Judea Pearl is a noted computer scientist and philosopher, who gained international reputation for his work in the field of artificial intelligence, causality and Bayesian Networks. An Israeli-American, Pearl is recognized as one of the giants in the field of artificial intelligence by fellow UCLA professors. This is primarily because his work revolutionized the understanding of causality in fields of statistics, psychology, medicine and the social sciences. Pearl is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a founding Fellow of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence. Interested in the philosophy of science, knowledge representation, nonstandard logics, and learning, he came up with a high level cognitive model. His pioneering contribution in the field of artificial intelligence can be matched to none. He has authored more than 350 scientific papers and three books. He has been bestowed with numerous scientific awards and prizes including Association for Computing Machinery A.M. Turing Award, which is the highest distinction in computer engineering.
Childhood & Early Life
Judea Pearl was born in 1936 in Tel Aviv, Israel.
Completing his preliminary education, he enrolled at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology from where he attained B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering in 1960.
Same year, he moved to United States for postgraduate studies and gained admission at Newark College of Engineering. In 1961, he received a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering.
In 1965, he simultaneously gained Master’s degree in Physics from Rutgers University and a Doctorate Degree in Electrical Engineering from the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn, U.S.
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Having completed his academic studies, he took up research position at the RCA David Sarnoff Research Laboratories in Princeton, New Jersey and Electronic Memories, Inc. Hawthorne, California which he continued until 1969. His profile included conducting research on superconductive parametric and storage devices on advanced memory systems.
Following this, in 1969, he joined UCLA's School of Engineering, working on probabilistic artificial intelligence.
Over the years, he has gained international reputation for himself for making significant contribution in the field of artificial intelligence, human reasoning and philosophy of science.
He has authored more than 350 scientific papers on various topics in artificial intelligence. Furthermore, he has to his credit three books in the aforementioned field of interest. These include:, ‘Heuristics’ released in 1984, ‘Probabilistic Reasoning’ in 1988 and ‘Causality’ in 2000.
His most important contribution in the field of artificial intelligence has been as a developer of Bayesian networks and a champion of probabilistic approach to artificial intelligence. Furthermore, he is the first to develop a theory of causal and counterfactual inference based on structural models
After the death of his journalist son, he founded the Daniel Pearl Foundation, along with his family. The main aim of the organization is to promote honest reporting and East-West understanding. It also aims at reaching a level of understanding between the Jews and Muslims. The organization received two awards simultaneously in 2002 and 2003.
Currently, he serves as the professor of computer science and statistics at UCLA. He also serves as the Director of the Cognitive Systems Laboratory at UCLA. Furthermore, he is also a member of the International Advisory Board of NGO Monitor.
Awards & Achievements
In 2001, he was bestowed with Lakotas Award by London School of Economics for coming up with the best book in the philosophy of science.
In 2003, he received the ACM Allen Newell Award.
He received the Civic Venture’s inaugural Purpose Prize in 2006 that is awarded to honor individuals aged 60 and above who have demonstrated uncommon vision in addressing community and national problems.
In 2008, the Franklin Institute conferred him with the Benjamin Franklin Medal for Computer and Cognitive Science.
In 2011, he was awarded with David E. Rumelhart Prize for Contributions to the Theoretical Foundations of Human Cognition. His alma mater honoured him with the Harvey Prize in Science and Technology.
In 2011, he received Association for Computing Machinery A.M. Turing Award, the highest distinction in computer engineering, for his ‘fundamental contributions to artificial intelligence through the development of a calculus for probabilistic and causal reasoning’.
Personal Life & Legacy
He is married to Ruth. The couple was blessed with three children, including Daniel Pearl, a journalist who was kidnapped and murdered by Al-Qaeda militants in Pakistan.
Along with his wife, he co-edited the book, ‘I Am Jewish: Personal Reflections Inspired by the Last Words of Daniel Pearl’. The book went on to receive 2004 National Jewish Book Award for Anthologies, for dwelling on the theme of how Jews define themselves in the post 9/11 era.
On the seventh anniversary of his son’s death, he wrote an article in the Wall Street Journal titled ‘Daniel Pearl and the Normalization of Evil: When will our luminaries stop making excuses for terror?’
This Israeli American computer scientist and philosopher’s son, Daniel Pearl a Wall Street Journal reporter, was kidnapped and murdered by militants in Pakistan in 2002.