Eric Grimson

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W. Eric L. Grimson
5th Chancellor of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
In office
PresidentSusan Hockfield
L. Rafael Reif
Preceded byPhillip Clay
Succeeded byCynthia Barnhart
Personal details
William Eric Leifur Grimson

1953 (age 68–69)
Estevan, Saskatchewan, Canada
SpouseEllen Hildreth
Children2 sons
Alma materUniversity of Regina (BS, 1975)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (PhD, 1980)
AwardsAAAI Fellow (2000)
IEEE Fellow (2004)
ACM Fellow (2014)
Scientific career
FieldsComputer science
Computer vision
InstitutionsMassachusetts Institute of Technology (Chancellor)
ThesisComputing shape using a theory of human stereo vision (1980)
Doctoral advisorDavid Marr

William Eric Leifur Grimson (born 1953) is a Canadian-born computer scientist and professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he served as Chancellor from 2011 to 2014. An expert in computer vision, he headed MIT's Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from 2005 to 2011 and currently serves as its Chancellor for Academic Advancement.[1][2]

Early life and education[edit]

Grimson was born in 1953 in Estevan, Saskatchewan. His father William was the principal of Estevan Collegiate Institute, the local high school, and his mother was an eminent musician and taught piano performance and music theory. The family later moved to Regina, where he attended Campbell Collegiate and the University of Regina, graduating in 1975 with a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics and physics with high honours.[3][4] In 1980, he received his PhD in mathematics from MIT. His doctoral dissertation, "Computing Shape Using a Theory of Human Stereo Vision", was on computer vision, a field that would become the focus of his research career. An expanded version of the dissertation was published by MIT Press in 1981 as From Images to Surfaces: A Computational Study of the Human Early Vision System, which was endorsed by Tomaso Poggio and Noam Chomsky.[5][6]


After completing his PhD, Grimson worked as a research scientist at the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (now CSAIL) before joining the university's faculty in 1984. He eventually rose to Bernard Gordon Chair of Medical Engineering and holds a joint appointment as a Radiology Lecturer at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital.[7] After serving as Education Officer and Associate Department Head, he was appointed Head of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) and served from 2005 to 2011. In February 2011, he was appointed Chancellor of MIT, succeeding Phillip Clay, and took up his post the following month[6] and served until 2014 when he was replaced by Cynthia Barnhart.[8]

Grimson has "long prized teaching" and has taught introductory computer science courses for 25 years, in addition to advising doctoral students and teaching advanced classes. He also teaches two introductory computer science courses on edX.[9][10]

In his current position as Chancellor for Academic Advancement, Grimson reports directly to MIT President L. Rafael Reif. His role is to gather faculty and student input on MIT's fundraising priorities and to communicate these priorities to donors and alumni.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Grimson is married to Wellesley College professor Ellen Hildreth. The couple have two sons.[6]

Honors and awards[edit]

Selected works[edit]

  • 2003. Object Recognition by Computer: The Role of Geometric Constraints. MIT press
  • Grimson, W. Eric L. (2001) "Image Guided Surgery" (abstract). Stanford University, Broad Area Colloquium For AI-Geometry-Graphics-Robotics-Vision
  • 1989. AI in the 1980s and Beyond: An MIT Survey. (Ed. with Ramesh S. Patil) MIT press
  • 1981. From Images to Surfaces: A Computational Study of the Human Early Visual System. MIT press
Endorsed by Tomaso Poggio and Noam Chomsky;
Dedicated to David Marr.


  1. ^ a b "W. Eric L. Grimson, Chancellor for Academic Advancement". MIT Organization Chart. Retrieved 22 January 2018.
  2. ^ "MIT History - Office of the MIT Chancellor".
  3. ^ Estevan Mercury (14 October 2011). "Q & A with MIT's chancellor".
  4. ^ University of Regina Alumni Association, Alumni Crowning Achievement Awards Dr. Eric Grimson, BSc'75 (High Honours) Archived 2013-10-18 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ IEEE Transactions on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence (July 1984). "Editorial" Archived 2013-10-17 at the Wayback Machine. Vol. PAMI 6, No. 4, p. 385. Retrieved 26 May 2013
  6. ^ a b c MIT News Office (10 February 2011), Professor Eric Grimson named next chancellor: Current head of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science to succeed Phillip L. Clay, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  7. ^ "Eric Grimson". MIT CSAIL. Retrieved 22 January 2018.
  8. ^ Bradt, Steve (February 3, 2014). "Martin Schmidt named provost; Cynthia Barnhart named chancellor". MIT News Office.
  9. ^ "Introduction to Computer Science and Programming Using Python". edX. Retrieved 22 January 2018.
  10. ^ "Introduction to Computational Thinking and Data Science". edX. Retrieved 22 January 2018.
  11. ^ "Eric Grimson".
  12. ^ Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (6 May 2011). "Member Recognitions: May 2011". Retrieved 29 May 2013.
  13. ^ "Elected AAAI Fellows".
Academic offices
Preceded by Chancellor of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
2011 – 2014
Succeeded by