Maithilee Kunda

Maithilee Kunda is assistant professor of computer science and computer engineering at Vanderbilt University. Her work in artificial intelligence, in the area of cognitive systems, looks at how visual thinking contributes to learning and intelligent behavior, with a focus on applications for individuals on the autism spectrum. She currently directs Vanderbilt’s Laboratory for Artificial Intelligence and Visual Analogical Systems, and is a deputy director of the Vanderbilt Center for Autism and Innovation. She holds a B.S. in mathematics with computer science from MIT and a Ph.D. in computer science from Georgia Tech, and in 2016, was recognized as a visionary on the MIT Technology Review’s annual list of 35 Innovators Under 35.

Please see the AIVAS Lab website for news, research, and publications, as well as information about current lab openings.


Maithilee Kunda
mkunda [at] vanderbilt [dot] edu

PMB 351679
2301 Vanderbilt Place
Nashville, TN 37235-1679, USA

Phone: 615-875-8469
Fax: 615-343-5459

AIVAS Lab Website

Selected Publications

Ainooson, J., and Kunda, M. (2017). A computational model for reasoning about the Paper Folding task using visual mental images. In Proceedings of the 39th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, London, UK.

Eliott, F. M., Stassun, K., and Kunda, M. (2017). Visual data exploration: How expert astronomers use flipbook-style visual approaches to understand new data. In Proceedings of the 39th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, London, UK.

Kunda, M., El-Banani, M., and Rehg, J. (2016). A computational exploration of problem-solving strategies and gaze behaviors on the Block Design task. In Proceedings of the 38th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, Philadelphia, PA.

Kunda, M., and Ting, J. (2016). Looking around the mind’s eye: Attention-based access to visual search templates in working memory. Advances in Cognitive Systems, 4, 113–129.

Kunda, M., McGreggor, K., and Goel, A. K. (2013). A computational model for solving problems from the Raven’s Progressive Matrices intelligence test using iconic visual representations. Cognitive Systems Research, 22-23, pp. 47-66.

Kunda, M., and Goel, A. K. (2011). Thinking in Pictures as a cognitive account of autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 41 (9), pp. 1157-1177.

A more complete list of publications can be found here.


Computation and Cognition (CS 8395). Fall 2017. Computational approaches to understanding human cognition, including research design and methods for integrating models with theory and observation. Topics include knowledge representation, concept formation, reasoning and search, analogy, mental imagery, and connectionism, as well as multidisciplinary perspectives on mind, brain, behavior, and society.

Computational Mental Imagery (CS 8395). Computational basis of visual mental imagery in human cognition and in artificial intelligence (AI) systems. Topics include knowledge representations and operations in mental imagery, role of mental imagery in problem solving, creativity, education, and scientific discovery, and variations in mental imagery in cognitive conditions such as autism.

Projects in AI (CS 4269) – Computation and Cognition. Fall 2017. This course will be co-taught with Computation and Cognition; see above for course description.

Projects in AI (CS 4269) – Introduction to Machine Learning. Spring 2018. Fundamentals of machine learning, with a focus on supervised learning. Topics include decision trees, neural networks, and deep learning, as well as impacts of ML on society, such as issues related to data privacy and human subjects research protections.