John McCarthy (September 4, 1927 – October 24, 2011) was an American computer scientist and cognitive scientist. McCarthy was one of the founders of the discipline of artificial intelligence. He coined the term "artificial intelligence" (AI), developed the Lisp programming language family, significantly influenced the design of the ALGOL programming language, popularized time-sharing, invented garbage collection, and was very influential in the early development of AI.
McCarthy spent most of his career at Stanford University. He received many accolades and honors, such as the 1971 Turing Award for his contributions to the topic of AI, the United States National Medal of Science, and the Kyoto Prize.
- "John McCarthy Has Died" | 2011-10-24 | 1619 Upvotes 218 Comments
In statistics and control theory, Kalman filtering, also known as linear quadratic estimation (LQE), is an algorithm that uses a series of measurements observed over time, containing statistical noise and other inaccuracies, and produces estimates of unknown variables that tend to be more accurate than those based on a single measurement alone, by estimating a joint probability distribution over the variables for each timeframe. The filter is named after Rudolf E. Kálmán, one of the primary developers of its theory.
The Kalman filter has numerous applications in technology. A common application is for guidance, navigation, and control of vehicles, particularly aircraft, spacecraft and dynamically positioned ships. Furthermore, the Kalman filter is a widely applied concept in time series analysis used in fields such as signal processing and econometrics. Kalman filters also are one of the main topics in the field of robotic motion planning and control and can be used in trajectory optimization. The Kalman filter also works for modeling the central nervous system's control of movement. Due to the time delay between issuing motor commands and receiving sensory feedback, use of the Kalman filter supports a realistic model for making estimates of the current state of the motor system and issuing updated commands.
The algorithm works in a two-step process. In the prediction step, the Kalman filter produces estimates of the current state variables, along with their uncertainties. Once the outcome of the next measurement (necessarily corrupted with some amount of error, including random noise) is observed, these estimates are updated using a weighted average, with more weight being given to estimates with higher certainty. The algorithm is recursive. It can run in real time, using only the present input measurements and the previously calculated state and its uncertainty matrix; no additional past information is required.
Optimality of the Kalman filter assumes that the errors are Gaussian. In the words of Rudolf E. Kálmán: "In summary, the following assumptions are made about random processes: Physical random phenomena may be thought of as due to primary random sources exciting dynamic systems. The primary sources are assumed to be independent gaussian random processes with zero mean; the dynamic systems will be linear." Though regardless of Gaussianity, if the process and measurement covariances are known, the Kalman filter is the best possible linear estimator in the minimum mean-square-error sense.
Extensions and generalizations to the method have also been developed, such as the extended Kalman filter and the unscented Kalman filter which work on nonlinear systems. The underlying model is a hidden Markov model where the state space of the latent variables is continuous and all latent and observed variables have Gaussian distributions. Also, Kalman filter has been successfully used in multi-sensor fusion, and distributed sensor networks to develop distributed or consensus Kalman filter.
- "Kalman Filter" | 2021-03-05 | 252 Upvotes 94 Comments
Alan Mathison Turing (; 23 June 1912 – 7 June 1954) was an English mathematician, computer scientist, logician, cryptanalyst, philosopher, and theoretical biologist. Turing was highly influential in the development of theoretical computer science, providing a formalisation of the concepts of algorithm and computation with the Turing machine, which can be considered a model of a general-purpose computer. Turing is widely considered to be the father of theoretical computer science and artificial intelligence. Despite these accomplishments, he was not fully recognised in his home country during his lifetime, due to his homosexuality, and because much of his work was covered by the Official Secrets Act.
During the Second World War, Turing worked for the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) at Bletchley Park, Britain's codebreaking centre that produced Ultra intelligence. For a time he led Hut 8, the section that was responsible for German naval cryptanalysis. Here, he devised a number of techniques for speeding the breaking of German ciphers, including improvements to the pre-war Polish bombe method, an electromechanical machine that could find settings for the Enigma machine.
Turing played a crucial role in cracking intercepted coded messages that enabled the Allies to defeat the Nazis in many crucial engagements, including the Battle of the Atlantic, and in so doing helped win the war. Due to the problems of counterfactual history, it is hard to estimate the precise effect Ultra intelligence had on the war, but at the upper end it has been estimated that this work shortened the war in Europe by more than two years and saved over 14 million lives.
After the war Turing worked at the National Physical Laboratory, where he designed the Automatic Computing Engine. The Automatic Computing Engine was one of the first designs for a stored-program computer. In 1948 Turing joined Max Newman's Computing Machine Laboratory, at the Victoria University of Manchester, where he helped develop the Manchester computers and became interested in mathematical biology. He wrote a paper on the chemical basis of morphogenesis and predicted oscillating chemical reactions such as the Belousov–Zhabotinsky reaction, first observed in the 1960s.
