: 4-6
Credits: 2 ECTS (extra-curricular) with a pass/fail grade.

Course Objectives

  • Artificial Intelligence: Choose/develop and implement relevant AI algorithmson some real-world challenge.

  • Software: Manage a shared larger codebase, where you integrate AI algorithms, low-level robot instructions, etc.

  • Teamwork: Work together in a group of 4-6 students in a long-range project.


The course runs over the full academic year.

  • September: Registration

  • October-May: Challenge

  • May: Finals event

The Robotics Lab is available throughout the entire year to work on the project with your team.

Mode of Instruction

The challenge will feature monthly events to keep in touch and learn from eachother.

Afterwards, there is a strong emphasis on self-managed student groups. Teachers are available for advice, but in principle you should self-manage your team, debug your own code, find new solutions yourself, etc. (The approach is similar to the 'student teams' that are often present at technical universities.)

Assessment method

The course has a PASS/FAIL grade. To pass you need to:

  • Participate in the final event.

  • Have put measurable effort into the project as a group, in the form of a codebase and results.

  • Have put measurable effort as an individual into the final product of your group.

Reading List

Not applicable


You can join the challenge if you meet the following criteria:

  • You are a student in a LIACS bachelor programme (either the CS or DSAI programme).

  • You have at most two remaining failed first year courses.

  • You have passed the first year courses Introduction to Programming and Algorithmics.

Finding team members

  • You need to sign up as a group of 4-6 students.

  • To find additional team members, you can find information on the course website (link below).

  • Registration will open during September.


  • There is place for 6 student teams in total.

  • When there are to many applications, selections will be made based on your motivation letter.

  • Decisions are communicated in the first week of October.


See the website of the challenge Note: last years challenge focused on robotics, and the current website still reflects this. However, this year's challenge will focus on a pure AI coding challenge.