Marvin Minsky

Communications of the ACM 

Marvin Minsky, an American scientist working in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) who co-founded vthe Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) AI laboratory, wrote several books on AI and philosophy, and was honored with the ACM A.M. Turing Award, passed away on Sunday, Jan. 24, 2016 at the age of 88. Born in New York City, Minsky attended the Ethical Culture Fieldston School, the Bronx High School of Science, and Phillips Academy, before entering the U.S. Navy in 1944. After leaving the service, he attended Harvard University, where he earned a bachelor's degree in mathematics in 1950. He then went to Princeton University, where he built the first randomly wired neural network learning machine, the Stochastic Neural Analog Reinforcement Calculator (SNARC), before earning his Ph.D in mathematics there in 1954. Doctorate in hand, Minsky was admitted to the group of Junior Fellows at Harvard, where he invented the confocal scanning microscope for thick, light-scattering specimens, decades in advance of the lasers and computer power needed to make it useful; today, it is in wide use in the biological sciences.