Computer Science Colloquium
Time+Place : Thursday 29/03/2012 11:00  Auditorium 2 Taub  Bld. 
Speaker    : Judea Pearl, Special Guest Talk, Harvey Prize and Turing Award
Affiliation: Computer Science Dept., U C L A
Host       : Dan Geiger
Title      : The algorithmization of causes and counterfactuals
Abstract   :
 Advances in graphical models and the logic of causation have given rise  to
new ways in which scientists analyze cause-effect relationships.
 Today, we understand precisely the conditions under which causal
relationships can be inferred from data, the assumptions and measurements
needed for predicting the effect of interventions (e.g., treatments on
 recovery) and, not the least important, how counterfactual sentences
(e.g., "I should have done it differently") can be reasoned about
algorithmically or derived from data.
 Counterfactuals are the building blocks of scientific thought and moral
behavior. The ability to reflect back on one's past actions and envision
alternative scenarios is the basis of scientific thought, moral behavior
and social adaptation.  The algorithmization of counterfactuals thus  brings
us a step closer towards equipping machines with such ability and  achieving
cooperative behavior among robots and humans.
 The talk will trace the chonology of these developments, and will present
several applications where causal and counterfactual reasoning has
benefited problem areas in the empirical sciences, including policy
evaluation,  mediating-pathways analysis, experimental generalizability,
credit and blame  analysis, and personal decision making.
 For background material, see
Short Bio:
Prof. Judea Pearl's ground breaking research in probabilistic and causal
reasoning revolutionized the way computer systems deal with uncertain
information and has enabled computers to revise beliefs and update causal
connections hidden in millions of observations. Pearl's theory of causation
changed the way scientists understand and estimate cause-effect
relationships, and has reduced causal inference to algorithmic level of
analysis. His work has had a profound impact on artificial intelligence,
statistics and philosophy of science, and on the application of these fields
to a wide range of problems in science and engineering.
Born in Bnai Brak, in 1936, Prof. Pearl served in the Nachal and received
his B.Sc. in Electrical Engineering from the Technion, in 1960. He then
earned a Master degree in Physics from Rutgers University and a Ph.D.  in
Electrical Engineering from the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklin, both in
Pearl has authored over 300 scientific articles and three seminal books:
Heuristics (1984), Probabilistic Reasoning (1988), and Causality (2000).   A
member of the National Academy of Engineering, and a Founding Fellow the
American Association for Artificial Intelligence (AAAI), he is the recipient
of the IJCAI Research Excellence Award for 1999, the London School of
Economics Lakatos Award for 2001 and the ACM Alan Newell Award for 2004.  In
2008, he received the Benjamin Franklin Medal for Computer and Cognitive
Science from the Franklin Institute and, in 2011, the David Rumelhart Prize
from the Cognitive Science Society.
Judea Pearl won this year's Harvey Prize for "foundational work that has
touched a multitude of spheres of modern life" and the Turing award for
"fundamental contributions to artificial intelligence through the
development of a claculus for probabilistic and causal reasoning".
Refreshments served from 10:45 till 11:00
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