Center for the Study of Language and Information

Center for the Study of Language and Information

Stanford University has many centers and institutes dedicated to the study of various specific topics. These centers and institutes may be within a department, within a school but across departments, an independent laboratory, institute or center reporting directly to the Dean of Research and outside of any school, or semi-independent of the University itself.

Independent laboratories, institutes and centers

These report directly to the Vice-Provost and Dean of Research and are outside of any school though any faculty involved in them must belong to a department in one of the schools. Those with separate articles include:

Center for the Study of Language and Information

The Center for the Study of Language and Information (CSLI) is an independent research center at Stanford University. Founded in 1983 by philosophers, computer scientists, linguists, and psychologists from Stanford, SRI International, and Xerox PARC, it strives to study all forms of information and improve how humans and computers acquire and process it.

CSLI was initially funded by a US$15 million grant from the System Development Foundation (SDF) for the Situated Language Project, the name of which reflects the strong influence of the work on situation semantics by philosophers John Perry and Jon Barwise, two of the initial leaders of CSLI. This funding supported operations for the first few years as well as the construction of Cordura Hall. Subsequent funding has come from research grants and from an industrial affiliates program.

CSLI's publications branch, founded and still headed by Dikran Karagueuzian, has grown into an important publisher of work in linguistics and related fields. Researchers associated with CSLI include Ronald Kaplan, Patrick Suppes, the mathematicians Keith Devlin, and Solomon Feferman, the linguists Ivan Sag and Joan Bresnan, Annie Zaenen, Lauri Karttunen, and psychologists Herb Clark, B. J. Fogg and Clifford Nass.

CSLI produces the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.


Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies

Stanford Institute for International Studies

The Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies is a university-wide research and teaching institution at Stanford devoted to understanding the problems, policies, and processes that cross international borders and affect lives around the world.

Through its interdisciplinary faculty and its eleven centers and research programs, the Institute advances knowledge and understanding of governance, health policy, migration, development, security, and the dynamics of regions such as Asia, Europe, and Latin America. The Institute's faculty conduct research, lead interdisciplinary research programs, educate graduate and undergraduate students, and organize policy outreach that engages Stanford in addressing some of the world's most pressing problems. 

The institute is composed of six research centers:


Founded in 1983 as the Institute for International Studies, IIS added Stanford to the beginning of its name in 2003, and is abbreviated as Stanford IIS. On September 1, 2005 Stanford IIS was renamed the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies because of $50 million donation to the Institute from Brad Freeman and Ron Spogli, and is now abbreviated as FSI. IIS was founded by former Stanford President Richard Wall Lyman, who became its first director.

In addition to its six centers, the Institute sponsors the Ford Dorsey Program in International Policy Studies, the Inter-University Center for Japanese Language Studies, the Program on Energy & Sustainable Development, the Rural Education Action Program, the Stanford Center at Peking University, and the Stanford Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education.

The current director of FSI is Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar, the Stanley Morrison Professor of Law at Stanford Law School and a former official in the Obama and Clinton presidential administrations. Former Directors include Stanford President Emeritus Gerhard Casper; Coit D. Blacker, who served as Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs and Senior Director for Russian, Ukrainian and Eurasian Affairs at the National Security Council under National Security Advisor Anthony Lake during the Clinton administration; David Holloway; Walter Falcon; and Stanford President Emeritus Richard Lyman.

Stanford Humanities Center

The Stanford Humanities Center is an institution of advanced humanities research located at Stanford University, Stanford, CA, U.S.A. Founded in 1980, it is an integral part of Stanford’s internationally renowned research community, bringing together scholars from across disciplinary boundaries to work on projects that advance understanding of human experience.

Mission statement

The Stanford Humanities Center sponsors advanced research into the historical, philosophical, and cultural dimensions of human experience. The Center’s research workshops, fellowships, and public events contribute to the intellectual and creative life of the University, foster innovative scholarship and teaching, and enrich the community’s understanding of what it means to be human.


