NEWS RELEASE, 11/4/96
Fuzzy logic inventor Lotfi Zadeh, UC Berkeley professor, to receive 10 million yen Okawa Prize
Berkeley -- The Tokyo-based Okawa Foundation for Information and Telecommunications has awarded its prestigious Okawa Prize for 1996 to Lotfi A. Zadeh in recognition of his outstanding contribution to information science through the development of fuzzy logic and its applications.
Zadeh, professor emeritus of electrical engineering and computer sciences at the University of California at Berkeley and director of the Berkeley Initiative in Soft Computing (BISC), will accept the award in Tokyo on Nov. 13.
The Okawa Prize is given annually to individuals who have made seminal contributions to information and telecommunication technologies. The prize includes a certificate, a gold medal and an award of 10 million yen, or about $100,000.
Fuzzy logic is based on the theory of fuzzy sets -- a theory which Zadeh pioneered in the mid-1960s. In a sharp break with traditions of classical Aristotelian logic, fuzzy logic attempts to mirror the pervasive imprecision of the real world by providing a model for human reasoning in which everything -- including truth -- is a matter of degree.
Furthermore, in fuzzy logic human concepts are assumed to have a granular structure in which the boundaries of granules are fuzzy rather than crisp. For example, the granules of a human head are the nose, forehead, chin, cheeks, etc. Similarly, the granules of age are young, very young, not young, old, not very old, etc., while the granules of truth are true, very true, not true, false, etc. The concept of a linguistic variable -- a variable whose granular values are words rather than numbers -- plays a key role in fuzzy logic and its applications.
From its inception, the departure of fuzzy logic from the deeply entrenched Cartesian traditions of black and white categoricity in logic, mathematics and the sciences has made fuzzy logic an object of controversy, skepticism and hostility. In recent years, however, fuzzy logic has gained wide recognition and is now used with success in a broad variety of applications ranging from consumer products such as washing machines, air conditioners, cameras and camcorders to industrial process control, medical instrumentation, signal processing and speech recognition.
The rapid growth in the world-wide visibility and impact of fuzzy-logic-based products and techniques reflects, in large measure, the major contributions to the development of fuzzy logic and its applications made by Japanese engineers and scientists at a time when fuzzy logic was viewed with skepticism in the Western world. The first important application in Japan was the subway system in the city of Sendai, which has functioned flawlessly since its inauguration in 1987. Today in Japan fuzzy-logic-based products are ubiquitous.
After a period of initial skepticism and rejection, fuzzy logic is finding growing acceptance in the Western world, especially in Europe and more recently in the United States. NASA is currently experimenting with using fuzzy logic controllers in the space shuttle, and fuzzy logic is employed increasingly in industrial process control. As a constituent of soft computing, fuzzy logic is emerging as a key methodology in the conception, design and deployment of intelligent systems.
Zadeh received his PhD from Columbia University. He joined UC Berkeley in 1959 and served as chair of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences from 1963 to 1968. He has received numerous awards in recognition of his development of fuzzy logic, among them the Honda Prize, the Hamming Medal of the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers), the Kampe de Feriet Medal, the IEEE Educational Medal, the Oldenburger Medal of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the Moisil Prize and the 1995 IEEE Medal of Honor.
(This press release was based on an announcement issued by the Okawa Foundation in Tokyo.)
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