Raj Reddy

2021 Fellow

For his groundbreaking work in artificial intelligence, robotics, and computer science education

If you have ever talked into your computer, you can probably thank Raj Reddy. Reddy, an Indian-American professor and researcher in AI and robotics, is a world leader in speech recognition. He and his students have helped create the “voice aware” world we live in. This has real consequences beyond the convenience of dictating text. For the 2.5 billion illiterate people in the world, Reddy seeks to apply his speech recognition technology to helping them access the world’s knowledge via the internet as well as promoting the use of AI in society. Reddy was also instrumental in helping to create Rajiv Gandhi University of Knowledge Technologies in India to meet the educational needs of low-income, gifted, rural youth.

In 1958, Reddy received a BS in civil engineering from the College of Engineering, Guindy; an MEng from the University of New South Wales, Australia in 1960; and a PhD in computer science from Stanford University in 1966. Reddy was a graduate student of AI legend and cofounder John McCarthy, under whom he studied speech, language, vision, and robotics. 

After working for IBM Australia from 1961–1963, he began his PhD that year at Stanford University, graduating in 1966 and teaching there immediately after. He moved to Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in 1969, where in 1973 he became a full professor and a university professor—their highest academic rank—in 1984. He is currently University Professor of Computer Science and Robotics and Moza Bint Nasser Chair at the School of Computer Science.

Reddy founded and led the Robotics Institute in 1979, the first robotics department at any US university, developing it into a world-class center for robotics research and education. In 1998, CMU became the first university in the world to offer a PhD in robotics and in 1991 Reddy became Dean of the School of Computer Science, a position he held until 1999. As dean, he helped create a number of groundbreaking centers and institutes related to language, human computer interaction, automatic learning, and software research. 

Over a five-decade teaching career, Reddy has influenced thousands of students, many of whom have gone on to make vital and important contributions to computer science, artificial intelligence, and robotics. In particular, they have made seminal contributions to speech recognition, analysis of natural scenes, autonomous robotic systems, and universal access to information. 

Reddy is a cofounder of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence, was its president from 1987–1989, and is a winner of the 1994 ACM Turing Award.

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