Bio from preface to Ph.D. thesis
Andrew McCallum was born in 1967,
near Boston, Massachusetts. He grew up in Beaconsfield, England and
Raleigh, North Carolina, eventually studying at The North Carolina
School of Science and Mathematics, a nationally acclaimed, public high
He attended Dartmouth College from 1985 to 1989, and graduated summa
cum laude, with a B.A. in Computer Science. While at Dartmouth he
performed senior projects with Professor Barry Fagan, programming a
SIMD Connection Machine to find large prime numbers, and with Professor
Peter Sandon, helping redesign the department's course in Artificial
Intelligence. He was also one of the first hackers on campus to write
code for a pre-release NeXT machine, running NeXTSTEP version 0.8.
After undergraduate school, the author spent one year doing research in
machine learning at Biomedical Information Communication Center, Oregon
Health Science University, in Portland, Oregon. There, it was his
privilege to build a amicable and productive relationship with Dr. Kent
Spackman. McCallum worked on inductive learning for medical diagnosis,
using both artificial neural networks and genetic algorithms. This work
culminated the publication of his first paper, in the Proceedings of
the 7th International Machine Learning Conference. He also wrote reams
of code for the Center's "Hospital of the Future" physicians
workstation, extending NeXT Computer's object-oriented user interface
toolkit to create custom human-computer interface objects for
displaying medical data.
In 1990, he entered the Ph.D. program at the University of Rochester,
and in 1992 received an M.Sc. in Computer Science. At Rochester, he
published both in operating systems and machine learning. The author
became interested in the issues of reinforcement learning with
selective perception while working with Dana Ballard and Steve
Whitehead. Studying selective perception led the author directly to
interest in problems with hidden state, which he continued to research
under the advisorship of Dana Ballard.
McCallum wrote the Reinforcement Learning Toolkit, a software library
that makes it easy to test various reinforcement learning algorithms in
different environments with different sensory-motor systems. Parts of
the library turned into the GNU Objective C Class Library, for which
McCallum is the project leader. He also contributed to several other
GNU projects, including GCC, Emacs and Guile.
He wrote two virtual reality simulators, the second on an SGI Onyx
RealityEngine^2 machine, using SGI's Performer library. The simulator,
called ``Persia,'' has been used to build simulated environments of
everything from gazelles stampeding on the African plain to
traffic-congested four-lane highways. The code is the main software
engine for the virtual reality lab's study of human eye movements
during complex, natural tasks.
In July 1995, he married Donna Kachites. The two live in Pittsburgh's
Squirrel Hill neighborhood.