An educational software tool to teach hyper-heuristics to engineering students based on the bubble breaker puzzle

Authors

  • S. Salcedo-Sanz,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Signal Processing, Communications, Universidad de Alcalá. Escuela Politécnica Superior, Alcalá de Henares, Madrid, Spain
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  • S. Jiménez-Fernández,

    1. Department of Signal Processing, Communications, Universidad de Alcalá. Escuela Politécnica Superior, Alcalá de Henares, Madrid, Spain
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  • J. M. Matías-Román,

    1. Department of Signal Processing, Communications, Universidad de Alcalá. Escuela Politécnica Superior, Alcalá de Henares, Madrid, Spain
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  • J. A. Portilla-Figueras

    1. Department of Signal Processing, Communications, Universidad de Alcalá. Escuela Politécnica Superior, Alcalá de Henares, Madrid, Spain
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ABSTRACT

This paper presents an educational software tool to teach Artificial Intelligence (AI) techniques, specifically Hyper-heuristics, to Engineering students. This tool is based on the “Bubble Breaker” puzzle, an addictive game consisting in an M × M matrix of colored bubbles. These balls, when forming sets of two or more same colored balls, can be popped and cleared out. Thus, this puzzle can be solved by setting many different low-level heuristics and applying a global search procedure (i.e., evolutionary algorithm) that conforms a robust hyper-heuristic technique. The hyper-heuristic decides what low-level heuristics are the best, and the sequential way in which they have to be applied to gain the highest score. This approach has proven an interesting method to teach AI techniques, since simple heuristics, evolutionary algorithms, and its combination are studied in an increasing manner. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Comput Appl Eng Educ 23:277–285, 2015; View this article online at wileyonlinelibrary.com/journal/cae; DOI 10.1002/cae.21597

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