Richard (Rick) G. Freedman

Smart Information Flow Technologies (SIFT)
Adjunct Instructor
Wentworth Institute of Technology
Visiting Lecturer
Tufts University
Intelligent Interaction (SQU(INT)) Lab
My e-mail:
   [my first initial][my last name]@sift.[standard ending for network]
Click here for my curriculum vitae

Scientist, Educator, Artist

I am a researcher at Smart Information Flow Technologies (SIFT) who also participates in various activities regarding education and/or art. A common theme across my research, educational, and artistic endeavors is augmenting interactions between people and other entities. Whether it is machines interacting with people, hands-on learning, games, etc., my goal is to provide opportunities for people to engage in new experienes and produce outcomes that spread smiles and open new worlds of possibilities.

I received my Ph.D. at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where I was a member of Dr. Shlomo Zilberstein's Resource Bounded Reasoning (RBR) Lab---my dissertation studied how machines make decisions to interact with people naturally using artificial intelligence planning and plan recognition. During the summer of 2015, I was a visiting researcher at the University of Tokyo in Dr. Alex Fukunaga's laboratory. I was also an initial member of Dr. Sriraam Natarajan's research group during my undergraduate studies at Wake Forest University. All these experiences contributed to the development of my academic pursuits, and I find it important that others have similar opportunities to discover their passions. This is one of the many reasons I am excited to direct the Intelligent Interaction (SQU(INT)) Lab as a mentor to students curious about the world of artificial intelligence and/or human-X interaction research.

Below I provide some brief information about myself, my research, and some of my educational and artistic efforts. You can click on the bracketed phrase [...] next to each section title for more details.

Warp to:About MeResearch InterestsSQU(INT) LabPublicationsWhy Do Research?TeachingResourcesPeopleGame DesignOther HobbiesLinks Of InterestContact Me

About Me [More About Me]

  • Ph.D. Computer Science - University of Massachusetts Amherst (May 2020)
  • M.S. Computer Science - University of Massachusetts Amherst (February 2016)
  • B.S. Computer Science with Honors - Wake Forest University (May 2012)
  • B.S. Mathematics with Honors - Wake Forest University (May 2012)

  • Awards:
  • 2023 Scottish Informatics and Computer Science Alliance (SICSA) Distinguished Visiting Fellow
  • 2018 International Conference on Automated Planning and Scheduling (ICAPS) Outstanding Reviewer Award Recipient
  • 2018 Three-Minute Thesis Competition Finalist (Top 10) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst
  • 2017 Educational Advances in Artificial Intelligence (EAAI) New and Future Educator Program Award Recipient
  • 2016 International Conference on Automated Planning and Scheduling (ICAPS) Doctoral Consortium Selected Participant
  • 2016 Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intellgience (AAAI) Doctoral Consortium Selected Participant
  • 2015 National Science Foundation East Asia and Pacific Summer Institutes (NSF EAPSI) Fellowship Recipient / Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) Summer Research Fellow
  • 2014 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSFGRFP) Honorable Mention
  • 2013 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSFGRFP) Honorable Mention

  • Research Interests [More Detail] [SQU(INT) Lab]

    My research interests lie at the intersection of interdisciplinary areas to understand how autonomous machines can interact with people in ways that feel natural: AI planning; plan, activity, and intent recognition; human-computer/robot interaction; knowledge representation; and statistical-relational methods. The broad focus of my research is the development of artificial intelligence methods for human-computer/robot interaction, aiming to develop systems that adaptively interact with human users through understanding their actions in the environment. I am also an advocate for human-aware design of human-aware AI, which explores people's variances in expectations, abilities, experiences, and more when creating these intelligent systems for various applications. If we expect intelligent systems to think about people, then we scientists need to similarly consider them via incorporating HCI, HRI, and human factors engineering practices into our methodologies.

    Publications [Full List]

