Stephen Levinson



  • Beckman Institute
  • 405 North Mathews Avenue
  • Urbana, Illinois 61801


Stephen Levinson received his Ph.D. from the University of Rhode Island in 1974. From 1976 to 1997, he worked at AT&T Bell Laboratories, from 1990 to 1997, as head of the Linguistics and Research Department. He is a professor in the University of Illinois Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and a full-time Beckman Institute faculty member in the Artificial Intelligence Group. His fields of professional interest are speech synthesis, speech recognition, automatic natural language understanding, cognitive science, and artificial intelligence.


AT&T Bell Laboratories Distinguished Member of Technical Staff (1990); IEEE Signal Processing Society Distinguished Lecturer (1986); Sigma Xi Research Prize (1974).


Levinson's research at the Beckman Institute continues the study of speech recognition that he pursued at Bell Laboratories, but with a different focus. Whereas most researchers in the area focus on making computers recognize acoustic patterns which can be treated with mathematical algorithms, Levinson believes that the most important aspect of communication is to convey meaningful messages. This approach is more complicated because there are only weak mathematical models for meaning. Thus, Levinson is working at the Institute with both theoretical and anatomical neurophysiologists who study brain architecture, as well as psychologists who study linguistic and other cognitive behavior and computer scientists who are interested in pattern recognition and learning theory. He and his students have built a robot that eventually should be able to acquire language by interacting with real environments and thus communicate with humans in a more natural manner.


  • 2015
    • Bryan, J. D.; Levinson, S. E., Autoregressive Hidden Markov Model and the Speech Signal. Complex Adaptive Systems, 2015 2015, 61, 328-333, DOI:10.1016/j.procs.2015.09.151.
  • 2014
    • Levinson, S. E. The Roles of Reductionism, Emergence, and Functional Equivalence in Semantic Computing, Keynote Speech, IEEE International Conference on Semantic Computer, Newport Beach, CA, June 17, 2014.

    • Nath, V.; Levinson, S. E. Autonomous Military Robotics; Springer: New York, NY, 2014, Vol. VIII, 56.

    • Nath, V.; Levinson, S. E. Autonomous Robotics and Deep Learning; Springer: New York, NY, 2014, Vol. VII.

  • 2013
    • Levinson, S.; Davis, D.; Slimon, S.; Huang, J. Articulatory Speech Synthesis from the Fluid Dynamics of the Vocal Apparatus (Synthesis Lectures on Speech and Audio Processing); Morgan & Claypool Publishers, July 2013.

  • 2012
    • Neihus, L.; Levinson, S. Online Learning and Integration of Complex Action and Word Lexicons for Language Grounding, 2012 IEEE International Conference on Development and Learning - Epigenetic Robotics (ICDL-EPIROB), San Diego, CA, November 2012, 1-6.

  • 2011
    • Duda, A. M.; Levinson, S. E., Complex Networks of Spiking Neurons: Collective Behavior Characterization, Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Complex Systems (ICCS), 2011; pp 1627-1629.

    • Majure, L.; Niehaus, L.; Levinson, S. E., Spatial Reasoning and Language Acquisition. Illinois Speech Day 2011.

  • 2010
    • Duda, A. M.; Levinson, S. E., Nonlinear Dynamical Multi-Scale Model of Associative Memory, IEEE Proceedings of the 9th International Conference on Machine Learning and Applications (ICMLA), 2010; pp 867-872.

  • 2009
    • Stivers, T.; Enfield, N. J.; Brown, P.; Englert, C.; Hayashi, M.; Heinemann, T.; Hoymann, G.; Rossano, F.; de Ruiter, J. P.; Yoon, K. E.; Levinson, S. C., Universals and cultural variation in turn-taking in conversation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2009, 106, (26), 10587-10592.

  • 2007
    • McClain, M.; Levinson, S., Semantic based learning of syntax in an autonomous robot. International Journal of Humanoid Robotics 2007, 4, (2), 321-346.

    • Zeng, Z. H.; Tu, J. L.; Liu, M.; Huang, T. S.; Pianfetti, B.; Roth, D.; Levinson, S., Audio-visual affect recognition. IEEE Transactions on Multimedia 2007, 9, (2), 424-428.

    • Squire, K. M.; Levinson, S. E., HMM-based concept learning for a mobile robot. IEEE Transactions on Evolutionary Computation 2007, 11, (2), 199-212.

  • 2006
    • Lin, R. S.; Liu, C. B.; Yang, M. H.; Ahuja, N.; Levinson, S., Learning nonlinear manifolds from time series. In Computer Vision - Eccv 2006, Pt 2, Proceedings 2006; Vol. 3952, pp 245-256.

    • Zhang, T.; Hasegawa-Johnson, M.; Levinson, S. E., Cognitive state classification in a spoken tutorial dialogue system. Speech Communication 2006, 48, (6), 616-632.

    • Zhang, T.; Hasegawa-Johnson, M.; Levinson, S. E., Extraction of pragmatic and semantic salience from spontaneous spoken English. Speech Communication 2006, 48, (3-4), 437-462.

    • Zeng, Z. H.; Tu, J. L.; Liu, M.; Huang, T. S.; Pianfetti, B.; Roth, D.; Levinson, S., Audio-visual affect recognition. IEEE Transactions on Multimedia 2007, 9, (2), 424-428.

  • 2004
    • Ren, Y., Hasegawa-Johnson, M., and Levinson, S.E. (2004), "Semantic Analysis for a Speech User Interface in an Intelligent-tutoring System," International Conference on Intelligent User Interfaces, Madeira, Portugal.

    • Pan, H., Levinson, S.E., Huang, T.S., and Liang, Z.-P. (2004), "A FusedHidden Markov Model With Application to Bimodal Speech Processing," IEEE Transactions Signal Processing, 52/3, pp.573 -581.

  • 2003
    • Levinson, S.E. (2003), "Ethical Implications of an Experiment in Artificial Intelligence," World Englishes, 22/3, pp. 227-232.

    • Levinson, S.E., Zhu, W., Li, D., Squire, K., Lin, R.-S., Kleffner, M., McClain, M., and Lee, J. (2003), "Automatic Language Acquisition by Autonomous Robot", Proceedings of International Joint Conference on Neural Networks, Portland, OR (invited).

  • 2002
    • Zhu, W. and Levinson, S.E. (2002), "PQ-Learning: An Efficient Learning Method for Intelligent Behavior Acquisition," Proceedings of 7th International Conference on Intelligent Autonomous Systems, pp. 404-411.

  • 2000
    • Levinson, S.E., Liu, Q., Dodsworth, C., Lin, R.-S., Zhu, W., and Kleffner, M. (2000), "The Role of Sensorimotor Function, Associative Memory and Reinforcement Learning in Automatic Acquisition of Spoken Language by an Autonomous Robot," Proceedings of Joint NSF DARPA Workshop on Development and Learning, East Lansing, MI, pp. 95-100.


The Communications Office maintains the information included in Beckman Institute's online directory listings. In order to update your directory listing, please submit the following information to

  • a short bio including information on your educational background and your field
  • any honors and awards you may have received
  • a description of your research (approximately 200-400 words)
  • a list of recent representative publications
  • a photo of yourself (you can submit one or we can take one for you)