The Mechanization of Causal Inference: A ‘Mini Turing Test’ and Beyond

ACM Turing Award Lecture, presented at AAAI-12 Conference, Toronto, July 2012.


udea Pearl, professor of computer science at the University of California, Los Angeles, was recently named the recipient of the 2011 ACM A. M. Turing Award for fundamental contributions to artificial intelligence through the development of a calculus for probabilistic and causal reasoning. Pearl has chosen AAAI-12 as the venue to deliver his Turing Award Lecture. This lecture is open to all conference participants and ACM members.

Judea Pearl will review concepts, principles, and mathematical tools that were found useful in applications involving causal and counterfactual reasoning. This semantical framework gives rise to a coherent and friendly calculus that unifies several approaches to causation and resolves long-standing problems in the empirical sciences. The mechanization of counterfactual reasoning amounts to passing a mini "Turing test" in causal conversations. Its application in the empirical sciences unveils several opportunities and limitations of the "big-data" enterprise.

Judea PearlJudea Pearl is a professor of computer science and statistics at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is a graduate of the Technion, Israel, and joined the faculty of UCLA in 1970, where he currently directs the Cognitive Systems Laboratory and conducts research in artificial intelligence, causal inference and philosophy of science. Pearl has authored three books: Heuristics (1984), Probabilistic Reasoning (1988), and Causality (2000, 2009), and is member of the National Academy of Engineering, and the American Academy of Arts and Science. He is the recipient of the 2008 Benjamin Franklin Medal for Computer and Cognitive Science and the 2011 David Rumelhart Prize from the Cognitive Science Society. In 2012 he received the Technion's Harvey Prize and the ACM A. M. Turing Award.

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