Upbringing and Education

Dr. Stanfill is the first child of Don W. and Jo Ann Stanfill, and grew up in Severna Park, MD, along with sisters Karen, Kristi, and Kelly. He attended Benfield Elementary School, Severna Park Jr. High School, and Severna Park Sr. High School, graduating in 1975. During these years he discovered his passion for mathematics and science, and particularly for computers and artificial intelligence. He entered the Honors College at Michigan State University, graduating with a B.S. in Mathematics and winning departmental honors. Upon graduation, he entered the doctoral program at the University of Maryland’s Department of Computer Science, studying Artificial Intelligence under Dr. Charles Rieger III. He received his Ph.D. in 1983.


Research Career

Upon receiving his degree, Dr. Stanfill moved to Massachusetts to work for a high-tech startup called Thinking Machines Corporation, where he conducted pioneering research on parallel computing and artificial intelligence. While there, he worked closely with Dr. David Waltz and co-invented a branch of Artificial Intelligence called Memory Based Reasoning. Together they pioneered statistical methods in AI, a field which eventually evolved into data science. Dr. Stanfill also worked with Brewster Kahle, pioneering parallel algorithms for searching text databases. This led to the Dowquest System, one of the first ‘natural language query’ text retrieval systems to be put into commercial operation. Dr Stanfill also collaborated on the WAIS (Wide Area Information Servers) project, a precursor to the internet search engines we all use today. He was heavily involved with ACM SIGIR (Special Interest Group for Information Retrieval), serving a term as its secretary. During this period Dr. Stanfill authored numerous scientific papers, many of which continue to be heavily cited.

Career as an Entrepreneur

In 1994, after Thinking Machines entered bankruptcy, Dr. Stanfill co-founded Ab Initio Software, a software company specializing in high-performance parallel enterprise computing. Dr. Stanfill architected the company’s flagship product, the Co>Operating System, which is a critical part of the infrastructure for many of the largest companies in the world, particularly in the fields of banking and telecommunications. During his time there he has architected numerous additional systems and been awarded over eighty patents. He remains active at the company, conducting research and designing new products.

Personal Life and Hobbies

Shortly after receiving his doctorate, Dr. Stanfill married Sharon Buckalew, after which she joined him in Massachusetts, where they continue to live. They have one son, Colin, who is a software engineer working for a major technology company. Dr. Stanfill’s hobbies include skiing, sailing, cooking, music (voice, guitar, and lute), and he is an avid bicyclist. Craig and Sharon have been active (on and off) in the medieval recreation and science fiction fandom communities since college. The two share a passion for travel, and get out to see the world as often as they can manage. Both are Christians and are affiliated with the Episcopal Church of the United States.