John McCarthy, One of the Pioneers in AI and Father of Lisp, Has Died at Age 84

Posted by at 10:42 pm on October 24, 2011

John McCarthy, the father of modern AI, has died. Mr. McCarthy is best known for his creation of the Lisp family of computer languages. He was 84.

As a teenager, Mr. McCarthy taught himself advanced mathematics theory. He received his doctorate from Princeton in 1941.

He was an innovator in what eventually was to become known as artificial intelligence. He believed that AI should be an interactive learning process. That philosophy has manifested itself in many advanced computing systems such as, Siri, the voice command system used by Apple in the iPhone 4S.

Mr. McCarthy is also remembered as the individual who orchestrated the first chess match between US and Soviet scientists using computers. Although the computers made the moves, the board play was communicated manually by telegraph.

Lisp, the programming language he created, was one of the earliest high level codes used for computers. Its usage began in 1958. The two major dialects of Lisp used for general-purpose programming today are Common Lisp and Scheme.

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