Patrick M. Pilarski, Ph.D. (Faculty)

Dr. Patrick M. Pilarski is a Canada Research Chair in Machine Intelligence for Rehabilitation at the University of Alberta, and an Associate Professor in the Division of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Department of Medicine. Dr. Pilarski is a Fellow of the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (Amii) and principal investigator with the Reinforcement Learning and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (RLAI). Dr. Pilarski received the B.ASc. in Electrical Engineering from the University of British Columbia in 2004, the Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Alberta in 2009, and completed his postdoctoral training in computing science with Dr. Richard S. Sutton at the University of Alberta. Dr. Pilarski’s research interests include reinforcement learning, real-time machine learning, human-machine interaction, rehabilitation technology, and assistive robotics. He leads the Amii Adaptive Prosthetics Program—an interdisciplinary initiative focused on creating intelligent artificial limbs to restore and extend abilities for people with amputations. As part of this research, Dr. Pilarski explores new machine learning techniques for sensorimotor control and prediction, including methods for human-device interaction and communication, long-term control adaptation, and patient-specific device optimization. He has also pioneered techniques for rapid cancer and pathogen screening through work on biomedical pattern recognition, robotic micro-manipulation of medical samples, and hand-held diagnostic devices.

Dr. Pilarski is the author or co-author of more than 90 peer-reviewed articles, a Senior Member of the IEEE, and has been supported by provincial, national, and international research grants.

He is the co-editor of DailyHaiku, an international journal of contemporary English-language haiku, and poetry editor for its new sister publication DailyHaiga. He is author of the poetry collection Huge Blue (Leaf Press, 2009), and the chapbooks Contemplating Vows (with Nicole Pakan; Katabatic Books, 2011) and Five Weeks (2007). Patrick’s creative writing has appeared in journals and anthologies across North America, Europe, Australia, and Japan, and on CBC Radio One as part of the CBC Poetry Face-off. An active member of the literary community, he has served as an organizer for the Edmonton Poetry Festival and as the Vice President of the League of Canadian Poets.


Primary Affiliation:

Patrick M. Pilarski, Ph.D.
Canada Research Chair in Machine Intelligence for Rehabilitation
Associate Professor, Div. of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Dept. of Medicine
Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Alberta

Other Affiliations:

  • Fellow, Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (Amii)
  • Adjunct Associate Professor, Dept. of Computing Science
  • Adjunct Associate Professor, Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine
  • Research Affiliate, Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital, Edmonton, AB
  • Principal Investigator, Reinforcement Learning and Artificial Intelligence (RLAI) Laboratory
  • Principal Investigator, Bionic Limbs for Improved Natural Control (BLINC) Laboratory
  • Principal Investigator, Sensory Motor Adaptive Rehabilitation Technology (SMART) Network

Current Students and Trainees

    • Nadia Ady (PhD Student, Dept. Computing Science)
    • Craig Sherstan (PhD Student, Dept. Computing Science)
    • Alexandra Kearney (PhD Student, Dept. Computing Science, Co-supervision)
    • Adam S. R. Parker (PhD Student, Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine)
Current Research:
Adaptive Rehabilitation Technology
Real-time machine learning for artificial limbs and multi-function powered prostheses.Algorithms and adaptive computational techniques that increase patients’ ability to customize and control their assistive biomedical devices and environments.Prediction learning to improve users’ ability to switch between the modes and functions of assistive devices.Long-term brain-body-machine and brain-computer interaction.
Intelligent Systems and Interfaces
Reinforcement learning and artificial intelligence methods for use in complex real-world environments.Human-machine interfaces: theoretical and applied methods for communicating between complex distributed systems.Human instruction and training of machine learning systems.Prediction, representation, and control learning that is grounded in data-dense, real-time sensorimotor experience.Continuous-action actor-critic policy gradient algorithms.
Biomedical Pattern Analysis
Model-free interpretation of real-time, multi-signal human biofeedback (for example, myoelectric signals).Outcome measures based on motion capture, eye tracking, and biosignal tracking for prosthetics and other human-machine interfaces.
General Research Interests:
Artificial intelligence, reinforcement learning, and machine learning.Human-machine interfaces, adaptive distributed systems, and cognitive science.Cybernetics and intelligence amplification.Biomedical image analysis, pattern analysis, data mining, and computer vision.Autonomous mobile robotics and rehabilitation robotics.
Past Students, Trainees, and Visitors:
Johannes Günther (Postdoctoral Fellow, Dept. Computing Science, 2018-2020)
– Now a Research Scientist at the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (Amii)
Kory W. Mathewson (PhD, Dept. Computing Science, 2019)
– ThesisHumour-in-the-loop: Improvised Theatre with Interactive Machine Learning Systems
– Now a Research Scientist at DeepMind (Montreal)
Dylan J. Brenneis (MSc, Dept. Mechanical Engineering, 2019)
ThesisAutomatic Levelling of a Prosthetic Wrist
– Now a Researcher at DeepMind (Edmonton)
Jaden Travnik (MSc, Dept. Computing Science, 2018)
ThesisReinforcement Learning on Resource Bounded Systems
– Now Junior Machine Learning Expert at Eidos Montréal (Square Enix); previously at Sofdesk Inc.
Gautham Vasan (MSc, Dept. Computing Science, 2017)
ThesisTeaching a Powered Prosthetic Arm with an Intact Arm Using Reinforcement Learning
– Now a Machine Learning Researcher at Kindred Systems Inc.
Vivek Veeriah (MSc, Dept. Computing Science, 2017)
ThesisBeyond Clever Hans: Learning From People Without Their Really Trying
– Now a PhD student at the University of Michigan
Ann L. Edwards (MScRS, Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, 2016)
ThesisAdaptive and Autonomous Switching: Shared Control of Powered Prosthetic Arms Using Reinforcement Learning
– Now an Engineer at General Dynamics Canada
Craig Sherstan (MSc, Dept. Computing Science, 2015)
ThesisProsthetic Arms as Wearable Intelligent Robots
– Now a PhD student at the University of Alberta
Anna Koop (currently on leave; Amii Inc.)
Helen Zhao (Undergraduate Researcher)
Liam Jack (Undergraduate Researcher)
Ben Hallworth (Undergraduate Researcher)
Adam S. R. Parker (Undergraduate Researcher)
Devin Bradburn (Undergraduate Researcher)
Dylan Brenneis (Undergraduate Researcher)
Alexandra Kearney (Undergraduate Researcher)
Jaden Travnik (Undergraduate Researcher)
Ann L. Edwards (Undergraduate Researcher)
Kazuhiro Tsuchiyama, R.P.T. (Visiting Professor, 2019-2020, from Fujita Health University, Japan)
Dr. Hiroki Tanikawa (Visiting Professor, 2018-2019, from Fujita Health University, Japan)
Dr. Kei Ohtsuka (Visiting Professor, 2017-2018, from Fujita Health University, Japan)
Dr. Kenichi Ozaki (Visiting Professor, 2017-2018, from the National Center for Geriatrics Gerontology, Japan)

For publications, click here