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Judea Pearl

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Title: Judea Pearl  
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Judea Pearl

Judea Pearl
Born 1936 (age 79–80)
Tel Aviv, British Palestine
(now the State of Israel)
Nationality Israeli
Fields Computer Science
Alma mater Technion, Israel
Rutgers University, U.S.
Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn, U.S.
Thesis Vortex Theory of Superconductive Memories (1965)
Doctoral advisor L. Strauss
L. Bergstein
Known for Artificial Intelligence
Bayesian Networks
Notable awards IJCAI Award for Research Excellence(1999)
ACM Turing Award (2011)[1]
Rumelhart Prize (2011)
Harvey Prize (2011)
Spouse Ruth
Children Daniel Pearl

Judea Pearl (born 1936) is an Israeli-born American computer scientist and philosopher, best known for championing the probabilistic approach to artificial intelligence and the development of Bayesian networks (see the article on belief propagation). He is also credited for developing a theory of causal and counterfactual inference based on structural models (see article on causality). He is the 2011 winner of the ACM Turing Award, the highest distinction in computer science, "for fundamental contributions to artificial intelligence through the development of a calculus for probabilistic and causal reasoning".[1][2][3][4]

Judea Pearl is the father of journalist Daniel Pearl, who was kidnapped and murdered by militants in Pakistan connected with Al-Qaeda and the International Islamic Front in 2002 for his American and Jewish heritage.[5][6]


  • Biography 1
  • Murder of Daniel Pearl 2
  • Research 3
    • Notable contributions 3.1
    • Books 3.2
    • Scientific papers 3.3
    • Lectures 3.4
    • Awards 3.5
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Judea Pearl was born in Tel Aviv, British Mandate for Palestine, in 1936 and received a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from the Technion in 1960. In 1960 he came to the United States and received a master's degree in Physics from Rutgers University, U.S. and a Ph.D. degree in electrical engineering from the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn (now New York University Polytechnic School of Engineering), U.S., in 1965. He worked at RCA Research Laboratories on superconductive parametric and storage devices and at Electronic Memories, Inc., on advanced memory systems. When semiconductors "wiped out" Pearl's work, as he later expressed it,[7] he joined UCLA's School of Engineering in 1970 and started work on probabilistic artificial intelligence.

Pearl is currently a professor of computer science and statistics and director of the Cognitive Systems Laboratory at UCLA. He and his wife, Ruth, had three children. In addition, as of 2011, he is a member of the International Advisory Board of NGO Monitor.[8]

On Pearl's religious views, some reports describe him as a Jewish atheist.[9] He is very connected to Jewish traditions such as daily prayer, tefillin, and Kiddush on Friday night. [10] In an interview with Heeb Magazine, he is "... trying to educate our children and live under God.” [11] His writings on morality focus on clarity between right and wrong. [12] He believes that Jews have always expected a return to Israel as expressed in songs, prayers and holidays.[13]

Emeritus Chief Rabbi, The Right Honourable Lord Jonathan Sacks quoted Judea Pearl's beliefs in a lesson on Judaism. "I asked Judea Pearl, father of the murdered journalist Daniel Pearl, why he was working for reconciliation between Jews and Muslims, he replied with heartbreaking lucidity, “Hate killed my son. Therefore I am determined to fight hate.”[14]

Former Israeli Chief Rabbi, Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, and partnered with Judea Pearl in the documentary "With My Whole Broken Heart."[15]

Murder of Daniel Pearl

In 2002, his son, Daniel Pearl, a journalist working for the Wall Street Journal was kidnapped and murdered in Pakistan, leading Judea and the other members of the family and friends to create the Daniel Pearl Foundation.[16] On the seventh anniversary of Daniel's death, Judea wrote an article in the Wall Street Journal titled Daniel Pearl and the Normalization of Evil: When will our luminaries stop making excuses for terror?.[17]


Judea Pearl was one of the pioneers of Bayesian networks and the probabilistic approach to artificial intelligence, and one of the first to mathematize causal modeling in the empirical sciences. His work is also intended as a high-level cognitive model. He is interested in the philosophy of science, knowledge representation, nonstandard logics, and learning. Pearl is described as "one of the giants in the field of artificial intelligence” by UCLA computer science professor Richard Korf.[18] His work on causality has "revolutionized the understanding of causality in statistics, psychology, medicine and the social sciences" according to the Association for Computing Machinery.[19]

Notable contributions

  • A summary of Pearl's scientific contributions is available in a chronological account authored by Stuart Russell (2012).
  • An annotated bibliography of Pearl's contributions was compiled by the ACM in 2012.


  • Heuristics, Addison-Wesley, 1984
  • Probabilistic Reasoning in Intelligent Systems, Morgan-Kaufmann, 1988
  • Causality: Models, Reasoning, and Inference, Cambridge University Press, 2000
  • I Am Jewish: Personal Reflections Inspired by the Last Words of Daniel Pearl, Jewish Lights, 2004.

