Stuart M. Shieber

Stuart M. Shieber

  • James O. Welch, Jr. and Virginia B. Welch Professor of Computer Science
  • Affiliate in the Department of Linguistics


Stuart Shieber is a computer scientist whose primary research area is computational linguistics, the study of natural language from the standpoint of computer science. Research in the field pursues both scientific and engineering goals, undergirded by foundational formal and mathematical tools. Professor Shieber works on all of these aspects of the field.

How natural languages are structured to permit efficient communication is a difficult and multi-faceted question, involving issues in linguistics (the syntactic and semantic structure of natural languages), theoretical computer science (the inherent complexity of aspects of human language); computer systems (in connection with the design and deployment of algorithms for natural-language analysis and generation); psychology (human sentence processing and misprocessing); and artificial intelligence (the encoding of general knowledge and its application to the understanding of utterances).

To answer such difficult questions, Shieber synthesizes knowledge from several of these fields. In work on the computational properties of grammar formalisms — formal metalanguages for specifying the syntactic and semantic structure of natural languages — he uses techniques from theoretical computer science to analyze the expressivity and computational effectiveness of the formalisms, and builds on algorithms from the field of computer systems. (Such studies can shed light on computer languages as well as natural languages. For example, they reveal some deep similarities between the grammar formalisms proposed for natural languages and the static semantics of programming languages.) In his research on psycholinguistics, a simpler model of human misparsing of sentences was developed by applying technology from the efficient parsing of programming languages. Similarly, his research on semantics has made use of the technology of higher-order logic to explicate the workings of elliptical constructions of natural language. His current research on synchronous grammars for describing the relations between languages has application in a variety of natural-language-processing areas, such as machine translation and sentence compression.

Beyond computational linguistics, Professor Shieber has attacked problems in a wide range of other areas as well, including such varied topics as

The range of topics is indicated in the accompanying listing of representative publications by research area.


Contact Information

Office:Maxwell Dworkin 245
Office Phone:(617) 495-2344
Office Fax(815) 572-0216
Assistant:Anana J. Charles
Assistant Office:Maxwell Dworkin 247
Assistant Phone:(617) 495-3963
Research Mgr: Benjamin A. Garvin

Primary Teaching Area

Positions & Employment

Harvard School/Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences

  • 2002-Present: James O. Welch, Jr. and Virginia B. Welch Professor of Computer Science
  • 2001-2006: Harvard College Professor,
  • 1996-2002: Gordon McKay Professor of Computer Science
  • 1993-1996: John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Natural Sciences
  • 1989-1993: Assistant Professor of Computer Science
Stanford University
  • October, 2006: Thomas A. Wasow Visiting Scholar in Symbolic Systems
  • January-April 2002: Visiting scholar

Harvard University

  • 2008-Present: Director, Office for Scholarly Communication
  • 2004-Present: Director of the Center for Research on Computation and Society

Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study

  • 2006–2007: Benjamin White Whitney Scholar
Centro per la Ricerca Scientifica e Tecnologica (ITC-IRST), Trento, Italy
  • May-August, 2002: Visiting Scholar
University of California at Santa Cruz
  • Summer, 1991: Visiting Professor
Center for the Study of Language and Information, Stanford University
  • 1983-1989: Research Fellow
Artificial Intelligence Center, SRI International
  • 1981-1989: Research Computer Scientist

