EDWARD A. FEIGENBAUM, Ph.D.
Pioneer in artificial intelligence and renowned computer scientist
Dr. Edward Feigenbaum is the Kumagai Professor of Computer Science Emeritus at Stanford University.
Dr. Feigenbaum is a pioneer of artificial intelligence research and its applications. For this work, he was awarded the “Nobel Prize for Computing,” the ACM Turing Award of the Association for Computing Machinery for the design and construction of large-scale artificial intelligence systems, demonstrating the practical importance and potential commercial impact of artificial intelligence technology.
He has served as chairman of the Computer Science Department and director of the Computer Center at Stanford University. In 1965, he founded the Heuristic Programming Project, later renamed the Stanford Knowledge Systems Laboratory.
Dr. Feigenbaum is a past president of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence. His public service includes: National Science Foundation Computer Science Advisory Board; ISAT, a Department of Defense/DARPA study committee for information science and technology; and the National Research Council’s Computer Science and Technology Board. He has been a member of the Board of Regents of the National Library of Medicine and the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board.
From 1994 to 1997 he served at the Pentagon as Chief Scientist of the Air Force. He received the U.S. Air Force Exceptional Civilian Service Award in 1997.
Dr. Feigenbaum was the leader of and co-editor of the encyclopedic four-volume The Handbook of Artificial Intelligence; and the pioneering book Computers and Thought. He co-authored the book Applications of Artificial Intelligence in Organic Chemistry: The DENDRAL Program. He was also the founding editor of the McGraw-Hill Computer Science Series.
Dr. Feigenbaum was co-founder of three Silicon Valley startups, and also served as a director of the Sperry Corporation from 1983 to 1986. Presently, he is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Computer History Museum and chairman of the Technology Advisory Board of the Allen Institute of Artificial Intelligence in Seattle.
He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the IEEE Intelligent Systems Artificial Intelligence Hall of Fame. In 2012, he was elected to the Hall of Fellows of the Computer History Museum. He is an elected fellow of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence, American College of Medical Informatics, American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering, Association for Computing Machinery, and American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Commencement Remarks by Dr. Edward Feigenbaum
President Jackson, Rensselaer Trustees, Rensselaer Faculty,
I thank you for the honor of being awarded this Doctorate.
RPI graduates, I bring greetings and congratulations from a place that New Yorkers call the Other Coast.
Everyone in Silicon Valley has an elevator speech. Mine is about Computer Science and Information Technologywhat I will call IT. IT has powered the steepest exponential growth over a sustained period of many decades that has ever been seen by mankind.
Over those decades, working in IT has been a thrilling journey. When one doubles something important, like processing speed or memory size or communication speed every two years, or halve its cost, then quickly remarkable things happen.
My years in IT have spanned 28 two-year periods, and 2 to the 28th power is 268 million. Change like that nurtures vision and the creative spirit, allows us to make mistakes and recover quickly, and gives the imagination a lot of space for search and invention.
II takes for granted: whatever you want, just wait a little bit and you’ll get it. Isn’t that a magical place to be?
The IT exponentials can power America’s competitiveness. Information and knowledge processed by computers, stored in networks, and applied across the full spectrum of human activity is the new Wealth of Nations. Here America is second to none, by a wide margin, especially in software.
Maybe this has been the best time to be alive, EVER. But it may get better. In a speech to the LongNow Foundation the Stanford historian Ian Morris, author of a magisterial history of civilization, projected that there will be five times as much progress in the 21st century as in the whole of the past 15 millenia.
So, RPI graduates, join the ride up the IT exponentials. Prosper and have fun like we did. Or, better still, invent the next great thing!
2012 President’s Commencement Colloquy