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Department of Computer Science Distinguished Lecture
2012 Series

A 50-Year Personal Odyssey in Computer Science

Prof. Victor Lesser
Emeritus Distinguished Professor of Computer Science
Director of the Multi-Agent Systems Laboratory at the University of Massachusetts

Date: November 12, 2012 (Monday)
Time: 4:30 - 6:00 pm
Venue: SCT909, Cha Chi Ming Science Tower, Ho Sin Hang Campus

In this talk, I will reflect on my career in computer science that started in 1961. I will present chronologically my research starting from my early work in distributed operating systems, information retrieval and multi-processor architectures. I will then discuss my transition to AI research in 1973, which involved my work on the Hearsay-ll speech understanding.

Next, I will overview my key research accomplishments in Multi- Agent Systems starting in 1978 and will end the talk with a brief discussion of my current research focus.

In presenting my personal career trajectory, I will try to motivate how all these different strands of my research career fit together, and some of the meta-lessons I have learned about how to do research.

Victor Lesser received the Ph.D. degree in computer science from Stanford University, Stanford, CA, 1973. He is an Emeritus Distinguished Professor of Computer Science and Director of the Multi-Agent Systems Laboratory at the University of Massachusetts. His major research focus is on the control and organization of complex AI systems. He has pioneered work in the development of the blackboard architecture and its control structure, approximate processing for use in control and real-time AI, and a wide variety of techniques for the coordination of and negotiation among multiple agents. He was the system architect for first fully developed blackboard architecture (HEARSAY-II), when he was a research computer scientist at CMU from 1972 thru 1976, and is considered one of the founders of the Multi-Agent field starting with his early work in 1978. He has also made contributions in the areas of machine learning, signal understanding, diagnostics, plan recognition, and computer-supported cooperative work. He has worked in application areas such as sensor networks for vehicle tracking and weather monitoring, speech and sound understanding, information gathering on the internet, peer-to-peer information retrieval, intelligent user interfaces, distributed task allocation and scheduling, and virtual agent enterprises.

Professor Lesser's research accomplishments have been recognized by many major awards over the years. He received the prestigious IJCAI-09 Award for Research Excellence. He is also a Founding Fellow of AAAI and an IEEE Fellow. He was General Chair of the first international conference on Multi-Agent Systems (ICMAS) in 1995, and Founding President of the International Foundation of Autonomous Agents and Multi-Agent Systems (IFAAMAS). In 2007, to honor his contributions to the field of multi-agent systems, IFAAMAS established the “Victor Lesser Distinguished Dissertation Award.” He also received a Special Recognition Award for his foundational research in generalized coordination technologies from the Information Processing Technology Office at DARPA.

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