Dartmouth Conferences

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This article is about conferences related to artificial intelligence. For the peace process conferences, see Dartmouth Conferences (peace).
Dartmouth Summer Research Project on Artificial Intelligence
Duration six weeks
Date 1956 (1956)
Venue Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire
Organised by John McCarthy
Participants Marvin Minsky, Nathaniel Rochester, Claude Shannon

The Dartmouth Summer Research Project on Artificial Intelligence was the name of a 1956 summer workshop now considered by many[1][2](though not all[3]) to be the seminal event for artificial intelligence as a field.

The project lasted approximately 6 to 8 weeks, and was essentially an extended brainstorming session. 11 mathematicians and scientists were originally planned to be attendees, and while not all attended, more than 10 others came for short times.

Planning the Summer Research Project: The Proposal[edit]

In the early 1950s, there were various names for the field of "thinking machines" such as cybernetics, automata theory, and complex information processing [4] These indicate how different the ideas were on what such machines would be like.

In 1955 John McCarthy, then a young Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Dartmouth College, decided to organize a group to clarify and develop ideas about thinking machines. He picked the name 'Artificial Intelligence' for the new field. He chose the name partly for its neutrality; avoiding a focus on narrow automata theory, and avoiding cybernetics which was heavily focused on analog feedback, as well as him potentially having to accept the assertive Norbert Wiener as guru or having to argue with him.[5]

In early 1955, McCarthy approached the Rockefeller Foundation to request funding for a summer seminar at Dartmouth for about 10 participants. In June, he and Claude Shannon, a founder of Information Theory then at Bell Labs, met with Robert Morison, Director of Biological and Medical Research to discuss the idea and possible funding, though Morison, was unsure whether money would be made available for such a visionary project.[6]

On September 2, 1955, the project was formally proposed by McCarthy, Marvin Minsky, Nathaniel Rochester and Claude Shannon. The proposal is credited with introducing the term 'artificial intelligence'.

The Proposal states [7]

The proposal goes on to discuss computers, natural language processing, neural networks, theory of computation, abstraction and creativity (these areas within the field of artificial intelligence are considered still relevant to the work of the field). [8]

On May 26, 1956, McCarthy notified Robert Morison of the planned 11 attendees:

For the full period:

1) Dr. Marvin Minsky 
2) Dr. Julian Bigelow 
3) Professor D.M. Mackay 
4) Mr. Ray Solomonoff 
5) Mr. John Holland 
6) Mr. John McCarthy.

For four weeks:

7) Dr. Claude Shannon
8) Mr. Nathanial Rochester
9) Mr. Oliver Selfridge.

For the first two weeks:

10) Mr. Allen Newell 
11) Professor Herbert Simon.

He noted, ``We will concentrate on a problem of devising a way of programming a calculator to form concepts and to form generalizations. This of course is subject to change when the group gets together.[9]

According to Stottler Henke Associates, besides the proposal's authors, attendees at the conference included Ray Solomonoff, Oliver Selfridge, Trenchard More, Arthur Samuel, Herbert A. Simon, and Allen Newell. [10][11][12]

The actual participants came at different times, mostly for much shorter times. Trenchard More replaced Rochester for three weeks and MacKay and Holland did not attend --- but the project was set to begin.

Around June 18, 1956, the earliest participants (perhaps only Ray Solomonoff, maybe with Tom Etter) arrived at the Dartmouth campus in Hanover, N.H., to join John McCarthy who already had an apartment there. Ray and Marvin stayed at Professors' apartments, but most would stay at the Hanover Inn.

When Did It Happen?[edit]

The Dartmouth Workshop is said to have run for six weeks in the summer of 1956.[13] Ray Solomonoff's notes written during the Workshop time, 1956, however, say it ran for ``roughly eight weeks, from about June 18 to August 17.[14] Solomonoff's Dartmouth notes start on June 22; June 28 mentions Minsky, June 30 mentions Hanover, N.H., July 1 mentions Tom Etter. On August 17, Ray gave a final talk.[15]

Who Was There?[edit]

Unfortunately McCarthy lost his list of attendees! Instead, after the Dartmouth Project McCarthy sent Ray a preliminary list of participants and visitors plus those interested in the subject. There are 47 people listed.[16]

Solomonoff, however, made a complete list in his notes of the summer project:[17]

 1) Ray Solomonoff  
 2) Marvin Minsky
 3) John McCarthy  
 4) Claude Shannon 
 5) Trenchard More
 6) Nat Rochester
 7) Oliver Selfridge
 8) Julian Bigelow
 9) W. Ross Ashby
10) W.S. McCulloch
11) Abraham Robinson
12) Tom Etter
13) John Nash
14) David Sayre
15) Arthur Samuel
16) Shoulders
17) Shoulder's friend
18) Alex Bernstein
19) Herbert Simon
20) Allen Newell

