Welcome!

Search Authors: Jason Bloomberg, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Jnan Dash, Shelly Palmer

News Feed Item

Lotfi Zadeh, inventor of fuzzy logic, wins the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award for enabling computers and machines to behave and decide like human beings

- By equipping computers to tolerate real-world complexities and decide accordingly, fuzzy logic transforms them from mere calculating machines, and allows appliances and systems to operate autonomously

MADRID, Jan. 15, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) category has been granted in this fifth edition to the electrical engineer Lotfi A. Zadeh, "for the invention and development of fuzzy logic." This "revolutionary" breakthrough, affirms the jury in its citation, has enabled machines to work with imprecise concepts, in the same way humans do, and thus secure more efficient results more aligned with reality. In the last fifty years, this methodology has generated over 50,000 patents in Japan and the U.S. alone.

(Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20130115/DA42976)

On hearing of the award, Zadeh remarked that it meant a lot to him for several reasons: "First, because fuzzy logic has been somewhat controversial. Some people have greeted it with enthusiasm but others have been skeptical. It also has a special significance for me because I am a great admirer of Spain and the Spanish people. I'd therefore like to take this opportunity to express my deep appreciation to all those who were involved in my receiving this award, particularly Luis Magdalena and Enric Trillas of the European Centre for Soft Computing in Mieres, who were among those putting forward my nomination."

Classical logic, based on class membership, imposes that an element should strictly belong or not belong to a clearly demarcated set, like for instance the set of even numbers. But reality is a lot more complex. Hence we have groups, classes and sets whose boundaries are blurred, like that of "good basketball players." To belong to this set, a basketball player must "be tall" and "shoot well", but these concepts are imprecise. A binary system would specify, for example, that "be tall" equates to "measure more than 185 cm" and discard all players below this height, regardless of their shooting prowess. But fuzzy logic, like a human coach, would find room in the set of good players for one who measures 184 cm but is an excellent shooter. In this sense, what fuzzy logic does is bridge the gap between classical logic and the real world.

This indeed is what Zadeh was seeking when the began the research that led him to fuzzy logic: "As an engineer, I was always convinced that mathematics held the answers to almost any problem, but I also realized that classical mathematics was constrained by its inability to tolerate imprecision." To get over this shortcoming, Zadeh turned to the human model: "We humans have a remarkable capability to reason and make decisions in an environment of uncertainty and incompleteness of information (…). The principal objective of fuzzy logic is the formalization of this capability."

Human beings intuitively apply fuzzy logic to their decisions, juggling imprecise data and weighing up each relevant element. Zadeh's contribution was to apply such logic to the decision-making processes of systems and computers, so they cease to operate as mere calculating machines and become capable of evaluating degrees and shades of reality and deciding accordingly in an autonomous or semi-autonomous fashion (with little or no human intervention). Think, for example, of a washing machine that can select a cycle – with its length, speed and temperature – according to the drum load and the dirtiness of the laundry. Other systems can deliver the same results, but the sensors and electronics facilitated by fuzzy logic get the job done more cheaply.

According to the jury, the contributions of Lotfi A. Zadeh (Baku, Azerbaijan, 1921) have been "enthusiastically adopted by industry, where thousands of engineers have designed a whole plethora of complex and intelligent systems (…). With several tens of thousands of patents worldwide, fuzzy control is now an essential component in a wide range of consumer products, including video cameras, washing machines and medical instruments, as well as in more complex systems such as automatic trains, wastewater treatment plants, and intelligent control of car engines."

But Zadeh's work has also changed the face of numerous industrial processes, where it has simplified design, providing more efficient products that are easier to use and more tractable to change, while bringing down production costs.

A seminal paper

In 1965, Lotfi Zadeh articulated fuzzy sets for the first time in a paper that would come to be among the most cited of the 20th century, with over 35,000 mentions. And the next step from there was the development of fuzzy logic, a brilliant contribution to extending the frontiers of knowledge. Indeed Zadeh is defined in the jury's citation as the founder of "a new field of research which has proved powerful in many application domains."

