Courses offered by the Symbolic Systems Program are listed under the subject code SYMSYS on the Stanford Bulletin's ExploreCourses web site.
The observation that both human beings and computers can manipulate symbols lies at the heart of Symbolic Systems, an interdisciplinary program focusing on the relationship between natural and artificial systems that represent, process, and act on information. Computer programs, natural languages, the human mind, and the Internet embody concepts whose study forms the core of the Symbolic Systems curriculum, such as computation, representation, communication, and intelligence. A body of knowledge and theory has developed around these notions, from disciplines such as philosophy, computer science, linguistics, psychology, statistics, neurobiology, and communication. Since the invention of computers, researchers have been working across these disciplines to study questions such as: in what ways are computers and computer languages like human beings and their languages; how can the interaction between people and computers be made easier and more beneficial?
The core requirements of the Symbolic Systems Program (SSP) include courses in symbolic logic, the philosophy of mind, formal linguistics, cognitive psychology, programming, the mathematics of computation, statistical theory, artificial intelligence, and interdisciplinary approaches to cognitive science. These courses prepare students with the vocabulary, theoretical background, and technical skills needed for study and research at the advanced undergraduate and graduate levels. Most of the courses in SSP are drawn from affiliated departments. Courses designed specifically for the program are aimed at integrating and supplementing topics covered by the department-based offerings. The curriculum includes humanistic approaches to questions about language and intelligence, as well as training in science and engineering.
SSP offers B.S. and M.S. degree programs. Both programs require students to master a common core of required courses and to choose an area of specialization.
Director: Michael C. Frank
Director of Graduate Studies: Hyowon Gweon
Associate Director: Todd Davies
Faculty Advisory Board: Jeremy Bailenson, Michael Bernstein, Ray Briggs, Todd Davies, Judith Degen, Michael C. Frank, Noah Goodman, Hyowon Gweon, Thomas Icard, Daniel Jurafsky, Daniel Lassiter, Krista Lawlor, Christopher Manning, James McClelland, Stanley Peters, Christopher Potts, Mehran Sahami, Johan van Benthem, Thomas A. Wasow
Executive Committee: Michael Bernstein, Todd Davies, Michael C. Frank, Hyowon Gweon, Thomas Icard, Christopher Potts
Aeronautics and Astronautics: Mykel Kochenderfer (Assistant Professor)
Biology: Deborah Gordon (Professor)
Classics: Reviel Netz (Professor)
Communication: Jeremy Bailenson (Professor), Jeff Hancock (Professor), Byron Reeves (Professor), Frederick Turner (Professor)
Computer Science: Maneesh Agrawala (Professor), Michael Bernstein (Assistant Professor), Emma Brunskill (Assistant Professor), David Dill (Professor, emeritus), Chelsea Finn (Assistant Professor), Michael Genesereth (Associate Professor), Oussama Khatib (Professor), Daphne Koller (Adjunct Professor), James Landay (Professor), Jean-Claude Latombe (Professor, emeritus), Marc Levoy (Professor, emeritus), Christopher Manning (Professor), Andrew Ng (Adjunct Professor), Chris Piech (Assistant Professor), Vaughan Pratt (Professor, emeritus), Eric Roberts (Professor, emeritus), Mehran Sahami (Professor, Teaching), Yoav Shoham (Professor, emeritus), Terry Winograd (Professor, emeritus), Jiajun Wu (Assistant Professor)
Economics: Muriel Niederle (Professor)
Education: Nick Haber (Assistant Professor), Raymond P. McDermott (Professor, emeritus), Roy Pea (Professor), Daniel Schwartz (Professor), Jason Yeatman (Assistant Professor)
Electrical Engineering: Chelsea Finn (Assistant Professor), Krishna Shenoy (Professor), Sebastian Thrun (Adjunct Professor)
French and Italian: Jean-Pierre Dupuy (Professor)
Genetics: Russ B. Altman (Professor)
Graduate School of Business: Amir Goldberg (Associate Professor), Michal Kosinski (Associate Professor), Baba Shiv (Professor)
History: Jessica G. Riskin (Professor)
Law: Daniel Ho, (Professor), Mark Lemley (Professor)
