Dilek Hakkani Tur

Dilek Hakkani Tur
Dilek Hakkani Tur she/her/hers

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Dilek Hakkani-Tür is a Professor of Computer Science at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. More recently, she worked as a senior principal scientist at Amazon Alexa AI focusing on enabling natural dialogues with machines (2018-2023). Prior to that, she was leading a dialogue research team at Google Research (2016-2018), a principal researcher at Microsoft Research (2010-2016), International Computer Science Institute (ICSI, 2006-2010) and AT&T Labs-Research (2001-2005). She received her BSc degree from Middle East Technical Univ, in 1994, and MSc and PhD degrees from Bilkent Univ., Department of Computer Engineering, in 1996 and 2000, respectively.

Her research interests include conversational AI, natural language and speech processing, spoken dialogue systems, and machine learning for language processing. She has over 80 patents that were granted and co-authored more than 300 papers in these areas. She also received several best paper awards for publications she co-authored on conversational systems, including her earlier work on active learning for dialogue systems, from IEEE Signal Processing Society, ISCA and EURASIP.

She served as an associate editor for IEEE Transactions on Audio, Speech and Language Processing (2005-2008), a member of the IEEE Speech and Language Technical Committee (2009-2014), area editor for speech and language processing for Elsevier's Digital Signal Processing Journal and IEEE Signal Processing Letters (2011-2013), and served on the ISCA Advisory Council (2015-2019). She also served as the Editor-in-Chief of the IEEE/ACM Transactions on Audio, Speech and Language Processing (2019-2021), and an IEEE Distinguished Industry Speaker (2021). Currently, she serves as the SigDial President. She is a fellow of the IEEE (2014) and ISCA (2014).

Research Statement

Dr. Hakkani-Tür’s research is focused on language understanding and building conversational agents. Her recent contributions include:

Knowledge-augmented conversational response generation: She and her team has built knowledge-grounded large language models (LLMs) for open domain conversational systems that have been used in Alexa Prize Social Conversational Bots in actual user interactions with Alexa. Furthermore, they coordinated Dialogue System Technology Challenges for integrating factual and subjective knowledge in task-oriented dialogue systems, built competitive baselines, and demonstrated state-of-the art performance.

Task-Driven Interactions with Embodied Agents: She designed the Alexa Prize Simbot Challenge, a competition focused on helping advance development of next-generation virtual assistants that can assist humans in completing real-world tasks by harnessing generalizable AI methodologies such as continuous learning, teachable AI, multimodal understanding, and reasoning. She and her team have built the largest human-robot conversational interaction datasets for task completion, defined benchmarks and demonstrated competitive baselines for these challenges. Her recent work includes multi-agent frameworks for training agents to perform new tasks with little/no data.

Graduate Research Opportunities

I am looking for graduate students. Please check out my publications, and apply to UIUC CS Ph.D. program, if you are interested in working with me.

Research Interests

  • Machine Learning
  • Conversational AI
  • Speech and Language Processing
  • Large Language Models
  • Dialogue Systems


  • IEEE Distinguished Industry Speaker (2021)
  • Fellow of the International Speech Communication Association (ISCA), for contributions to advancing the state-of-the-art in spoken language processing, especially for human/human and human/machine conversational understanding   (2014 )
  • Fellow of the IEEE, for contributions to spoken language processing (2014)

Recent Courses Taught

  • CS 598 DHT - Conversational AI