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September 24, 2020

Professor Rina Dechter Receives 2020 Classic Paper Award

Distinguished Professor of Computer Science Rina Dechter recently received the 2020 Classic Paper Award from the Artificial Intelligence Journal. Given to papers “published at least 15 calendar years ago in the AI Journal that are exceptional in their significance and impact,” this year’s award recognized “Temporal Constraint Networks,” which Dechter co-authored with Itay Meiri and Judea Pearl in 1991. The work introduced a new framework called the temporal constraint satisfaction problem (TCSP).

“The TCSP, and the polytime solvable special case of simple (non-disjunctive) temporal problems, have gained widespread use in planning and scheduling and other applications,” notes the award announcement. “The simple and elegant problem formulation of this paper also inspired subsequent work on temporal reasoning with temporal uncertainty, preferences and other extensions.”

The paper, with close to 2,500 citations, has been used by researchers in planning and robotics, including by NASA researchers to support expeditions such as the Mars Exploration Rover mission.

Upon learning she had received the award, Dechter says she “was very pleased.” Currently, she is working with her colleague Alex Ihler on a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant titled “Anytime Algorithms and Bounds for Probabilistic Graphical Models.” Through this project, they are developing algorithms for planning and decision-making under uncertainty, hoping to support future advancements in computer vision, computational biology and genetics, and data mining.

Shani Murray