The Stanford Humanities Center was founded in 1980 to spearhead new initiatives in humanities research at Stanford, as the result of one of former Stanford President Donald Kennedy's first acts in office. The Humanities Center's early goals remain central to its mission. These include: providing state-of-the-art research and writing facilities for humanities scholars; initiating studies that examine the nature and function of the humanities; focusing on interdisciplinary issues; and contributing to the intellectual life of the Stanford community as a whole through lectures, seminars, conferences, and research workshops.

In 1980, Ian Watt was named first director, and by 1982–83 the Humanities Center had welcomed its first thirteen fellows. Since then, it has undergone several notable changes, including the introduction of the research workshops by Director Keith Baker in 1995. To accommodate the continuing expansion of the Stanford Humanities Center, it moved in September 2001 from the Mariposa and Rogers Houses and the Annex — originally private residences — to the newly vacated Bowman House (which had been home to the Alumni Association), where it remains today. To supplement the fellowships already offered to high-level scholars, the Center introduced undergraduate research assistant fellowships in the same year to provide resources for advanced humanities students. The Center’s Humanities Archive Lab, a computer lab that offers easy access to the tools necessary to produce digital content, opened in 2004, in accordance with the increasing emphasis on the digital humanities.

The Center has now grown into a veritable research hub, with up to thirty fellowships awarded every year, almost twenty year-long research workshops, numerous public events, and new digital initiatives.


The Stanford Humanities Center offers numerous fellowships to Stanford faculty, Stanford graduate students, external faculty, and, beginning in 2001, Stanford undergraduates. Since its founding in 1980, the Center has awarded external fellowships to more than 550 faculty from nearly 100 universities in the United States and in other countries. It also offers six to eight internal fellowships annually to Stanford faculty and approximately eight Geballe Dissertation Fellowships to Stanford graduate students. Finally, it offers research assistant fellowships to advanced undergraduate students, fostering communications between the Humanities Center and the Stanford undergraduate community.

Research workshops

Begun in 1995 by former Director Keith Baker, Research Workshops at the Stanford Humanities Center strive to support the development of humanistic research and teaching. These workshops bring together faculty and advanced graduate students at Stanford, as well as scholars from other institutions, to present their research and explore topics of common intellectual concern. One major aspect of the workshops is the unique interdisciplinary engagements that explore a multitude of research topics, encouraging faculty in their research efforts and training graduate students to participate in scholarly dialogues.

Public events and lectures

The Stanford Humanities Center also offers a number of public events and lectures. The renowned Presidential Lectures were established in 1998 and are funded by the President’s Office and endowments. Administered under the auspices of the Humanities Center, they have brought distinguished scholars, artists, and critics to Stanford for a variety of interactions with faculty, students, and the community at large. Speakers have included Isabel Allende, Roger Chartier, Stephen Jay Gould, Douglas Hofstadter, and Gayatri Spivak, among other well-known scholars.

Public events also include other endowed lectures and the New Directions series, as well as events co-sponsored with other organizations. The New Directions lectures strive to present future trends in humanities research, and in particular the ways in which research is changing with advances in information technology.


The administrative structure of the Stanford Humanities Center is as follows:

  • Director: Appointed by the Provost of the University, the Director is the chief executive officer of the Center and reports to the Dean of Research. Normally the appointment of the Director will be for not more than two three-year terms.
  • Associate Director: Appointed by the Director, subject to the approval of the Dean of Research. Normally the appointment of the Associate Director will be for not more than two three-year terms.
  • Advisory Board: Appointed by the Provost, the Advisory Board consists of up to twenty members. Members include representatives of the Stanford faculty, and scholars from outside the university. It may also include public members from the wider Stanford community and the fields of philanthropy and public service. Terms of office on the Advisory Board will normally be for three years, renewable once.


  • Ian P. Watt, 1980–1985
  • Bliss Carnochan, 1985–1991
  • Herbert Lindenberger, 1991–1992 (interim)
  • Wanda Corn, 1992–1995
  • Keith Baker, 1995–2000
  • Peter Stansky, 2000–2001
  • John Bender, 2001–2008
  • Aron Rodrigue, 2008–present

Other research centers

Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory

The Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (also known as Stanford AI Lab or SAIL) is the artificial intelligence (AI) research laboratory of Stanford University. The current director is Associate Professor Andrew Ng.

