Jacob Schrum

Notable Achievements

Assistant Professor of Computer Science Jacob Schrum has had two peer-reviewed papers accepted to appear in the proceedings of the 2020 Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference. Both papers were sparked by research collaborations with coauthors that began at the 2017 Dagstuhl Seminar on AI-Driven Game Design . SU computer science major Jake Gutierrez  ’22 later contributed to this line of research as part of SCOPE 2019, and major work finalizing the projects occurred as part of the 2019 Dagstuhl Seminar on Revolutions in Computational Game AI .

  • “Interactive Evolution and Exploration within Latent Level–Design Space of Generative Adversarial Networks” was written along with Gutierrez and four other collaborators: Vanessa Volz, Jialin Liu, Simon Lucas, and Sebastian Risi. It presents a method for interactively designing video-game levels for Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda  using techniques that emulate the style of levels from the original games.
  • “CPPN2GAN: Combining Compositional Pattern–Producing Networks and GANs for Large-Scale Pattern Generation” was written with Vanessa Volz and Sebastian Risi and focuses on a way of scaling up the levels generated by our method to very large spaces. This particular approach to encoding game levels still emulates levels from Mario and Zelda but can generate content of arbitrary size that is connected in a cohesive way.


Artificial Intelligence, specifically Evolutionary Computation, Neural Networks, Neuroevolution, Artificial Life, Multiobjective Optimization, and Reinforcement Learning.

Dr. Schrum majored in Computer Science, Math, and German as an undergraduate at Southwestern University, and graduated in 2006. He then attended graduate school at the University of Texas at Austin, where he earned his PhD in Computer Science with a focus on Artificial Intelligence. In particular, Dr. Schrum applies Evolutionary Computation to video game domains. As a graduate student at UT, he won the BotPrize competition in 2012, which was a Turing Test for bots in the game Unreal Tournament 2004, and his dissertation focused on the evolution of Neural Networks to play the classic game of Ms. Pac-Man. Since returning to Southwestern University as a professor in 2014, he encourages active learning and participation in the classroom. He has filmed over 80 short instructional videos for students to watch before class, so that in-class sessions can be focused on problem solving. He is also a regular mentor for Southwestern University’s SCOPE summer research program, and has published several research papers with Southwestern University students. He also interacts with students outside of class as a member of both the CS Club and German Club.


Ph.D., University of Texas at Austin 2014
MS, University of Texas at Austin 2009
BS, Southwestern University 2006

Honors & Awards

  • First place in Ms. Pac-Man vs. Ghosts competition 2018, a competition to design controllers for a challenging partially observable version of Ms. Pac-Man.
  • Grand prize in BotPrize 2012, a competition to design human-like agents for video games.
  • UTCS Department’s 2012 Teaching Assistant Excellence Award.
  • Inaugural Paideia Scholar at SU in 2006.


  • Association of Computing Machinery (ACM)
  • SIGEVO: Special Interest Group on Genetic and Evolutionary Computation
  • SIGCSE: Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education
  • Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
  • IEEE Computational Intelligence Society
  • Upsilon Pi Epsilon (UPE), Computer Science Honorary Society
  • Pi Mu Epsilon (PME), Mathematics Honorary Society
  • Phi Beta Kappa (PBK), Academic Honor Society
  • Alpha Chi (AX), Academic Honor Society

In the News

  • Patience, Grit, and an Open Mind

    Lauren Gillespie ’19 reflects on what it takes to research, present, and publish successfully as a chemistry and computer science double major.

  • Hands-on Learning

    Alumnus Jacob Schrum ’06, Assistant Professor of Computer Science, reflects on his time as a student at SU, what it’s like to be on the other side of the desk, and chimes in with his thoughts on Artificial Intelligence. Spoiler alert: we’re not doomed.

  • Computer Science Majors Develop Artificial Intelligence for Video Games

    SCOPE project focuses on developing intelligent agents using video games and creating visual patterns on a computer screen.