Allen Newell

Allen Newell

name = Allen Newell

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birth_date = birth date|1927|3|19|mf=y
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death_date = death date and age|1992|7|19|1927|3|19|mf=y
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field = Computer Science
Cognitive Psychology
work_institution = Carnegie Mellon University
alma_mater = Carnegie Mellon University
doctoral_advisor = Herbert Simon
doctoral_students =
known_for = Information Processing Language
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prizes = A.M. Turing Award
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Allen Newell (March 19, 1927 - July 19, 1992) was a researcher in computer science and cognitive psychology at the RAND corporation and at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Computer Science, Tepper School of Business, and Department of Psychology. He contributed to the Information Processing Language (1956) and two of the earliest AI programs, the Logic Theory Machine (1956) and the General Problem Solver (1957) (with Herbert Simon). He was awarded the ACM's A.M. Turing Award along with Herbert Simon in 1975 for their basic contributions to artificial intelligence and the psychology of human cognition.

Newell was a graduate student at Princeton University during 1949-1950 when he studied mathematics. Due to his early exposure to a new field known as game theory and the experiences from the study of mathematics, he was convinced that he would prefer "a combination of experimental and theoretical research to pure mathematics" (Simon). Soon after, he left Princeton and joined the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica where he worked for "a group that was studying logistics problems of the Air Force" (Simon). His work with Joseph Kruskal led to the creation of two theories: A Model for Organization Theory and Formulating Precise Concepts in Organization Theory. Newell eventually earned his PhD from the now Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon with Herbert Simon serving as his advisor.

Afterwards, Newell "turned to the design and conduct of laboratory experiments on decision making in small groups" (Simon). He was dissatisfied, however, with the accuracy and validity of their findings produced from small-scale laboratory experiments. He joined with fellow RAND teammates John Kennedy, Bob Chapman, and Bill Biel at an Air Force Early Warning Station to study organizational processes in flight crews. They received funding from the Air Force in 1952 to build a simulator that would enable them to examine and analyze the interactions in the cockpit related to decision-making and information-handling. From these studies, Newell came to believe that information processing is the central activity in organizations.

In the September 1954, Newell enrolled in a seminar where Oliver Selfridge "described a running computer program that learned to recognize letters and other patterns" (Simon). This was when Allen came to believe that systems may be created and contain intelligence and have the ability to adapt. With this in mind, Allen, after a couple months, wrote in 1955 "The Chess Machine: An Example of Dealing with a Complex Task by Adaptation", which "outlined an imaginative design for a computer program to play chess in humanoid fashion" (Simon).

Newell later developed the Soar cognitive architecture. It was an attempt to realize his long-term goal of achieving a unified theory of cognition. There exist other cognitive architectures in this vein, in particular, John Anderson’s ACT theory, which has become a widely popular unified architecture, successfully employed by cognitive scientists today to model human behavior in a wide range of tasks.

Newell's last lecture, "Desires and Diversions" is archived [ online] for posterity.


* 1971—John Danz Lecturer, University of Washington
* 1971—Harry Goode Memorial Award, American Federation of Information Processing Societies
* 1972—National Academy of Sciences
* 1972—American Academy of Arts and Sciences
* 1975—A. M. Turing Award (with H. A. Simon), Association for Computing Machinery
* 1976-77—John Simon Guggenheim Fellow
* 1979—Alexander C. Williams Jr. Award (with William C. Biel, Robert Chapman and John L. Kennedy), Human Factors Society
* 1980 — National Academy of Engineering
* 1980 — First President, American Association for Artificial Intelligence
* 1982—Computer Pioneer Award, Charter Recipient, IEEE Computer Society
* 1985—Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award, American Psychological Association
* 1986—Doctor of Science (Honorary), University of Pennsylvania
* 1987—William James Lectures, Harvard University
* 1989—Award for Research Excellence, International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence
* 1989—Doctor in the Behavioral and Social Sciences (Honorary), University of Groningen, The Netherlands
* 1989—William James Fellow Award (charter recipient), American Psychological Society
* 1990 — Emanuel R. Piore Award, Institute for Electrical and Electronic Engineers
* 1990 — IEEE W. R. G. Baker Prize Award
* 1992—National Medal of Science
* 1992—Franklin Institute’s Louis E. Levy Medal


* [ Oral history interview with Allen Newell] at Charles Babbage Institute, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. Newell discusses his entry into computer science, funding for computer science departments and research, the development of the Computer Science Department at Carnegie Mellon University, including the work of Alan J. Perlis and [ Raj Reddy] , and the growth of the computer science and artificial intelligence research communities. Compares computer science programs at Stanford, MIT, and Carnegie Mellon.
* [ Allen Newell Collection] at Carnegie-Mellon University
** [ Biography]
* [ Allen Newell] , Herbert A. Simon, Biographical Memoirs, National Academy of Sciences
* [ Publications by Allen Newell] from
* [ "IEEE W. R. G. Baker Prize Award recipients"]

NAME= Newell, Allen
SHORT DESCRIPTION= Computer Science, Cognitive Psychology
DATE OF BIRTH= March 19, 1927
DATE OF DEATH= July 19, 1992

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