Artificial intelligence, as an emerging and multidisciplinary domain of research and innovation, has attracted growing attention in recent years. Delineating the domain composition of artificial intelligence is central to profiling and tracking its development and trajectories. This paper puts forward a bibliometric definition for artificial intelligence which can be readily applied, including by researchers, managers, and policy analysts. Our approach starts with benchmark records of artificial intelligence captured by using a core keyword and specialized journal search. We then extract candidate terms from high frequency keywords of benchmark records, refine keywords and complement with the subject category “artificial intelligence”. We assess our search approach by comparing it with other three recent search strategies of artificial intelligence, using a common source of articles from the Web of Science. Using this source, we then profile patterns of growth and international diffusion of scientific research in artificial intelligence in recent years, identify top research sponsors in funding artificial intelligence and demonstrate how diverse disciplines contribute to the multidisciplinary development of artificial intelligence. We conclude with implications for search strategy development and suggestions of lines for further research.