Afzal Upal

Contact Info

208 Ullrich Hall
1 University Plz
Platteville, WI 53818-3099

Campuses and Colleges

  • Engineering, Mathematics and Science

Department Info

Professor & Department Chair
0208 Ullrich Hall



Dr. Upal is a thought leader in the fields of computer science & cognitive science. 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

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 computer science & software engineering industry, government, and academia 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. His has held faculty positions at Dalhousie University, University of Toledo and Occidental College. He was a visiting faculty member at Oxford University in summer 2010 and at Air Force Research Lab in summer 2017. His leadership experience includes serving as Group Leader of the Information, Influence, & Effects Group at Defence Research & Development Canada ("Canada's DARPA") and as Founding Chair of the Computing & Information Science Department at Mercyhurst University in Erie, PA.