Barbara Hayes-Roth


Senior Research Scientist & Lecturer, Computer Science, Stanford University 1982-Present
Address: A220 Gates Building, Computer Science Department
Phone (650) 723-0506; EMail:
Web Site: and www.ksl.Stanford.EDU/projects/AIS/

Founder and CEO, Extempo Systems, Inc. - 1996-Present
Address: Extempo, 1775 Woodside Road, Redwood City, CA 94061
Telephone: (650) 701 2015; Email:
Web Site:

Previous Employment

   1979-1980     Consulting Associate Professor, Computer Science and Psychology, Stanford
1976-1982 Consulting Assistant Professor, Psychology Department, UCLA
1976-1982 Member of Research Staff, Rand Corporation, Santa Monica, CA
1974-1976 Member of Technical Staff, Bell Laboratories, Murray Hill, NJ
1972-1974 Teaching Fellow, Psychology and Computer Science, The University of Michigan


   Ph.D.     Cognitive Psychology, The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, 1974
NSF Fellowship 1972-1974, NIH Fellowship 1971-1972
M.S. Cognitive Psychology, The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, 1973
B.A. Psychology, Boston University, Boston, MA, 1971
Phi Beta Kappa, Magna Cum Laude, Distinction in Psychology


Work on Smart Interactive Characters: 1994-Present

Dr. Hayes-Roth's work on Smart Interactive Characters concerns the development of software "minds" for virtual characters who have distinctly human qualities and capabilities, such as identity and personality, affect and empathy, knowledge and expertise, life story and evolving social relationships. Characters communicate in natural language conversation, through text or speech-based interfaces. They may have visual embodiments, enabling them to communicate through gesture, body language, and facial expression. Characters perceive and interpret other events in their environments, for example mouse clicks, menu selections, or symbolic actions performed by people or other characters. They make their own decisions about what to say and do in real time. Characters learn by watching, listening, and talking to people or other characters. They adapt their behavior to what they have learned and build relationships over a history of shared experience. Characters operate over the Internet, making use of various back-end resources and communicating with people via personal computer, kiosk, PDA, phone, or other device. They may play a variety of roles in diverse applications.

Dr. Hayes-Roth began her work on Smart Interactive Characters with her invention of the Method of Directed Improvisation, enabling characters to improvise their own behavior, while operating under the constraints of abstract directions. Dr. Hayes-Roth was honored for her invention as a Finalist in the 1997 Discover Magazine Awards for Technology Innovation. In February, 2000, she was awarded Patent 6,031,549. She has four related patents under review. Dr. Hayes-Roth continues to develop both the technology and the art underlying Smart Interactive Characters, integrating concepts across multiple disciplines, including: psychology, education, literature, communications, writing, improvisation, acting, animation, narrative, story, child development, interface design, human computer interaction, and artificial intelligence.

Smart Interactive Characters -- Work at Stanford

At Stanford, Dr. Hayes-Roth has managed a lively interdisciplinary research group, the Virtual Theater Project 1995-Present. Students and faculty collaborators came from many parts of the University, including Computer Science, Symbolic Systems, English, Drama, Communications, and Education. The Project has ranged from 5 to 10 members at a time, with a total of approximately 20 people participating during the last 5 years. The Virtual Theater Project was supported by a seed grant from Stanford's CSLI, an Innovative Research Award from the Stanford University Dean of Research, and contracts and gifts from DARPA, NSF, and Intel.

The Virtual Theater Project team pioneered innovative applications of Smart Interactive Characters related to children, learning, and the arts, as illustrated by the following examples.

Improv Puppets is modeled after traditional children's puppet play, with a twist: the puppets are animated and smart. Two kids direct the improvisational behavior of two puppets in a shared virtual world. The puppets exhibit simple, but adorable animated behaviors, and speak lines of dialogue authored and recorded by children. Each puppeteer uses graphical buttons and sliders to direct one puppet's actions and gestures, spoken dialogue, and moods (happiness, sociability, energy). Responding in real time, each puppet improvises a course of action that follows directions, but also reflects its own decisions, dynamic moods, environmental events, and normal variability. Similarly, each puppet decides which buttons to make available for selection by the puppeteer at each point in time. The result is story improvisation based on collaboration between two kids and two puppets. The Improv Puppets system has been enjoyed by hundreds of people at conference exhibitions and at Stanford's 1996 Technology and the Arts Exhibit for the public. A PhD thesis in the Stanford School of Education demonstrated that playing with Improv Puppets facilitates children's development of a theory of mind, enhancing fundamental social and literacy skills. Key Project Members: Robert van Gent, Ruth Duran Huard, Eric Sinkoff, Lee Brownston.

