Afzal Upal

Profile image for Afzal Upal

Contact Info

228 Busby Hall of Engineering
1000 Southwest Road
Platteville, WI 53818-3099

Campuses and Colleges

  • Engineering, Mathematics and Science


Machine Learning, Cognitive Science
strategic planning & budgeting



Dr. Upal is a visionary thought leader in computing & cognitive sciences. He has published two peer reviewed books and over 100 technical articles on various topics in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and cognitive science. His notable contributions include:

  • designing software for evaluating performance of unsupervised classification & link discovery algorithms
  • designing a machine learning for planning algorithm that can automatically learn to improve plan quality
  • designing a machine learning technique for predicting popularity of social media messages (likes/shares)
  • developing the social identity entrepreneurship (SIE) model which explains how leaders develop and market ideas of social change
  • developing a cognitive science of new religious movements which explains the development of new religious movements
  • developing the context-based model of counterintuitive concept learning which explains how people learn counterintuitive concepts
  • developing a marketing technique (called Aha ad design) to design effective advertisements for various target audiences

Educational Background

  • B.S. (Double Math-Physics) University of Punjab (1989)
  • B.S. (Computer Science) University of Saskatchewan (1993)
  • M.S. (Computer Science) University of Saskatchewan (1995)
  • Phd (Computer Science) University of Alberta (1999)

Professional Background

Dr. Upal has worked in various technical and leadership positions in the computing industry, government, and higher-education over the last two & a half decades. He began his technical career as a Software Engineer at Product Direct Network Inc. in 1995. He worked as a Senior Software Engineer at Information Extraction & Transport Inc. building AI-based software for various defense and security applications. He has held faculty positions at Dalhousie University, University of Toledo and Occidental College in Los Angeles. He was a visiting faculty member at Oxford University in summer 2010 and at US Air Force Research Lab in summer 2007. His leadership experience includes serving as Founding Chair of the Computing & Information Science Department at Mercyhurst University in Erie, PA and as Group Leader of the Information, Influence, & Effects Group at Defence Research & Development Canada ("Canada's DARPA").