Marvin Minsky

In thinking about the significance of his work, it is clear that Dr. Marvin L. Minsky has made many contributions to artificial intelligence, cognitive psychology, mathematics, computational linguistics, robotics, and optics. In recent years, he has worked chiefly on imparting to machines the human capacity for common sense reasoning. His most recent conception of human intellectual structure and function is presented in The Society of Mind. In addition, some people have argued that Marvin Minsky, "practically invented artificial intelligence."

Dr. Minsky's many contributions include:

  1. An early identification of the central problems of the discipline of Artificial Intelligence which also defined a research agenda for large number of colleagues and students;
  2. An identification of the problem of knowledge representation as being of central concern to the understanding of intelligence, both machine and human; and
  3. The development of a steady flow of ideas, questions, and hypotheses that have greatly enriched our conception of what a machine is and what a machine can do.

The implications of some of Dr. Minsky's innovations and ideas (e.g., those associated with knowledge representation and common sense reasoning) are still being explored by Cognitive Science and Computer Science Researchers today. Indeed, the list of his collaborators and his Ph.D. students is a virtual Who's Who of Artificial Intelligence. Over the years Dr. Minsky has mentored almost 90 post-graduate students, some of whom are also well known in the field of Artificial Intelligence and Computer Science, including: Daniel Bobrow, K. Eric Drexler, Alison Druin, Scott Fisher, Carl Hewitt, Danny Hillis, Ray Kurzweil, Drew McDermott, Joel Moses, Bertram Raphael, James Slagle, Ivan Sutherland, David Waltz, Terry Winograd and Patrick Winston.

Born in New York, New York in 1929, Dr. Marvin L. Minsky has a 1950 BA in Mathematics from Harvard University and a 1954 Ph.D. in Mathematics from Princeton University. He was a Junior Fellow of the Harvard Society of Fellows from 1954-1957, followed by two years as a Staff Member of the MIT Lincoln Laboratory. In 1958 he became an Assistant Professor of Mathematics at MIT and in 1959 he founded the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, which he co-directed from 1959-1974. From 1974-1989 he was the Donner Professor of Science at MIT, and in 1990 became Toshiba Professor of Media Arts and Sciences, a position which he holds today.

Dr. Minsky has served as the President of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence (1981-82). He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, and the Harvard Society of Fellows.

He is on the Board of Advisors of the Planetary Society and the National Dance Institute, and serves on the Board of Governors of the National Space Society. A member of the NAS, NAE and the Argentine NAS, Dr. Minsky has received the ACM Turing Award, the MIT Killian Award, the Japan Prize, the IJCAI Research Excellence Award, and the Rank Prize of the Royal Society of Medicine.

Information as of April 2001