Artificial intelligence pioneer wins A.M. Turing Award

March 15, 2012
Judea Pearl, winner of the 2011 A.M. Turing Award, is pictured with his wife Ruth at a Hanukkah celebration at the White House in 2007.

Judea Pearl, a pioneer in the field of artificial intelligence, has been awarded the prestigious 2011 A.M. Turing Award.

Pearl, 75, was being honored for "innovations that enabled remarkable advances in the partnership between humans and machines," the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) said.

The award, named for British mathematician Alan M. Turing and considered the "Nobel Prize in Computing," carries a $250,000 prize sponsored by computer chip giant Intel and Internet titan Google.

Pearl is a professor of computer science at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is the father of Daniel Pearl, a journalist for The Wall Street Journal who was kidnapped and murdered in Pakistan in 2002.

"(Judea Pearl's) accomplishments over the last 30 years have provided the theoretical basis for progress in artificial intelligence and led to extraordinary achievements in machine learning," said Vint Cerf, a Google executive who is considered one of the fathers of the Internet.

"They have redefined the term 'thinking machine,'" said Cerf, who is also a Turing Award winner.

The ACM said Pearl had created a "computational foundation for processing information under uncertainty, a core problem faced by intelligent systems.

"His work serves as the standard method for handling uncertainty in computer systems, with applications ranging from medical diagnosis, homeland security and genetic counseling to natural language understanding and mapping gene expression data," it said.

"His influence extends beyond artificial intelligence and even computer science, to human reasoning and the philosophy of science."

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