Randall Davis

Randall Davis


Randall Davis received his undergraduate degree from Dartmouth, graduating summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa in 1970, and received a PhD from Stanford in artificial intelligence in 1976. He joined the faculty of the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department at MIT in 1978 where he held an Esther and Harold Edgerton Endowed Chair (1979-1981). He has been a Full Professor in the Department since 1989. He has served as Associate Director of MIT's Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (1993-1998), as a Research Director of CSAIL from 2003-2007, and as Associate Director of CSAIL from 2012-2014.

Dr. Davis has been a seminal contributor to the fields of knowledge-based systems and human-computer interaction, publishing some more than 100 articles and playing a central role in the development of several systems. He and his research group are developing advanced tools that permit natural multi-modal interaction with computers by creating software that understands users as they sketch, gesture, and talk. He is the co-author of Knowledge-Based Systems in AI. In 1990 he was named a Founding Fellow of the Association for the Advancement of AI and in 1995 was elected to a two-year term as its President. From 1995-1998 he served on the Scientific Advisory Board of the U. S. Air Force, earning the USAF Decoration for Exceptional Civilian Service.

Dr. Davis 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 now widely used in software copyright cases. From 1998-2000 he served as the chairman of the U.S. 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)