Tigrito is modeled after Improv Puppets. It offers characters that are real stuffed animals whose animated behaviors are displayed as video clips. It also offers alternative modes of play, with one or both puppets taking direction or acting autonomously. Key Project Members: Heidy Maldonado, Antoine Picard, Patrick Doyle.

Conejito is similar to Tigrito, except that the characters are larger-than-life animated rabbits projected on a "magic mirror" and allowing the children to interact by stepping on a touch pad or pointing with a laser. Key Project Members: Heidy Maldonado, Antoine Picard.

Cyber Café also is modeled after Improv Puppets, but is designed for adults. It provides a multi-user 3D graphical environment, which one or two persons may enter in the form of animated characters, whose behavior and moods can be directed to order food and drinks, sit at tables, walk around, chat with friends or the waiter, etc. The waiter is played by an autonomous character, who performs the usual role-appropriate functions, but may be directed to do so with alternative personality settings for submission-aggression and introvert-extrovert. Key Project Members: Daniel Rousseau, Danny Huber, Lee Brownston.

While the Master is Away is modeled after a classic improv acting scenario. Two animated actors play complementary roles as Master and Servant, with all of the usual privileges and restrictions. The user can direct the actors in three ways: who plays which role, general plot outline, and high-low status dynamics. Although the actors are mute, they use expressive gestures and body language to convey actions, communications, affect, and status. Their interacting improvisational choices cascade into performances that are predictable in plot, but unpredictable and often entertaining in the realization. Key Project Members: Robert van Gent.

Merlyn the Museum Guide is an animated talking character who guides children through an online museum gallery displaying paintings by Renaissance Masters. Merlyn provides children companionship, commentary, conversation, games, and stories to enhance the learning experience. Key Project Members: Patrick Doyle.

Smart Interactive Characters -- Work at Extempo

At Extempo, Dr. Hayes-Roth and her colleagues have created sophisticated commercial technology for interactive characters, including a server-based run-time engine, development tools, and analysis tools. They have also created a variety of prototypes and commercial applications related to customer relationship management, online learning, and interactive entertainment. Extempo's Imp Character Development (ICE) tools enable non-technical authors (e.g., writers, educators, marketing experts) to create Smart Interactive Characters that have distinctive personas, well-defined functional roles, multi-dimensional mood dynamics, natural language conversation, social and learning skills, and adaptation. The R&D underlying this technology and tools was supported by competitive awards from the NIST ATP (Advanced Technology Program).

Dr. Hayes-Roth and her colleagues recently began offering open access to the ICE tools and other assets on

Illustrative examples of applications developed by Extempo include the following.

Mr. Clean is an interactive version of the well-known Procter & Gamble brand icon. Working on his own site,, he offers cleaning advice from his knowledge base and back-end databases. Mr. Clean comes to life with his own distinctive persona, chatting with consumers about his cleaning habits, earring, bald head, etc.. Key Project Members: Hallie Kushner, Michaela Schlocker, Steve Sherer.

Virtual Jack is modeled after the real Wheaten Terrier of Andrea Reisman, CEO of Entertaining visitors to with his sweet and witty persona, Jack also helps them navigate, encourages them to visit key Web pages, and builds rich customer profiles. Key Project Members: Hallie Kushner, Michaela Schlocker, Steve Sherer.

EarthDog helps kids learn about the environment on his own site, Key Project Members: John Calhoun, Michaela Schlocker.

