History of artificial intelligence in Slovenia

Research organisations

Research in artificial intelligence (AI) in Slovenia started in 1972 at the Computer Science Department of the Jozef Stefan Institute (JSI) in Ljubljana, and later also at the Faculty of Computer and Information Science (FRI), University of Ljubljana. At JSI, the AI Group was formally founded in 1979 and reorganised into the AI Laboratory in 1985. In 1995, the Department of Intelligent Systems was established by merging Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and Language and Speech Technology Laboratory. At FRI, the AI Laboratory was founded in 1981. Both research groups (at JSI and FRI) were lead by Professor Ivan Bratko and closely cooperated.

Both groups were successful and grew in terms of achievements, employed and newly trained researchers, international collaborations and projects. This required further reorganisations. In 2004, the former JSI Department of Intelligent Systems and Computer Technologies Laboratory were reorganised into two new departments: Department of Knowledge Technologies (head: Nada Lavrač) and Department of Intelligent Systems (head: Matjaž Gams). At FRI, in addition to the former Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (head: Ivan Bratko), two new laboratories were formed: Laboratory for Cognitive Modeling in 2001 (head: Igor Kononenko) and Bioinformatics Laboratory in 2010 (head: Blaž Zupan).

In addition to the work done at JSI and FRI, AI research is also carried out at some other institutions, most notably the National Institute of Chemistry, Ljubljana, and the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and Faculty of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Maribor.

According to SICRIS (SlovenIan Current Research Information System), there are now more than 30 research groups in Slovenia whose research is related to AI.

Slovenian AI researchers and practitioners are associated in SLAIS (SLovenian Artificial Intelligence Society). SLAIS was founded in 1992 and is a member society of ECCAI (European Coordinating Committee for Artificial Intelligence). Currently, SLAIS has about 120 members.

Research areas

Initially, AI research in Slovenia was concerned with heuristic search, including knowledge-based approaches to computer chess. The emphasis then gradually shifted and expanded to the areas of machine learning, knowledge representation, computer-aided multi-attribute decision making, qualitative reasoning and modelling, and combinatorial optimisation. This provided a solid basis for later application projects. In 1982, the development and implementation of AI tools started and soon resulted in practical applications in a number of domains including: financial, management, project/enterprise assessment, metallurgy, geology, mechanical engineering, civil engineering, medicine and health-care. Most of these applications were based on Assistant Professional, an inductive learning system, and DEX, a computer-aided decision making system. Later, several other systems were devolped including GINESYS, RETIS, LINUS, m-FOIL. These systems implement various approaches to machine learning: attribute-based learning, regression tree learning and inductive logic programming.

In the 1990’s, the Slovenian AI research further expanded and diversified, addressing the main research areas:

  • Machine learning
  • Inductive logic programming
  • Evolutionary computing, genetic algorithms
  • Expert systems
  • Decision support
  • Human language technologies
  • Speech synthesis
  • Behavioral cloning
  • Cognitive modelling
  • Explorative data analysis
  • Data mining
  • Text, web and multimedia mining
  • Semantic web technologies
  • Knowledge management

A notable aspect of much of this research is its application to problems in many areas, including: mechanical engineering, telecommunication, management, economy, ecology, biology, medicine, health care, agriculture, digital libraries, cultural heritage, e-government, e-business and e-learning.

Also, a considerable part of the Slovenian AI research takes place in the international context and involves numerous collaborations with international organisations and projects. First official Slovenian collaborations occured in the context of European ESPRIT projects: ESPRIT II (1990) and ESPRIT III (1993). Some other early projects include ILPNET and Multext-East (1995-1998). In 2000, the JSI Department of Intelligent Systems succeeded with the proposal of Sol-EU-Net, a European 5th Framework Programme project, which JSI coordinated 2000-2003. Since then, the Slovenian activity in projects financed by the European Union has increased considerably, so that Slovenian research organisations have become regular partners in European 6th (2002-2006) and 7th (2007-2013) Framework Programmes, as well as Horizon 2020 (2014-2020).



