Meet IC: Atlanta Native Matthew Guzdial Merges Passions for Machine Learning and Creativity

The School of Interactive Computing (IC) is the unique home to one of the widest varieties of computing researchers in the country. Part iSchool and part computer science, IC merges disciplines to address problems at the center of humans and computing.

In this collaborative environment, IC student researchers are impacting domains including artificial intelligence, robotics, health care, social computing, data visualization and analytics, and more. As a result, their backgrounds are as varied as their research areas.

In this series of Q&As, we’d like you to meet some of our talented graduate students. Today, meet Matthew Guzdial, a machine learning and creativity researcher under advisor Mark Riedl who has already gained plenty of attention for his work on artificial intelligence in video games.

Advisor: IC Associate Professor Mark Riedl

Research Focus Areas: Creativity and machine learning

Hometown: Atlanta, Ga.

High school: Lakeside High School

Undergraduate Degree: B.S. in Computational Media at Georgia Tech

Current Degree Program: Ph.D. in Computer Science

Tell us a little bit about your research:

In creativity and machine learning, I’m interested both in how we get machine learning approaches to work in creative domains, as well as how we take cognitive models of creativity to improve machine learning approaches.

Given the focus on creativity, is there something in your research you have created or would like to create?

In terms of a “thing” I am building, I’ve been collaborating with a team of undergrads and a master’s student on an intelligent level editor for the past few years (video and paper). What I’d really like, though, is to combine this with our work on automated game generation to create a new, intelligent automated game generation tool that would allow anyone to make a 2-D game in, hopefully, an intuitive way.

Do you have a favorite place to hang out on campus or in the city?

On campus, I mostly hang out at my desk or on an armchair in my lab. In the city, I’m a fan of Bookhouse Pub and the restaurant One Eared Stag.

It sounds like you spend a lot of time with research. Do you have any other hobbies you like to do in your spare time?

I’m an avid runner, so I squeeze in a minimum of one 3-plus-mile run each week and aim for 2-3. I’m also hugely into podcasts, with my favorites currently being My Brother, My Brother and Me, Punch Up the Jam, and Friends at the Table.

What is your favorite memory from your years at Georgia Tech?

I was part of this kind of wild production of After the Quake at DramaTech, where we built a visualization for one of the actors that he could “conduct” with his hands through a Kinect, Processing, and a Projector. That was hugely fun to go see.

What is your proudest accomplishment?

Ask me in, like, six months, and I’ll say this Ph.D.

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