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Allen Newell

Allen Newell
Born (1927-03-19)March 19, 1927
San Francisco
Died July 19, 1992(1992-07-19) (aged 65)
Fields Computer Science
Cognitive Psychology
Institutions Carnegie Mellon University
Alma mater Stanford University
Princeton University
Carnegie Mellon University
Doctoral advisor Herbert A. Simon
Doctoral students Hans Berliner
Stuart Card
Frank Ritter
Paul Rosenbloom
Milind Tambe
Several others
Known for Information Processing Language
Notable awards A.M. Turing Award (1975)
IJCAI Award for Research Excellence (1989)
IEEE Emanuel R. Piore Award (1990)
National Medal of Science (1992)
Louis E. Levy Medal (1992)

Allen Newell (; March 19, 1927 – July 19, 1992) was a researcher in computer science and cognitive psychology at the RAND Corporation and at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Computer Science, Tepper School of Business, and Department of Psychology. He contributed to the Information Processing Language (1956) and two of the earliest AI programs, the Logic Theory Machine (1956) and the General Problem Solver (1957) (with Herbert A. Simon). He was awarded the ACM's A.M. Turing Award along with Herbert A. Simon in 1975 for their basic contributions to artificial intelligence and the psychology of human cognition.[1][2]


  • Early studies 1
  • Artificial intelligence 2
  • Later achievements 3
  • Awards and honors 4
  • ACM - AAAI Allen Newell Award 5
  • References 6
    • Notes 6.1
    • Further reading 6.2
  • External links 7

Early studies

Newell completed his Bachelor's degree from Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon with Herbert Simon serving as his advisor.

Afterwards, Newell "turned to the design and conduct of laboratory experiments on decision making in small groups" (Simon). He was dissatisfied, however, with the accuracy and validity of their findings produced from small-scale laboratory experiments. He joined with fellow RAND teammates John Kennedy, Bob Chapman, and Bill Biel at an Air Force Early Warning Station to study organizational processes in flight crews. They received funding from the Air Force in 1952 to build a simulator that would enable them to examine and analyze the interactions in the cockpit related to decision-making and information-handling. From these studies, Newell came to believe that information processing is the central activity in organizations.

Artificial intelligence

In September 1954, Newell enrolled in a seminar where Oliver Selfridge "described a running computer program that learned to recognize letters and other patterns" (Simon). This was when Allen came to believe that systems may be created and contain intelligence and have the ability to adapt. With this in mind, Allen, after a couple months, wrote in 1955 The Chess Machine: An Example of Dealing with a Complex Task by Adaptation, which "outlined an imaginative design for a computer program to play chess in humanoid fashion" (Simon).

His work came to the attention of economist (and future nobel laureate) Herbert A. Simon, and, together with programmer J. C. Shaw, they developed the first true artificial intelligence program, the Logic Theorist. Newell's work on the program laid the foundations of the field. His inventions included: list processing, the most important programming paradigm used by AI ever since; the application of means-ends analysis to general reasoning (or "reasoning as search"); and the use of heuristics to limit the search space.

They presented the program at the Dartmouth conference of 1956, an informal gathering of researchers who were interested in simulating intelligence with machines. The conference, now widely considered the "birth of artificial intelligence",[3] was enormously influential and those who attended became the leaders of AI research for the next two decades, Newell included.

Later achievements

Newell and Simon formed a lasting partnership. They founded an artificial intelligence laboratory at Carnegie Mellon University and produced a series of important programs and theoretical insights throughout the late fifties and sixties. This work included the General Problem Solver, a highly influential implementation of means-ends analysis, and the physical symbol systems hypothesis, the controversial philosophical assertion that all intelligent behavior could be reduced to the kind of symbol manipulation that Newell's programs demonstrated.

Newell's work culminated in the development of a cognitive architecture known as Soar and his unified theory of cognition, published in 1990, but their improvement was the objective of his efforts up to his death (one of the last Newell's letters).

Awards and honors

The ACM - AAAI Allen Newell Award was named in his honor. The Award for Research Excellence of the Carnegie Mellon School of Computer Science was also named in his honor.

ACM - AAAI Allen Newell Award

The ACM-AAAI Allen Newell Award is presented to an individual selected for career contributions that have breadth within computer science, or that bridge computer science and other disciplines. This endowed award is accompanied by a prize of $10,000, and is supported by the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI), Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), and by individual contributions.[14]

Scientists who received this award include:



  1. ^ "Allen Newell, 65; Scientist Founded A Computing Field". The New York Times. July 20, 1992. Retrieved November 28, 2010. 
  2. ^ Herbert A. Simon. "Allen Newell, Biographical Memoirs".  
  3. ^ Crevier 1993, pp. 49–51
  4. ^ "Search Deceased Member Data". United States National Academy of Sciences. Retrieved July 16, 2011.  Search with Newell as last name.
  5. ^ "Book of Members, 1780-2010: Chapter N" (PDF).  
  6. ^ "A. M. Turing Award".  
  7. ^ "Search Fellows".   Search for Newell between 1976 and 1977.
  8. ^ "NAE Members Directory - Dr. Allen Newell".  
  9. ^ "Computer Pioneer Charter Recipients".  
  10. ^ "IEEE Emanuel R. Piore Award Recipients" (PDF). IEEE. Retrieved December 30, 2010. 
  11. ^ "IEEE W.R.G. Baker Prize Paper Award Recipients" (PDF). IEEE. Retrieved November 28, 2010. 
  12. ^ "The President's National Medal of Science: Recipient Details Allen Newell". US National Science Foundation. Retrieved November 28, 2010. 
  13. ^ "Franklin Laureate Database - Louis E. Levy Medal Laureates".  
  14. ^ "Allen Newell Award". Association for Computer Machinery. Retrieved April 26, 2012. 

Further reading

  • Allen Newell at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  • Allen Newell at the AI Genealogy Project.
  • Oral history interview with Allen Newell at Charles Babbage Institute, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. Newell discusses his entry into computer science, funding for computer science departments and research, the development of the Computer Science Department at Carnegie Mellon University, including the work of Alan Perlis and Raj Reddy, and the growth of the computer science and artificial intelligence research communities. Compares computer science programs at Stanford, MIT, and Carnegie Mellon.
  • Full-text digital archive of Allen Newell papers
    • Biography
  • Mind Models online Artificial Intelligence exhibit
  • Publications by Allen Newell from
  • Allen Newell by Gualtiero Piccinini in New Dictionary of Scientific Biography, Thomson Gale, ed.

External links

Quotations related to Allen Newell at Wikiquote

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