Professor, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
areas of expertise: computing, artificial intelligence, intelligent multimodal interfaces and natural interaction, intellectual property issues in software
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 Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science in 1978, and from 1979-1981 held an Esther and Harold Edgerton Endowed Chair. He served for five years as associate director of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), and for four years as a research director of CSAIL.
He has been one of the seminal contributors to the field of knowledge-based systems, playing a central role in the development of several systems. His current research involves developing advanced tools that permit natural multimodal interaction with software, via sketching, gesture and speech, particularly for computer-aided design. He and his group have produced multimodal interaction systems in a variety of domains, including physics, chemistry, software, electrical circuits and others.
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 FBI, 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 titled The Digital Dilemma: Intellectual Property in the Information Age (National Academy Press, 2000).
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