60 years of computer science and AI
Calton Hill

Celebrating 60 years of computer science and AI research

In 2023, the School of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh celebrates 60 years of Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence (AI) research.  

The University of Edinburgh traces the origins of its activities around AI to a small research group established in 1963, led by Donald Michie. The same year the Computer Unit was created and Sidney Michaelson was appointed its Director.

35 years later, in 1998, different activities around the science of information (including computer science, artificial intelligence, cognitive science and others) were brought together and a new Division (later changed to School) of Informatics was formed.


1963 - Donald Michie forms a research group into AI, the Computer Unit with Sidney Michaelson as a Director is created

1966 - formation of the Department of Machine Intelligence and Perception, and the Department of Computer Science

1969 - formation of the School of Epistemics (later transformed into the Centre for Cognitive Science)

1974 - formation of the Department of Artificial Intelligence

1987 - formation of the Laboratory for Foundations of Computer Science

1998 - formation of the Division (later School) of Informatics

2008 - opening of the Informatics Forum

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Edinburgh computer science and AI

Edinburgh has a proud history of being at the forefront of research and education in both computer science and artificial intelligence.  The 60 year anniversary is a perfect opportunity for us to reflect on the many research achievements that have originated in Edinburgh over this period, as well as the many, many students we have graduated.  Computer science and artificial intelligence from Edinburgh have had significant impact in the world through both our graduates and our research, and continue to do so.  The anniversary also encourages us to look forward and contemplate the future, for Edinburgh and for the disciplines more broadly.  In the last decade, digital technology has progressed to pervade all aspects of our lives --- research and training in CS and AI are of increasing importance.  Thus we have much to celebrate, but also much to do!

Professor Jane Hillston, FRS, FRSE

Head of School of Informatics

Highlights in the history of Edinburgh computer science and AI research

The School of Informatics celebrates these two vital areas of research that are at the core of its existence by leading on a programme of events and activities throughout 2023. 

We have a programme of events aimed at academic and industrial partners.

General public are welcome to join us for public events and activities.

Calling all Edinburgh computer science and AI alumni - come to Edinburgh on the 21st and 22nd October

Link to the event page

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Researching computer science and AI since 1963