Harvey Prize Awarded to Prof. Judea Pearl and Sir Richard Friend

March 29, 2012
By: Jennifer Frey

Judea Pearl, Professor of Computer Science at the University of California, Los Angeles and director of the Cognitive Systems Laboratory, and Sir Richard Friend of the University of Cambridge (UK), were awarded the 2011 Harvey Prize in Science and Technology in a gala ceremony held last night at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel.

The awarding of the Harvey Prize is watched closely worldwide, as it is often regarded as a strong predictor of future Nobel Prize laureates. It is awarded annually in a variety of disciplines within the categories of Science and Technology and Human Health. It has also been awarded for contributions to Peace in the Middle East.

Professor Judea Pearl

Professor Judea Pearl

Professor Pearl, an alumnus of the Technion, is best known for his work in artificial intelligence, human reasoning and the philosophy of science, and recently won the 2011 ACM Turing Award for innovations that led to breakthroughs in the partnership between humans and machines – the very foundation of artificial intelligence. His research has created a computational foundation for processing information under uncertainty, a core problem faced by intelligent systems. Applications of his work reach into fields as diverse as medical diagnosis, homeland security and genetic counseling.

“(He has) laid, through courageous and far-sighted research the theoretical foundations for the presentation of knowledge and reasoning in computer science,” read the Technion citation awarding Prof. Pearl the honor. “His theories of inference under uncertainty, and in particular the Bayesian Networks approach, have influenced varied disciplines, including artificial intelligence, statistics, philosophy, health, economics, social sciences and cerebral cognitive processes. The Harvey Prize in Science and Technology is awarded to Professor Pearl in recognition of the breakthroughs that are embodied in his research and their influence on multitudes of spheres of our life.”

Professor Pearl is the father of slain Wall Street Journal reporter, Daniel Pearl. In wake of the tragedy, he and his wife Ruth co-founded the Daniel Pearl Foundation in 2002 to promote intercultural understanding through journalism and music.

Sir Richard Friend

Sir Richard Friend

Sir Richard Friend, the Cavendish Professor of Physics at the University of Cambridge, was awarded the Harvey Prize “in recognition of his outstanding contributions to science and technology, which are already making an impact on the semi-conductor industry and our lives.” He is recognized for his pioneering work in the physics, materials science and engineering of semiconductor devices made with carbon-based polymers. Sir Richard also holds the appointment of Distinguished Visiting Professor at Technion.

According to the Technion citation awarding Sir Richard, he “pioneered the physics, materials science and engineering of semiconductor devices made with carbon-based polymers. His breakthrough research made possible deep understanding of electronic and optical processes in polymer conductors for realizing a range of devices including field-effect transistors, photovoltaic diodes and cells as well as lasers. Demonstrating scientific and technological leadership, Prof. Friend made a decisive contribution to the harnessing of this exciting technology, as evidenced by, among others, the two successful spin-off companies … he founded. The Harvey Prize is awarded to Prof. Sir Richard Friend in recognition of his outstanding contributions to science and technology, which are already making an impact on the semi-conductor industry and our lives.”

The Harvey Prize was first awarded in 1972 from a fund established by the late Leo M. Harvey, and maintained by his son, Technion Guardian Homer Harvey and the Harvey Family. Past Harvey Prize winners include Israeli-American mathematician Robert Aumann; Prof. Bert Sakmann who won for breakthroughs in electrophysiology; Mikhail Gorbachev, former leader of the USSR, who was awarded the prize for his activities aimed at reducing regional tensions; neuropsychiatrist Eric Kandel; and physicist David Gross. Each of them also won a Nobel Prize.

The Technion-Israel Institute of Technology is consistently ranked among the world’s leading science and technology universities. Home to three of Israel’s five winners of the Nobel Prize in science, the Technion commands a worldwide reputation for its pioneering work in computer science, nanotechnology, biotechnology, energy, water-resource management, medicine, drug development, and aerospace. Headquartered in New York City, the American Technion Society (ATS) promotes scientific and technological research and education at the Technion.