Michael A. Arbib

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Michael Anthony Arbib (born 28 May 1940) is a computational neuroscientist. He is an Adjunct Professor of Psychology at the University of California at San Diego and professor emeritus at the University of Southern California; before his 2016 retirement he was the Fletcher Jones Professor of computer science, as well as a professor of biological sciences,[1] biomedical engineering,[2] electrical engineering,[3] neuroscience and psychology.[4]

Education and career[edit]

Arbib was born in England on 28 May 1940, the oldest of four children. His parents moved to New Zealand when he was about 7, and on to Australia when he was about 9.[5] Arbib was educated in New Zealand and at The Scots College in Sydney, Australia.[citation needed] In 1960 he took a BSc (Hons) at the University of Sydney,[6] with the University Medal in Pure Mathematics.[citation needed]

Arbib received his PhD in Mathematics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1963.[7] He was advised by Norbert Wiener, the founder of cybernetics,[dubious ] and Henry P. McKean, Jr.[5][7] As a student, he also worked with Warren McCulloch, the co-inventor of the artificial neural network and finite-state machine.[5]

Following his PhD, Arbib moved to Stanford for a postdoc with Rudolf Kalman.[5][8] Arbib spent five years at Stanford, before moving to become becoming the founding chairman of the Department of Computer and Information Science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 1970.[8] He remained in the Department until 1986, when he joined the University of Southern California.[8] He retired and was granted emeritus status in 2016.[9]

Arbib's collected papers from the period 1960 through 1985 are held by the University of Massachusetts Amherst.[10]


As both a theoretical neuroscientist and a computer scientist, Arbib argues that by deducing the brain's operating principles from a computational standpoint we can both learn more about how brains function and also gain tools for building learning machines. With Richard Didday, he developed one of the first winner-take-all neural networks in 1970. More recently, with Giacomo Rizzolatti, the leader of research team that discovered mirror neurons, he proposed an evolutionary link between mirror neurons, imitation, and the evolution of language.

Awards and honors[edit]


  • Brains, Machines and Mathematics (1964, 1987) ISBN 0-387-96539-4
  • Algebraic Theory of Machines, Languages and Semigroups (January 1968) ISBN 0-12-059050-6
  • The metaphorical brain (Wiley, 1972) ISBN 0-471-03249-2
  • System theory. A unified state-space approach (Saunders, 1974) by Louis Padulo, Michael A. Arbib
  • Computers and the Cybernetic Society (1984)
  • In Search of the Person: Philosophical Explorations in Cognitive Science (1 November 1985)
  • Algebraic Approaches to Program Semantics (Texts and Monographs in Computer Science) by Ernest G. Manes, Michael A. Arbib (1 August 1986)
  • The Construction of Reality (Cambridge Studies in Philosophy) by Michael A. Arbib, Mary B. Hesse (28 November 1986)
  • Brains, Machines and Mathematics 2nd ed. by Michael A. Arbib (1 November 1987)
  • Dynamic Interactions in Neural Networks: Models and Data (Research Notes in Neural Computing) by Michael A. Arbib, Shun-Ichi Amari (1 January 1989)
  • Vision, Brain, and Cooperative Computation by Michael A. Arbib (Editor), Allen R. Hanson (Editor) (24 January 1990)
  • Natural and Artificial Parallel Computation by Michael A. Arbib (Editor), J. Alan Robinson (Editor) (Hardcover – 21 December 1990)
  • Neuroscience: From Neural Networks to Artificial Intelligence : Proceedings of a US-Mexico Seminar Held in the City of Xalapa in the State of Verac (Lecture Notes in Mathematics) by Pablo Rudomin, et al. (1 June 1993)
  • Neural Organization: Structure, Function, and Dynamics by Michael A. Arbib, Péter Érdi and János Szentágothai et al. (31 October 1997)
  • Neuroscience and the Person: Scientific Perspectives on Divine Action (Scientific Perspectives on Divine Action Series) by Robert J. Russell, et al. (1 January 2000)
  • Computing the Brain: A Guide to Neuroinformatics by Michael Arbib, Jeffrey S. Grethe (15 March 2001)
  • The Neural Simulation Language: A System for Brain Modeling by Alfredo Weitzenfeld, et al. (1 July 2002)
  • The Handbook of Brain Theory and Neural Networks: 2nd Edition by Michael A. Arbib (Editor) (15 November 2002)
  • Who Needs Emotions: The Brain Meets the Robot (Series in Affective Science) by Jean-Marc Fellous, et al. (28 October 2004)
  • Beyond the Mirror: Biology and Culture in the Evolution of Brain and Language (June 2005) ISBN 0-19-514993-9
  • Visual Structures and Integrated Functions (Research Notes in Neural Computing, No 3) by Michael A. Arbib, Jorg-Peter Ewert
  • Visuomotor Coordination: Amphibians, Comparisons, Models, and Robots by Jorg Peter Ewert, Michael A. Arbib
  • The Metaphorical Brain 2: Neural Networks and Beyond by Michael B. Arbib
  • Introduction to Formal Language Theory (Texts and Monographs in Computer Science) by Robert N. Moll, et al.
  • From Schema Theory to Language by Michael A. Arbib, et al.
  • Adaptive Control of Ill-Defined Systems (Nato Conference Series. II, Systems Science, V. 16) by NATO Advanced Research Institute on Adaptive Control of Ill-Defined systems
  • Programming Approach to Computability (The Akm Series in Theoretical Computer Science) by A. J. Kfoury, et al.
  • Neural Models of Language Processes (Perspectives in neurolinguistics, neuropsychology, and psycholinguistics)
  • A Basis for Theoretical Computer Science (Springer Series in Statistics) by Michael A. Arbib
  • Arrows, Structures, and Functors: The Categorical Imperative
  • Theories of abstract automata (Prentice-Hall series in automatic computation)
  • How the Brain Got Language: The Mirror System Hypothesis (Oxford University Press USA)


  1. ^ https://viterbi.usc.edu/directory/faculty/Arbib/Michael
  2. ^ https://viterbi.usc.edu/directory/faculty/Arbib/Michael
  3. ^ http://www.theatlas.org/index.php/gold-medal?id=207
  4. ^ https://viterbi.usc.edu/directory/faculty/Arbib/Michael
  5. ^ a b c d Anderson, James A.; Rosenfeld, Edward (2000). "10 Michael A. Arbib". Talking Nets: An Oral History of Neural Networks. MIT Press. pp. 211–238. ISBN 978-0-262-51111-7.
  6. ^ http://www.theatlas.org/index.php/gold-medal?id=207
  7. ^ a b Michael A. Arbib at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  8. ^ a b c Emory, Margaret (5 April 2019). "From Building Brains to Brained Buildings: An Interview with Michael A. Arbib". BrainWorld. Retrieved 25 October 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  9. ^ "Professor Emeritus Michael Arbib: A Remarkable Trajectory - 55 Years of Brains, Machines and Mathematics (event announcement)". Department of Computer Science. University of Southern California. 12 September 2016. Retrieved 25 October 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  10. ^ "Michael A. Arbib Papers". Library. University of Massachusetts Amherst. Retrieved 26 October 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  11. ^ "Elected AAAI Fellows". Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence. Retrieved 26 October 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  12. ^ "Annual Report" (PDF). American Association for the Advancement of Science. 2008. Retrieved 26 October 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)

External links[edit]