Sheila McIlraith

Sheila McIlraith has led a distinguished career as an internationally recognized Canadian researcher and scholar who has made significant and sustained contributions to the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI). McIlraith is a Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Toronto, Associate Director at the Schwartz Reisman Institute for Technology and Society, and a Canada CIFAR AI Chair at the Vector Institute for Artificial Intelligence, where she continues to lead an active career as a researcher, teacher, and scholar.

McIlraith received her PhD from the University of Toronto in 1997. Prior to joining the faculty at U of T, McIlraith spent six years as a Research Scientist at Stanford University and one year as a postdoctoral fellow and visiting scientist, jointly at Stanford and Xerox PARC.

McIlraith has made significant research contributions to multiple subfields of AI including knowledge representation and reasoning (KR), automated planning, and more recently machine learning. She has published more than 150 papers in premier international peer-reviewed venues. (Google scholar reports her citation count as 21,278 and h-index as 60.) Her early work was seminal to the development of semantic web services, catalyzing an area of research, and influencing development of World Wide Web standards. At the University of Toronto, much of her research has been focused on reasoning about dynamical systems, and in particular sequential decision making, o_en through the lens of humancompatible AI. A passionate teacher and undergraduate and graduate student supervisor, she and several generations of student advisees have made significant contributions to the theory and practice of automated planning and more recently reinforcement learning. Notably, six of her PhD students have been honoured with dissertation awards from the International Conference on Automated Planning and Scheduling (ICAPS), the premier international conference on automated planning. Among her research group’s contributions are algorithms for automated symbolic planning and reinforcement learning with Linear Temporal Logic (LTL) and automata-based objective specifications, state-of-the-art nondeterministic (FOND) planning systems, and an epistemic planner, with applications that range from reactive synthesis to theory of mind reasoning.

McIlraith has received a number of honours and recognitions for her work. In 2011, she was named a Fellow of AAAI, and in 2019 she was named a Fellow of the ACM and a Canada CIFAR AI Chair. McIlraith has received several test of time awards. In 2011 she and her co-authors were honoured with the SWSA 10-year Award, recognizing the highest impact paper from the International Semantic Web Conference,
10 years prior; in 2022 McIlraith and co-authors were honoured with the 2022 ICAPS Influential Paper Award, recognizing a significant and influential paper published 10 years prior; and in 2023 McIlraith and co-authors were honoured with the IJCAI-JAIR Best Paper Prize, awarded annually to an outstanding paper published in JAIR in the preceding five years. McIlraith has given a number of major keynotes at conferences including ASE2002, ICAPS-CP2007, KR2014, IJCAI2016, ICLP2019, AAAI2023, and ICAPS2023, as well as numerous other invited talks and panel engagements.

Finally, McIlraith is active in providing service to the university and to the AI community. In addition to the contributions mentioned above, McIlraith has served as Vice Chair of the Department of Computer Science. She is an associate editor of the Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research (JAIR), a past associate editor of the journal Artificial Intelligence (AIJ), and a past board member of Artificial Intelligence Magazine. She is past president of KR Inc. and now serves on its Board of Directors. In 2018, McIlraith served as program co-chair of the 32nd AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence (AAAI2018). She also served as program co-chair of the International Conference on Principles of Knowledge Representation and Reasoning (KR2012), and the International Semantic Web Conference (ISWC2004). She is currently serving as general co-chair of ICAPS2024.