Turing was prosecuted in 1952 for homosexual acts; the Labouchere Amendment of 1885 had mandated that "gross indecency" was a criminal offence in the UK. He accepted chemical castration treatment, with DES, as an alternative to prison. Turing died in 1954, 16 days before his 42nd birthday, from cyanide poisoning. An inquest determined his death as a suicide, but it has been noted that the known evidence is also consistent with accidental poisoning.
In 2009, following an Internet campaign, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown made an official public apology on behalf of the British government for "the appalling way he was treated". Queen Elizabeth II granted Turing a posthumous pardon in 2013. The Alan Turing law is now an informal term for a 2017 law in the United Kingdom that retroactively pardoned men cautioned or convicted under historical legislation that outlawed homosexual acts.
- "Alan Turing's 100th Birthday - Mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst, scientist" | 2012-06-22 | 146 Upvotes 19 Comments
- "Happy Birthday, Alan Turing" | 2011-06-23 | 78 Upvotes 6 Comments
The Johns Hopkins Beast was a mobile automaton, an early pre-robot, built in the 1960s at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. The machine had a rudimentary intelligence and the ability to survive on its own. As it wandered through the white halls of the laboratory, it would seek black wall outlets. When it found one it would plug in and recharge.
The robot was cybernetic. It did not use a computer. Its control circuitry consisted of dozens of transistors controlling analog voltages. It used photocell optics and sonar to navigate. The 2N404 transistors were used to create NOR logic gates that implemented the Boolean logic to tell it what to do when a specific sensor was activated. The 2N404 transistors were also used to create timing gates to tell it how long to do something. 2N1040 Power transistors were used to control the power to the motion treads, the boom, and the charging mechanism.
The original sensors in Mod I were physical touch only. The wall socket was detected by physical switches on the arm that followed the wall. Once detected, two electrical prongs were extended until they entered the wall socket and made the electrical connection to charge the vehicle. The stairway, doors, and pipes on the hall wall were also detected by physical switches and recognized by appropriate logic.
The sonar guidance system was developed for Mod I and improved for Mod II. It used two ultrasonic transducers to determine distance, location within the halls, and obstructions in its path. This provided "The Beast" with bat-like guidance. At this point, it could detect obstructions in the hallway, such as people in the hallway. Once an obstruction was detected, the Beast would slow down and then decide whether to stop or divert around the obstruction. It could also ultrasonically recognize the stairway and doorways to take appropriate action.
An optical guidance system was added to Mod II. This provided, among other capabilities, the ability to optically identify the black wall sockets that contrasted with the white wall.
The Hopkins Beast Autonomous Robot Mod II link below was written by Dr. Ronald McConnell, at that time a co-op student and one of the designers for Mod II.
- "Johns Hopkins Beast" | 2022-03-30 | 198 Upvotes 48 Comments
Micromouse is an event where small robot mice solve a 16×16 maze. It began in the late 1970s. Events are held worldwide, and are most popular in the UK, U.S., Japan, Singapore, India, South Korea and becoming popular in subcontinent countries such as Sri Lanka.
The maze is made up of a 16×16 grid of cells, each 180 mm square with walls 50 mm high. The mice are completely autonomous robots that must find their way from a predetermined starting position to the central area of the maze unaided. The mouse needs to keep track of where it is, discover walls as it explores, map out the maze and detect when it has reached the goal. Having reached the goal, the mouse will typically perform additional searches of the maze until it has found an optimal route from the start to the finish. Once the optimal route has been found, the mouse will run that route in the shortest possible time.
Competitions and conferences are still run regularly.
- "Micromouse" | 2017-12-25 | 131 Upvotes 35 Comments
VxWorks is a real-time operating system (RTOS) developed as proprietary software by Wind River Systems, a wholly owned subsidiary of TPG Capital, US. First released in 1987, VxWorks is designed for use in embedded systems requiring real-time, deterministic performance and, in many cases, safety and security certification, for industries, such as aerospace and defense, medical devices, industrial equipment, robotics, energy, transportation, network infrastructure, automotive, and consumer electronics.
VxWorks supports Intel architecture, POWER architecture, ARM architectures and RISC-V. The RTOS can be used in multicore asymmetric multiprocessing (AMP), symmetric multiprocessing (SMP), and mixed modes and multi-OS (via Type 1 hypervisor) designs on 32- and 64-bit processors.
VxWorks comes with the kernel, middleware, board support packages, Wind River Workbench development suite and complementary third-party software and hardware technologies. In its latest release, VxWorks 7, the RTOS has been re-engineered for modularity and upgradeability so the OS kernel is separate from middleware, applications and other packages. Scalability, security, safety, connectivity, and graphics have been improved to address Internet of Things (IoT) needs.