    Below is a list of recent and select publications that I co-authored. Click [Full List] above for a list of all publications. Public copies will be withheld until the publications are publicly available from the respective venue.
    Different fields of research have different venues for publication which can lead to confusion in interdisciplinary work. Click here for information about how various fields publish their findings.
  • Freedman, Richard G. and Miller, Christopher A. "Out of Sight, But for How Long Out of Mind? Responsible Neglect Tolerance for Independent Living with Autonomous Robots" The 2023 AAAI Fall Symposium Series: Artificial Intelligence and Human-Robot Interaction, p.1-4, 2023. [pdf coming soon]
  • Nguyen, Viet Dung; Nguyen, Quan H.; and Freedman, Richard G. "Predicting Perceived Music Emotions with Respect to Instrument Combinations." Proceedings of the AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, p. 16078-16086, 2023. [pdf]
  • Freedman, Richard G. "AI-HRI Brings New Dimensions to Human-Aware Design for Human-Aware AI." The 2022 AAAI Fall Symposium Series: Artificial Intelligence and Human-Robot Interaction, p.1-6, 2022. [peer-reviewed pdf on arXiv]
  • Freedman, Richard G.; Mueller, Joseph B.; Ladwig, Jack; Johnston, Steven; McDonald, David; Wauck, Helen; Wheelock, Ruta; and Borck, Hayley. "A Symbolic Representation of Human Posture for Interpretable Learning and Reasoning." The 2022 AAAI Fall Symposium Series: Artificial Intelligence and Human-Robot Interaction, p.1-11, 2022. [peer-reviewed pdf on arXiv]
  • Borck, Hayley; Ladwig, Jack; Mueller, Joseph B.; Johnston, Steven; Wauck, Helen; Wheelock, Ruta; and Freedman, Richard G. "Activity Recognition and Explanations for Cancer Health Awareness." Proceedings of the Fourth Workshop on XCBR: Case-Based Reasoning for the Explanattion of Intelligent Systems, p.1-12, 2022. [pdf]
  • Miller, Christopher A.; Shively, Jay; Brandt, Summer; Wauck, Helen; Sarathy, Vasanth; and Freedman, Richard G. "Human As Automation Failsafe: Concept, Implications, Guidelines and Innovations." Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting, Vol. 66, Issue 1, p.100-104, 2022. [pdf]
  • Freedman, Richard G. and Kuter, Ugur. "An On-Line, Statistical Relational Metareasoning Framework for Decentralized Agents with Unreliable Communication." Proceedings of The 2022 AAAI Spring Symposium Series: 'Can We Talk?' How to Design Multi-Agent Systems In the Absence of Reliable Communications, p.1-8, 2022. [peer-reviewed pdf on Proceedings' Google Drive]
  • Budijono, Nathaniel; Goldman, Phoebe; Maloney, Jack; Mueller, Joseph B.; Walker, Phillip; Ladwig, Jack; and Freedman, Richard G. "Ludus: An Optimization Framework to Balance Auto Battler Cards." Proceedings of the AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, Volume 35, Issue 11, p.12727-12734, 2022. [pdf on AAAI Proceedings]
  • Freedman, Richard G. "2023 EAAI Mentored Undergraduate Research Challenge: Human-Aware AI in Sound and Music." AI Matters, Vol. 7, Issue 3, p.21-28, 2022. [pdf]
  • Musliner, David J.; Pelican, Michael J. S.; McLure, Matthew; Johnston, Steven; Freedman, Richard G.; and Knutson, Corey. "OpenMIND: Planning and Adapting in Domains with Novelty." Proceedings of the Ninth Annual Conference on Advances in Cognitive Systems, p.1-20, 2021. [pdf]
  • Goldman, Phoebe; Knutson, Corey R.; Mahtab, Ryan; Maloney, Jack; Mueller, Joseph B.; and Freedman, Richard G. "Evaluating Gin Rummy Hands Using Opponent Modeling and Myopic Meld Distance." Proceedings of the AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, Volume 35, Number 17, p.15510-15517, 2021. [pdf on AAAI Proceedings]
  • Freedman, Richard G.; Levine, Steven J.; Williams, Brian C.; and Zilberstein, Shlomo. "Helpfulness as a Key Metric of Human-Robot Collaboration." The 2020 AAAI Fall Symposium Series: Artificial Intelligence and Human-Robot Interaction, p.1-9, 2020. [pdf]
  • Goldman, Robert P.; Kuter, Ugur; and Freedman, Richard G. "Stable Plan Repair for State-Space HTN Planning." Proceedings of the Third ICAPS Workshop on Hierarchical Planning, p.27-35, 2020. [pdf]
  • Friedman, Scott E.; Goldman, Robert P.; Freedman, Richard G.; Kuter, Ugur; Geib, Christopher; and Rye, Jeffrey. "Provenance-Based Assessment of Plans in Context." Proceedings of the Third International Workshop on Explainable AI Planning, p.1-9, 2020. [peer-reviewed pdf on arXiv]
  • Freedman, Richard G. "Integrating Recognition and Decision Making to Close the Interaction Loop for Autonomous Systems." Doctoral Dissertations., 2020. [pdf on Scholarworks @ UMass Amherst]
  • Freedman, Richard G.; Friedman, Scott E.; Musliner, David J.; and Pelican, Michael J.S. "Creative Problem Solving Through Automated Planning and Analogy." The 2020 AAAI Workshop on Generalization in Planning, p.1-8, 2020. [pdf]
  • Freedman, Richard G.; Fung, Yi Ren; Ganchin, Roman; and Zilberstein, Shlomo. "Responsive Planning and Recognition for Closed-Loop Interaction." The 2019 AAAI Fall Symposium Series: Artificial Intelligence and Human-Robot Interaction, p.1-5, 2019. [peer-reviewed pdf on arXiv (extended version of the ICAPS 2019 Demo Abstract)]
  • Freedman, Richard G. and Zilberstein, Shlomo. "A Unifying Perspective of Plan, Activity, and Intent Recognition." Proceedings of the Workshop on Plan, Activity, and Intent Recognition, p.1-8, 2019. [pdf]
  • Freedman, Richard G. and Zilberstein, Shlomo. "Roles that Plan, Activity, and Intent Recognition with Planning Can Play in Games." Proceedings of the Workshop on Knowledge Extraction from Games, p.1-4, 2018. [pdf] [talk]
  • Eaton, Eric; Koenig, Sven; Schulz, Claudia; Maurelli, Francesco; Lee, John; Eckroth, Joshua; Crowley, Mark; Freedman, Richard G.; Cardona-Rivera, Rogelio E.; Machado, Tiago; and Williams, Tom. "Blue Sky Ideas in Artificial Intelligence Education from the EAAI 2017 New and Future Educator Program." AI Matters, Vol. 3, Issue 4, p.23-31, 2017. Contributed the subarticle titled "Making AI Concepts More Accessible." [pdf]
  • Freedman, Richard G. and Zilberstein, Shlomo. "Integration of Planning with Recognition for Responsive Interaction Using Classical Planners." Proceedings of the Thirty-first AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, p.4581-4588, 2017. [pdf]