Lenny Pochnik is the only "live" character in "Paul is Dead," an episodic Web-based interactive mystery game produced by La Fong Interactive for Microsoft and Time-Warner. Lenny is Web master of the site players visit to view successive episodes and try to solve the mystery. He opens live chat connections to players (when he feels like it), shares his own theories and rants, and, if the player gets on his good side, reveals potentially useful clues. Key Project Members: Keith Wescourt, Winter Mead, Mitch Fergusen.

Kyra helps kids learn about van Gogh on Extempo's site. . She has lessons for beginners and more advanced students and brightens her presentations with friendly kid-talk. Key Project Members: Oceana Blueskies, Heidy Maldonado, Jim Becquette, Karen Amano.

Q acts as Web Assistant on, where he accepts natural language commands from users and mediates instant access to back-end functions-search, weather, stock prices, etc. Key Project Members: Satoru Isaka.

Linda Peyton-Chen helps visitors to learn about the company's technology capabilities and authoring tools. Linda provides direct instruction, adapting her offerings and her style of instruction to preferences by the visitor, as well as to inferred states of mind she tracks over the course of the interaction. Key Project Members: Karen Amano, Michaela Schlocker.

Erin O'Malley is a virtual bartender, working in a multi-user bar on She can describe, suggest, and mix hundreds of drinks. She chats about herself and her interests, especially rock 'n roll. She interleaves multiple conversations and remembers which customers are waiting for drinks. Key Project Members: Winter Mead, Keith Wescourt, Vaughan Johnson, Robert van Gent.

Jennifer James is a virtual auto salesperson for a fictional auto company, Samson Motors, at Moving about in a 3D world, she displays vehicles, opening hoods, doors, and trunks. Jennifer describes vehicles of interest to the customer, adapting her presentations to the customer's level of technical expertise and other information she has learned, such as marital status, children, vacation preferences. Jennifer learns customer information incidentally or through polite inquiries during social chat. Key Project Members: Vaughan Johnson, Keith Wescourt, Katherine Isbister, Robert van Gent.

Max is an engaging, witty human-like virtual dog. He has customizable skills for guiding visitors around Web sites, providing value-added commentary, and answering questions. He has provided services on several Web sites, including and Key Project Members: Winter Mead, Keith Wescourt, Vaughan Johnson, Robert van Gent.

iSanta and iCupid are customizable interactive email iMessengers. In a typical case, a sender might direct an iMessenger to deliver a personalized message to a designated recipient, to ask a question and to give a response-dependent follow-up comment. After delivering the sender's interactive message, the iMessenger offers to carry a return message to the sender and then to chat with the recipient about the holiday. He also returns a complete report of the interaction to the sender. Key Project Members: John Calhoun, Hallie Kushner, Michaela Schlocker.

Smart Interactive Characters -- Selected Publications

Smart Interactive Characters -- Selected Invited Speeches

Smart Interactive Characters -- Selected Exhibitions

Many of Dr. Hayes-Roth's Smart Interactive Characters have been exhibited in diverse venues, for example: IASTED CATE 2001, SIGGRAPH 2001, DEMO 2001 Executive Conference, Bots 2001, Laval 2000, Gartner eCommerce 2000, Gartner ITXpo 1999, Disney Epcot Center 1998, Spotlight 1998, Imagina 1998, Siggraph 1998, Web Builder 1998, Autonomous Agents 1997, CHI 1995.

Work on Adaptive Intelligent Agents: 1982-1995

Dr. Hayes-Roth's research on Adaptive Intelligent Agents concerns software agents that coordinate perception, cognition, and action in the pursuit of multiple goals, while functioning autonomously in dynamic, uncertain environments. Her work addressed both scientific questions and challenging applications in medical monitoring, engineering, and office robots. Dr. Hayes-Roth's over-arching goal was to develop a general and powerful architecture to support the class of Adaptive Intelligent Agents, with specialized extensions to support particular classes of Agents.

Dr. Hayes-Roth began her work by inventing the Dynamic Control Architecture. Her team implemented the BB1 system as an evolving architectural model, a platform for research, and a tool for industry. Reflecting her earlier work in Cognitive Science, the Architecture reflects psychological properties, as well as innovative constructs in AI and Software Architecture, with widely cited articles in all of these disciplines. Dr. Hayes-Roth's Agents project averaged 10-15 members at a time, including approximately 40 people over the life of the program. Faculty collaborators came from application disciplines: Medicine, Electrical Engineering, and Civil Engineering. The research program was supported by contracts, grants, and gifts from DARPA, NSF, FMC, Rockwell, Boeing, EPRI, and other government/industry sponsors.

