Deb Roy

Social Machines
  • Associate Professor of Media Arts and Sciences

Deb Roy is director of the Social Machines group at the MIT Media Lab, where he leads the Laboratory for Social Machines (LSM). He is also an associate professor at MIT and chief media scientist of Twitter. Roy’s research at MIT focuses on machine learning, natural language processing, and network science with applications ranging from children’s learning to large-scale media analytics.

Roy's early work in robot learning led to a pioneering study of his son’s language development using comprehensive observational data. Building on this work, combined with insights from Montessori pedagogy, LSM is now concentrated on creating technologies that support child-driven, machine guided, playful learning for children.

Roy co-founded and served as CEO of Bluefin Labs, a venture-backed media analytics company. MIT Technology Review named Bluefin as one of the 50 most innovative companies of 2012, and in 2013 it became Twitter’s largest acquisition. Bluefin’s technology now serves as the basis for data science and analytics for Twitter’s platform globally. Guided by this industry experience, LSM now tackles key challenges in understanding media and human behavior using artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Roy is an author of over 100 academic papers in machine learning, cognitive modeling, and human-machine interaction. His widely viewed TED talk, "Birth of a Word," unpacks the mysteries of language acquisition through data analysis and visualization. A native of Canada, Roy received a bachelor of applied science (computer engineering) from the University of Waterloo and a PhD in media arts and sciences from MIT.