Herb Schorr became the Executive Director of ISI in 1998. His aim: broadening ISI’s core strengths, networking and software engineering, to diverse technologies that could serve more public- and private-sector customers in more ways. One route would have been to create strong, but independent, silos of software and hardware expertise. Instead, Schorr sought to build cross-disciplinary synergies that could help drive relevant, complimentary IT research and early-stage development.

Schorr accordingly recruited information scientists who excelled at creating systems and prototypes, attracted funding in their respective specialties, and had abilities and insight that meshed well with colleagues in other disciplines. The result was continuous growth in research funding institute-wide, along with rapidly expanding project scale and complexity. For example, ISI’s artificial intelligence group – while substantial when Schorr arrived – became one of world’s largest and most influential under his guidance.

Other major advances included LOOM, a language and environment for constructing intelligent applications, and Soar, a cognitive architecture for developing systems that exhibit intelligent behavior (co-developed with Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Michigan.) Carl Kesselman pioneered now-standard open-source grid computing technology. ISI work also helped spawn the USC Institute for Creative Technologies, which conducts virtual reality and computer simulation research, among many other achievements, while researchers earned numerous honors and awards.