David Rumelhart bigraphy, stories - American psychologist

David Rumelhart : biography

June 12, 1942 - March 13, 2011

David Everett Rumelhart (June 12, 1942 – March 13, 2011) was an American psychologist who made many contributions to the formal analysis of human cognition, working primarily within the frameworks of mathematical psychology, symbolic artificial intelligence, and parallel distributed processing. He also admired formal linguistic approaches to cognition, and explored the possibility of formulating a formal grammar to capture the structure of stories.

In 1986, Rumelhart published Parallel Distributed Processing: Explorations in the Microstructure of Cognition with James McClelland, which described their creation of computer simulations of perception, giving to computer scientists their first testable models of neural processing, and which is now regarded as a central text in the field of cognitive science.

Rumelhart's models of semantic cognition and specific knowledge in a diversity of learned domains using initially non-hierarchical neuron-like processing units continue to interest scientists in the fields of artificial intelligence, anthropology, information science, and decision science.

In his honor, in 2000 the Robert J. Glushko and Pamela Samuelson Foundation created the David E. Rumelhart Prize for Contributions to the Theoretical Foundations of Human Cognition.


Rumelhart was born in Mitchell, South Dakota on June 12, 1942. His parents were Everett Leroy and Thelma Theora (Ballard) Rumelhart. He began his college education at the University of South Dakota, receiving a B.A. in psychology and mathematics in 1963. He studied mathematical psychology at Stanford University, receiving his Ph. D. in 1967. From 1967 to 1987 he served on the faculty of the Department of Psychology at the University of California, San Diego. In 1987 he moved to Stanford University, serving as Professor there until 1998. Rumelhart was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1991 and received many prizes, including a MacArthur Fellowship in July 1987, the Warren Medal of the Society of Experimental Psychologists, and the APA Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award. Rumelhart, co-recipient with James McClelland, won the 2002 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Psychology.

Rumelhart became disabled by Pick's disease, a progressive neurodegenerative disease, and at the end of his life lived with his brother in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He died in Chelsea, Michigan. He is survived by two sons.

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