MIT Combines Two Big Labs To Boost Collaboration

May 29, 2003 (12:05 PM EDT)

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Two major laboratories at MIT are merging to form a joint lab that will enhance collaboration on technologies related to human-centric computing.

MIT's fortysomething-year-old Laboratory of Computer Science and the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory are being combined to create the new Laboratory of Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence. It will become the largest lab on MIT's campus in terms of research volume. More than 750 students, faculty, and staff will work in the new lab.

Before the merger, both labs resided in the same off-campus building in Technology Square in Cambridge, Mass. However, they were housed on separate floors, and scientists and staff until recent years very rarely mingled "or even talked to each other," an MIT spokeswoman says. Moving the combined labs into one on-campus facility will allow more collaboration, especially as their once-separate research overlaps into common themes, including networking, bio-informatics, machine learning, robotics, and human-computer interaction.

During the last three years, some staff and scientists from both labs began working together on joint projects, including MIT Project Oxygen, which is aimed at creating pervasive, nomadic, embedded, and adaptable technologies that can automate human tasks--including smart devices that can automatically control heating systems based on individual preferences, as well as knowledge-access technologies that connect users with other users or sources of knowledge using semantic connections.