  • Why Do Research? [More Detail]

    Due to the research opportunities I was fortunate to have as an undergraduate student, I strongly believe in undergraduate involvement in research. Considering the life-changing impact it had on me, I want to make sure that other undergraduate students have a chance to try it in case it would really interest them. There seem to be very few opportunities for undergraduate students to do research outside of REU Programs and institutions with small graduate student bodies.

    When first starting my undergraduate career, I was planning to pursue a job in the videogame industry. I was drawn to their development by the blend of mathematics and computer science needed to program them, the creativity behind experimenting with unique play mechanics and designing the story/characters/places/etc., and the smiles that they brought to so many faces when people played. Believe it or not, research also has the blend of computer science with mathematics as well as many other areas of study, creativity to study how to bring our dreams and imaginations into reality, and the power to make many people smile. Additionally, research provides an opportunity to explore the unknown and try to develop an understanding for that which we do not yet completely understand.


    I strongly believe that education is an opportunity to learn new things, grow from experiences, and discover passions. Even though present-day occupational expectations paint education as an obstacle to achieve career goals, we can make the learning process engaging and motivational beyond a requirement. Besides teaching and creating course materials, I have a history of mentoring students for their honors projects and independent studies. Check out the Intelligent Interaction (SQU(INT)) Lab webpage for the research students did directly under my mentorship.

    In the Spring 2024 semester, I am the instructor for Machine Learning for Data Science (DATA6250) at Wentworth Institute of Technology. I am also a visiting lecturer at the Tufts University Experimental College (ExCollege) teaching What Goes Into Game Design?: A Toolbox of Techniques (EXP-0004-S).

    In the Fall 2023 semester, I was the instructor for Mathematics for Machine Learning (MATH5700) at Wentworth Institute of Technology.

    Since the 2020-2021 academic school year, I have served the role of client for Heriot-Watt University's Third-Year Software Project course. My responsibilities involve creating a project topic, co-writing the specifications with the course instructor, and serving as a resource to answer student questions about the topic and specifications. In the Spring 2023 semester, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to visit Heriot-Watt University in person and engage with the students as they presented their year-long efforts in an expo---it was an amazing afternoon meeting the students in person and seeing what each group created!

    In the Spring 2017 semester, I was a co-instructor for Artificial Intelligence (CMPSCI 383) with Kris[tina] Fedorenko at UMass Amherst.

    In the Fall 2015 semester, I was the instructor of a first-year seminar (CMPSCI 191) entitled "Introduction to Computational Thinking through the History of Videogames" at UMass Amherst.

    In the Spring 2015 semester, I was the teaching assistant (TA) for Creative Game Design and Development (CMPSCI 397G) at UMass Amherst. Despite funding cuts removing the TA position formally, I continued to volunteer my time assisting in-class discussions and providing students feedback on their projects.

    In the Spring 2014 semester, I was the teaching assistant (TA) for Artificial Intelligence (CMPSCI 383) at UMass Amherst.