- "Mars Curiosity Operating System: VxWorks" | 2012-08-06 | 93 Upvotes 44 Comments
Q-learning is a model-free reinforcement learning algorithm to learn a policy telling an agent what action to take under what circumstances. It does not require a model (hence the connotation "model-free") of the environment, and it can handle problems with stochastic transitions and rewards, without requiring adaptations.
For any finite Markov decision process (FMDP), Q-learning finds an optimal policy in the sense maximizing the expected value of the total reward over any and all successive steps, starting from the current state. Q-learning can identify an optimal action-selection policy for any given FMDP, given infinite exploration time and a partly-random policy. "Q" names the function that returns the reward used to provide the reinforcement and can be said to stand for the "quality" of an action taken in a given state.
- "Q-Learning" | 2019-08-13 | 88 Upvotes 33 Comments
In the history of artificial intelligence, an AI winter is a period of reduced funding and interest in artificial intelligence research. The term was coined by analogy to the idea of a nuclear winter. The field has experienced several hype cycles, followed by disappointment and criticism, followed by funding cuts, followed by renewed interest years or decades later.
The term first appeared in 1984 as the topic of a public debate at the annual meeting of AAAI (then called the "American Association of Artificial Intelligence"). It is a chain reaction that begins with pessimism in the AI community, followed by pessimism in the press, followed by a severe cutback in funding, followed by the end of serious research. At the meeting, Roger Schank and Marvin Minsky—two leading AI researchers who had survived the "winter" of the 1970s—warned the business community that enthusiasm for AI had spiraled out of control in the 1980s and that disappointment would certainly follow. Three years later, the billion-dollar AI industry began to collapse.
Hype is common in many emerging technologies, such as the railway mania or the dot-com bubble. The AI winter was a result of such hype, due to over-inflated promises by developers, unnaturally high expectations from end-users, and extensive promotion in the media . Despite the rise and fall of AI's reputation, it has continued to develop new and successful technologies. AI researcher Rodney Brooks would complain in 2002 that "there's this stupid myth out there that AI has failed, but AI is around you every second of the day." In 2005, Ray Kurzweil agreed: "Many observers still think that the AI winter was the end of the story and that nothing since has come of the AI field. Yet today many thousands of AI applications are deeply embedded in the infrastructure of every industry."
Enthusiasm and optimism about AI has increased since its low point in the early 1990s. Beginning about 2012, interest in artificial intelligence (and especially the sub-field of machine learning) from the research and corporate communities led to a dramatic increase in funding and investment.
Freeman John Dyson (15 December 1923 – 28 February 2020) was an English-born American theoretical physicist and mathematician known for his work in quantum electrodynamics, solid-state physics, astronomy and nuclear engineering. He was professor emeritus in the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, a member of the Board of Visitors of Ralston College and a member of the Board of Sponsors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.
Dyson originated several concepts that bear his name, such as Dyson's transform, a fundamental technique in additive number theory, which he developed as part of his proof of Mann's theorem; the Dyson tree, a hypothetical genetically-engineered plant capable of growing in a comet; the Dyson series, a perturbative series where each term is represented by Feynman diagrams; the Dyson sphere, a thought experiment that attempts to explain how a space-faring civilization would meet its energy requirements with a hypothetical megastructure that completely encompasses a star and captures a large percentage of its power output; and Dyson's eternal intelligence, a means by which an immortal society of intelligent beings in an open universe could escape the prospect of the heat death of the universe by extending subjective time to infinity while expending only a finite amount of energy.
Dyson believed global warming is caused merely by increased carbon dioxide but that some of the effects of this are favourable and not taken into account by climate scientists, such as increased agricultural yield. He was skeptical about the simulation models used to predict climate change, arguing that political efforts to reduce causes of climate change distract from other global problems that should take priority. He also signed the World Climate Declaration that there "is no Climate Emergency".
- "Freeman Dyson Has Died" | 2020-02-28 | 91 Upvotes 2 Comments
R.U.R. is a 1920 science-fiction play by the Czech writer Karel Čapek. "R.U.R." stands for Rossumovi Univerzální Roboti (Rossum's Universal Robots, a phrase that has been used as a subtitle in English versions). The play had its world premiere on 2 January 1921 in Hradec Králové; it introduced the word "robot" to the English language and to science fiction as a whole. R.U.R. soon became influential after its publication. By 1923 it had been translated into thirty languages. R.U.R. was successful in its time in Europe and North America. Čapek later took a different approach to the same theme in his 1936 novel War with the Newts, in which non-humans become a servant-class in human society.
- "Rossum's Universal Robots" | 2022-03-02 | 59 Upvotes 18 Comments