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Michael A. Arbib

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University Professor Emeritus and Professor Emeritus of Computer Science, Biomedical Engineering, Biological Sciences, and Psychology

Education

  • 1963, PhD, Mathematics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • 1963, PhD, Other Health Professions, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • 1961, Bachelors, Other Health Professions, University of Sydney
  • 1961, Other, Pure Mathematics, University of Sydney

Biography


The thrust of Michael Arbib's work is expressed in the title of his first book, Brains, Machines and Mathematics (McGraw-Hill, 1964). The brain is not a computer in the current technological sense, but he has based his career on the argument that we can learn much about machines from studying brains, and much about brains from studying machines. He has thus always worked for an interdisciplinary environment in which computer scientists and engineers can talk to neuroscientists and cognitive scientists.

His primary research focus is on the coordination of perception and action. This is tackled at two levels: via schema theory, which is applicable both in top-down analyses of brain function and human cognition as well as in studies of machine vision and robotics; and through the detailed analysis of neural networks, working closely with the experimental findings of neuroscientists on humans and monkeys. He is also engaged in research on the evolution of brain mechanisms for human language, pursuing the Mirror System Hypothesis that links language parity (the fact that what the speaker intends is roughly what the hearer understands) to the properties of the mirror system for grasping -- neurons active for both the execution and observation of actions -- to explain (amongst many other things) why human brains can acquire sign language as readily as speech.

A new interest is working with architects to better understand the neuroscience of the architectural experience and to develop a new field of neuromorphic architecture, "brains for buildings".

The author or editor of almost 40 books, Arbib has most recently edited "Who Needs Emotions? The Brain Meets the Robot" (with Jean-Marc Fellous, Oxford University Press, 2005) and "From Action to Language via the Mirror System" (Cambridge University Press, 2006).

Research Summary


The thrust of Michael Arbib's work is expressed in the title of his first book, Brains, Machines and Mathematics (McGraw-Hill,1964). The brain is not a computer in the current technological sense, but he has based his career on the argument that we can learn much about machines from studying brains, and much about brains from studying machines. He has thus always worked for an interdisciplinary environment in which computer scientists and engineers can talk to neuroscientists and cognitive scientists. At the University of Massachusetts, he helped found the Center for Systems Neuroscience, the Cognitive Science Program, and the Laboratory for Perceptual Robotics, for each of which he served as director. At USC, he was founder and first Director of the Center for Neural Engineering. His research focuses on the coordination of perception and action. This is tackled at two levels: via schema theory, which is applicable both in top-down analyses of brain function and human cognition as well as in studies of machine vision and robotics; and through the detailed analysis of neural networks, working closely with the experimental findings of neuroscientists on humans and monkeys. As an Emeritus Professor, he will work in San Diego on two themes: the ABLE Project (linking Action, Brain, Language and Evolution) and exploring the linkage between neuroscience and architecture. The Publications list includes samples of work on these efforts.

Awards


  • 1973 American Society for Information Science Best Information Sciences Book 1973
  • 1973 IEEE Systems, Man and Cybernetics Franklin V. Taylor Memorial Award for Outstanding Presentation at the 1973 IEEE Systems, Man and Cybernetics Conference
  • 1981 University of Massachusetts at Amherst Faculty Fellowship Award for Distinguished Research and Scholarship
  • 1982 University of Massachusetts at Amherst Chancellor's Medal
  • 1983 University of Edinburgh Gifford Lecturer in Natural Theology
  • 1989 Syracuse University Chancellor's Medal
  • 1992 Universitá di Parma Socio Onorio, La Societa di Medicina e Scienze Naturali
  • 1992 Collège de France, Paris Chaire d'Etat reservé des savants Etrangeres
  • 1994 American Association for Artificial Intelligence Fellow
  • 1995 IEEE Neural Networks Council IEEE Neural Networks Council Pioneer Award
  • 1995 USC School of Engineering Lockheed Senior Research Award
  • 1997 University of Western Australia Adjunct Professor of Computer Science
  • 1999 University of Western Australia Gledden Senior Visiting Fellowship
  • 2001 Faculty of Mathematics, Cambridge University Rouse Ball Lecturer for 2001
  • 2002 The Academy of Transdisciplinary Learning and Advanced Studies Gold Medal of Honor
  • 2003 Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand Distinguished Scientist Award, Knowledge Engineering and Discovery Research Institute
  • 2004 University of Western Australia Doctor of Science (Honoris Causa)
  • 2004 Other Award, Honor or Special Status
  • 2006 Department of Psychology and the Faculties of Arts and Science at the University of Alberta Distinguished Scholar
  • 2008 American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow
  • 2009 Okawa Foundation 2009 Okawa Foundation Research Grant
  • 2009 International Neural Network Society Helmholtz Prize
  • 2011 2011 International Joint Conference on Neural Networks Best Poster Award for “Neural Model of Counting and Subitizing, Zong-En Yu, Shyk-Kang Jang and Michael Arbib”
Appointments
  • Computer Science
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Psychology

Office
  • HNB 03
  • Hedco Neurosciences Building
  • 3641 Watt Way, Los Angeles, CA 90089
  • USC Mail Code: 2520

Contact Information
  • (213) 740-9220
  • arbib@pollux.usc.edu

Websites

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