If you are looking for an answer to the question What is Artificial Intelligence? and you only have a minute, then here's the definition the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence offers on its home page: "the scientific understanding of the mechanisms underlying thought and intelligent behavior and their embodiment in machines."
However, if you are fortunate enough to have more than a minute, then please get ready to embark upon an exciting journey exploring AI (but beware, it could last a lifetime) …
Nilsson, N. J.
"Problem-solving methods using some sort of heurstically guided search process have been the subject of much research in Artificial Intelligence. This paper groups these problem-solving methods under three major headings: the State-Space Approach, the Problem-Reduction Approach and the Formal-Logic Approach." New York: McGraw-Hill.
"Although the problem of determining the minimum cost path through a graph arises naturally in a number of interesting applications, there has been no underlying theory to guide the development of efficient search procedures. Moreover, there is no adequate conceptual framework within which the various ad hoc search strategies proposed to date can be compared. This paper describes how heuristic information from the problem domain can be incorporated into a formal mathematical theory of graph searching and demonstrates an optimality property of a class of search strategies."See also: Correction IEEE Transactions on Systems Science and Cybernetics, SSC-4 (2), 100-107.