Philip Cohen


1978 …2023

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Personal profile


Phil Cohen is an Adjunct Professor with the Faculty of Information Technology.

Research interests

Natural language processing: Dialogue, spoken language systems.

Human-computer interaction: Multimodal interfaces (speech+sketch/gesture/handwriting/vision, etc), digital pen/paper technology, augmented reality, virtual reality, human-centered design.

Artificial intelligence: Multi-agent systems, personal assistants (software and robotic), intelligent agents, theories of communicative action, intention and commitment, collaboration and teamwork.

Applications to: Virtual assistants, automotive human-machine interaction, human-robot interaction/teaming, mobile computing, gaming, healthcare informatics, field data collection, simulation, architecture/design, crisis management, planning, logistics.

I am currently engaged in building a new Laboratory for Dialogue Research, which will address a major problem for current technology. I have the goal of being the major dialogue research program worldwide, and will staff it with up to 20 researchers. The approach to be taken will be based on the plan-based approach to dialogue, which I began (with Allen and Perrault) at the University of Toronto in 1974-1978.Our research will be directed at building collaborative dialogue systems that are responsive to their interlocutors’ plans and goals. This research will be based on my formal theories of individual/joint intention, speech acts, planning/plan recognition, and knowledge of actions. Given the burgeoning interest in dialogue understanding among academic and corporate organizations, this deep approach to dialogue is both timely and impactful.

At Voicebox, I staffed and led the AI R&D efforts, with a team of 10 researchers (8 PhDs). The group was engaged in building conversational agents for mobile and automotive applications, incorporating speech recognition, natural language processing, planning and plan recognition. Specifically, we developed high performance cooperative conversational systems in multiple languages for inquiring about points of interest, and other topics. I both led the technical direction for the next generation of VBT products, as well as represented VBT’s AI technology to the external world, interfacing with industry executives, the press, the research community, and corporate leadership. I also was engaged in transfer of the next generation technology into existing products.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water

Education/Academic qualification

B.A., Mathematics, Cornell University

Award Date: 1 Jan 1974

M.S., Computer Science, University of Toronto

Award Date: 1 Jan 1974

Ph.D., Computer Science, University of Toronto

Award Date: 1 Jan 1974

Research area keywords

  • Natural Language Processing
  • Multiagent Systems
  • multimodal interfaces
  • Dialogue

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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