Agent Architecture -- Selected Publications

Agent Architecture -- Selected Invited Speeches

Adaptive Intelligent Agents -- Applications in Real-Time Control

Real-Time Control Agents must continuously monitor and interpret sensor data from external systems. They must predict, detect, and diagnose faults; explain and recommend corrective action; and assume certain responsibilities for closed-loop control. Typical problems do not permit optimal algorithmic solutions. Instead, they present severe constraints on both real time and computational time and space, requiring trade-offs, satisficing behavior, and action under uncertainty. To address these requirements, Dr. Hayes-Roth extended the Dynamic Control Architecture to support integration and coordination of multiple reasoning methods (offering different costs/benefits) for the multiple reasoning tasks required. She also extended the architecture with sophisticated mechanisms for dynamic perceptual filtering and attention.

Real-Time Control Agents -- Selected Applications

Guardian (1988-1996) monitors ICU patient data in real time, detects and diagnoses problems, performs certain closed-loop control functions, recommends treatments, and gives explanations. Key Project Members: David Ash, Rich Washington, Rattikorn Hewett, Mike Hewett, Anne Collinot, Serdar Uckun, John Drakopoulos, Vlad Dabija, Jan-Eric Larrsen, Adam Seiver, David Gaba.

Patient Advocate (1995-1996) assists maternity patients who are at risk for gestational diabetes to monitor their own behavior and physiological condition. Key Project Members: Silvia Miksch.

IRTMM (1988-1990) monitors power plant equipment for predictive maintenance. Key Project Members: Henry Sipma.

uFactory (1988-1990) monitors semi-conductor fabrication processes for real-time control. Key Project Members: Janet Murdock.

AIbots (1993-1994) are physical robots that operate in office environments, perform delivery, surveillance, and visitor escort functions, and learn to improve their performance with experience. Key Project Members: Karl Pfleger, Philippe Lalanda, Philippe Morignot, Marco Balabanovitch.

Real-Time Control Agents -- Selected Publications

Adaptive Intelligent Agents -- Applications in Design

Design Agents must configure specified objects in multi-dimensional spaces, making trade-offs among conflicting constraints and operating within bounded time/space. Dr. Hayes-Roth developed the arrangement assembly method and the accord ontology, enabling an agent to exploit the incremental and opportunistic capabilities of the Dynamic Control Architecture to construct a design incrementally and adapt its own design strategy to intermediate results in real time.

Design Agents -- Selected Applications

SitePlan (1986-1990) constructs and refines a set of legal construction site layouts, based on quantitative and qualitative constraints. Key Project Members: Iris Tommelein, Ray Levitt.

Protean (1985-1989) constructs hypothesized protein structures, based on NMR data, other experimental data, and biological constraints on the positions and density of components. Key Project Members: Bruce Buchanan, Oleg Jardetzky, Russ Altman, Bruce Duncan, Jim Brinkley, Oliveier Lichtarge, Mike Hewett, Allen Garvey, Vaughan Johnson, Bob Schulman.

OPM (1979-1984) plans sequences of errands in a spatial environment, reconciling conflicting temporal, spatial, inter-dependence, and priority constraints.

Design Agents -- Selected Publications

Adaptive Intelligent Agents -- Selected External Applications

BB1 Software Implementing the Dynamic Control Architecture

>100 BB1 Licensees

Student Advising

Dr. Hayes-Roth has served as advisor to several dozen PhD students, MS students, post-doctoral fellows, undergraduates in Computer Science, Engineering, Education, and Communications.

Dr. Hayes-Roth's current and previous Ph.D. advisees include:

Courses Taught

Dr. Hayes-Roth has developed and taught a number of courses related to her evolving research program, including the following:

Selected Journal Editorial Board Services 1990-Present

Selected Conference Chairmanships 1990-Present

Selected Conference Committees 1990-Present