“In contrast to classical logical systems, fuzzy logic is aimed at a formalization of modes of reasoning that are approximate rather than exact. Basically, a fuzzy logical system may be viewed as a result of fuzzifying a standard logical system. Thus, one may speak of fuzzy predicate logic, fuzzy modal local, fuzzy default logic, fuzzy multivalued logic, fuzzy epistemic logic, and so on. In this perspective, fuzzy logic is essentially a union of fuzzified logical systems in which precise reasoning is viewed as a limiting case of approximate reasoning.”

So began one of the most important technical articles published by “AI Expert Magazine” during my tenure as one of it editors: “The Calculus of Fuzzy If/Then Rules,” by Lotfi A. Zadeh, in March 1992.

Even then, more than 20 years ago, Dr. Zadeh was revered as the father of fuzzy logic. I recall my interactions with him on that article very fondly.

I was delighted to learn that Fundacion BBVA, the philanthropic foundation of the Spanish bank BBVA, has recognized Dr. Zadeh with its 2012 Frontiers of Knowledge Award.

To quote from the Web page for the award:

The BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) category has been granted in this fifth edition to the electrical engineer Lotfi A. Zadeh, “for the invention and development of fuzzy logic.” This “revolutionary” breakthrough, affirms the jury in its citation, has enabled machines to work with imprecise concepts, in the same way humans do, and thus secure more efficient results more aligned with reality. In the last fifty years, this methodology has generated over 50,000 patents in Japan and the U.S. alone.

The key paper, the one that started it all, was “Fuzzy Sets,” published by Dr. Zadeh in June 1965 in the journal “Information and Control.” You can read the paper here. I wouldn’t call it light reading.

Congratulations, Dr. Zadeh, for your many contributions to computer science and software engineering—and to the modern world.

Alan Zeichick is editorial director of SD Times. Read his blog at ztrek.blogspot.com.