School of Information Science - Hall of Fame

Marvin L. Minsky
  • Marvin L. Minsky
  • Born: August 9, 1927
  • Field: Artificial intelligence; computer science; cognitive psychology
  • Focus: Contributed important research and theories to the fields of artificial intelligence, computer science, and related disciplines.
  • Country: United States
  • Era: 1950 to 1969

Marvin Minsky is Toshiba Professor of Media Arts and Sciences, and Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His research has led to both theoretical and practical advances in artificial intelligence, cognitive psychology, neural networks, and the theory of Turing Machines and recursive functions. (In 1961, he solved Emil Post's problem of "Tag" and showed that any computer can be simulated by a machine with only two registers and instructions to increment, decrement, and jump on zero.) He has made major contributions in the domains of symbolic graphical description, computational geometry, knowledge representation, computational semantics, machine perception, symbolic and connectionist learning. He has also been involved with many studies of advanced technologies for space exploration.

Professor Minsky was also one of the pioneers of intelligence-based mechanical robotics and telepresence. He designed and built some of the first mechanical hands with tactile sensors, visual scanners, and their software and computer interfaces. He also influenced many robotic projects outside of MIT, and designed and built the first LOGO "turtle."

In 1951, Minsky built the first randomly wired neural network learning machine (called SNARC, for Stochastic Neural-Analog Reinforcement Computer), based on the reinforcement of simulated synaptic transmission coefficients. When a Junior Fellow at Harvard, he invented and built the first Confocal Scanning Microscope, an optical instrument with unprecedented resolution and image quality. Minsky won the A.M. Turing Award from the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) in 1969.

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