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Artificial Intelligence


Contact Person: Peter van Beek,

Group Members:   Shai Ben-David, Robin Cohen, Chrysanne DiMarco, Jesse Hoey, Kate Larson, Edith Law, Daniel Lizotte, Richard Mann, Alejandro López-Ortiz, Pascal Poupart, Peter van Beek


The Artificial Intelligence Group conducts research in many areas of artificial intelligence. The group has active interests in models of intelligent interaction, multi-agent systems, natural language understanding, constraint programming, computational vision, decision-theoretic planning and learning, and machine learning.

  • Intelligent User Interfaces. Integrating natural language processing models and user models for the purpose of producing more effective human-computer interaction. This includes designing interfaces that allow for mixed-initiative interaction. Application areas include interface agents, electronic commerce, and recommender systems.
  • Multi-Agent Systems. Studying how computational limitations influence strategic behavior in multi-agent systems, as well as developing approaches to overcome computational issues that arise in practical applications of mechanism design and game theory. Designing systems of collaborative problem solving agents, with an emphasis on issues of communication and coordination for applications of multi-agent systems to the design of effective electronic marketplaces and adjustable autonomy systems. Modeling trust, reputation and incentives in multi-agent systems, including the use of social networks.
  • Natural Language Processing: the exploration of statistical and linguistic techniques to automate the analysis of natural text, the synthesis of clusters of documents, the retrieval of information from unstructured documents and the developments of methods and software tools for computational rhetoric. Application domains include personalized mobile health and web analysis.
  • Constraint Programming. Investigating methodologies for solving difficult combinatorial problems by emphasizing modeling and the application of general purpose search algorithms that use constraint propagation. Current projects include instruction scheduling, constraint propagators for global constraints, and applying machine learning techniques to devise heuristics.
  • Computational Vision. Developing computational theories of perception, based on Bayesian inference, preference rules, and qualitative probabilities, and applying such methods to problems in object recognition, motion estimation, and learning. Other work includes computational perception of scene dynamics, with applications in event recognition, human computer interaction, and robotics, the analysis and categorization of image motion, particularly in densely cluttered scenes, and the recognition of human behaviours in natural environments with application to assistive technology.
  • Decision-theoretic Planning and Learning. Design of algorithms to optimize a sequence of actions in an uncertain environment. The emphasis is on probabilistic and decision-theoretic techniques such as (fully and partially observable) Markov decision processes as well as reinforcement learning. Applications include assistive technology for persons with physical and cognitive disabilities and spoken-dialog systems.
  • Machine learning. Machine learning is a fast growing topic of both academic research and commercial applications. It addresses the issue of how can computers “learn”, that is, how can processes drawing useful conclusions from massive data sets be automated. Machine learning plays a central role in a wide range of important applications emerging from a need to process data sets whose sizes and complexities are beyond the ability of humans to handle.
  • Affective Computing: Studying how intelligent systems can be improved by reasoning about emotions.  Investigating theories of culturally shared affective sentiments during human-machine interaction.  Application areas include tutoring, sentiment analysis, assistive technologies and computational social science.
  • Human-in-the-Loop Intelligent Systems: Across many AI-related research areas, there are various models for combining human and machine intelligence to solve computational problems, including human computation (a.k.a. crowdsourcing), learning by demonstration, mixed initiative systems, active learning from human teachers, interactive machine learning, etc.   In these systems, humans are a critical part of the computational process -- they serve as teachers and collaborators to the AI system, providing feedback and corrections, or performing computational tasks that are difficult for existing algorithms.  This area of research is at the intersection of AI, Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and EconCS, involving the design of interfaces, algorithms and incentive mechanisms to to harness human processing power to tackle challenging computational problems.