Universiteit van Amsterdam

About the ILLC

Institute for Logic, Language and Computation


History of the ILLC

The history of the ILLC goes back to the late 1970s, when a group of younger researchers in mathematical logic, Philosophy of Language, and Theoretical Computer Science started cooperating on the shared theme of Montague grammar. The biannual Amsterdam Colloquium is a living testimony to this original cooperation: the year 2011 marks the 18th installment of the colloquium.

As a formal organization the institute was created in 1986 by groups within the Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science and the Faculty of Philosophy. In 1989 a Computational Linguistics group from the faculty of Humanities joined the institute, followed by the Programming Research group of the Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science which participated from 1991 until 1996. The institute, which originally was named "Instituut voor Taal, Logica en Informatie (ITLI)", obtained its present name in 1991 when it became an official University Research Institute. Most of the original founders in the mean time had obtained professorships in the various departments.

The ILLC has cooperated with several other groups during the course of its history. A loose association with the Applied Logic Lab in the Faculty of Social Science, which grew out of the Pioneer project granted to M. Masuch, was turned into a full membership in 1996 which was terminated in 2004 when this group was dissolved. Another important development was the granting of the Spinoza award to our first director Johan van Benthem; he used his award for building his program "Logic in Action" incorporating three subprograms , called Computational Logic, chaired by Maarten de Rijke, Logic and Communication chaired by Paul Dekker and Yde Venema, and Dissemination of Logic, chaired by Jan van Eijck. The group of Maarten de Rijke eventually became the Intelligent Systems Lab which was moved to the Institute of Informatics in 2004 when Maarten de Rijke became professor for Internet Technology in that institute.

The ILLC started activities in the area of Cognitive Science already in 1993 with the Pionier project of Michiel van Lambalgen on Reasoning with Uncertainty. Later the institute became a participant in the activities of the Cognitive Science Center of the Universiteit van Amsterdam (CSCA) program. It was within the ILLC that the twist towards a dynamic interpretation of logics nowadays known as the Amsterdam style was developed. Also the statistically based school of language parsing named Data Oriented Parsing grew out of our research, with applications in music, other forms of art, and biology.

For many years the ILLC was the administrator of the national Graduate program in Logic for Ph.D. students. In 1995 the Master program in Logic was established as the first international Master program at the University of Amsterdam; it became part of the regular University program in 2002. The Institute also was the host for the Marie Curie Ph.D. program Gloriclass during 2005 - 2009. During the 20 years of its existence the ILLC has produced close to 200 Ph.D. students and a comparable number of master students, all in the area of logic and related topics.

Most of the original founders of the Institute (R. Bartsch, P. van Emde Boas, A. Troelstra and R. Scha) have retired. J. van Benthem was promoted to the prestigious position of University professor in 2003.

Institute directors:

  • Johan van Benthem 1991-1998
  • Martin Stokhof 1998-2003
  • Frank Veltman 2003-2009
  • Jeroen Groenendijk 2009
  • Leen Torenvliet 2009-2011
  • Yde Venema 2011-2016
  • Sonja Smets 2016-

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