Judea Pearl

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Judea Pearl
Judea Pearl at NIPS 2013 (11781981594).jpg
Judea Pearl at NIPS 2013
Born (1936-09-04) September 4, 1936 (age 86)
Tel Aviv, Mandatory Palestine
(present day Israel)
Alma materTechnion – Israel Institute of Technology
New Jersey Institute of Technology
Rutgers University
New York University Tandon School of Engineering
Known forArtificial Intelligence
Bayesian Networks
Ruth Pearl (née Eveline Rejwan)
(m. 1960; died 2021)
ChildrenDaniel, Tamara, Michelle
AwardsIJCAI Award for Research Excellence (1999)
Turing Award (2011)[1]
Rumelhart Prize (2011)
Harvey Prize (2011)
BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award (2021)[2]
Scientific career
FieldsComputer science, statistics
ThesisVortex Theory of Superconductive Memories (1965)
Doctoral advisorLeonard Strauss
Leonard Bergstein
Doctoral studentsRina Dechter

Judea Pearl (born September 4, 1936) is an Israeli-American computer scientist and philosopher, best known for championing the probabilistic approach to artificial intelligence and the development of Bayesian networks (see the article on belief propagation). He is also credited for developing a theory of causal and counterfactual inference based on structural models (see article on causality). In 2011, the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) awarded Pearl with the Turing Award, the highest distinction in computer science, "for fundamental contributions to artificial intelligence through the development of a calculus for probabilistic and causal reasoning".[1][3][4][5] He is the author of several books, including the technical Causality: Models, Reasoning and Inference, and The Book of Why, a book on causality aimed at the general public.

Judea Pearl is the father of journalist Daniel Pearl, who was kidnapped and murdered by terrorists in Pakistan connected with Al-Qaeda and the International Islamic Front in 2002 for his American and Jewish heritage.[6][7]


Judea Pearl was born in Tel Aviv, British Mandate for Palestine, in 1936 to Polish Jewish immigrant parents.[8] He is a descendant of Menachem Mendel of Kotzk on his mother's side. After serving in the Israel Defense Forces and joining a kibbutz, Pearl decided to study engineering in 1956. He received a B.S. in electrical engineering from the Technion 1960. That same year, he emigrated to the United States and pursued graduate studies. He received an M.S. in electrical engineering from the Newark College of Engineering (now the New Jersey Institute of Technology) in 1961, and went on to receive an M.S. in physics from Rutgers University and a PhD in electrical engineering from the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn (now the New York University Tandon School of Engineering) in 1965.[9] He worked at RCA Research Laboratories (now SRI International) in Princeton, New Jersey on superconductive parametric amplifiers and storage devices and at Electronic Memories, Inc., on advanced memory systems.[9] When semiconductors "wiped out" Pearl's work, as he later expressed it,[10] he joined UCLA's School of Engineering in 1970 and started work on probabilistic artificial intelligence. He is one of the founding editors of the Journal of Causal Inference.

Pearl is currently a professor of computer science and statistics and director of the Cognitive Systems Laboratory at UCLA. He and his wife, Ruth, had three children. In addition, as of 2011, he is a member of the International Advisory Board of NGO Monitor.[11]

Former Israeli Chief Rabbi, Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, partnered with Judea Pearl in the documentary With My Whole Broken Heart.[12][13]

Murder of Daniel Pearl[edit]

In 2002, his son, Daniel Pearl, a journalist working for the Wall Street Journal was kidnapped and murdered in Pakistan, leading Judea and the other members of the family and friends to create the Daniel Pearl Foundation.[14] On the seventh anniversary of Daniel's death, Judea wrote an article in the Wall Street Journal titled Daniel Pearl and the Normalization of Evil: When will our luminaries stop making excuses for terror?.[15]

Emeritus Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks quoted Judea Pearl's beliefs in a lesson on Judaism: "I asked Judea Pearl, father of the murdered journalist Daniel Pearl, why he was working for reconciliation between Jews and Muslims...he replied with heartbreaking lucidity, 'Hate killed my son. Therefore I am determined to fight hate.'"[16]


On his religious views, Pearl states that he is a "practicing disbeliever."[17][18] He is very connected to Jewish traditions such as holidays and kiddush on Friday night.[19]


Judea Pearl is credited for "laying the foundations of modern artificial intelligence, so computer systems can process uncertainty and relate causes to effects." [2] He is one of the pioneers of Bayesian networks and the probabilistic approach to artificial intelligence, and one of the first to mathematize causal modeling in the empirical sciences. His work is also intended as a high-level cognitive model. He is interested in the philosophy of science, knowledge representation, nonstandard logics, and learning. Pearl is described as "one of the giants in the field of artificial intelligence" by UCLA computer science professor Richard Korf.[20] His work on causality has "revolutionized the understanding of causality in statistics, psychology, medicine and the social sciences" according to the Association for Computing Machinery.[21]

Notable contributions[edit]

  • A summary of Pearl's scientific contributions is available in a chronological account authored by Stuart J. Russell (2012).
  • An annotated bibliography of Pearl's contributions was compiled by the ACM in 2012.
  • A video describing Pearl's major contributions to AI is available here.
  • Pearl's opinion pieces, touching on Jewish identity, the war on terrorism, and the Middle East conflict can be accessed here.


