John McCarthy (1927 - 2011)
The business of AI
Foolproof and Incapable of Error: RIP John McCarthy Perhaps it’s just me, but it’s beginning to seem lately as though we are coming to the end of an era, or is it the dawn of a new one? This week I was saddened to hear of the death of John McCarthy, a pioneer in the field of Artificial Intelligence — he coined the term. McCarthy invented the computer language LISP — LISt Processing — which is still used today in AI circles, and is the second oldest high level programming language. During the first Dartmouth conference in 1956 he, and his fellow organizers, came with the notion that “every aspect of learning or any other feature of intelligence can in principle be so precisely described that a machine can be made to simulate it.” To be honest, there are aspects of Artificial Intelligence that give me caution, but it is the minds behind the ideas that I find intriguing. The imagination that takes the work of scientists one step further, the offbeat notion that takes something statistical and creates from it.
There are two important concepts first articulated by Prof. John McCarthy of Stanford University, neither of which actually imply that computers will ever evolve to become intelligent, rational creatures. One is that electronic machines can learn functions and processes. John McCarthy (1927 - 2011), Believer in Humanity
John McCarthy, 1927-2011
October has been a tough month for the computing community. On the heels of the deaths of both Steve Jobs and Dennis Ritchie, Stanford has confirmed that John McCarthy, creator of the programming language Lisp and a founder of AI, passed away on Sunday. He was 84. McCarthy’s influence began at Dartmouth, where he coined the term “artificial intelligence” while planning the first conference in the field, held in 1956. Though he later wished he had named the field differently—“computational intelligence” would have been more apt, if less alluring—McCarthy went on to make significant contributions to the field, creating Lisp, the programming language of choice for many AI applications. (Remembering (John (McCarthy (1927 - 2011))))
John McCarthy, in Memoriam
John McCarthy - Father of AI and Lisp - Dies at 84 When IBM’s Deep Blue supercomputer won its famous chess rematch with then world champion Garry Kasparov in May 1997, the victory was hailed far and wide as a triumph of artificial intelligence. But John McCarthy — the man who coined the term and pioneered the field of AI research — didn’t see it that way. As far back as the mid-60s, chess was called the “Drosophila of artificial intelligence” — a reference to the fruit flies biologists used to uncover the secrets of genetics — and McCarthy believed his successors in AI research had taken the analogy too far. “Computer chess has developed much as genetics might have if the geneticists had concentrated their efforts starting in 1910 on breeding racing Drosophila,” McCarthy wrote following Deep Blue’s win.
Father of artificial intelligence dies at 84
John McCarthy, Pioneer in Artificial Intelligence, Dies at 84 The cause was complications of heart disease, his daughter Sarah McCarthy said. Dr. McCarthy’s career followed the arc of modern computing. Trained as a mathematician, he was responsible for seminal advances in the field and was often called the father of computer time-sharing, a major development of the 1960s that enabled many people and organizations to draw simultaneously from a single computer source, like a mainframe, without having to own one.
McCarthy received many accolades and honors, such as the Turing Award for his contributions to the topic of AI, the United States National Medal of Science, and the Kyoto Prize. John McCarthy was born in Boston, Massachusetts on September 4, 1927 to an Irish immigrant father and a Lithuanian Jewish immigrant mother, John Patrick and Ida Glatt McCarthy. The family was obliged to relocate frequently during the Great Depression, until McCarthy's father found work as an organizer for the Amalgamated Clothing Workers in Los Angeles, California. John McCarthy
Lisp (programming language) The interchangeability of code and data also gives Lisp its instantly recognizable syntax. All program code is written as s-expressions, or parenthesized lists. A function call or syntactic form is written as a list with the function or operator's name first, and the arguments following; for instance, a function f that takes three arguments might be called using (f arg1 arg2 arg3). John McCarthy and Steve Russell
Garbage collection (computer science) In computer science, garbage collection (GC) is a form of automatic memory management. The garbage collector, or just collector, attempts to reclaim garbage, or memory occupied by objects that are no longer in use by the program. Garbage collection was invented by John McCarthy around 1959 to solve problems in Lisp. Garbage collection is often portrayed as the opposite of manual memory management, which requires the programmer to specify which objects to deallocate and return to the memory system. However, many systems use a combination of approaches, including other techniques such as stack allocation and region inference.
AI research is highly technical and specialised, and is deeply divided into subfields that often fail to communicate with each other. Some of the division is due to social and cultural factors: subfields have grown up around particular institutions and the work of individual researchers. AI research is also divided by several technical issues. Some subfields focus on the solution of specific problems. Artificial intelligence
Dartmouth Conferences The Dartmouth Summer Research Project on Artificial Intelligence was the name of a 1956 undertaking now considered the seminal event for artificial intelligence as a field. People Founding statement The project lasted a month, and it was essentially an extended brainstorming session. The introduction states: (McCarthy et al. 1955) 
A Proposal for the Dartmouth Summer Research Project on Artificial Intelligence Next: About this document J. McCarthy, Dartmouth College M. L.
In artificial intelligence, the frame problem describes an issue with using First Order Logic (FOL) to express facts about a robot in the world. Representing the state of a robot with traditional FOL requires the use of many axioms that simply imply that things in the environment don't change arbitrarily. For example, Hayes describes a blocks world with rules about putting blocks on top of each other. In a FOL system additional axioms are required to infer facts such as a block does not change position if it's not moved. Frame problem
Overview The situation calculus represents changing scenarios as a set of first-order logic formulae. The basic elements of the calculus are: A domain is formalized by a number of formulae, namely: Situation calculus
Circumscription (logic) The original problem considered by McCarthy was that of missionaries and cannibals: there are three missionaries and three cannibals on one bank of a river; they have to cross the river using a boat that can only take two, with the additional constraint that cannibals must never outnumber the missionaries on either bank (as otherwise the missionaries would be killed and, presumably, eaten). The problem considered by McCarthy was not that of finding a sequence of steps to reach the goal (the article on the missionaries and cannibals problem contains one such solution), but rather that of excluding conditions that are not explicitly stated. For example, the solution “go half a mile south and cross the river on the bridge” is intuitively not valid because the statement of the problem does not mention such a bridge.
McCarthy 91 function The McCarthy 91 function is defined as The results of evaluating the function are given by M(n) = 91 for all integer arguments n ≤ 100, and M(n) = n − 10 for n ≥ 101. History