Computer science professor recognized for impact in his field

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Judea Pearl, chancellor’s professor of computer science at the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering, has been recognized with the Classic AI Paper Award given by the AI Journal for his paper “Temporal Constraint Networks” along with coauthors Rina Dechter and Itay Meiri, both of whom were UCLA students at the time of publishing.

This award, Pearl’s second Classic Paper Award, is UCLA’s third; Pearl received his first in 2015 for his paper on Bayesian networks and Rich Korf won in 2016 for his seminal paper in real-time heuristic search over the basic state model considered in AI. Only papers that are “exceptional in their significance and impact” and were published at least 15 calendar years ago in the AI Journal are eligible for the AIJ Classic Paper Award.

In 1990, Pearl, Dechter, and Meiri offered a polynomial time algorithm in their paper to solve a simple problem: finding one or more scenarios consistent with two specific data sets. This algorithm had a significant impact on subsequent work in automated planning. Rina Dechter, now Distinguished Professor at UC Irvine, then a PhD student of Pearl, followed this research with a comprehensive textbook on “Constraint Processing” (Morgan Kaufmann 2003).

The foundations of modern artificial intelligence are built on Pearl’s breakthrough work, paving the way for AI tech such as driverless cars and voice recognition software. Through his invention of Bayesian networks, a formalism that enables computers to reason with uncertainty, Pearl became a giant in the field of artificial intelligence. He is also credited with developing a calculus of causation that allows empirical scientists to quantify and discover cause-effect relationships from statistical data. Pearl is a recipient of the A.M. Turing Award, the most prestigious prize awarded to computer scientists by the Association for Computing Machinery and often called the “Nobel Prize in Computing.”

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