  • Heuristics, Addison-Wesley, 1984
  • Probabilistic Reasoning in Intelligent Systems, Morgan-Kaufmann, 1988
  • Pearl, Judea (2000). Causality: Models, Reasoning, and Inference. Cambridge University Press.
  • I Am Jewish: Personal Reflections Inspired by the Last Words of Daniel Pearl, Jewish Lights, 2004. (Winner of a 2004 National Jewish Book Award)
  • Causal Inference in Statistics: A Primer, (with Madelyn Glymour and Nicholas Jewell), Wiley, 2016. ISBN 978-1119186847
  • Pearl, Judea; Dana Mackenzie (2018). The Book of Why: The New Science of Cause and Effect.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Judea Pearl – A. M. Turing Award winner, ACM, retrieved March 14, 2012.
  2. ^ a b c BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award (2021). Judea Pearl - Announcement Speech, June 2022.
  3. ^ a b Gold, Virginia (March 15, 2012). "Judea Pearl Wins ACM A.M. Turing Award for Contributions that Transformed Artificial Intelligence". The Association for Computing Machinery. Archived from the original on March 17, 2012. Retrieved March 15, 2012. ACM, the Association for Computing Machinery today named Judea Pearl of the University of California, Los Angeles the winner of the 2011 ACM A.M. Turing Award for innovations that enabled remarkable advances in the partnership between humans and machines that is the foundation of Artificial Intelligence (AI).
  4. ^ Judea Pearl author profile page at the ACM Digital Library
  5. ^ Goth, G. (2006). "Judea Pearl Interview: A Giant of Artificial Intelligence Takes on All-Too-Real Hatred". IEEE Internet Computing. 10 (5): 6–8. doi:10.1109/MIC.2006.107. S2CID 9932352.
  6. ^ Fonda, Daren (September 27, 2003). "On the Trail of Daniel Pearl". TIME. Archived from the original on October 1, 2003. Retrieved July 20, 2011.
  7. ^ Escobar, Pepe (June 28, 2003). "Who killed Daniel Pearl?". Book Review. Asia Times Online. Archived from the original on June 29, 2003. Retrieved July 20, 2011.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  8. ^ "This Day in Jewish History / Journalist Daniel Pearl murdered in Pakistan by Islamic terrorists". Haaretz.
  9. ^ a b "Judea Pearl - A.M. Turing Award Laureate". amturing.acm.org.
  10. ^ Leah Hoffmann (2012). "Q&A: A Sure Thing". Communications of the ACM. 55 (6): 135–136. doi:10.1145/2184319.2184347.
  11. ^ "International Advisory Board Profiles". NGO Monitor. 2011. Retrieved July 20, 2011.
  12. ^ Wilkinson, Phaedra (July 10, 2015). "From the community: With My Whole Broken Heart". Chicago Tribune.
  13. ^ With My Whole Broken Heart trailer on YouTube
  14. ^ "Biography of Dr. Judea Pearl". Daniel Pearl Foundation. 2011. Archived from the original on June 30, 2011. Retrieved July 20, 2011.
  15. ^ Pearl, Judea (February 3, 2009). "Daniel Pearl and the Normalization of Evil". The Wall Street Journal. p. A15. Retrieved July 20, 2011.
  16. ^ Jonathan Sacks (September 5, 2014). "Judaism: Covenant & Conversation: Against Hate". Israel National News.
  17. ^ Mathew Philips. "Tragedy and Opportunity: The parents of slain journalist Danny Pearl have devoted their lives to improving Muslim-Jewish relations". Retrieved July 12, 2013. I turned secular at the age of 11, by divine revelation. [Laughs.] I was standing on the roof of the house my father built, looking down on the street and suddenly it became very clear to me that there is no God.
  18. ^ "Robots and the Illusion of Free Will – Conversation with Judea Pearl, Rumelhart Prize Winner". Starting from 41:14: The Science Network. July 22, 2011. I'm, of course, prisoner of my upbringing, which means my store of metaphors comes from the Bible and comes from history of the Jewish people. But I don't believe in God. Actually, I know there isn't [a] God.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: location (link)
  19. ^ Fishman Orlins, Susan (November 2006). "The Price of Being Jewish: An Interview with Judea Pearl". Moment. Did you pray for Danny's safe return? No, I don't believe in a God [that] would listen to me. But I do pray every morning. I lay tefillin. I started a year ago. But aren't you a secular Jew? I'll give you the same answer I gave 10 Muslims who joined me for dinner one Friday night. I said, 'Oh, it's Friday night. I have to do Kiddush.'
  20. ^ Amundson, Marlys (Fall 2004). "A Profile of Judea Pearl – Computer Science Pioneer, Visionary" (PDF). UCLA Engineer (12): 16–17. Retrieved July 20, 2011.
  21. ^ "ACM HONORS INNOVATORS WHO CHANGED THE SCIENTIFIC WORLD". New York: Association for Computing Machinery. April 27, 2004. Retrieved July 20, 2011.
  22. ^ "ASA Fellow Announcement" (PDF). American Statistical Association. Retrieved May 12, 2019.
  23. ^ National Academy of Sciences Members and Foreign Associates Elected Archived August 18, 2015, at the Wayback Machine, National Academy of Sciences, April 29, 2014.
  24. ^ "AI's Hall of Fame" (PDF). IEEE Intelligent Systems. 26 (4): 5–15. 2011. doi:10.1109/MIS.2011.64. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 16, 2011. Retrieved September 4, 2015.

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