Drew McDermott


Professor of Computer Science
Room / Office: Watson 508
Office Address:
51 Prospect Street
New Haven, CT 06511
Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 208285
New Haven, CT 06520
Phone: (203) 432-1284
Email: drew.mcdermott@yale.edu
  • Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • M.S., Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • B.S., Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Drew McDermott has done work in several areas of artificial intelligence. One of his perennial interests is in planning algorithms, which calculate structures of actions for autonomous agents of various sorts. He did seminal work in the area of "hierarchical planning" in the 1970s. In the last decade, his focus has switched to regression-based techniques for classical planning, especially methods that heuristically search through situation space. He was instrumental in starting the biannual series of AI Planning Systems (AIPS) conferences. In 1998, he ran the first ever Planning Competition in conjunction with AIPS; it has now become a standard part of the ICAPS conference, the merger of AIPS and the European Conference on Planning (ECP).

Another enduring interest of Prof. McDermott's is in the area of knowledge representation (KR), which is the attempt to formalize what people know in a form usable by a computer. He wrote some influential papers on nonmonotonic logic and representation of temporal knowledge. However, in the mid-1980s he became convinced that the KR project, in its more ambitious formulations, was ill-defined. He published a paper titled "A Critique of Pure Reason" making this case. However, Prof. McDermott is now thinking about KR issues again, this time in conjunction with the problem of "metadata" on the world-wide web, which will tell automated agents what the content and capability of a web resource is. Hopefully solving this problem will not require tackling the original KR problem, which he still believes to be hopeless.

Prof. McDermott is a Fellow of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence.

Selected Publications:

  • David Martin, Massimo Paolucci, Sheila McIlraith, Mark Burstein, Drew McDermott, Deborah McGuinness, Bijan Parsia, Terry Payne, Marta Sabou, Monika Solanki, Naveen Srinivasan, and Katia Sycara 2004 Bringing semantics to web services: the OWL-S approach. Proc. First Int'l Workshop on Semantic Web Services and Web Process Composition (SWSWPC 2004)
  • Dejing Dou, Drew McDermott, and Peishen Qi 2005 "Ontology translation on the Semantic Web." LNCS Journal on Data Semantics 2, pp. 35–56
  • Drew McDermott 2005 A framework for maintaining the coherence of a running Lisp. Proc. Int'l. Lisp Conference.