Randall Davis

Randall Davis


Randall Davis received an AB from Dartmouth (summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) in 1970 and a PhD from Stanford in artificial intelligence in 1976. He joined the EECS Department in 1978, and from 1979-1981 held an Esther and Harold Edgerton Endowed Chair. He served for 5 years as Associate Director of the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, and is currently a Professor in the Department and a Research Director of CSAIL

He has been one of the seminal contributors to the field of knowledge-based systems, publishing more than 50 articles and playing a central role in the development of several systems. His current research involves developing advanced tools that permit natural, sketch-based interaction with software, particularly for computer-aided design and design rationale capture.

He has also been active in the area of intellectual property and software. In 1990 he served as expert to the Court in Computer Associates v. Altai, a case that produced the abstraction, filtration, comparison test for software copyright. He served on the panel run by the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board (CSTB) of the National Academy of Science in 1991 that resulted in Intellectual Property Issues in Software. A 1994 paper in the Columbia Law Review analyzed the difficulties in applying intellectual property law to software and proposed a number of remedies.

He has served as an expert in a variety of cases involving software, including the investigation by the Department of Justice of the Inslaw matter, where he investigated allegations of copyright theft and cover-up by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the National Security Agency, the Drug Enforcement Agency, the United States Customs Service, and the Defense Intelligence Agency. From 1998-2000 he served as the chairman of the National Academy of Sciences study on intellectual property rights and the information infrastructure entitled The Digital Dilemma: Intellectual Property in the Information Age, published by the National Academy Press in February, 2000.



  • Christine Alvarado and Randall Davis. Dynamically Constructed Bayes Nets for Multi-Domain Sketch Understanding. In Proceedings of IJCAI-05, pp.1407-1412. San Francisco, California, August 1 2005.
  • Tevfik Metin Sezgin and Randall Davis. HMM-Based Efficient Sketch Recognition. In Proceedings of the International Conference on Intelligent User Interfaces (IUI'05), pp.281-283. New York, New York, January 9-12 2005.
  • Adler, Aaron and Davis, Randall (2004). Speech and sketching for multimodal design. Proceedings of IUI 2004, pp. 214-216.
  • Veselova, Olya and Davis, Randall (2004). Perceptually Based Learning of Shape Descriptions for Sketch Recognition. (AAAI-04), July 2004
  • Hammond, Tracy and Davis, Randall (2004). Automatically Transforming Symbolic Shape Descriptions for Use in Sketch Recognition. (AAAI-04), July 2004
  • Alvarado, Christine and Davis, Randall (2002). A Framework for Multi-Domain Sketch Recognition. 2002 AAAI Spring Symposium on Sketch Understanding. pp 1-8
  • Alvarado, Christine and Davis, Randall (2001). Resolving ambiguities to create a natural sketch based interface. Proceedings of IJCAI-2001, August 2001. pp 1365 - 1371
  • Oltmans, Michael and Davis, Randall (2001). Naturally Conveyed Explanations of Device Behavior. Proceedings of PUI-2001, November 2001. [PS], [PDF]
  • Davis R, Shrobe H, Szolovits P, “What is a Knowledge Representation," AI Magazine, 14, #1, Spring 1993, pp. 17-33.
  • Davis R, “A Tale of Two Knowledge Servers," AI Magazine,12:3, Fall 1991, pp. 118-120.
  • Davis R, and Lenat D B, Knowledge-based Systems in Artificial Intelligence, McGraw-Hill, 1982.

Intellectual Property

  • Davis R, The Digital Dilemma, Communications of the ACM, February, 2001, pp.77-83.
  • Samuelson P, Davis R, Kapor M, Reichman J, A Manifesto Concerning the Legal Protection of Computer Programs, Columbia Law Review, Vol 94, December 1994, pp. 1401-1524.
  • Davis R, et al., The Digital Dilemma: Intellectual Property in the Information Age, National Academy Press, 2000.


  • International Foundation for Autonomous Agents and Multi-Agent Systems: The Influential Paper Award (2006)
  • MIT: Frank Perkins Award for Excellent in Graduate Advising (2003)
  • Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence : President (1995)
  • Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence : Fellow (1990)
  • Boston Computer Society: AI Award (1986)
  • Science Digest: Top 100 American Scientists Under Age 40 (1984)