Rumelhart Prize Announced

October 6, 2000

NEWS BRIEFS

San Diego, CALIF. — Ed Rosenfeld, publisher of INTELLIGENCE, has reported that The David E. Rumelhart Prize will be awarded biennially to an individual or collaborative team making a significant contemporary contribution to the formal analysis of human cognition. Mathematical modeling of human cognitive processes, formal analysis of language and other products of human cognitive activity, and computational analyses of human cognition using symbolic or non-symbolic frameworks all fall within the scope of the award. The Prize itself will consist of a certificate, a citation of the awardee’s contribution, and a monetary award of $100,000.

The David E, Rumelhart Prize will be funded by the Robert J. Glushko and Pamela Samuelson Foundation, based in San Francisco. Glushko is an entrepreneur in Silicon Valley who received a Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology in 1979 under Rumelhart’s supervision. Rumelhart has made many contributions to the formal analysis of human cognition, working primarily within the frameworks of mathematical psychology, symbolic artificial intelligence, and parallel distributed processing. He also admired formal linguistic approaches to cognition and explored the possibility of formulating a formal grammar to capture the structure of stories.

Rumelhart obtained his undergraduate education at the University of South Dakota, receiving a B.A. in psychology and mathematics in 1963. He studied mathematical psychology at Stanford University, receiving his Ph. D. in 1967. From 1967 to 1987 he served on the faculty of the Department of Psychology at the University of California, San Diego. In 1987 he moved to Stanford University, serving as Professor there until 1998.

Rumelhart developed models of a wide range of aspects of human cognition, ranging from motor control to story understanding to visual letter recognition to metaphor and analogy. He collaborated with Don Norman and the LNR Research Group to produce Explorations in Cognition, in 1975 and with Jay McClelland and the PDP Research Group to produce Parallel Distributed Processing: Explorations in the Microstructure of Cognition (Bradford Books/MIT Press) in 1986.

He mastered many formal approaches to human cognition, developing his own list processing language and formulating the powerful back propagation learning algorithm for training networks of neuron-like processing units. Rumelhart was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1991 and received many prizes, including a MacArthur Fellowship, the Warren Medal of the Society of Experimental Psychologists, and the APA Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award.

Rumelhart articulated a clear view of what cognitive science, the discipline, is or ought to be. He felt that for cognitive science to be a science, it would have to have formal theories – and he often pointed to linguistic theories, as well as to mathematical and computational models, as examples of what he had in mind. He has become disabled by Pick’s disease, a progressive neurodegenerative illness, and now lives with his brother in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Nominations for the Rumelhart Prize should be sent to the Chair of the Prize Selection Committee by December 1 of each even numbered year, beginning in the year 2000. Visit the prize web site at: http://www.cnbc.cmu.edu/derprize . For more info, see http://www.eintelligence.com/ .

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