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Barbara J. Grosz

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Barbara Grosz
Barbara Jean Grosz

July 21, 1948[1]
Alma mater
Scientific career
InstitutionsHarvard University
Thesis The Representation and Use of Focus in Dialogue Understanding  (1977)
Doctoral advisorMartin H. Graham
Doctoral studentsMartha E. Pollack
Other notable studentsSteven Salzberg

Barbara J. Grosz CorrFRSE (Philadelphia, July 21, 1948) is an American computer scientist and Higgins Professor of Natural Sciences at Harvard University.[2] She has made seminal contributions to the fields of natural language processing and multi-agent systems. With Alison Simmons, she is co-founder of the Embedded EthiCS programme at Harvard, which embeds ethics lessons into computer science courses.

Grosz was elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering in 2008 for pioneering research in natural language communication between humans and computers and its application to human-computer interaction.


Grosz earned a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Cornell University in 1969, and master's and doctoral degrees in computer science from the University of California at Berkeley in 1971 and 1977, respectively.[citation needed]


Grosz established and led interdisciplinary institutions, and advanced the role of women in science.[3] From 2007 to 2011 Grosz served as interim dean and then dean of Harvard's Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, and from 2001 to 2007 she was the Institute's first dean of science, designing and building its science program.[4] She currently serves on the Science Board and Science Steering Committee at the Santa Fe Institute.[5] She is responsible for Harvard being one of the first universities to integrate philosophy across different computer science courses.[6]

Memberships and awards[edit]

Grosz is a member of the American Philosophical Society (2003),[7] the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2004), and the National Academy of Engineering (2008). She is a fellow of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) (1990),[8] the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1990),[9] and the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) (2004).[10]

In 1993, she became the first woman president of the AAAI. She serves on the executive committee and is a former trustee of the International Joint Conferences on Artificial Intelligence and serves on the council of the American Philosophical Society.[11] In 2008, she received the ACM/AAAI Allen Newell Award for "fundamental contributions to research in natural language processing and in multi-agent systems, for her leadership in the field of artificial intelligence, and for her role in the establishment and leadership of interdisciplinary institutions".[10] In 2014 she was elected a Corresponding Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.[12] In 2015, she received the IJCAI Award for Research Excellence for her pioneering research in Natural Language Processing and in theories and applications of Multiagent Collaboration.[13] In 2017, she received the Association for Computational Linguistics Life Time Achievement Award.[14]


Grosz specializes in natural language processing and multi-agent systems. She developed some of the earliest computer dialogue systems and established the research field of computational modeling of discourse.[15]

Her work on models of collaboration helped establish that field and provides the framework for several collaborative multi-agent and human-computer interface systems. Grosz has developed a theory of discourse structure that specifies how discourse interpretation depends on interactions among speaker intentions, attentional state, and linguistic form.[16][17] She has been using the theory to study the use of intonation to convey information about discourse structure, for instance how tones demark, in spoken language, some of the structure that paragraphs and parentheses indicate in written language.[18]


Grosz contributed one chapter to the 2018 book Architects of Intelligence: The Truth About AI from the People Building it by the American futurist Martin Ford.[19]


  1. ^ American Men and Women of Science, Thomson Gale 2004
  2. ^ "Radcliffe Institute Dean Barbara Grosz Will Step Down". Harvard Magazine. 14 April 2011. Retrieved 21 March 2014.
  3. ^ Cantu, Tony (30 October 2017). "Austin Events Highlight Women in STEM - All Together". All Together SWE. South Austin Patch. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
  4. ^ Powell, Alvin (18 October 2007). "Reform, vigilance needed to boost women in science". Harvard Gazette. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
  5. ^ "Barbara Grosz". Santa Fe Institute. Retrieved 23 May 2017.
  6. ^ "Computer Science, Philosophy Join Forces on Ethics and Technology | News | The Harvard Crimson". www.thecrimson.com. Retrieved 18 April 2018.
  7. ^ "APS Member History". search.amphilsoc.org. Retrieved 17 June 2021.
  8. ^ "Elected AAAI Fellows". AAAI. Retrieved 1 January 2024.
  9. ^ "Awards to Staff by Professional Societies". SRI International. Archived from the original on 3 October 2012. Retrieved 21 March 2014.
  10. ^ a b "Barbara J Grosz ACM Awards". Association for Computing Machinery. Retrieved 21 March 2014.
  11. ^ "Barbara J. Grosz". Harvard University. Retrieved 6 March 2014.
  12. ^ "Professor Barbara Grosz CorrFRSE - The Royal Society of Edinburgh". The Royal Society of Edinburgh. Retrieved 28 January 2018.
  13. ^ "IJCAI-15 AWARDS ANNOUNCEMENT". Retrieved 10 April 2015.
  14. ^ "Barbara Grosz receives the 2017 ACL Life Time Achievement Award | ACL Member Portal". Association for Computational Linguistics. Retrieved 3 August 2017.
  15. ^ Rutter, Michael Patrick (18 March 2009). "Computer science pioneer Barbara J. Grosz awarded Allen Newell Award". Harvard Gazette. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
  16. ^ Grosz, Barbara J.; Sidner, Candace L (1986). "Attention, intentions, and the structure of discourse". Computational Linguistics. 12 (3). MIT Press: 175–204. Retrieved 6 June 2015.
  17. ^ Grosz, Barbara J.; Joshi, Aravind K. (1995). "Centering: a framework for modeling the local coherence of discourse". Computational Linguistics. 21 (2). MIT Press: 203–225. Retrieved 6 June 2015.
  18. ^ Powell, Alvin (31 January 2002). "AI evolution: From tool to partner". Harvard Gazette. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
  19. ^ Falcon, William (30 November 2018). "This Is The Future Of AI According To 23 World-Leading AI Experts". Forbes. Retrieved 20 March 2019.
Preceded by ACL Lifetime Achievement Award
Succeeded by