Scientific papers

  • List of papers on Pearl's personal website


  • "The Algorithmization of Counterfactuals" video of the Rumelhart Lecture given July 21, 2011.
  • "On Causes and Counterfactuals" video of a lecture given at a tribute symposium, March 12, 2010
  • Honorary Doctorate of Science degree received from the University of Toronto - commencement speech given June 21, 2007
  • "The Art and Science of Cause and Effect": a slideshow and tutorial lecture by Judea Pearl
  • Reasoning with Cause and Effect


  • 2014—Elected to the National Academy of Sciences.[20]
  • 2012—Harvey Prize (For "foundational work that has touched a multitude of spheres of modern life")
  • 2011—ACM Turing Award[1][2]
  • 2011—IEEE Intelligent Systems' AI's Hall of Fame[21][22]
  • 2011—David E. Rumelhart Prize (For Contributions to the Theoretical Foundations of Human Cognition)
  • 2011—Rumelhart Prize Symposium in honor of Judea Pearl
  • 2010—Festschrift and symposium in honor of Judea Pearl
  • 2008—Benjamin Franklin Medal in Computers and Cognitive Science
  • 2007—University of Toronto, Honorary Doctorate
  • 2006—Purpose Prize
  • 2004—2003 ACM Allen Newell Award
  • 2003—Pekeris Memorial Lecture
  • 2002—Corresponding Member, Spanish Academy of Engineering
  • 2001—Lakatos Award, London School of Economics and Political Science
  • 2000—AAAI Classic Paper Award
  • 1999—IJCAI Award for Research Excellence in Artificial Intelligence
  • 1996—UCLA 81st Faculty Research Lecturer
  • 1995—Member, National Academy of Engineering
  • 1990—Fellow, American Association for Artificial Intelligence (AAAI)
  • 1988—Fellow, Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE)
  • 1975—NATO Senior Fellowship in Science
  • 1965—RCA Laboratories Achievement Award

See also


  1. ^ a b c Judea Pearl – A. M. Turing Award winner, ACM, retrieved 2012-03-14.
  2. ^ a b Gold, Virginia (March 15, 2012). "Judea Pearl Wins ACM A.M. Turing Award for Contributions that Transformed Artificial Intelligence". The  
  3. ^ Judea Pearl from the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Digital Library
  4. ^ Goth, G. (2006). "Judea Pearl Interview: A Giant of Artificial Intelligence Takes on All-Too-Real Hatred". IEEE Internet Computing 10 (5): 6.  
  5. ^ Fonda, Daren (September 27, 2003). "On the Trail of Daniel Pearl".  
  6. ^  
  7. ^ Leah Hoffmann (2012). "Q&A: A Sure Thing".  
  8. ^ "International Advisory Board Profiles".  
  9. ^ Mathew Philips. "Tragedy and Opportunity: The parents of slain journalist Danny Pearl have devoted their lives to improving Muslim-Jewish relations.". Retrieved 12 July 2013. I turned secular at the age of 11, by divine revelation. [Laughs.] I was standing on the roof of the house my father built, looking down on the street and suddenly it became very clear to me that there is no God. 
  10. ^ Fishman Orlins, Susan (November 2006). "The Price of Being Jewish: An Interview with Judea Pearl". Moment. Did you pray for Danny’s safe return? No, I don’t believe in a God [that] would listen to me. But I do pray every morning. I lay tefillin. I started a year ago. But aren’t you a secular Jew? I’ll give you the same answer I gave 10 Muslims who joined me for dinner one Friday night. I said, “Oh, it’s Friday night. I have to do Kiddush.” 
  11. ^ Neuman, Joshua (June 7, 2010). "Like Son, Like Father: Judea Pearl". Heeb. “I see people getting together, Muslims and Jews, elevating above differences and recognizing that we’re all human beings trying to make sense of what’s going on, trying to educate our children and live under God.” 
  12. ^ Pearl, Judah (September 22, 2014). "Klinghoffer an Opera and a Protest". New York Times. 
  13. ^ Lipner, Rose (December 2, 2014). "Judea Pearl challenges students at JSPA conference". Shalhevet High School. The Boiling Point. 
  14. ^ Emeritus Chief Rabbi, The Right Honourable Lord Sacks (September 5, 2014). "Judaism: Covenant & Conversation: Against Hate". Israel National News. I asked Judea Pearl, father of the murdered journalist Daniel Pearl, why he was working for reconciliation between Jews and Muslims, he replied with heartbreaking lucidity, “Hate killed my son. Therefore I am determined to fight hate.” 
  15. ^ Wilkinson, Phaedra (10 July 2015). "From the community: With My Whole Broken Heart". Chicago Tribune. 
  16. ^ "Biography of Dr. Judea Pearl".  
  17. ^ Pearl, Judea (February 3, 2009). "Daniel Pearl and the Normalization of Evil".  
  18. ^ Amundson, Marlys (Fall 2004). "A Profile of Judea Pearl – Computer Science Pioneer,Visionary" ( 
  20. ^ National Academy of Sciences Members and Foreign Associates Elected, National Academy of Sciences, April 29, 2014.
  21. ^ "AI's Hall of Fame" (PDF).  
  22. ^ "IEEE Computer Society Magazine Honors Artificial Intelligence Leaders".   Press release source: PRWeb (Vocus).

External links

  • Judea Pearl's personal website
  • Daniel Pearl Foundation Website
  • Interview with Judea Pearl from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
  • Interview with Judea Pearl on Robots and Free Will
  • Judea Pearl at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  • Judea Pearl at the AI Genealogy Project.
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