Early years

SAIL was started in 1963 by John McCarthy, after he moved from Massachusetts Institute of Technology to Stanford. From 1965 to 1980, it was housed in the D.C. Power building, named after an executive of GTE corporation which donated it after abandoning a planned research center there (not for direct current power).[1] During this period it was one of the leading centers for AI research and an early ARPANET site.[2]

The D.C. Power building was on a hill overlooking Felt Lake in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains overlooking Stanford. It was about 5 miles (8 km) from the main campus, at 1600 Arastradero Road, midway between Page Mill Road and Alpine Road.[1] This area was, and remains, quite rural in nature. Combined with the rather extreme 1960s architecture of the place, this remote setting led to a certain isolation.[1] Some people who worked there reported feeling as if they were already in the future. The building was demolished in 1986; as of 2003, the site is home to Portola Pastures (an equestrian center adjacent to the Arastradero Open Space Preserve).[3]

SAIL created the WAITS operating system on a computer called SAIL.[4] WAITS ran on various models of Digital Equipment Corporation PDP-10 computers, starting with the PDP-6, then the KA10 and KL10. WAITS also ran on Foonly systems at CCRMA and LLL. The SAIL system was shut down in 1991.[4]

SAIL, the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Language, was developed by Dan Swinehart and Bob Sproull of the Stanford AI Lab in 1970.[5]

Demise and rebirth

In 1980, its activities were merged into the university's Computer Science Department and it moved into Margaret Jacks Hall in the main Stanford campus.

SAIL was reopened in 2004, with Sebastian Thrun becoming its new director. SAIL's 21st century mission is to "change the way we understand the world";[6] its researchers contribute to fields such as bioinformatics, cognition, computational geometry, computer vision, decision theory, distributed systems, game theory, general game playing, image processing, information retrieval, knowledge systems, logic, machine learning, multi-agent systems, natural language, neural networks, planning, probabilistic inference, sensor networks, and robotics.[6]

SAIL alumni played a major role in many Silicon Valley firms, becoming founders of now-large firms such as Cisco Systems and Sun Microsystems as well as smaller companies such as Vicarm Inc. (acquired by Unimation), Foonly, Imagen, Xidex, Valid Logic Systems, and D.E. Shaw & Co. Research accomplishments at SAIL were many, including in the fields of speech recognition and robotics.[4]

Stanford Center for Entrepreneurial Studies

The Center for Entrepreneurial Studies (CES) at Stanford University is a multidisciplinary business oriented program targeted to both undergraduate and graduate students. It incorporates courses from Stanford University School of Engineering and Stanford Graduate School of Business. It also incorporates Stanford Mayfield Scholars Program that seeks to give select undergraduate students an opportunity to take business related coursework and to intern in high tech startups. CES was founded by Tom Byers and Charles A. Holloway.

Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics

The Stanford University Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA), founded by John Chowning, is a multi-discipline facility where composers and researchers work together using computer-based technology both as an artistic medium and as a research tool. CCRMA's director is Chris Chafe. CCRMA's current faculty includes a mix of musicians and engineers including Julius Smith, Jonathan Berger, Max Mathews (emeritus), Ge Wang, Tom Rossing, Jonathan Abel, Marina Bosi, David Berners, Jay Kadis, and Fernando Lopez-Lezcano. Widely used digital sound synthesis techniques like FM synthesis and digital waveguide synthesis were developed CCRMA and licensed to industry partners.[7] The FM synthesis patent brought Stanford $20 million before it expired, making it (in 1994) "the second most lucrative licensing agreement in Stanford's history".[8]

The Knoll

Almost 100 years ago, this Spanish Gothic residence, known as the Knoll, was originally built as a residence for the University's President. In 1946, the building became home to the Music Department, and then in 1986, CCRMA took over residency.

Damaged in 1989 during the Loma Prieta earthquake, the Knoll nonetheless housed CCRMA in its damaged condition until a complete internal reconstruction between 2004–2005. The reopening of the facility was celebrated in the Spring of 2005 with the CCRMA: newStage Festival. This unique building now comprises several state-of-the-art music studios and top-notch research facilities, hosting a variety of students, artists and scientists.

CCRMA is affiliated with the Center for Computer Assisted Research in the Humanities (CCARH), also located at Stanford. CCARH conducts research on constructing computer databases for music and on creating programs that allow researchers to access, analyze, print, and electronically perform the music.