    In addition to promoting undergraduate exposure to research, I am an advocate of improved science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education in the K-12 grade school curricula. These are the fields of the future, and we need to start introducing them to students at a much younger age. There are currently many cultural biases against them that we can easily avoid if we encouraged students to pursue STEM fields, taught younger students the fundamental skills and techniques such as computational thinking and abstraction, and removed the false stereotypes that STEM fields are "too hard to be worth trying."

    Resources [More Resources]

    Materials that I create for educational and outreach workshops/presentations are usually made available afterwards. These range from slides to tutorials and sometimes videos. The list below contains more recent resources that I produced. The complete list may be accessed by clicking [More Resources] above.
  • As the organizer of the 2023 and 2024 EAAI Mentored Undergraduate Research Challenges, I created some webpages sharing project ideas and resources. The 2023 page talks about Human-Aware AI in Sound and Music, and the 2024 page talks about AI for Accessibility in Communication.
  • I created a reference sheet for the "Writing Scientific Documents in LaTeX" workshop that shows LaTeX commands to use for common buttons found in Microsoft Word menus. The sheet may be found here.
  • New England Regional Developers (NERD) Summit 2015 at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, MA (September 11-13, 2015)
        Freedman, Richard G. and Jones, Marvin C. "Graphics Programming with Processing." An introduction to programming and to simple computer graphics with the Processing programming language. [code examples] [video]
  • I updated my LaTeX Cheat Sheet for REUMass Amherst 2013. You can download the sheet here and its source code (to see how we used the LaTeX commands) here.
  • Wake@Hanes Google CS4HS Teacher Workshop 2012 at Wake Forest University, NC (August 9-10, 2012)
        Freedman, Richard G. "Higher/Lower Guessing Game: Winning via Efficient Searching." A presentation that teaches binary search through a fun children's game. [Slides]
        Freedman, Richard G. "Creative Writing with a Fork in the Road." A lesson plan to introduce younger students to nonlinear thinking and cause-and-effect using Choose-Your-Own-Adventure stories. It was written for Scratch 1.4, but it may also be used with Scratch 3.0. [Lesson Plan] [Scratch demo]

  • People [More People]

    I interact with many people either as a mentor or mentee. Click [More People] above for more people who have played a role in making me the person that I am.
    Research Advisor at UMass Amherst: Dr. Shlomo Zilberstein
    Teaching Mentor: Joshua A.C. Newman
    SQU(INT) Lab Members and Alumni: Nathaniel Budijono, Phoebe Goldman, Corey Knutson, Ryan Mahtab, Jack Maloney, Viet Dung Nguyen, Quan Nguyen, Ratul Pradhan, Lev Sukherman
    Students Mentored at UMass Amherst: Yi Fung, Roman Ganchin, Justin Purcell
    Students Mentored at Wake Forest: Amanda Chou, Yilin (David) Yang
    Honors Thesis Committee Member for: Claire Yang

    Game Design

    Games serve as a controlled environment that constrains play under various rules and goals. Careful game design involves developing rules and goals that satisfy specific purposes and intents, regardless of whether they are for artistic expression, a form of entertainment, or a means of scientific experimentation. I have approached game design professionally through all my lenses. Games can serve as a vehicle for developing various skillsets in a safe, exploratory environment, and I have been designing various games and play experiences for students to learn about STEM concepts. As a means of research, I have the pleasure to exercise my game design efforts from time-to-time creating platforms that create specific experiences. Scientists can analyze the data from people playing these games; check out the video demo of Cube Crusher to see a game that I co-designed with Helen Wauck for social science research. My artwork often applies my game design experience to craft interactive experiences between people and/or the work, capturing elements of play and engagement whether the work itself is or is not a game itself.

    Other Hobbies

    Although I love research, education, and game design, I also enjoy international travel and learning about other cultures, playing games (analogue and digital), comic books (both Western and Eastern), and various other forms of art including, but definitely not limited to, drawing, illusionary arts (also called magic), casual photography, poetry, playing the clarinet, composing music, and contradancing. I get the opportunity to exercise most these hobbies when I create games, and I also find ways to include them into my research and lectures from time-to-time.

    Links of Interest [Full List]

  • Smart Information Flow Technologies, LLC
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst College of Information and Computer Sciences
  • RBR Lab
  • LPR Lab
  • University of Tokyo Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (English) (Japanese)
  • Dr. Alex Fukunaga's Lab
  • Wake Forest University Department of Computer Science
  • Wake Forest University Department of Mathematics
  • STARAI Team
  • Artificial Intelligence for Human-Robot Interaction (AI-HRI) Symposium

  • Rick's Home PageAbout MeResearch InterestsSQU(INT) LabPublicationsWhy Do Research?TeachingResourcesPeopleLinks Of InterestContact Me