The controversy around fuzzy logic began with the name: "The word fuzzy has a pejorative connotation in English, and this turned out to be a handicap when it came to gaining the acceptance of the scientific community. But it was the word that came closest to what I had in mind. In Asia, however, they don't have problems with the word fuzzy, so they were more receptive to my work. They also have a culture that accepts shades of grey, as opposed to the western – Cartesian – tradition where everything is either black or white."

This was perhaps the reason, he speculates, that one of the earliest applications of his concept was the automated subway system in the Japanese city of Sendai. The application of fuzzy logic to the network's control system enabled trains to change speeds as if they had an experienced human driver at the wheel. Indeed acceleration and braking were more even with the new system, resulting in less electricity consumption as well as a smoother ride for passengers.

Fuzzy logic opened the door to machine understanding of such imprecise instructions as "brake smoothly" or "refrigerate until the air is cool," which would be instantly understood by any human being acquainted with the system, but is utterly impenetrable for a conventional computer program. The conceptual shift was so abrupt that Zadeh initially had to face the skepticism of many scientist colleagues, until the success of the practical applications of his theory dissipated all such doubts.

Zadeh's work has enabled us to communicate with machines through an increasingly natural, human language. In the words of jury secretary, Ramon Lopez de Mantaras: "Rather than human beings having to take the time to learn the complex mathematical language of machines, fuzzy logic proposes a simpler language, so it is the machines that mimic human patterns of reasoning and behavior in order to solve problems."

The laureate, still working at the age of 91, sees this as the most promising research avenue in the fuzzy logic field, and hopes to author some further advance that will connect computers and systems more closely with natural language.  

Bio notes

Lotfi A. Zadeh was born in 1921 in Baku, capital of the former Soviet Republic of Azerbaijan, where his Iranian father was working as a journalist. When he was ten, the family moved to Teheran (Iran), and Lotfi was sent to an American Presbyterian missionary school. Due to an administrative oversight, he was enrolled in a class several years ahead of his supposed academic level, but this did not stop him from excelling in his studies, and obtaining the third highest score in the entire country in his university entrance exam.

Zadeh graduated as an electrical engineer from the University of Teheran in 1942, one of only three students to do so amid the disruption created by the Second World War. In 1943, he emigrated to the United States, where he took an MS in electrical engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Six years later, he earned his PhD in the same subject at Columbia University (New York), where he would teach for the next ten years. In 1959, he joined the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences in the University of California at Berkeley, where he has headed the Berkeley Initiative in Soft Computing since 1991.

He published his seminal work on fuzzy sets in 1965, and in 1968 proposed his theory of fuzzy logic. More than two decades later, in 1991, he introduced another new paradigm: soft computing, a hybrid methodology embracing fuzzy logic, neural networks, evolutive algorithms and probabilistic reasoning. Author of 245 papers, his research has been cited on more than 90,000 occasions, according to Google Scholar, and the vitality and influence of the field he created is evidenced by the number of papers – around 253,000 – that include the word "fuzzy" in their titles. Zadeh has held editorial posts at 75 specialist journals and though fuzzy sets and logic have given rise to tens of thousands of patents, not a single one is in his name.

In the last 15 years, he has been concerned with the computational scenario where data and operations may be specified in a natural language, or what he calls "computing with words."

Zadeh is a U.S. citizen but has retained his Iranian nationality.

BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Awards

The BBVA Foundation primarily engages in the generation and diffusion of scientific knowledge and culture, through ongoing programs in the areas of basic sciences, biomedicine, ecology and conservation biology, social sciences, literary and musical creation, and the visual arts.

Its focus on the core concerns of today's society, like health or the environment, has materialized in major research projects, including those involving the study of cancer. The Foundation's support for research, advanced training and knowledge dissemination is also manifest in a series of award families which not only honor the winners' contributions but also shed a wider light on their fields of work, the values they represent and the combined endeavors of the research and creative communities.

