Saul Amarel (1928 – December 18, 2002) was professor of computer science at Rutgers University, and best known for his pioneer work in Artificial Intelligence. He also had a distinguished career as a scientist, engineer, and teacher. He was a pioneering contributor to advanced computing and AI methodologies. Both applied to scientific inquiry as well as engineering practice.
Amarel was born into a Thessaloniki, Greek Jewish family in 1928. He served in the Greek Resistance movement during World War II as the Germans invaded Greece. He was forced to flee with his family to Gaza, which was then in British Palestine.
He graduated from Technion – Israel Institute of Technology in 1948 with a bachelor’s degree in engineering and worked for the Israeli Ministry of Defense before heading to the United States. There he obtained his master’s degree in 1953 and then a doctorate in Electrical Engineering in 1955 from Columbia University in New York.
In 1957 he took a position at RCA Sarnoff Labs Computer Theory Group, which he created, in New Jersey, as the Alan M. Turing Professor of Computer Science, pioneering research in the new field of AI. While serving as head of RCA's Computer Theory Research Group. In 1984, he served as Director for DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), the agency that does research and development for the United States Department of Defense.
In 1995, he returned to Rutgers to teach, where he also continued to conduct more research work. Amarel received the Award named after Allen Newell from the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) for his wide-ranging contributions to Artificial Intelligence, especially in advancing our understanding of the role of representation in problem solving, and of the theory and practice of computational planning. He became an IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) Fellow.
He lived in Princeton, New Jersey, where he died in 2002 from a heart attack following a six-year battle with cancer. This occurred just as the celebration of his retirement from Rutgers University, after more than 40 years of leadership in computer science nationally and internationally, was under preparation for December 20, 2002.
- "In Memoriam: Saul Amarel", Rutgers University. Accessed February 21, 2013.
- Nagourney, Saul. "Saul Amarel, 74, an Innovator In the Artificial Intelligence Field", The New York Times, December 21, 2002. Accessed November 24, 2007.
- AI Article
- Article from Smart Computing
- Oral history interview with Saul Amarel, Charles Babbage Institute, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.