Stanford Institute for Creativity and the Arts (SiCa)

The Stanford Institute for Creativity and the Arts (SiCa), established in 2006, serves as the core programmatic hub for the Stanford Arts Initiative, leading the development of new undergraduate arts programs, hosting artists in residence, awarding grants for multidisciplinary arts research and teaching, incubating collaborative performances and exhibitions with campus partners and other institutions, and providing centralized communication for arts events and programs at Stanford University.

Michelle R. Clayman Institute for Gender Research

Founded in 1974, the Michelle R. Clayman Institute for Gender Research at Stanford University is one of the nation’s oldest research organizations focused on the study of gender. The Clayman Institute designs basic interdisciplinary research, creates knowledge, networks people and ideas at Stanford, nationally, and internationally to effect change and promote gender equality. The Clayman Institute plays an integral role in the Stanford community by bringing together local, national and international scholars and thought leaders from across disciplines to create knowledge and effect change. The Clayman Institute is located at Serra House at Stanford.[9]


In 1972 faculty and graduate students in the feminist movement were the impetus behind the formation of the Institute. In 1974, the Center for Research on Women (CROW) was the first interdisciplinary center or institute of its kind and quickly built a strong reputation under the direction of Myra Strober, the founding Director. The reputation of CIGR grew outside of Stanford, and the University of Chicago Press chose Stanford as the base of the second five-year rotation of its new interdisciplinary journal, Signs.[10] In 1983 the Institute was renamed the Institute for Research on Women and Gender (IRWG) and continued to expand the gender conversation with the “Difficult Dialogues” program, which ran in the 1990s through 2004. In 2004, the new Director, Professor Londa Schiebinger, a historian of science, formed a plan to create a series of research initiatives on gender issues, backed by a research fellowship program, that would attract scholars from Stanford and abroad. With the help of matching funds from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and strong support from the Institute’s Advisory Council, Schiebinger spearheaded a fundraising drive to create an endowment for the Institute. IRWG was renamed in honor of Michelle R. Clayman, the major donor in the campaign, who serves as the Chair of the Institute’s Advisory Council.


The Clayman Institute designs basic research and supports the creation of knowledge through its Fellowships and interdisciplinary programs. Recent reports/publications include:

  • Gendered Innovations in Science and Engineering, Londa Schiebinger, ed., 2008.
  • Dual-Career Academic Couples: What Universities Need to Know. The Michelle R. Clayman Institute, 2008. This Clayman Institute research study shows that over 70% of faculty are in dual-career relationships. This report tackles tough questions and recommends policies to maximize options.
  • Silicon Valley's high tech industry and provides practical recommendations to employers on overcoming these barriers.


The Clayman Institute runs two fellowship programs. The Faculty Research Fellowships seek to drive intellectual and social innovation through interdisciplinary gender studies. They include residential fellowships for tenured, tenure-track, and postdoctoral scholars from Stanford University, and U.S. and foreign universities. The Clayman Institute also offers Graduate Dissertation Fellowships for Stanford University doctoral students. Fellowships are awarded to students who are in the writing stages of their dissertations, and whose research focuses on women and/or gender.


  • 1974–77 Myra Strober
  • 1977-79 Diane Middlebrook
  • 1979-84 Myra Strober
  • 1984-85 Marilyn Yalom (Deputy Director, as Acting Director)
  • 1985-86 Judith Brown (Acting Director)
  • 1986-90 Deborah Rhode
  • 1990-97 Iris Litt
  • 1997–2001 Laura Carstensen
  • 2001–04 Barbara Gelpi (Acting Director)
  • 2004–10 Londa Schiebinger
  • 2010- Shelley J. Correll

See also


External links

  • Dean of Research list of Independent Laboratories, Institutes and Centers
  • Research Centers (not independent)
  • SAIL homepage
  • CCRMA homepage
    • Searchable CCRMA archive:
  • CSLI's website
  • Official Web Site of FSI
  • Arts Initiative/SiCa Website
  • Stanford Humanities Center main website
  • Michelle R. Clayman Institute
  • Charles Babbage Institute, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.