Peter Norvig is an American computer scientist, programmer, designer, author, and a Distinguished Education Fellow at the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered AI (HAI). Norvig has also spent time at Google and was once head of NASA’s Computational Sciences Division.
Education and early career
Norvig completed his Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1986 and then briefly worked as a researcher at Stanford.
While Norvig completed his studies over the so-called “AI Winter” of reduced AI investment, he later told Forbes that it did not dampen his enthusiasm: “It was the most interesting field – you’re solving the hardest problems. As a grad student, you are expected to dig deep into a field, you don’t expect the result to be a product that will change the world, so it didn’t bother me too much…”
In 1991, he accepted a Senior Research Scientist role at Sun Microsystems before moving to Harlequin Software as Chief Designer between 1994 and 1996. Norvig subsequently became Chief Scientist at Junglee where he was involved in developing one of the earliest online shopping comparison services.
The mid-1990s also saw Norvig and counterpart Stuart J. Russell co-author the book Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach. The resource is often described as the most popular AI university textbook in the world and has been used by over 1,500 institutions in 134 countries.
In 1998, Norvig became NASA’s Division Chief of Computational Sciences. He also served as concurrent Head of the Computational Sciences Division at the NASA Ames Research Center (ARC). The ARC was initially conceived to study aerodynamics but now encompasses satellite, robotics, supercomputing, and intelligent/adaptive systems research, among other fields.
At NASA, Norvig oversaw a staff of 200 scientists and worked primarily on automated software engineering and data analysis, neuro-engineering, collaborative systems research, simulation-based decision-making, and autonomy and robotics.
Norvig and his team later developed the Remote Agent experiment that was placed aboard the Deep Space 1 spacecraft. The experiment represented the first use of an autonomous scheduling, planning, and fault identification system in space, and Norvig was recognized by NASA and the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) for his efforts.
Norvig’s work also served as a precursor to the autonomous driving software used in robotic spacecraft such as the Mars Rover.
After three years at NASA, Norvig joined Google in May 2001. He initially served as a director of search quality before transitioning to Director of Research in 2005.
By 2010, Norvig found himself in charge of around 100 researchers in fields such as machine translation, computer vision, speech recognition, and networking. In one influential paper, he and his colleagues advocated for the use of statistical analysis to uncover rules embedded in data and encouraged others to shun theory development.
Over a period of some fifteen years Norvig harnessed the vast amounts of data at Google’s disposal and helped it succeed over the Web-era big data wave that ensued.
In October 2021, it was announced that Norvig would be stepping back from Google after 20 years at the company. He would still be involved with Google in a limited capacity but would spend most of his time at Stanford University’s Human-Centered AI Institute (HAI).
According to the official announcement on HAI’s website, Norvig eloquently explained that “Throughout my career I’ve gone back and forth between the major top-level domains: .edu, .com, and .gov. After 20 years with one company and after 18 months stuck working at home, I thought it was a good time to try something new, and to concentrate on education.”
- Peter Norvig is an American computer scientist, programmer, designer, author, and a Distinguished Education Fellow at the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered AI (HAI). Norvig has also spent time at Google and was once head of NASA’s Computational Sciences Division.
- The mid-1990s saw Peter Norvig and counterpart Stuart J. Russell co-author the book Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach. The book is often referenced as the most popular AI university textbook in the world.
- In 1998, Norvig became NASA’s Division Chief of Computational Sciences and developed autonomous systems that would later serve as the basis for the Mars rover, among other initiatives. Norvig joined Google in May 2001 and remains at the company today – although most of his time is spent at Stanford’s HAI.
- Background and Expertise:
- Peter Norvig is an American computer scientist, programmer, designer, and author.
- He is a Distinguished Education Fellow at the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered AI (HAI) and has also spent significant time at Google and NASA.
- Education and Early Career:
- Norvig earned his Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1986.
- Despite the challenging times of the “AI Winter,” he remained enthusiastic about the field, finding the complexity of the problems to be the most interesting.
- Authorship and Book:
- In the mid-1990s, Norvig co-authored the book “Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach” with Stuart J. Russell.
- This book is renowned as one of the most popular AI university textbooks globally and has been used by institutions worldwide.
- NASA Involvement:
- Google Career:
- Contribution to Google’s Success:
- Norvig harnessed Google’s data resources and played a crucial role in navigating the era of big data on the web.
- Transition to HAI:
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