Photo Credit: Bar Ilan Spokesman's Office
Prof. Sarit Kraus

Bar-Ilan University Prof. Sarit Kraus has been named the 2020-2021 ACM Athena Lecturer by the US Association for Computing Machinery. Prof. Kraus, of the Department of Computer Science, was named the Athena Lecturer “for foundational contributions to artificial intelligence, notably to multiagent systems, human-agent interaction, autonomous agents and nonmonotonic reasoning, and exemplary service and leadership in these fields,” according to ACM.

Kraus is recognized as one of the world’s leading researchers in multi-agent systems, in which a distributed group of agents (computers, robots, and/or humans) interact and work collaboratively to solve problems. Beyond her work in this area, she has made significant contributions to knowledge representation (another area of artificial intelligence research) by incorporating nonmonotonic reasoning, and to randomized policies for security applications by combining methods from game theory, machine learning and optimization. Kraus is also recognized for her service to the field as an outstanding educator and mentor, as well as for her conference, editorial, and leadership roles.

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Initiated in 2006, the ACM Athena Lecturer Award celebrates women researchers who have made fundamental contributions to computer science. The award carries a cash prize of $25,000, with financial support provided by Two Sigma. The Athena Lecturer gives an invited talk at a major ACM conference of her choice.

“Each year, it is ACM’s honor to put a spotlight on the instrumental role that women play in the computing field by selecting an Athena Lecturer,” said ACM President Cherri M. Pancake. “The ability of multi-agent systems to effectively work together is at the core of AI research and will be the lynchpin of many of the technologies that will shape the future. With seminal work in AI stretching back to the early 1990s, it is fair to say that Sarit Kraus has introduced new ways of thinking in multi-agent systems research, while also shepherding research ideas into practical applications. Her colleagues also cite her generosity and sensitivity in mentoring the next generation of researchers, which aligns perfectly with our mission in bestowing this particular award.”

Over the years, Kraus has served the research community by taking on many volunteer roles. She has been a General, Program or Workshop Chair for several leading AI conferences and currently serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research, Journal of Autonomous Agents and Multi-agent Systems, and Annals of Maths & AI. As an educator and mentor, she has supervised 62 Master’s students and 34 PhD students. In the spirit of the ACM Athena Lecturer Award, Kraus is also a recognized leader in efforts to increase the participation of women in science.

Prof. Kraus received her Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhD degrees from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She has written six books, 122 journal articles, and 176 conference papers, and has received nine patents. Twelve of her publications have won best paper awards and two have won the IFAAMAS Influential Paper Award. She is a Fellow of ACM, the European Association for Artificial Intelligence (EurAI), and the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI). She is the recipient of the IJCAI Computers and Thought Award in 1995, the ACM SIGART Autonomous Agents Research Award in 2007, and the prestigious Israel EMET Prize in 2010.

ACM, the Association for Computing Machinery, is the world’s largest educational and scientific computing society, uniting computing educators, researchers and professionals to inspire dialogue, share resources and address the field’s challenges.

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