Slovenian AI researchers have authored and edited numerous scientific books:


The Slovenian AI research has also produced a number software programs, spanning from research prototypes to application programs and general software tools:

Year Name Description
1986 Asistent 86 Learning of decision trees
1986 PROLIB Library of Prolog predicates
1986 EXPRO Expert system shell
1987 Assistant Professional Learning of decision trees
1987 GINESYS Machine learning
1989 REFLOG Reflective Prolog
1989 DEX Multi-attribute decision modelling
1994 LINUS (LAI) Constrained inductive logic programming
1991 RETIS Induction of regression trees
1991 mFOIL Inductive logic programming
1992 MARKUS Inductive logic programming
1993 LAGRANGE Equation discovery
1993 GOLDHORN Equation discovery
1994 GPDD Evolutionary algorithm
1994 GOLDING, CIOP Multistrategy learning
1994 DYSYS Behavioural cloning
1995 FORS First order regression system
1996 Ptah Bacterial resistance analysis
1996 EMA Intelligent employment agent
1997 HINT Hierarchy induction tool
1997 LAGRAMGE Equation discovery
2000 Govorec “Speaker”, Slovene speech synthesis
2000 DEXi Multi-attribute decision modelling
2000 PADLES Discovery of partial differential equations
2001 ShinA Shopping assistant
2003 RSD Relational subgroup discovery
2003 GenePath Intelligent assistant to genetic analysis
2004 Orange Data mining suite
2004 CIPER Constrained induction of polynomial equation for regression
2004 Text-Garden Text-mining software tools
2005 OntoGen Ontology editor
2005 Document Atlas Visualization of text corpora
2005 proDEX Qualitative multi-attribute modelling
2005 SearchPoint Search and organise web documents
2007 SEGS Search for enriched gene sets
2009 Enrycher Service oriented text enrichmen
2009 AnswerArt Contextualized question answering
2009 dictyExpress Gene expression analysis

Web portals


nl.ijs.si services

Organised events

The following AI-related international events were organised with the support of SLAIS:

  • ISSEK – International School for the Synthesis of Expert Knowledge Workshops, Bled, Slovenia, 1984, 1986 and 1992
  • EWSL 1987 – European Working Session on Learning, Bled, Slovenia, 1987
  • COST-13 Workshop on Qualitative Modelling, Ljubljana, Slovenia, 1987
  • ILP 1993 – Third Inductive Logic Programming Workshop, Bled, Slovenia, 1993
  • CADAM 95 – Računalniška analiza medicinskih podatkov, Bled, Slovenia, 1995
  • AIRTC 1995 – IFAC International Workshop on Artificial intelligence in Real-Time Control, Bled, Slovenia, 1995
  • ICML 1999 – International Conference on Machine Learning, Bled, Slovenia, 1999
  • ACAI 2005 – Advanced Course on Knowledge Technologies, Ljubljana, Slovenia, 2005
  • IDA 2007 – The 7th Inernational Symposium on Intelligent Data Analysis, Ljubljana, Slovenia, 2007
  • Analysis of environmental data with machine learning methods, Ljubljana, Slovenia, 2008
  • QR 2009 – 23rd Annual Workshop on Qualitative Reasoning, Ljubljana, Slovenia, 2009
  • MLSB 2009 – Third International Workshop on Machine Learning in Systems Biology, Ljubljana, Slovenia, 2009
  • ACTIVE 2009 – 1st ACTIVE Summer School on Advanced Technologies for a Knowledge-Powered Enterprise, Bled, Slovenia, 2009
  • ECML/PKDD 2009 – European Conference on Machine Learning and Principles and Practice of Knowledge Discovery in Databases, Bled, Slovenia, 2009
  • ACTIVE 2010 – Summer School on Advanced Technologies for Knowledge Intensive Networked Organisations, Aachen, Germany, 2010
  • PPSN 2014 – 13th International Conference on Parallel Problem Solving from Nature, Ljubljana, Slovenia, 2014
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