Yolanda Gil

I am Principal Investigator and Project Leader of the Interactive Knowledge Capture research group at USC's Information Sciences Institute (ISI). My research focuses on intelligent interfaces for knowledge capture, which is a central topic in our projects concerning knowledge-based planning and problem solving, information analysis and assessment of trust, semantic annotation tools, agent and software choreography, and community-wide development of knowledge bases. A recent focus is assisting scientists with large-scale applications throught the design of workflows and their distributed execution.

I am the Associate Division Director for Research of the Intelligent Systems Division at ISI. The division is home to more than one hundred AI researchers and PhD students. If you would like to visit us, learn more about AI at ISI, or join our research group, please contact me!

I am also Research Professor in the Department of Computer Science at USC. I advise students, teach courses on occasion, and oversee PhD student recruiting and funding for the department. I also serve in the Advisory Committee on National and International Graduate Fellowships at USC.

Before coming to ISI in 1992, I received my PhD in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon University. My thesis focused on the acquisition of planning knowledge through the formulation of deliberate experiments with the environment.

Quick Links: short bio, CV, roster of awards and grants, research projects, publications, recent invited talks, contact info.

Recent presentations

Follow @yolandagil


Research Interests and Projects

You can find more details about my research in the web pages of the Interactive Knowledge Capture research group. Very recent projects are also described in the new awards roster.

Semantic Workflows

I have become very active in a new area: the use of AI techniques to support scientific analysis. Our work has focused on semantic workflows that describe the input data, computations in the workflow steps, and all results of the workflow execution using semantic web languages (OWL, RDF, SPARQL) which are W3C standards. We have developed expressive representations of workflows, as well as a variety of reasoning algorithms for workflow composition through interactive assistance, workflow validation, automated workflow completion, metadata propagation, and workflow retrieval. A major result from our work is the Wings workflow system. On the Wings site there are publications, a web-accessible installation of our workflow system with a tutorial, examples from different science domains, and open source software if you are interested in downloading it. See also the Pegasus project site. Read more.

Provenance and Trust

Provenance refers to the origins of objects. Software systems should generate provenance records for their results, containing assertions about the entities and activities involved in producing and delivering or otherwise influencing that object. By knowing the provenance of an object, we can for example make assessment about its validity and whether it can be trusted, we can decide how to integrate it with others, and can validate that it was generated according to specifications.

We are collaborating with the broader provenance community to develop general representations of provenance records through our participation in the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC). The W3C is an international standards body for Web Architecture and promotes the establishment of community-driven activities that may lead to standardization efforts. OGC is a standards body for geospatial information. The W3C work started with the Provenance Incubator Group, with a Final Report released in December 2010, which put forward use cases for provenance on the web, outlined requirements, compared existing provenance vocabularies, and recommended the creation of a standard. The W3C Provenance Working Group was established to develop this standard, which was released as PROV on April 2013. We are working with the OGC community to understand the specific requirements of geospatial information, analyze how PROV can be used in a geospatial context, and align PROV with other metadata standards used in the OGC community such as ISO. Provenance standards could change how trust, licensing, and information integration are done on the Web. Read more.

Social Knowledge Collection

Social content collection sites on the Web allow communities of interest to create and share information at unprecedented scale. However, because the content in these sites has very little structure the information cannot be easily aggregated to answer simple questions. In recent years several approaches have emerged for social knowledge collection, allowing a community of contributors to structure content so that information can be aggregated to answer reasonably interesting albeit simple factual queries. We are investigating the sociotechnical aspects of social knowledge collection, extending social collection frameworks with provenance information, and social content collection frameworks for science. Read more.

Interactive Knowledge Capture

We have worked on a variety of topics and projects in this area. You can see a recent slide overview of all of our research on interactive knowledge capture that I prepared for an invited talk. Our current focus is on knowledge collection from volunteers and on learning procedural knowledge from tutorial instruction. Read more.

Application Areas

I am very interested in applying Artificial Intelligence techniques to practical problems. Recently I have been focusing on scientific applications, including drug discovery, biomedical image analysis, population genomics, earthquake simulations, and aquatic ecosystem sustainability. I have worked on scientific simulation, process planning, configuration design, air campaign planning, military logistics, intelligence analysis, special operations, and grid computing.

Roster of awards and grants

Professional Activities


I am Chair of the Special Interest Group in Artificial Intelligence (SIGAI) of the Association for Computing Machinery. SIGAI supports the AI community with activities ranging from conference support, student fellowships, research awards, and publications management in the ACM Digital Library. Join ACM SIGAI today!

Conferences and Meetings

I regularly review for AAAI (I was program co-chair in 2006), IAAI, IUI (I was program chair in 2002), ISWC (I was program co-chair in 2005), K-CAP (I was general chair in 2009), WWW (I was area chair in 2010), and EKAW. I have also been in the program committee, though less frequently, for ICAPS, ICML (I was area chair in 2002), and KR.

There are two excellent papers that I strongly recommend to reviewers of conferences: "The health of research conferences and the dearth of big idea papers", by David Patterson and "Reviewing the reviewers", by Ken Church.


I am a founding Editorial Board member of the new ACM Transactions on Intelligent Systems and Technology, Journal of Web Semantics, Applied Ontology, and an Editorial Board member of IEEE Intelligent Systems, and The Knowledge Engineering Review. I was Associate Editor of Cognitive Science from 2006 to 2008.

World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)

I was chair of the Incubator Group on Provenance, which is part of the Semantic Web Activity at the World Wide Web Consortium. Provenance refers to the sources, entities, and processes involved in creating or delivering an artifact. Provenance is a topic of great interest in a variety of contexts including eBusiness, eGovernment, eScience, copyright and licensing, and linked data in the semantic web. The wiki contains several reports produced by the group, including its Final Report. I am currently involved in the follow-on W3C Provenance Working Group.

National Science Foundation (NSF)

I served in the Advisory Committee of the NSF Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) Directorate from 2006 to 2008.

American Association for Artificial Intelligence (AAAI)

I was elected in 2003 by AAAI members to a three year term in the AAAI council. I remained in the council as Chair of the AAAI Conference Committee until 2009.

Academic Activities

I chaired the Graduate Student Assistance Committee (GSAC) of the Computer Science Department at USC for more than a decade. In coordination with the Admissions Committee, we work on organizing the recruiting and funding of incoming PhD graduate students. The Computer Science Department received an increased number of fellowships over the years.

Look here for useful pointers for students about applying to a CS PhD program, surviving as a PhD student, doing research, etc.

I serve regularly in the Advisory Committee on National and International Graduate Fellowships at USC.

I taught CS541 on "Artificial Intelligence Planning" on several semesters.


All publications

Publications organized by project

Contact information:

Information Sciences Institute
University of Southern California
4676 Admiralty Way, Suite 1001
Marina del Rey, CA 90292
at isi.edu with user gil
Phone: (310) 448-8794
Fax: (310) 823-6714
Office: 941W

Assistant: Alma Nava (at isi.edu with user anava)

USC campus office (by appointment only): SAL 234

Last updated: July 31, 2008