Two years ago, on October 24, 2011, disappeared John McCarthy, computer scientist and pioneer in the science of artificial intelligence.
Having learned mathematics as an autodidact, John McCarthy was graduate from the prestigious Princeton University and California Institute of Technology (Caltech). After his studies, John McCarthy becomes professor in worldwide renowned Universities, as Princeton, Stanford University and Massachussets Institute of Technology (MIT), no less...
In 1958, John McCarthy invented the programming language LISP and in 1962 he creates the laboratory of artificial intelligence at the Stanford University until his retirement in 2000.
John McCarthy was awarded by the pretigious Turing Award, Kyoto Prize, National Medal of Science and Benjamin Franklin Medal.
John McCarthy also wrote a science fiction novel, titled
The robot and the baby, for explaining his vision of what a robot should be.
Today, in our world where computer science evolves so fast and where new products became obsolete in less than three years, LISP remains one of the oldest programming language (with Fortran), and is more and more used in various domains, from Web programming to financial computing and also on CAD systems.
About LISP, the mathematician and computer scientist Gregory John Chaitin wrote this:
"Unfortunately, while programming languages are becoming more sophisticated, they are more a reflection of the complexity of human society and the vast world of software applications. Thus, they become huge toolboxes, such as garages and attics loaded by more than thirty years of history! Conversely, Lisp is a programming language of great mathematical beauty, it looks more like a surgeon's scalpel or a sharp diamond than a garage for two cars, crowded with crafts, where there remains no place anymore for a single car.
LISP has a small number of powerful elemental concepts, and everything else is built on top of it, it's how mathematicians work and it’s what resembles mathematical theories. These theories, the good theories, are to define some new key concepts, and from there the fireworks begin: they reveal new paths; they open the door to radically new worlds . LISP is like that too, it is closer to the math that most programming languages. At least if you remove the relevant parts that have been added, additions that made LISP a practical tool. What remains if you do this is the original LISP, the conceptual heart of LISP, a heart that is a jewel of mathematical beauty and intellectual austere beauty."
And I’m pretty sure that a large majority of people who had to deal with LISP agrees with this... (Even if, sometimes, they pull out their hair with this Lot of Insipid and Stupid Parenthesis... ôÔ)
"It's difficult to be rigorous about whether a machine really 'knows', 'thinks', etc., because we're hard put to define these things.
We understand human mental processes only slightly better than a fish understands swimming."
The Little Thoughts of Thinking Machines
Psychology Today, December 1983
"Tu sais, je voudrais ne jamais descendre."
(You know, I would never come down.)
Letter to Joseph Kessel
December 7, 1936
During its 24th crossing of the south Atlantic Ocean, the Latecoère 300 F-AKGF "Croix du Sud" (Southern Cross) of the Aéropostale (French air mail service), comes down and doesn't go back up any more...
It disappears with:
- Jean Mermoz, pilot.
- Alexandre Pichodou, copilot
- Henri Ézan, navigator
- Edgar Cruvelhier, radio
- Jean Lavidalie, mechanic
Today, even the strawberries of South America cross the Atlantic Ocean by plane. Other days, other ways...
"We switched off right rear engine. 11°08 North, 22°40 West." Last radio message of the plane.
Last edit: 5 years 5 months ago by Nikita.
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