The BBVA Foundation established its Frontiers of Knowledge Awards in 2008 to recognize the authors of outstanding contributions and radical advances in a broad range of scientific and technological areas characteristic of our times. They are in this sense a prize family congruent with the knowledge map and central challenges of the 21st century.

The nominations received from leading universities and research and cultural centers all round the world, the independence and objectivity of the prize juries formed by reputed specialists in their respective fields, and the excellence of the laureates in their earlier editions have earned these awards, devised and organized from Spain, a firm place among the world's foremost award schemes. The BBVA Foundation is assisted in this initiative by the country's premier multidisciplinary research organization, the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), and by the presence of Spanish scientists and creative practitioners on the international juries.

The CSIC collaborates in the appointment of Technical Evaluation Committees for each prize category made up of acknowledged experts in the relevant domain. This Committee undertakes an initial assessment of candidates and draws up a reasoned shortlist for the consideration of the juries.

In the ICT category, Committee members were Pedro A. Serena Domingo, a researcher in the Institute of Materials Science of Madrid (CSIC) and coordinator of the Council's Materials Science and Technology Area; Ceferino Lopez Fernandez, Research Professor at the Institute of Materials Science of Madrid (CSIC); Josep Fontcuberta Grino, Research Professor in the Institute of Materials Science of Barcelona (CSIC); and Manuel Lozano, Research Professor at the Institute of Microelectronics of Barcelona (CSIC) and coordinator of the Council's Physical Science and Technologies Area.

The Frontiers awards provide an international showcase for the best qualities of Spain and Spanish science, and have achieved the endorsement of the world scientific community, whose members have served on the juries and put forward nominations from their posts in eminent Spanish and international academic and research institutions.

In their fifth edition, the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Awards wish to offer support and recognition to the individuals and teams working for a better future for people through the advancement of knowledge, innovation and culture and their dissemination to society; goals and practices that are also at the center of the BBVA Group culture.

In an economic context marked by a prolonged economic crisis and the adoption of short-term measures to tackle its multiple causes and manifestations, science, the environment and culture have dropped further down the list of public priorities. The BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Awards, and the Foundation's broader program to foster scientific knowledge and culture, wish to drive home the message that these three areas are of transcendental importance for our collective wellbeing and individual opportunities.

The eight categories of the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Awards respond to the knowledge map of the early 21st century, but also to key global challenges that have never before merited a specific honor on this scale, as with the two environmental categories – Ecology and Conservation Biology and Climate Change – and the category of Development Cooperation. These stand alongside the classic categories of Basic Sciences, Biomedicine and Economics, Finance and Management. Finally, the award family is completed by Contemporary Music, an art at the leading edge of cultural innovation to which the BBVA Foundation devotes a broad-ranging support program, and where Spain is home to a wide and talented community of authors, conductors and performers.

International jury

The jury in this category was chaired by George Gottlob, Professor of Computer Science at the University of Oxford (United Kingdom), with Ramon Lopez de Mantaras, Director of the Artificial Intelligence Research Institute of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) acting as secretary. Remaining members were Oussama Khatib, Professor in the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory in the Computer Sciences Department of Stanford University (United States), Rudolf Kruse, Head of the Department of Knowledge Processing and Language Engineering at Otto-von-Guerike-Universitat Magdeburg (Germany), Mateo Varelo, Director of the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (Spain) and Joos Vandewalle, Head of the SDC Division in the Department of Electrical Engineering at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Belgium).

The winner in the previous edition was American electronic engineer Carver Mead, for being "the most influential thinker and pioneer" of the silicon age, and enabling "the development of the billion-transistor processors that drive the electronic devices – laptops, tablets, smartphones, DVD players – ubiquitous in our daily lives."

The award in the third edition went to American mathematician Donald E. Knuth for "making computer programming into a science." The work of this "giant among giants," in the words of the jury's citation, is considered the scaffolding upon which modern computer programs are built.

