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Zadeh was best known for proposing fuzzy mathematics consisting of these fuzzy-related concepts: fuzzy sets, fuzzy logic, fuzzy algorithms, fuzzy semantics, fuzzy languages, fuzzy control, fuzzy systems, fuzzy probabilities, fuzzy events, and fuzzy information.
In 1931, when Zadeh was ten years old, his family moved to Tehran in Iran, his father's homeland. Zadeh was enrolled in Alborz College, which was a Presbyterianmissionary school, where he was educated for the next eight years, and where he met his future wife, Fay. Zadeh says that he was "deeply influenced" by the "extremely decent, fine, honest and helpful" missionaries from the United States who ran the college. "To me they represented the best that you could find in the United States - people from the Midwest with strong roots. They were really 'Good Samaritans' - willing to give of themselves for the benefit of others. So this kind of attitude influenced me deeply. It also instilled in me a deep desire to live in the United States." During this time, Zadeh was awarded several patents.
Despite being more fluent in Russian than in Persian, Zadeh sat for the national university exams and placed third in the entire country. As a student, he ranked first in his class in his first two years. In 1942, he graduated from the University of Tehran with a degree in electrical engineering, one of only three students in that field to graduate that year, due to the turmoil created by World War II, when the United States, Britain and the Soviet Union invaded Iran. Over 30,000 American soldiers were based there, and Zadeh worked with his father, who did business with them as a contractor for hardware and building materials.
In 1943, Zadeh decided to emigrate to the United States, and traveled to Philadelphia by way of Cairo after months of delay waiting for the proper papers or for the right ship to appear. He arrived in mid-1944, and entered the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) as a graduate student later that year. While in the United States, he changed his name to Lotfi Aliasker Zadeh.
He received an MS degree in electrical engineering from MIT in 1946, and then applied to Columbia University, as his parents had settled in New York City. Columbia admitted him as a doctoral student, and offered him an instructorship as well. He received his Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Columbia in 1949, and became an assistant professor the next year.
Zadeh was called "quick to shrug off nationalism, insisting there are much deeper issues in life", and was quoted as saying in an interview: "The question really isn't whether I'm American, Russian, Iranian, Azerbaijani, or anything else. I've been shaped by all these people and cultures and I feel quite comfortable among all of them." He noted in the same interview: "Obstinacy and tenacity. Not being afraid to get embroiled in controversy. That's very much a Turkish tradition. That's part of my character, too. I can be very stubborn. That's probably been beneficial for the development of Fuzzy Logic." He described himself as "an American, mathematically oriented, electrical engineer of Iranian descent, born in Russia."
Zadeh was married to Fay Zadeh and had two children, Stella Zadeh and Norman Zada.
According to Google Scholar, as of February 2021, Zadeh's work has been cited about 270,000 times in scholarly works, with the 1965 Fuzzy sets paper receiving more than 115,000 citations.
Fuzzy sets and systems
Zadeh, in his theory of fuzzy sets, proposed using a membership function (with a range covering the interval [0,1]) operating on the domain of all possible values. He proposed new operations for the calculus of logic and showed that fuzzy logic was a generalisation of classical and Boolean logic. He also proposed fuzzy numbers as a special case of fuzzy sets, as well as the corresponding rules for consistent mathematical operations (fuzzy arithmetic).
Fox J, ed. (1965). "Fuzzy sets and systems". System Theory. Brooklyn, NY: Polytechnic Press. pp. 29-39.
Zadeh, L. A. (1972). "A Fuzzy-Set-Theoretic Interpretation of Linguistic Hedges". Journal of Cybernetics. 2 (3): 4-34. doi:10.1080/01969727208542910.
Zadeh, Lotfi A. (1973). "Outline of a New Approach to the Analysis of Complex Systems and Decision Processes". IEEE Transactions on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics. SMC-3 (1): 28-44. doi:10.1109/TSMC.1973.5408575.
"Fuzzy logic and its application to approximate reasoning". Information Processing 74, Proc. IFIP Congr. 3. 1974. pp. 591-594.
Zadeh, L. A. (1975). "Fuzzy logic and approximate reasoning". Synthese. 30 (3-4): 407-428. doi:10.1007/BF00485052.
Zadeh LA, Fu KS, Tanaka K, Shimura M, ed. (1975). "Calculus of fuzzy restrictions". Fuzzy Sets and their Applications to Cognitive and Decision Processes. New York: Academic Press. pp. 1-39.CS1 maint: multiple names: editors list (link)
Zadeh, L.A. (1975). "The concept of a linguistic variable and its application to approximate reasoning--I". Information Sciences. 8 (3): 199-249. doi:10.1016/0020-0255(75)90036-5.
Zadeh, L.A. (1975). "The concept of a linguistic variable and its application to approximate reasoning--II". Information Sciences. 8 (4): 301-357. doi:10.1016/0020-0255(75)90046-8.
Zadeh, L.A. (1975). "The concept of a linguistic variable and its application to approximate reasoning-III". Information Sciences. 9 (1): 43-80. doi:10.1016/0020-0255(75)90017-1.
In 2014, the IEEE Systems, Man, and Cybernetics Society established the "Lotfi A. Zadeh Pioneer Award", which is given "To honor a person or persons with outstanding and pioneering contributions to academic and/or industrial research in systems science and engineering, human-machine systems, and/or cybernetics." The award is funding from a $100,000 donation from Zadeh's son, Norm Zadeh, which is administered by the IEEE. Nominees must have "pioneered and developed innovative research, executed in either academe or industry, and has resulted in major scientific advances that are widely recognized in systems science and engineering, human-machine systems, and/or cybernetics. Contributions must have been made at least 15 years prior to the award date."
In February 2019, ADA University in Baku, Azerbaijan presented the first "Lotfi Zadeh Scholarships", which honor the academic success of undergraduate students in the university's School of IT and Engineering. Winners of the scholarship receive a complete tuition waiver for the semester or semester-equivalent in which they achieved a 4.0 average.
^Zadeh, L. A. (1997). "Toward a theory of fuzzy information granulation and its centrality in human reasoning and fuzzy logic". Fuzzy Sets and Systems. 90 (2): 111-127. doi:10.1016/S0165-0114(97)00077-8.
McNeil, Daniel; Freiberger, Paul (1993). Fuzzy Logic: The discovery of a revolutionary computer technology - and how it is changing our world. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN0-671-73843-7.
Seising, Rudolf. The Fuzzification of Systems: The Genesis of Fuzzy Set Theory and Its Initial Applications - Developments up to the 1970s (Studies in Fuzziness and Soft Computing, Vol. 216) Berlin, New York, [et al.]: Springer 2007.
Zadeh, Fay. "My Life and Travels with the Father of Fuzzy Logic". 1998, TSI Press, Albuquerque, NM.
, I. Dzitac, F.G. Filip, M.J. Manolescu, Fuzzy Logic Is Not Fuzzy: World-renowned Computer Scientist Lotfi A. Zadeh, International Journal of Computers Communications & Control (December), Vol 12 No 6 (2017), 748-789.
Univagora.ro, Honorary Chair and Keynote Speaker, ICCCC 2008, A conference dedicated to the Centenary of John Bardeen.