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David Rumelhart

Brainstyle Computation and Learning 1987

1 hours 00 minutes
David Rumelhart

David Rumelhart 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. He became disabled by Pick's disease, a progressive neurodegenerative illness, and died in March 2011.
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" 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.
At the August 2000 meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, Drs. James L. McClelland and Robert J. Glushko presented the initial plan to honor the intellectual contributions of David E. Rumelhart to Cognitive Science. The plan involved honoring Rumelhart through an annual prize of $100,000, funded by the Robert J. Glushko and Pamela Samuelson Foundation. McClelland was a close collaborator of Rumelhart, and, together, they had written numerous articles and books on parallel distributed processing. Glushko, who had been Rumelhart’s Ph.D student in the late 1970s and a Silicon Valley entrepreneur in the 1990s, is currently an adjunct professor at the University of California – Berkeley.
The David E. Rumelhart Prize is awarded to an individual or collaborative team making a significant contemporary contribution to the theoretical foundations of human cognition. Contributions may be formal in nature: 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 is awarded at the annual meeting of the Cognitive Science Society and consists of a certificate, a citation of the awardee's contribution, and a monetary award of $100,000.