The award in the second edition was granted to engineer and mathematician Thomas Kailath, for a mathematical development permitting the production of increasingly small size chips. Finally, the winner in the inaugural edition was Israeli Jacob Ziv, the mind behind such hugely popular file formats as MP3, JPG or PDF.

The BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Awards, spanning eight prize categories, recognize research and creative work of excellence as embedded in theoretical advances, technological developments or innovative artistic works and styles, as well as fundamental contributions in addressing key challenges of the 21st century. The Foundation has been assisted in the selection of jury members and candidates by the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), the country's premier research organization. Nominations have been put forward by the world's most prestigious teaching and research institutions.

UPCOMING AWARD ANNOUNCEMENTS

CATEGORY

DATE

Basic Sciences

January 22, 2013

Biomedicine

January 29, 2013

Ecology and Conservation Biology

February 5, 2013

Contemporary Music

February 12, 2013

Economics, Finance and Management

February 19, 2013

Development Cooperation

February 26, 2013

SOURCE BBVA Foundation

More Stories By PR Newswire

Copyright © 2007 PR Newswire. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PRNewswire content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of PRNewswire. PRNewswire shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.

@ThingsExpo Stories
DevOps Summit 2015 New York, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that it is now accepting Keynote Proposals. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long development cycles that produce software that is obsolete at launch. DevOps may be disruptive, but it is essential.
“In the past year we've seen a lot of stabilization of WebRTC. You can now use it in production with a far greater degree of certainty. A lot of the real developments in the past year have been in things like the data channel, which will enable a whole new type of application," explained Peter Dunkley, Technical Director at Acision, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Windstream, a leading provider of advanced network and cloud communications, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Windstream (Nasdaq: WIN), a FORTUNE 500 and S&P 500 company, is a leading provider of advanced network communications, including cloud computing and managed services, to businesses nationwide. The company also offers broadband, phone and digital TV services to consumers primarily in rural areas.
The major cloud platforms defy a simple, side-by-side analysis. Each of the major IaaS public-cloud platforms offers their own unique strengths and functionality. Options for on-site private cloud are diverse as well, and must be designed and deployed while taking existing legacy architecture and infrastructure into account. Then the reality is that most enterprises are embarking on a hybrid cloud strategy and programs. In this Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo (http://www.CloudComputingExpo.com), moderated by Ashar Baig, Research Director, Cloud, at Gigaom Research, Nate Gordon, Director of T...
The Internet of Things is not new. Historically, smart businesses have used its basic concept of leveraging data to drive better decision making and have capitalized on those insights to realize additional revenue opportunities. So, what has changed to make the Internet of Things one of the hottest topics in tech? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Gray, Director, Embedded and Internet of Things, discussed the underlying factors that are driving the economics of intelligent systems. Discover how hardware commoditization, the ubiquitous nature of connectivity, and the emergence of Big Data a...
"BSQUARE is in the business of selling software solutions for smart connected devices. It's obvious that IoT has moved from being a technology to being a fundamental part of business, and in the last 18 months people have said let's figure out how to do it and let's put some focus on it, " explained Dave Wagstaff, VP & Chief Architect, at BSQUARE Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.

ARMONK, N.Y., Nov. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --  IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that it is bringing a greater level of control, security and flexibility to cloud-based application development and delivery with a single-tenant version of Bluemix, IBM's platform-as-a-service. The new platform enables developers to build ap...