Linguistics: Arto Anttila (Associate Professor), Joan Bresnan (Professor, emerita), Eve Clark (Professor, emerita), Cleo Condoravdi (Professor Research), Judith Degen (Assistant Professor), Penelope Eckert (Professor), Vera Gribanova (Associate Professor), Boris Harizanov (Assistant Professor), Daniel Jurafsky (Professor), Ronald Kaplan (Adjunct Professor), Lauri Karttunen (Adjunct Professor), Martin Kay (Professor), Paul Kiparsky (Professor), Daniel Lassiter (Assistant Professor), Beth Levin (Professor), Christopher Manning (Professor), Stanley Peters (Professor, emeritus), Christopher Potts (Professor), Meghan Sumner (Associate Professor), Thomas A. Wasow (Professor, emeritus), Annie Zaenen (Adjunct Professor)
Management Science and Engineering: Sharad Goel (Assistant Professor), Pamela Hinds (Professor), John Ugander (Assistant Professor)
Mathematics: Persi Diaconis (Professor)
Mechanical Engineering: Sean Follmer (Assistant Professor)
Medicine: Russ B. Altman (Professor), Mark Musen (Professor)
Music: Jonathan Berger (Professor), Christopher Chafe (Professor), Eleanor Selfridge-Field (Adjunct Professor), Ge Wang (Associate Professor)
Neurobiology: Keren Haroush (Assistant Professor), William T. Newsome (Professor), Jennifer Raymond (Professor)
Philosophy: Michael Bratman (Professor), Ray Briggs (Professor), Rosa Cao (Assistant Professor), Mark Crimmins (Associate Professor), John Etchemendy (Professor), Dagfinn Føllesdal (Professor, emeritus), Thomas Icard III (Assistant Professor), Krista Lawlor (Professor), Anna-Sara Malmgren (Assistant Professor), John Perry (Professor, emeritus), Brian Skyrms (Professor), Johan van Benthem (Professor), Thomas A. Wasow (Professor, emeritus)
Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences: Vinod Menon (Professor)
Psychology: Herbert H. Clark (Professor, emeritus), Johannes Eichstaedt (Assistant Professor), Anne Fernald (Associate Professor), Michael C. Frank (Associate Professor), Justin Gardner (Assistant Professor), Noah Goodman (Associate Professor), Kalanit Grill-Spector (Professor), Hyowon Gweon (Assistant Professor), Brian Knutson (Professor), Ellen Markman (Professor), James McClelland (Professor), Russell Poldrack (Professor), Barbara Tversky (Professor, emerita), Anthony Wagner (Professor), Brian Wandell (Professor), Daniel Yamins (Assistant Professor), Jamil Zaki (Assistant Professor)
Statistics: Persi Diaconis (Professor), Susan P. Holmes (Professor)
Symbolic Systems: Todd Davies (Associate Director), Jeff Shrager (Adjunct Professor), Paul Skokowski (Adjunct Professor)
Other Affiliates: David Barker-Plummer (CSLI Engineering Research Associate), Keith Devlin H-STAR Operation Senior Researcher), Daniel Flickinger (CSLI Research and Development Engineer), Cheryl Phillips (Lecturer in Communications)
Graduate Advising Expectations
The Symbolic Systems Program is committed to providing academic advising in support of graduate student scholarly and professional development. When most effective, this advising relationship entails collaborative and sustained engagement by both the adviser and the advisee. As a best practice, advising expectations should be periodically discussed and reviewed to ensure mutual understanding. Both the adviser and the advisee are expected to maintain professionalism and integrity.
Faculty advisers guide students in key areas such as selecting courses, designing and conducting research, developing of teaching pedagogy, navigating policies and degree requirements, and exploring academic opportunities and professional pathways.
Graduate students are active contributors to the advising relationship, proactively seeking academic and professional guidance and taking responsibility for informing themselves of policies and degree requirements for their graduate program. Students are expected to meet regularly with their advisers and to keep them informed about their academic progress. Each student and their adviser should mutually agree on the frequency of these meetings when the advising relation begins and reassess their frequency at the start of every quarter.
For a statement of University policy on graduate advising, see the "Graduate Advising" section of this bulletin.