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This archived information is dated to the 2008-09 academic year only and may no longer be current.

For currently applicable policies and information, see the current Stanford Bulletin.

Symbolic Systems

Director: Ivan A. Sag

Associate Director: Todd Davies

Program Committee: Lera Boroditsky, Todd Davies, Scott Klemmer, Byron Reeves, Eric Roberts, Ivan A. Sag, Paul Skokowski, Kenneth A. Taylor, Thomas A. Wasow

Program Faculty:

Art and Art History: Scott Bukatman (Associate Professor)

Applied Physics: Bernardo Huberman (Consulting Professor)

Classics: Reviel Netz (Professor)

Communication: Jeremy Bailenson (Assistant Professor), Clifford Nass (Professor), Byron Reeves (Professor), Frederick Turner (Assistant Professor)

Computer Science: David Dill (Professor), Brian Jeffrey Fogg (Consulting Assistant Professor), Michael Genesereth (Associate Professor), Margaret Johnson (Senior Lecturer), Oussama Khatib (Professor), Scott Klemmer (Assistant Professor), Daphne Koller (Professor), Jean-Claude Latombe (Professor), Marc Levoy (Professor), Christopher Manning (Associate Professor), John McCarthy (Professor Emeritus), Andrew Ng (Assistant Professor), Nils Nilsson (Professor Emeritus), Vaughan Pratt (Professor Emeritus), Eric Roberts (Professor, Teaching), Tim Roughgarden (Assistant Professor), Mehran Sahami (Associate Professor, Teaching), Sebastian Thrun (Professor), Terry Winograd (Professor)

Economics: Muriel Niederle (Associate Professor)

Education: Raymond P. McDermott (Professor), Roy Pea (Professor), Daniel Schwartz (Professor)

Electrical Engineering: John R. Koza (Consulting Professor), Krishna Shenoy (Assistant Professor)

French and Italian: Jean-Pierre Dupuy (Professor)

Genetics: Russ B. Altman (Professor)

Graduate School of Business: Baba Shiv (Professor)

History: Jessica G. Riskin (Associate Professor)

Linguistics: Arto Anttila (Assistant Professor), Joan Bresnan (Professor), Eve Clark (Professor), Daniel Jurafsky (Associate Professor), Ronald Kaplan (Consulting Professor), Lauri Karttunen (Consulting Professor), Martin Kay (Professor), Beth Levin (Professor), Christopher Manning (Associate Professor), Stanley Peters (Professor), Ivan A. Sag (Professor), Thomas A. Wasow (Professor), Annie Zaenen (Consulting Professor)

Management Science and Engineering: Pamela Hinds (Associate Professor)

Mathematics: Keith Devlin (Consulting Professor), Persi Diaconis (Professor), Solomon Feferman (Professor Emeritus)

Medicine: Russ B. Altman (Professor), John R. Koza (Consulting Professor)

Music: Jonathan Berger (Associate Professor), Christopher Chafe (Professor), Eleanor Selfridge-Field (Consulting Professor), William L. Verplank (Lecturer), Ge Wang (Assistant Professor)

Neurobiology: Ben Barres (Professor), William T. Newsome (Professor), Jennifer Raymond (Assistant Professor)

Philosophy: Michael Bratman (Professor), Alexis Burgess (Assistant Professor), Mark Crimmins (Associate Professor), John Etchemendy (Professor), Solomon Feferman (Professor Emeritus), Dagfinn Føllesdal (Professor), David Israel (Consulting Associate Professor), Krista Lawlor (Associate Professor), Grigori Mints (Professor), Marc Pauly (Assistant Professor), Raymond Perrault (Consulting Associate Professor), John Perry (Professor), Brian Skryms (Professor), Kenneth Taylor (Professor), Johan van Benthem (Professor), Thomas A. Wasow (Professor)

Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences: Vinod Menon (Associate Professor, Research)

Psychology: Lera Boroditsky (Assistant Professor), Herbert H. Clark (Professor), Anne Fernald (Associate Professor), Susan Johnson (Assistant Professor), Brian Knutson (Associate Professor), Ellen Markman (Professor), James McClelland (Professor), Samuel McClure (Assistant Professor), Michael Ramscar (Assistant Professor), Barbara Tversky (Professor Emerita), Anthony Wagner (Associate Professor), Brian Wandell (Professor)

Statistics: Persi Diaconis (Professor), Susan P. Holmes (Professor, Teaching)

Symbolic Systems: William Byrne (Consulting Assistant Professor), Todd Davies (Lecturer), Tracy King (Consulting Associate Professor), Pat Langley (Consulting Professor), Jeff Shrager (Consulting Associate Professor), Paul Skokowski (Consulting Associate Professor)

Other Affiliates: David Barker-Plummer (CSLI Engineering Research Associate), Daniel Flickinger (CSLI Senior Research Engineer), John Kunz (Senior Research Engineer), Stephan Oepen (CSLI Senior Research Engineer)

Program Offices: Margaret Jacks Hall, Building 460, Room 40A

Mail Code: 94305-2150

Phone: (650) 723-4284


Web Site:

Courses offered by the Program in Symbolic Systems have the subject code SYMBSYS and are listed in the "Symbolic Systems [SYMBSYS] Courses" section of this bulletin.

The observation that both human beings and computers can manipulate symbols lies at the heart of Symbolic Systems, an interdisciplinary program focusing on the relationship between natural and artificial systems that represent, process, and act on information. Computer programs, natural languages, the human mind, and the Internet embody concepts whose study forms the core of the Symbolic Systems curriculum, such as computation, representation, communication, and intelligence. A body of knowledge and theory has developed around these notions, from disciplines like philosophy, computer science, linguistics, psychology, statistics, neurobiology, and communication. Since the invention of computers, researchers have been working across these disciplines to study questions such as: in what ways are computers and computer languages like human beings and their languages; how can the interaction between people and computers be made easier and more beneficial?

The core requirements of the Symbolic Systems Program (SSP) include courses in symbolic logic, the philosophy of mind, formal linguistics, cognitive psychology, programming, the mathematics of computation, statistical theory, artificial intelligence, and interdisciplinary approaches to cognitive science. These courses prepare students with the vocabulary, theoretical background, and technical skills needed for study and research at the advanced undergraduate and graduate levels. Most of the courses in SSP are drawn from affiliated departments. Courses designed specifically for the program are aimed at integrating and supplementing topics covered by the department-based offerings. The curriculum includes humanistic approaches to questions about language and intelligence, as well as training in science and engineering.

SSP offers B.S. and M.S. degree programs. Both programs require students to master a common core of required courses and to choose an area of specialization.

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