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STANFORD -- Sixty-four, as in 64K RAM, is more hospitable to computer scientists than 65, which is why one of the fathers of artificial intelligence was honored Sept. 5-7 at Stanford with a symposium celebrating his 64th birthday or 1000000 in binary notation.
"We hope to make it a worldwide practice to honor computer scientists on their 64th birthday," said Prof. Donald Knuth, a colleague of John McCarthy, who was honored with the symposium and the publication of a book by other scientists writing on topics McCarthy originated in the computer field.
The symposium, which was attended by about 60 scientists from around the world, and the book were titled "Artificial Intelligence and the Mathematical Theory of Computing." The symposium at Tresidder Union was sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the American Association for Artificial Intelligence.
McCarthy, the Charles M. Pigott Professor at the School of Engineering, received the National Medal of Science in 1990 for helping to create the science of artificial intelligence, the discipline that studies how to make computers emulate human thought processes. He invented the computer-programming language LISP in 1958, and the concept of time-sharing on large computers in the late '50s and early '60s. His main field of research has been the formalization of common-sense knowledge.
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