Marvin Minsky has made many contributions to AI, cognitive psychology, mathematics, computational linguistics, robotics, and optics. In recent years he has worked chiefly on imparting to machines the human capacity for commonsense reasoning. His conception of human intellectual structure and function is presented in The Society of Mind, which is also the title of the course he teaches at MIT.
He received the B.A. and Ph.D. in mathematics at Harvard and Princeton. In 1951 he built the SNARC, the first neural network simulator. His other inventions include mechanical hands and other robotic devices, the confocal scanning microscope, the “Muse” synthesizer for musical variations (with E. Fredkin), and the first LOGO “turtle” (with S. Papert). A member of the NAS, NAE and Argentine NAS, he has received the ACM Turing Award, the MIT Killian Award, the Japan Prize, the IJCAI Research Excellence Award, the Rank Prize and the Robert Wood Prize for Optoelectronics, and the Benjamin Franklin Medal.