Mark Burstein
  • Ph.D. (Computer Science/Artificial Intelligence), Yale University, 1984.
  • M.S. (Computer Science), Yale University, 1979.
  • B.S. (Mathematics), Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1976.
  • Elected Associate Member of Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society of North America (M.I.T. chapter). 1976.
  • Longstanding Member of AAAI, IEEE, Cognitive Science Society
SIFT Boston Office
114 Waltham St., Suite 24
Lexington, MA 02421
burstein (at)
mark (at)

Recent Work History

Research Fellow at SIFT, LLC.

Mark is currently a Research Fellow at Smart Information Flow Technologies (SIFT, Inc.). He joined SIFT in October of 2010 after spending over 26 years as a research scientist and ultimately as a Principal Scientist at BBN Technologies in Cambridge, Ma. He now manages SIFT's Boston Area office in Lexington, MA.

Most recently, he has acted as the PI of two projects related to reasoning from semantic output of natural langage parsing systems. The first one, R3 (Reading, Reasoning and Reporting Explanations) is in DARPA's Big Mechanism Program. This project developed a system for gathering information about chemical pathways from published biology articles and relating what it found to previously built pathway models. It analyzed close to one million articles.

The second one is CLiC (Communication with Language-Integrated Context) in DARPA's Communicating with COmputers program. Here, we are developing the reasoning agent for an agent-based dialog system that engages users in several domains in task-oriented dialogs. This project's major focus is again on on supporting biologists.

Previous to these, Mark was the Principal Investigator for the STRATUS project in DARPA's MRC program, where he leads a SIFT team that is are applying AI planning and plan recognition technologies to address cyber-security issues for cloud-based computing.

Mark's current and past research interests include applying AI techniques for reasoning to act from natural language semantic interpretations, cyber security, reflective multi-strategy approaches to learning, especially for planning and action, automated and mixed-initiative planning and scheduling techniques, mixed-initiative control of agent organizations, cognitive approaches to machine learning, models of human memory organization and retrieval, and cognitive models of plausible, analogical and qualitative reasoning.

26 Years as AI Researcher at BBN

Before joining SIFT, Mark was a Principal Scientist and leader of the AI and Machine Learning Group in BBN's Information and Knowledge Technologies Business Unit. That unit of roughly 35 people included both software engineers and scientists in the areas of Artificial Intelligence, Psychology, Human Factors, Intelligent Training Systems, and interactive planning and scheduling systems.

He was also the Principal Investigator on the POIROT project in DARPA's Integrated Learning Program. The POIROT team consisted of fourteen university and industrial research teams, and developed a system that could learn hierarchical task procedures or 'workflows' from observations of semantic web service traces.

Previously, Mark was a founding member of the OWL-S Coalition, a group of researchers from across the country that worked together to develop OWL-S (OWL for Services), a semantic web ontology and methodology for dynamic utilization of web services. He designed many key aspects of the OWL-S model. (See publications on Semantic Web Services.) The original paper on this work just received an award at ISWC 2011 for the most cited paper from the conference 10 years previous, which was the first Semantic Web Workshop at Stanford University in 2001. Mark co-chaired and was the primary organizer of the Semantic Web Service Initiative's Architecture Committee (SWSA), an international group of researchers within the Semantic Web Services Initiative (SWSI) that was chartered to develop an architectural model for web services that can dynamically interoperate with software clients based on published semantic representations of their functionality. He was primary author and editor of the committee report.

Mark has been the Principal Investigator and/or technical leader on a wide variety of research projects, primarily with DARPA. (See Projects for more details.) He has published over 100 articles. (See publications by year or by topic.)