​​Foundation models are a recent class of AI models that are large-scale in terms of number of parameters and are trained on broad data (generally using self-supervision at scale). These models have demonstrated exceptional capabilities in natural language processing, computer vision, and other tasks. Examples of Foundation Models are GPT-4, ChatGPT, GPT-3, Dall-E, Stable Diffusion, etc. In this course, we discuss building blocks of foundation models, including transformers, self-supervised learning, transfer learning, learning from human feedback, power of scale, large language models, in-context learning, chain-of-thought prompting, parameter-efficient fine-tuning, vision transformers, diffusion models, generative modeling, safety, ethical and societal considerations, their impact, etc. While the course primarily focuses on advances on large language models, we will also cover foundation models in computer vision, as well as multi-modal foundation models.


CPSC 370 (Artificial Intelligence). Students should feel comfortable with basic concepts in machine learning. Having taken one of CPSC 480 OR CPSC 477 is a plus, but not required.


There is no required textbook and we will be mostly reading publicly available research papers. The papers will be mostly from major conferences in the field including ACL, EMNLP, NAACL, ICLR, CVPR, NeurIPS, etc.

Optional book chapter: Bommasani, Rishi et al. “On the Opportunities and Risks of Foundation Models.” Stanford, ArXiv abs/2108.07258 (2021)

  • Lectures: Tue, Thu 9AM - 10:15AM
  • Lecture Location: WTS A30