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USA Science & Engineering Festival – Role Models in Science & Engineering Achievement

Lofti Asker Zadeh

Lofti Asker Zadeh-- Computer Scientist and Mathematician

The Father of the scientific concept,"Fuzzy Logic", as well as "Fuzzy Sets" and "Fuzzy Systems"

You've likely heard of the term "Fuzzy Logic", or "Fuzzy Mathematics". But despite what their names may imply, there is nothing inexact about these scientific concepts were formulated, says Lofti Asker Zadeh, the famous UC Berkeley University mathematician and computer scientist who coined the names of these theories and spent a career advancing their applications.

Known as "The Father of Fuzzy Logic",Lotfi was born in 1921 in Baku, Soviet Azerbaijan to an Iranian father (a journalist) and a Russian mother (a pediatrician). In 1931, when Lotfi was ten years old, he moved with his family to Tehran, Iran where he was enrolled in Alborz College (an American-run Presbyterian school), where he was educated for the next eight years. In 1942, he graduated from the University of Tehran with a degree in electrical engineering and emigrated to the U.S. the following year, enrolling at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Why He's Important: While a professor and scientist at the University of California, Berkeley, he published his seminal work on "Fuzzy Sets" in 1965 in which he detailed the mathematics of what he called the Fuzzy Set Theory. In 1973, he formally proposed his theory of "Fuzzy Logic", which, based on precise formulas, began allowing scientists, mathematicians and others to make accurate, realistic research data decisions when working in environments of incomplete information, uncertainty and imprecision. Fuzzy Logic does this by allowing for approximate values and inferences as well as for incomplete or ambiguous data (fuzzy data) -- instead of relying solely on crisp data (binary yes/no choices).

Other Achievements: Fuzzy Logic and his Fuzzy Set theory in general have been applied to numerous fields – from computer technology and control theory to artificial intelligence. Lotfi is also credited, along with John Ragazzini in 1952 with pioneering the development of the z-transform method in discrete time signal processing and analysis. These methods are now standard in digital signal processing, digital control, and other discrete-time systems used in industry and research. His latest work includes computing with words and perceptions.
Education: Lotfi received his Master's degree in electrical engineering from MIT in 1946, and his Ph.D in the same discipline from Columbia University where he taught for 10 years before joining UC Berkeley in 1959.

In His Own Words: Commenting how he came up with the name "Fuzzy Logic," he says: "I decided on the word 'fuzzy' because I felt it most accurately described what was going on in the theory. I could have chosen another term that would have been more 'respectable'. For instance, I had thought about using the word 'soft', but that really didn't describe accurately what I had in mind. Nor did 'unsharp', 'blurred', or 'elastic'. In the end, I couldn't think of anything more accurate so I settled on "'fuzzy'".

At age 92, Dr. Asker Zadeh still remains active in his field. He serves as an editor of the International Journal of Computational Cognition, and his website at UC Berkeley lists him as Professor in the Graduate School of Computer Science. In addition, his Facebook page reports that he still goes to his office at UC Berkeley everyday whenever he is not out of town at national or international professional conferences.