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Lee Spector

Computer Science, Amherst College
Adjunct Professor


Artificial intelligence, evolutionary computation, software synthesis, cognitive science, and quantum computing.


Professor Spector teaches and conducts research in artificial intelligence, artificial life, and a variety of areas at the intersections of computer science with cognitive science, physics, evolutionary biology, and the arts. Recent projects have included the development of new computational problem-solving methods based on Darwinian evolution, applications of these methods to problems in software synthesis, mathematics, quantum computing, and the development of simulations to test theories in evolutionary biology.


Ph.D. Computer Science, University of Maryland, College Park (1992); B.A. Philosophy, Oberlin College (1984). Professor Spector joined the Computer Science Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst as Adjunct Professor in 2007.  He is also a Professor of Computer Science at Amherst College and at Hampshire College. At Hampshire College he has held the MacArthur Chair, served as the elected faculty member of the Board of Trustees, and served as the Dean of the School of Cognitive Science. At Amherst College he is directing an initiative on Artificial Intelligence  in the Liberal Arts.

Activities & Awards

In 2003 Professor Spector received the highest honor bestowed by the National Science Foundation for excellence in both teaching and research, the NSF Director's Award for Distinguished Teaching Scholars. He has won several other awards and honors, including two gold medals in the Human Competitive Results competition of the Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference and election as a Fellow of the International Society for Genetic and Evolutionary Computation. He serves on the Executive Board of ACM SIGEVO, a special interest group of the Association for Computing Machinery. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the Springer journal Genetic Programming and Evolvable Machines, an Associate Editor for the ACM journal Transactions on Evolutionary Learning and Optimization, and a member of the editorial board of the MIT Press journal Evolutionary Computation. Professor Spector's research has been supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and private foundations.