Other Experience & Professional Membership

  • Journal of Experimental Linguistics, member of the editorial board, 2009-present
  • Journal of Scholarly Research and Communication, member of the editorial board, 2009-Present
  • Computational Linguistics, member of the editorial board, 1990-1993
  • Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research, member of the editorial board, 1993-1996
  • Journal of Heuristics, advisory editor, 1995-present
  • Association for Computational Linguistics, member of the executive committee, 1993–1996.
  • The Computation and Language E-Print Archive, founder and organizer, 1994–1998. Integrated
    into the Computing Research Repository
  • National Academy of Sciences Committee on Intellectual Property and the Emerging Information
    Infrastructure, 1997–1999
  • ACM Computing Research Repository. Founding committee, 1998. Moderator, 1998–
  • North American Conference on Logic Programming, member of the program committee,
  • ARPA Workshop on Human Language Technology, invited participant, March, 1993
  • IMS Conference on Syntax, Semantics, and Logic, invited participant, October, 1993
  • AAAI/ARPA Meeting on Twenty-First Century Intelligent Systems, invited participant,
    April, 1994
  • Workshop on Abstractions in Multimedia Layout, Presentation, and Interaction, member
    of the program committee, November, 1995
  • ACM Workshop on Strategic Directions in Computer Science, Working Group on HumanComputer Interaction, invited participant, June, 1996
  • 48th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics, area chair, July,
  • Reviewing: Cognition, Communications of the Association for Computing Machinery, Computational Intelligence, Grammars, IEEE Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence, Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research, Journal of the Association for Computing Machinery, Journal of Logic, Language, and Information, Journal of Logic Programming, Journal of Optimization Theory and Applications, Language and Cognitive Processes, Letters on Programming Languages and Systems, Linguistics, Linguistics and Philosophy, Minds and Machines, SIAM Journal on Computing, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

    Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics, Annual Meeting of the European Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics, IEEE/ACM International Symposium on Microarchitecture, International Conference on Computational Linguistics, International Logic Programming Symposium, International Workshop on Machine Learning, Joint International Conference and Symposium on Logic Programming, Meeting of the European Association for Computational Linguistics, Natural Language Understanding and Logic Programming Workshop, North American Conference on Logic Programming, Symposium on Principles of Database Systems, Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology, USENIX Conference, Workshop on Tree-Adjoining Grammars and Related Frameworks (TAG+).

    National Research Council of Canada, National Science Foundation.


  • Fellow of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence, 2004
  • Presidential Faculty Fellow, 1993–1998
  • Presidential Young Investigator, 1991–1993
  • SRI Exceptional Achievement Award, 1985
  • Phi Beta Kappa (junior twelve), 1980
  • Detur Prize, 1978

Patents Awarded

  • Peter B. Mark and Stuart M. Shieber. Method and apparatus for compression of images. U. S. patent number 5,303,313, April 1994. International patents pending.
  • Joe Marks, Stuart M. Shieber, and Rebecca Hwa. Apparatus for determining the structure of a hypermedia document using graph partitioning. U. S. patent number 5,546,517, August 1996.
  • Murray Mazer, Kathy Ryall, Joe Marks, and Stuart M. Shieber. A system for delineating and annotating areal regions. U. S. patent number 5,866,704, September 1996. Adam Ginsburg, Joe Marks, and Stuart M. Shieber. Browser for documents with annotations. U. S. patent filed and pending, April 1998.
  • Ramesh Johari, Joseph Marks, Ali Partovi, and Stuart M. Shieber. Apparatus and method for automatic yellow pages pagination and layout. U. S. patent number 5,911,146, June 1999.
  • Ho Min Kang, Joseph Marks, Stuart M. Shieber, and Joseph Seims. System and method for exploring light spaces. U. S. patent number 5,866,704, March 1999.
  • Stuart M. Shieber, John Armstrong, Rafael Baptista, Bryan Bentz, William Ganong III, and Donald Selesky. Command parsing and rewrite system. U. S. patent number 6,138,098, October 2000. See also Shieber, 1996, “Proposal for a Formalism for Sublanguage Specification”.
  • Wheeler Ruml, Joseph Marks, Kathleen Ryall, and Stuart M. Shieber. User interface for creation of image generation and transformation functions. U. S. patent number 6,421,050, July 2002.
  • Kathleen Ryall, Joe Marks, and Stuart M. Shieber. Interactive system for drawing graphs. U. S. patent 6,774,899, July 2004.
  • David C. Parkes, Michael O. Rabin, Stuart M. Shieber, and Christopher A. Thorpe. Practical secrecy-preserving, verifiably correct and trustworthy auctions. U. S. patent number 8,024,274, September 2011.