Stefan Schaal

Scientist in Los Angeles, California

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Stefan Schaal is a German/US computer scientist specializing in robotics, machine learning, autonomous systems, and computational neuroscience. Born in Frankfurt/Main in Germany, Stefan grew up in the North Bavarian town of Nuernberg. After graduating from school, he served in the German army in the Ski Patrol Devision of Bad Reichenhall, where he honorably discharged with the rank of a Lieutenant. Stefan studied Mechanical Engineering at the Technical University of Munich, graduating in 1987 with a Diploma degree (Summa Cum Laude). Subsequently, Stefan pursed his Ph.D. in Computer Aided Design and Artificial Intelligence at the Technical University of Munich and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, receiving his Ph.D. in 1991 (Summa Cum Laude).

In 1991, Stefan became a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Department and Brain and Cognitive Science and the Artificial Intelligence Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, funded by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and the German Scholarship Foundation. Starting from 1992, he also became an Invited Researcher at the ATR Computational Neuroscience Labs in Japan, where he created a robotics lab focusing on biological principles of motor control and learning. In 1994, Stefan moved to the Georgia Institute of Technology as an Adjunct Assistant Professor, and also held the same rank at the Pennsylvania State University. In 1996, Stefan assumed a group leader position in the ERATO Kawato Dynamic Brain Project in Japan. Starting from 1997, Stefan began his tenure at the University of Southern California, where he advanced from the ranks of Assistant Professor, to Associate Professor, to Full Professor.

Starting with 2009, Stefan Schaal became a key founder in defining and creating the Max-Planck-Institute for Intelligent Systems in Tübingen/Stuttgart Germany, an institute focussing on principles of perception-action-learning systems in synthetic intelligence. In 2012, Stefan created the Autonomous Motion Department at this institute, which he lead to international recognition until 2018.

Stefan Schaal's interests focus on autonomous perception-action-learning systems, in particular anthropomorphic robotic systems. He works on topics of machine learning for control, control theory, computational neuroscience for neuromotor control, experimental robotics, reinforcement learning, artificial intelligence, and nonlinear dynamical systems.