Patrick Winston

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Patrick Henry Winston
Patrick Winston 2018.jpg
Born(1943-02-05)February 5, 1943
DiedJuly 19, 2019(2019-07-19) (aged 76)
Alma materMIT (BS 1965, MS 1967, PhD 1970) [1]
AwardsIJCAI Computers and Thought Award
Scientific career
FieldsArtificial Intelligence
Computer Science
ThesisLearning Structural Descriptions from Examples (1970)
Doctoral advisorMarvin Minsky
Doctoral studentsDavid Waltz
Philip Greenspun
WebsitePersonal homepage

Patrick Henry Winston (February 5, 1943 – July 19, 2019) was an American computer scientist and professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Winston was director of the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory from 1972 to 1997, succeeding Marvin Minsky, who left to help found the MIT Media Lab. Winston was succeeded as director by Rodney Brooks.

Winston received his undergraduate degree from MIT in 1965, where he was a member of Phi Delta Theta fraternity, and went on to complete his Masters and PhD there as well, finalizing his PhD in 1970. Winston's thesis work with Marvin Minsky concerned the difficulty of learning; he concluded it was only possible to learn something one nearly already knows.[2] His research interests included machine learning and human intelligence. Winston was known within the MIT community for his excellent teaching and strong commitment to supporting MIT undergraduate culture.[3]

At MIT, Winston taught 6.034: Artificial Intelligence and 6.803/6.833: Human Intelligence Enterprise. Winston's How to Speak talk was an MIT tradition for over 40 years. "Offered every January, the talk is intended to improve your speaking ability in critical situations by teaching you a few heuristic rules."[4] A book with his insights and teachings on communication was published in 2020 by the MIT Press: "Make It Clear: Speak and Write to Persuade and Inform".[5]

Winston served as president of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence from 1985–1987.

Winston also authored a number of computer science and AI textbooks, including:

  • Artificial Intelligence ISBN 0201533774
  • The Psychology of Computer Vision ISBN 0070710481
  • Lisp (with Berthold K.P. Horn) ISBN 0201083191
  • On to C ISBN 020158042X
  • On to C++ ISBN 0201580438
  • On to Java (with Sundar Narasimhan) ISBN 0201725932
  • On to Smalltalk ISBN 0201498278

Winston died in Boston on July 19, 2019.[6]


  1. ^ CV of Winston
  2. ^ Winston, Patrick (September 1970). "Learning Structural Descriptions from Examples". DSpace (MIT Repository). MIT Project Mac TR from PhD dissertation. hdl:1721.1/6884. Retrieved Jan 15, 2022.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. ^ Knight, Will. "Patrick Winston '65, SM '67, PhD '70". MIT Technology Review. Retrieved Jan 14, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. ^ Winston, Patrick. "How to Speak". MIT OpenCourseWare. Retrieved Aug 11, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. ^ Patrick, Winston (2020). Make It Clear: Speak and Write to Persuade and Inform. The MIT Press. ISBN 9780262360395.
  6. ^ Conner-Simons, Adam; Gordon, Rachel (July 19, 2019). "Professor Patrick Winston, former director of MIT's Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, dies at 76" (Press release). MIT.

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