History of AI 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 2011, a new research group was formed at JSI: AI Laboratory (head: Dunja Mladenić), which was constituted as a Department for Artificial Intelligence in 2020 (head: Dunja Mladenić). In 2021, the leadership of the
Department of Knowledge Technologies at JSI was transferred from Nada Lavrač to Sašo Džeroski.

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:

1986Asistent 86Learning of decision trees
1986PROLIBLibrary of Prolog predicates
1986EXPROExpert system shell
1987Assistant ProfessionalLearning of decision trees
1987GINESYSMachine learning
1989REFLOGReflective Prolog
1989DEXMulti-attribute decision modelling
1994LINUS (LAI)Constrained inductive logic programming
1991RETISInduction of regression trees
1991mFOILInductive logic programming
1992MARKUSInductive logic programming
1993LAGRANGEEquation discovery
1993GOLDHORNEquation discovery
1994GPDDEvolutionary algorithm
1994GOLDING, CIOPMultistrategy learning
1994DYSYSBehavioural cloning
1995FORSFirst order regression system
1996PtahBacterial resistance analysis
1996EMAIntelligent employment agent
1997HINTHierarchy induction tool
1997LAGRAMGEEquation discovery
2000Govorec“Speaker”, Slovene speech synthesis
2000DEXiMulti-attribute decision modelling
2000PADLESDiscovery of partial differential equations
2001ShinAShopping assistant
2003RSDRelational subgroup discovery
2003GenePathIntelligent assistant to genetic analysis
2004OrangeData mining suite
2004CIPERConstrained induction of polynomial equation for regression
2004Text-GardenText-mining software tools
2005OntoGenOntology editor
2005Document AtlasVisualization of text corpora
2005proDEXQualitative multi-attribute modelling
2005SearchPointSearch and organise web documents
2007SEGSSearch for enriched gene sets
2009EnrycherService oriented text enrichmen
2009AnswerArtContextualized question answering
2009dictyExpressGene expression analysis
2010LemmaGenMultilingual Lemmatisation with Induced Ripple-Down Rules
2012ClowdFlowsA Data Mining Workflow Platform
2016TextFlowsA Visual Programming platform for Text Mining and natural language processing

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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