Computer Science

Contact Information

Fuller Laboratories, B21
Phone: +1-508-831-6637
Fax: +1-508-831-5776

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Candace L. Sidner

I'm a research professor at WPI, which means I participate in research activities with students and faculty. I am a computer scientist, and my specialties include natural language processing, AI, intelligent user interfaces, and human-robot interaction. Students at WPI are excellent to work with! My job is to introduce them to new ideas, and then I find they run with those ideas in new directions. I currently head a large NSF project about creating virtual agents and robotic agents that "live" in people's homes for long periods of time as companions. Prof. Charles Rich is a co-head of this effort. These companion agents are always aware of the human resident, participate in conversations throughout the day on a wide range of topics, and reason about the relationship between the agent and the human. There are a number of technical challenges, some of which grad students are researching, and some of which I lead with participation from students (especially undergraduate students). One of the challenges I am currently exploring is how to have conversations that cover many topics, change enough from day to day so that they are not boring and repetitive. Another challenge is how to support a robot doing the companion tasks in a person's residence. My photo is one of me taken last summer in St. Emilion, France. I love to travel, and being a scientist gives me many opportunities to do so.

Research Interests

  • Natural Language Processing
  • AI
  • Intelligent User Interfaces
  • Collaboration
  • Human Robot Interaction


  • B.A. Math, Kalamazoo College 1971
  • M.S. Computer Science, Univ of Pittsburgh, 1975
  • Ph.D. Computer Science, MIT, 1979

Featured Publications

  • C. Rich and C. Sidner. Procedural Dialogue Authoring with Hierarchical Task Networks and Dialogue Trees. 12th International Conference on Intelligent Virtual Agents, 2012 (forthcoming).
  • L. Pfeifer Vardoulakis, L. Ring, B. Barry, C. Sidner, T. Bickmore. Designing Relational Agents as Long Term Social Companions for Older Adults. 12th International Conference on Intelligent Virtual Agents, 2012 (forthcoming).
  • S.Kang, J. Gratch, C.Sidner, R. Artstein, L. Huang, and L. Morency. Towards building a Virtual Counselor: Modeling Nonverbal Behavior during Intimate Self-Disclosure. Eleventh International Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems. 2012.
  • A. Holroyd, B. Ponsler, C. Rich, and C. Sidner, Generating Connection Events for Human-Robot Collaboration, Proceedings of Ro-Man 2011, 20th IEEE International Symposium on Robot and Human Interactive Communication, July 2011.
  • Bickmore, T., Schulman, D., Sidner, C. Modeling the Intentional Structure of Health Behavior Change Dialogue, Journal of Biomedical Informatics 44 (2011) 183-197.

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Labs and Centers

  • Interaction Lab, Fuller Laboratories

Professional Highlights

  • Fellow Assoc for Advancement of AI
  • Senior member, IEEE
  • Past President, Assoc. for Computational Linguistics
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