Shannon attended Ray's talk on July 10 and Bigelow gave a talk on August 15. Ray doesn't mention Bernard Widrow, but apparently he visited, along with W.A. Clark and B.G. Farley.[18] Trenchard mentions R. Culver and Ray mentions Bill Shutz. Herb Gelernter didn't attend, but was influenced later by what Rochester learned.[19] Gloria Minsky also commuted there (with their part-beagle dog, Senje, who would start out in the car back seat and end up curled around her like a scarf), and attended some sessions (without Senje).[20]

Ray Solomonoff, Marvin Minsky, and John McCarthy were the only three who stayed for the full time. Trenchard took attendance during two weeks of his three week visit. From three to about eight people would attend the daily sessions.[21]

The Meetings and Some Results[edit]

They had the entire top floor of the Dartmouth Math Department to themselves, and most weekdays they would meet at the main math classroom where someone might lead a discussion focusing on his ideas, or more frequently, a general discussion would be held.

It was not a directed group research project, discussions convered many topics but several directions are considered to have been initiated or encouraged by the Workshop: the rise of symbolic methods, systems focussed on limited domains (early Expert Systems), and deductive systems versus inductive systems. One participant, Arthur Samuel said, "It was very interesting, very stimulating, very exciting".[22]

Ray Solomonoff kept notes during the summer giving his impression of the talks and the ideas from various discussions. These are available, along with other notes concerning the Dartmouth Summer Research Project on AI, at: http://raysolomonoff.com/dartmouth/

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Solomonoff, R.J.The Time Scale of Artificial Intelligence; Reflections on Social Effects, Human Systems Management, Vol 5 1985, Pp 149-153
  2. ^ Moor, J., The Dartmouth College Artificial Intelligence Conference: The Next Fifty years, AI Magazine, Vol 27, No., 4, Pp. 87-9, 2006
  3. ^ Kline, Ronald R., Cybernetics, Automata Studies and the Dartmouth Conference on Artificial Intelligence, IEEE Annals of the History of Computing,October–December, 2011, IEEE Computer Society
  4. ^ McCorduck, P., Machines Who Think, A.K. Peters, Ltd, Second Edition, 2004.
  5. ^ Nilsson, N., The Quest for Artificial Intelligence, Cambridge University Press, 2010
  6. ^ Kline, Ronald R., Cybernetics, Automata Studies and the Dartmouth Conference on Artificial Intelligence, IEEE Annals of the History of Computing,October–December, 2011, IEEE Computer Society, (citing letters, from Rockefeller Foundation Archives, Dartmouth file6, 17, 1955 etc.
  7. ^ McCarthy, J., Minsky, M., Rochester, N., Shannon, C.E., A Proposal for the Dartmouth Summer Research Project on Artificial Intelligence., http://raysolomonoff.com/dartmouth/boxa/dart564props.pdf August, 1955
  8. ^ McCarthy, John; Minsky, Marvin; Rochester, Nathan; Shannon, Claude (1955), A Proposal for the Dartmouth Summer Research Project on Artificial Intelligence  retrieved 10:47 (UTC), 9th of April 2006
  9. ^ Kline, Ronald R., Cybernetics, Automata Studies and the Dartmouth Conference on Artificial Intelligence, IEEE Annals of the History of Computing,October–December, 2011, IEEE Computer Society
  10. ^ Stottler-Henke retrieved 18:19 (UTC), 27th of July 2006
  11. ^ Artificial Intelligence: Past, Present, and Future (Vox of Dartmouth)
  12. ^ The Dartmouth Artificial Intelligence Conference: The Next Fifty Years
  13. ^ Nilsson, N., The Quest for Artificial Intelligence, Cambridge University Press, 2010, P. 53
  14. ^ Solomonoff, R.J.,dart56ray622716talk710.pdf, 1956 URL:{http://raysolomonoff.com/dartmouth/boxbdart/dart56ray622716talk710.pdf
  15. ^ Papers at http://raysolomonoff.com/dartmouth/boxbdart/boxbdart.html
  16. ^ McCarthy, J., List, Sept., 1956; List among Solomonoff papers to be posted on website solomonof.com
  17. ^ http://raysolomonoff.com/dartmouth/boxbdart/dart56ray812825who.pdf 1956
  18. ^ Kline, Ronald R., Cybernetics, Automata Studies and the Dartmouth Conference on Artificial Intelligence, IEEE Annals of the History of Computing,October–December, 2011, IEEE Computer Society
  19. ^ Nilsson, N., The Quest for Artificial Intelligence, Cambridge University Press, 2010,
  20. ^ personal communication
  21. ^ More, Trenchard, 1956, http://raysolomonoff.com/dartmouth/boxa/dart56more5th6thweeks.pdf
  22. ^ McCorduck, P., Machines Who Think, A.K. Peters, Ltd, Second Edition, 2004.

External links[edit]

  1. 50 Años De La Inteligencia Artificial - Campus Multidisciplinar en Percepción e Inteligencia - Albacete 2006 (Spain).