: It was a summer night, in July 1964, and Lotfi Zadeh was alone in New York, away from his home in California. He was staying at the home of his parents, who were away, and a dinner he was invited to had been cancelled. Many of us, if we found ourselves in such a situation today, might binge watch that Netflix series everyone had been talking about. This being 1964, and television sets being barely a decade old, Lotfi didn’t have that option. So he sat and thought. “My thoughts turned to the unsharpness of class [category] boundaries,” he later said. “It was at this point that the simple concept of a fuzzy set occurred to me.”
In other words, his thoughts led him to questions. Why, in the world of computer science and engineering, the world in which he was involved, was there so much focus on sharply-delineated categories? It was the heyday of Game Theory, and “models” not tied to the real world ruled the roost in many a department. But weren’t things more … fuzzy in real life?
This simple idea gave birth to a concept, which Lofti christened Fuzzy Sets and later Fuzzy Logic — a concept that quite simply changed the world. It was first embraced by engineers, who used it in industrial process controls. It played a fundamental role in the design of early smart products, like hand-held camcorders and microwaves. It traversed the globe and found special favor in that tech-nut of a country, Japan. Fuzzy logic was used to help design the underground train system in the city of Sendai in 1987 —a crowning achievement of an idea that had proved itself.
Before Lofti Zadeh passed away on September 7, at the age of 96, he was one of the most influential living minds in computer science and mathematics >>>