AI Safety Prerequisites Course: Revamp and New Lessons

Pre­vi­ous post: Fun­da­men­tals of For­mal­i­sa­tion Level 7: Equiv­alence Re­la­tions and Order­ings. First post: Fun­da­men­tals of For­mal­i­sa­tion level 1: Ba­sic Logic.

Nine months ago we, RAISE, have started cre­at­ing a Math Pr­ereq­ui­sites for AI Safety on­line course. It has mostly MIRI re­search re­lated sub­jects: set the­ory, com­putabil­ity the­ory, and logic, but we want to add ma­chine learn­ing re­lated sub­jects in the fu­ture. For 4 months we’ve been adding new les­sons and an­nounc­ing them on LessWrong. Then we stopped, looked back and de­cided to im­prove their us­abil­ity. That’s what we’ve been busy with since Au­gust.

Diagram of levels in the prerequisites course

News since the last post

  1. Big up­date of 7 lev­els we had pre­vi­ously pub­lished, which you can see in the pic­ture above. The les­sons use text­books, which you will need to fol­low along. Pre­vi­ously les­sons looked like “read that sec­tion; now solve prob­lems 1.2, 1.3, 1.4c from the text­book; now solve these ad­di­tional prob­lems we came up with”. Now our les­sons still say “read that sec­tion”, but the prob­lems (and their solu­tions, in con­trast to many text­books, which don’t provide solu­tions) are in­cluded in les­sons them­selves. Ad­di­tional prob­lems are now op­tional, and we recom­mend that stu­dents skip them by de­fault and do them only if they need more prac­tice. New lev­els in Logic, Set The­ory, and Com­putabil­ity tracks will be like that as well.

  2. Level 1 was very long, con­sisted of 45 pages of read­ing, and could take 10 hours for some­one un­fa­mil­iar with logic. We sep­a­rated it into smaller parts.

  3. Two new lev­els. Level 8.1: Proof by In­duc­tion. Level 8.2: Aba­cus Com­putabil­ity.

If you study us­ing our course, please give us feed­back. Leave a com­ment here or email us at, or through the con­tact form. Do you have an idea about what pre­req­ui­sites are most im­por­tant for AI Safety re­search? Do you know an op­ti­mal way to learn them? Tell us us­ing the same meth­ods or col­lab­o­rate with us.

Can you check if a math­e­mat­i­cal proof is cor­rect? Do you know how to make proofs un­der­stand­able and easy to re­mem­ber? Would you like to help to cre­ate the pre­req­ui­sites course? If yes, con­sider vol­un­teer­ing.