Hopfield wins IEEE's Rosenblatt Award

May 8, 2009, 10:23 a.m.

John Hopfield, the Howard A. Prior Professor Emeritus in the Life Sciences, will receive the 2009 Frank Rosenblatt Award from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers for his seminal contributions to the understanding of information processing in biological systems.

Hopfield, a leading theoretician of biology with research interests spanning many disciplines, has focused on neurobiology for more than 20 years, investigating how the neural circuits of the brain perform complex calculations.

The award, established by the IEEE in 2004, is named in honor of the late Frank Rosenblatt, a pioneer in artificial intelligence who is widely recognized as founding the field of neural networks. These are computer systems designed to mimic the interconnected processing of neurons in the human brain. They may be used to gain an understanding of how the brain works or for solving problems.

Hopfield's work is mainly theoretical, employing computer simulations and mathematics. He is well known for his invention of a neural network in 1982 that is now more commonly known as the Hopfield network. Developed as a metaphor for how the brain works, this dynamical network has been widely adopted by computer program developers because it is so adept at recognizing patterns from partial information and at solving optimization problems.

Hopfield earned his Ph.D. in physics from Cornell University in 1958. Early in his career, he distinguished himself in condensed matter physics at a number of posts, including one as a professor of physics at Princeton from 1964 to 1980. Moving to the California Institute of Technology, where he was a professor of chemistry and biology from 1980 to 1997, he gravitated toward more interdisciplinary research.

Hopfield rejoined the Princeton faculty in 1997 as a professor of molecular biology and was named to the endowed professorship in 2002. He also serves on the faculty of Princeton's Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics and is an emeritus member of the Princeton Neuroscience Institute.

He received the Albert Einstein World Award of Science by the World Cultural Council in 2005. He also was awarded a 1983 MacArthur "genius grant," the American Physical Society's 1985 Prize in Biophysics and the 2001 Dirac Medal from the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics.

Hopfield will receive the Rosenblatt Award on June 17 in Atlanta at the 2009 IEEE-International Neural Network Society International Joint Conference on Neural Networks.