105-107 Forsyth Street
132B Nightingale Hall
Boston, MA 02115
ATTN: Kevin Gold, 202 WVH
360 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
- Artificial intelligence
- Theory of computation
- PhD in computer science, Yale University
- BA in computer science, Harvard University
Kevin Gold received his PhD from Yale University in 2008 for research on how robots could learn the meanings of pronouns and other abstract words from examples. Before coming to Northeastern, he was the Norma Wilentz Hess Visiting Assistant Professor in the computer science department at Wellesley College. Then, he was an assistant professor in the Interactive Games and Media Department at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Gold had a brief interlude in which he worked for industry, including as a research scientist at Lincoln Laboratory and a software engineer at Google. He is happy to have returned to teaching, now as an assistant teaching professor in the Khoury College of Computer Sciences.
What is your educational background?
I received my PhD from Yale University. My advisor was Brian Scassellati, and our lab was called the “Social Robotics Lab,” emphasizing the kinds of AI necessary for robots to understand and interact with human beings. I think it is safe to say that no robots currently understand us.
Can you describe your research focus in more detail? Is your current research path what you always had in mind for yourself, or has it evolved?
My most recent research – which was a little while ago, because I’m only just returning to academia – was on AI techniques for games. I had drifted from intention recognition for robots to intention recognition within virtual worlds, which I think is more tractable, not to mention that games are a passion of mine. I think it takes time to learn what really matters to you. At the moment, what matters to me is teaching, at least on a professional level. I may combine my passions of teaching and gaming in the future.
What are some specifics of your industry experience?
After my undergraduate education, I worked on mobile movie players for Epson R&D. Then there was graduate school, and my first academic jobs. My first industry job after that was to work for Lincoln Laboratory in one of its cybersecurity groups. Following Lincoln, I worked for Google, first for the YouTube quality of experience team tracking playback errors, and then for the question-answering part of the search division. It was interesting in each of these areas trying to apply different AI techniques – and then trying to convince others that those techniques were the right approach.
What courses/subjects do you teach?
At other institutions, I have taught artificial intelligence, games, introductory web programming, and more specialized flavors of AI. At Northeastern University, I’ve taught theory of computation, algorithms, AI, and a variety of introductory courses for incoming students ranging from first-year undergraduates to first-year master’s students. I enjoy the challenge of making clear the value of the math and theory to a skeptical, pragmatic audience.
What do you enjoy most about what you teach? Is there anything notable about the kind of students that you teach?
Some parts of theory are hard, and I enjoy seeing one of those difficult topics finally click for a student. Office hours are nice for that, because you can seek out the source of a student’s confusion, figure out what it is, and fix it. I work with a wide variety of students, but I think some of the things that most of them share in common are the desire to work hard and the determination to succeed. Northeastern students are a pleasure to work with.