SYS-CON Events announced today that IDenticard will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. IDenticard™ is the security division of Brady Corp (NYSE: BRC), a $1.5 billion manufacturer of identification products. We have small-company values with the strength and stability of a major corporation. IDenticard offers local sales, support and service to our customers across the United States and Canada. Our partner network encompasses some 300 of the world's leading systems integrators and security s...
"People are a lot more knowledgeable about APIs now. There are two types of people who work with APIs - IT people who want to use APIs for something internal and the product managers who want to do something outside APIs for people to connect to them," explained Roberto Medrano, Executive Vice President at SOA Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Nigeria has the largest economy in Africa, at more than US$500 billion, and ranks 23rd in the world. A recent re-evaluation of Nigeria's true economic size doubled the previous estimate, and brought it well ahead of South Africa, which is a member (unlike Nigeria) of the G20 club for political as well as economic reasons. Nigeria's economy can be said to be quite diverse from one point of view, but heavily dependent on oil and gas at the same time. Oil and natural gas account for about 15% of Nigera's overall economy, but traditionally represent more than 90% of the country's exports and as...
The Internet of Things is a misnomer. That implies that everything is on the Internet, and that simply should not be - especially for things that are blurring the line between medical devices that stimulate like a pacemaker and quantified self-sensors like a pedometer or pulse tracker. The mesh of things that we manage must be segmented into zones of trust for sensing data, transmitting data, receiving command and control administrative changes, and peer-to-peer mesh messaging. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ryan Bagnulo, Solution Architect / Software Engineer at SOA Software, focused on desi...
"At our booth we are showing how to provide trust in the Internet of Things. Trust is where everything starts to become secure and trustworthy. Now with the scaling of the Internet of Things it becomes an interesting question – I've heard numbers from 200 billion devices next year up to a trillion in the next 10 to 15 years," explained Johannes Lintzen, Vice President of Sales at Utimaco, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"For over 25 years we have been working with a lot of enterprise customers and we have seen how companies create applications. And now that we have moved to cloud computing, mobile, social and the Internet of Things, we see that the market needs a new way of creating applications," stated Jesse Shiah, CEO, President and Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 15th Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Gridstore™, the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built to optimize Microsoft workloads, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Gridstore™ is the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built for Microsoft workloads and designed to accelerate applications in virtualized environments. Gridstore’s hyper-converged infrastructure is the industry’s first all flash version of HyperConverged Appliances that include both compute and storag...
Today’s enterprise is being driven by disruptive competitive and human capital requirements to provide enterprise application access through not only desktops, but also mobile devices. To retrofit existing programs across all these devices using traditional programming methods is very costly and time consuming – often prohibitively so. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jesse Shiah, CEO, President, and Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., discussed how you can create applications that run on all mobile devices as well as laptops and desktops using a visual drag-and-drop application – and eForms-buildi...
We certainly live in interesting technological times. And no more interesting than the current competing IoT standards for connectivity. Various standards bodies, approaches, and ecosystems are vying for mindshare and positioning for a competitive edge. It is clear that when the dust settles, we will have new protocols, evolved protocols, that will change the way we interact with devices and infrastructure. We will also have evolved web protocols, like HTTP/2, that will be changing the very core of our infrastructures. At the same time, we have old approaches made new again like micro-services...
Code Halos - aka "digital fingerprints" - are the key organizing principle to understand a) how dumb things become smart and b) how to monetize this dynamic. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robert Brown, AVP, Center for the Future of Work at Cognizant Technology Solutions, outlined research, analysis and recommendations from his recently published book on this phenomena on the way leading edge organizations like GE and Disney are unlocking the Internet of Things opportunity and what steps your organization should be taking to position itself for the next platform of digital competition.
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
As the Internet of Things unfolds, mobile and wearable devices are blurring the line between physical and digital, integrating ever more closely with our interests, our routines, our daily lives. Contextual computing and smart, sensor-equipped spaces bring the potential to walk through a world that recognizes us and responds accordingly. We become continuous transmitters and receivers of data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Andrew Bolwell, Director of Innovation for HP's Printing and Personal Systems Group, discussed how key attributes of mobile technology – touch input, sensors, social, and ...
In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect at GE, and Ibrahim Gokcen, who leads GE's advanced IoT analytics, focused on the Internet of Things / Industrial Internet and how to make it operational for business end-users. Learn about the challenges posed by machine and sensor data and how to marry it with enterprise data. They also discussed the tips and tricks to provide the Industrial Internet as an end-user consumable service using Big Data Analytics and Industrial Cloud.