Celebrating Lotfi Zadeh

Celebrating Lotfi Zadeh
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Celebrating Lotfi Zadeh – Today’s Doodle celebrates world-renowned Azerbaijani-American computer scientist, electrical engineer, and professor, Lotfi Zadeh. On this day in 1964, Zadeh submitted “Fuzzy Sets,” a groundbreaking paper that introduced the world to his innovative mathematical framework called “fuzzy logic.”

Lotfi Asker Zadeh was born on February 4, 1921 in Baku, Azerbaijan (then a Soviet Socialist republic), and at 10 years old moved with his family to his father’s homeland of Iran. His exceptional academic achievements brought him to the U.S. to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for his graduate studies. He went on to earn his doctorate in electrical engineering in 1949, and later taught  systems theory at Columbia University in New York. In 1959 he became a professor at the University of California, Berkeley–which remained his academic home throughout his career and where he made his most famous and fuzzy breakthrough.

In 1965, he published “Fuzzy Sets,” which has since been cited by scholars nearly 100,000 times. The theory he presented offered an alternative to the rigid “black and white” parameters of traditional logic and instead allowed for more ambiguous or “fuzzy” boundaries that more closely mimic the way humans see the world. This concept has since been applied to a huge range of technological applications—from a Japanese subway system to the anti-skid algorithms that keep cars safe on the road. 

Known as a gracious yet brilliant thinker, Zadeh received countless accolades throughout his career, including an honorary professorship from the government of Azerbaijan in 1993. 

So here’s to you, Lotfi Zadeh! There’s nothing fuzzy about your huge impact on the scientific world.

 

 

Special thanks to the family of Lotfi Zadeh for their partnership on this project. Below his son shares thoughts on his father’s life and legacy:

 

The best way to describe life in the Zadeh house was “serious.” Lotfi was a serious fellow. A “party” to him was a bunch of super high-IQ academics gathering together for dinner. When I listened in on the resulting conversations, I was always impressed by how eloquent my father was and how deeply he appeared to understand the matter at hand. As my father put it, “there are various levels of understanding.” His understanding was extraordinary. 

My father was very stubborn when it came to his opinions—the Rock of Gibraltar was more easily moved. He was a good tennis player and an excellent dancer, although he rarely did either. Because he spoke fluent Russian, he often listened to the Russian airwaves.  

Thank you, Google, for honoring my father. I would also like to thank the people of Azerbaijan for their love. Today, there is a statue of my father in Baku, Azerbaijan (his birthplace), and a technology institute named in his honor.

 

 

Early draft today’s Doodle below

 

 

You can find more about Celebrating Lotfi Zadeh on the official Google Doodle Page

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