UCLA Artificial Intelligence Pioneer Judea Pearl Elected to the National Academy of Sciences
By Matthew Chin
Judea Pearl, professor of computer science at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, one of the highest honors that can be bestowed on a scientist or engineer.
Pearl was recognized for his “distinguished and continuing achievements in original research,” according to the academy’s announcement.
Pearl, who has made foundational contributions to artificial intelligence, was among 84 new members and 21 foreign associates from 15 countries elected to the academy this year. He joins 50 other UCLA faculty members who have been elected to the academy in the campus’s history.
Pearl developed the theoretical foundations for reasoning under uncertain conditions. He also developed the graphical methods and symbolic calculus that enable machines and scientists to reason about actions and observations and to assess cause-effect relationships. He invented and developed “Bayesian networks” to describe these relationships. Since this pioneering work in the 1980s, Bayesian networks have been incorporated in many areas of science, technology, health care and the social sciences.
In 2012, Pearl received the Association for Computing Machinery’s Alan M. Turing Award, which is generally considered the “Nobel Prize in computer science.” He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1995, and to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2012. His numerous honors also include the Harvey Prize, the David E. Rumelhart Prize and the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Computer and Cognitive Science.
A UCLA faculty member since 1969, Pearl continues to be very active in scholarship.
Pearl and his family are also founders of the Daniel Pearl Foundation, which honors his son by promoting cross-cultural understanding. Daniel Pearl was a Wall Street Journal reporter when he was kidnapped and murdered by terrorists in Pakistan in early 2002. A memorial lecture is held at UCLA annually.
The National Academy of Sciences was established in 1863 by a congressional act of incorporation signed by Abraham Lincoln that calls on the academy to act as an official adviser to the federal government in any matter of science or technology. The academy, which now has 2,214 active members and 444 foreign associates, is a private organization of scientists and engineers dedicated to the furtherance of science and its use for the general welfare.