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CSAIL History

MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory – known as CSAIL ­– is the largest research laboratory at MIT and one of the world’s most important centers of information technology research. Our lab is at the forefront of emerging technologies in computer science, wireless and artificial intelligence. 

CSAIL has its roots in two MIT computing powerhouses: The Laboratory for Computer Science (LCS) and the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (AI Lab).

LCS was founded in 1963 as Project MAC (Multiple Access Computing or Machine-Aided Cognition), a project sponsored by the Department of Defense to develop a computer system accessible to a large number of people. The result was Multics, an ambitious paradigm setting time-shared computer system , which strongly influenced the development of the Unix operating system and laid the foundation for many of today's basic design concepts for software systems. 
The AI Lab was founded as the AI project in 1959. The Lab pioneered new methods for image-guided surgery and natural-language-based Web access, produced new generations of micro displays, made haptic interfaces a reality, and developed bacterial robots and behavior-based robots that are used for planetary exploration, military reconnaissance and in consumer devices.

As collaboration across the two labs increased, and with the construction of a major new building designed to house the information sciences at MIT, the two labs merged
in 2003, to form the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.

In 2014, CSAIL celebrated the 50th anniversary of Project MAC and the 10th anniversary of CSAIL’s formation.


Conduct forefront research in Computer Science and Information Technology
Advance the state of the art

Educate the best students
Train future work force

Solve significant societal problems
e.g., energy and the environment, transportation, healthcare, education.


Stata CenterCSAIL is home to over 100 world-renowned researchers including:

105 Professional Society Fellows

39   NAE/NAS/IM members

    Turing Awards

7     MacArthur Fellows

2     Nevanlinna Prizes

1     Millennium Technology Award

1     Order of the British Empire –    Knight Commander


CSAIL makes its home in the Frank Gehry-designed Ray and Maria Stata Center for Computer, Information and Intelligence Sciences on the MIT campus. There are 2 distinct sides: Dreyfus (D) and Gates (G). If you are on the Dreyfus side of the building all the rooms will start with D, on the Gates side they start with G.

The CSAIL Alliance Program offices are located within CSAIL HQ on the 3rd floor of the Stata Center Gates side. Go to the Gates Elevators (behind the café) and go to the 3rd floor. Exit the elevators and turn left. HQ is immediately on your left.

The Lab has over 100 senior research scientists and faculty members, over 40 postdoctoral fellows and associates, 350 graduate students and 150 undergraduate students working under MIT’s Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP).

To get to CSAIL, please view details at: Getting to CSAIL

Noted roboticist
Dr. Daniela Rus is the lab’s current director.  Daniela is a recipient of the NSF Career Award and an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellow.  She is a Class of 2002 MacArthur Fellow and a fellow of AAAI and IEEE. She serves on the scientific advisory board for the Max Planck Institute, on the editorial board for the Journal of Autonomous Robots, and on the long-term planning board for the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society.