Steven Skiena Named Director of Institute for AI-Driven Discovery and Innovation


The College of Engineering and Applied Science is pleased to announce that Steven Skiena, Distinguished Professor in the Department of Computer Science, has been named Director of the newly formed Institute for AI-Driven Discovery and Innovation at Stony Brook University.

“The advent of artificial intelligence (AI) is ushering in a new era in the history of humanity. Its consequences can be so vast and far reaching that are hard to even imagine today,” said Fotis Sotiropoulos, Dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences. “Stony Brook is well positioned to lead both in advancing AI-centric research and economic development as well as in educating the engineering workforce for the era of intelligent machines. I am really pleased that a computer scientist of the caliber of Professor Skiena will spearhead our efforts in this area. ”

Skiena is a Distinguished Teaching Professor of Stony Brook and a former Fulbright Scholar, joining the faculty in 1988. His research interests include data science, natural language processing and sentiment analysis, algorithms, and computational biology. Skiena is the author of over 150 technical papers and six books, including his popular text The Algorithm Design Manual, which is widely used within the tech industry for job interview preparation.

The Institute will serve as a hub for AI research efforts centered around the overarching vision of Human-Machine Symbiosis, based on the idea that AI technology should amplify human intelligence instead of replacing it. For example, by leveraging their respective strengths to compensate each other’s weaknesses, the human-machine partnership becomes mutually beneficial and far more potent at problem solving than what either can do in isolation.

Professor Samir Das, chair of the CS department, sees this new Institute as a giant step in AI research at the University. Das says, “Steve is a renowned expert in data science, large-scale text analysis, and computational social science and author of several influential books on data science. Under Steve's leadership, this Institute will lead broad-based AI-centric research and education on campus centered around the strengths of the CS department.”

With funding from the SUNY Empire Innovation Program, the State of New York and private fundraising efforts, the Institute will focus on four grand challenges (health care, infrastructure, education, and finance) and five foundational research areas (automated and scalable knowledge acquisition, predictive intelligence, explainable AI, trustworthy AI, and ethical AI).

In addition to funded research, the Institute will develop and facilitate new educational programs aimed at fueling the workforce for the AI-driven economy of the future. Programs will range from core technical programs to science communication, technology policy and entrepreneurship programs. The Institute will also stimulate the regional and national economy by providing industry and entrepreneurs with advanced technology training and highly skilled graduates.

"Recent advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning are dramatically changing the notions of what computers can do,” said Skiena. “I see the Institute as a way to advance research and education in these areas at Stony Brook in Computer Science, Engineering, Medicine and throughout the University."