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Allen Newell (1927 – 1992)


American researcher in computer science and cognitive psychology at the RAND corporation and at Carnegie Mellon University's School of Computer Science and Turing Award laureates in 1957 with Herbert Simon.
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Allen Newell
With the hubris common to physicists, I have always felt that I have known what good science is it is theory cast in terms of mechanisms that describe how parts of the universe behave. With sometimes immense historical delay, these mechanisms always move towards being grounded in the larger mechanistic view of the universe. Theories always propose a view of how the universe is. They can never be effectively argued to be true, but only be brought before the bar of empirical evidence. All the modern concern for contextualism, hermeneutics and the social determination of meaning has its point, but is a mere footnote to the massive evidence for this view of science. The overwhelming success within this framework of modern biology over the last half century has provided another major confirmation, if one is needed. Someday we will get another striking confirmation from cognitive science. Though it can be argued that we are well on our way, we still have an immense distance to go. Arguments are no match for the evidence that cognitive science does not control its subject the way physics, chemistry and now biology do.
Newell quotes
In joint scientific efforts extending over twenty years, initially in collaboration with J. C. Shaw at the RAND Corporation, and subsequently with numerous faculty and student colleagues at Carnegie-Mellon University, they have made basic contributions to artificial intelligence, the psychology of human cognition, and list processing.
Newell
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Newell Allen quotes
[The] amount of search is not a measure of the amount of intelligence being exhibited. What makes a problem a problem is not that a large amount of search is required for its solution, but that a large amount would be required if a requisite level of intelligence were not applied.
Newell Allen
The Physical Symbol System Hypothesis. A physical symbol system has the necessary and sufficient means for general intelligent action.
Allen Newell quotes
Computer science is an empirical discipline. [...] Each new machine that is built is an experiment. Actually constructing the machine poses a question to nature; and we listen for the answer by observing the machine in operation and analyzing it by all analytical and measurement means available. Each new program that is built is an experiment. It poses a question to nature, and its behavior offers clues to an answer.
Allen Newell
It has been a long road from Plato's Meno to the present, but it is perhaps encouraging that most of the progress along that road has been made since the turn of the twentieth century, and a large fraction of it since the midpoint of the century. Thought was still wholly intangible and ineffable until modern formal logic interpreted it as the manipulation of formal tokens. And it seemed still to inhabit mainly the heaven of Platonic ideals, or the equally obscure spaces of the human mind, until computers taught us how symbols could be processed by machines.
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