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Patrick Henry Winston
Born(1943-02-05)February 5, 1943
DiedJuly 19, 2019(2019-07-19) (aged 76)
Alma materMIT (BS 1965, MS 1967, PhD 1970) [1]
AwardsIJCAI Computers and Thought Award
Scientific career
FieldsArtificial Intelligence
Computer Science
ThesisLearning Structural Descriptions from Examples (1970)
Doctoral advisorMarvin Minsky
Doctoral studentsDavid Waltz
Philip Greenspun
WebsitePersonal homepage

Patrick Henry Winston (February 5, 1943 – July 19, 2019) was an American computer scientist and professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Winston was director of the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory from 1972 to 1997, succeeding Marvin Minsky, who left to help found the MIT Media Lab. Winston was succeeded as director by Rodney Brooks.

Winston received his undergraduate degree from MIT in 1965, where he was a member of Phi Delta Theta fraternity, and went on to complete his Masters and PhD there as well, finalizing his PhD in 1970. Winston's thesis work with Marvin Minsky concerned the difficulty of learning; he concluded it was only possible to learn something one nearly already knows.[2] His research interests included machine learning and human intelligence. Winston was known within the MIT community for his excellent teaching and strong commitment to supporting MIT undergraduate culture.[3]

At MIT, Winston taught 6.034: Artificial Intelligence and 6.803/6.833: Human Intelligence Enterprise. Winston's How to Speak talk was an MIT tradition for over 40 years. "Offered every January, the talk is intended to improve your speaking ability in critical situations by teaching you a few heuristic rules."[4]

Winston also authored a number of computer science and AI textbooks, including:

Winston died in Boston on July 19, 2019.[5]


  1. ^ CV of Winston
  2. ^ Winston, Patrick. "Learning Structural Descriptions from Examples". DSpace (MIT Repository). MIT Project Mac TR from PhD dissertation. Retrieved 1970. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  3. ^ Knight, Will. "Patrick Winston '65, SM '67, PhD '70". MIT Technology Review. Retrieved 2019. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  4. ^ Winston, Patrick. "How to Speak". MIT OpenCourseWare. Retrieved 11 August 2020.
  5. ^ Conner-Simons, Adam; Gordon, Rachel (July 19, 2019). "Professor Patrick Winston, former director of MIT's Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, dies at 76" (Press release). MIT.