Kosko, Bart 1960-

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Kosko, Bart 1960-

PERSONAL:

Born 1960. Education: University of Southern California, B.A.; University of California at San Diego, M.A.; University of California at Irvine, Ph.D.; Concord Law School, J.D.

ADDRESSES:

Office—Los Angeles, CA. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Admitted to the State Bar of California. University of Southern California, Los Angeles, professor of electrical engineering.

WRITINGS:

(Editor) Neural Networks for Signal Processing, Prentice Hall (Englewood Cliffs, NJ), 1992.

Neural Networks and Fuzzy Systems: A Dynamical Systems Approach to Machine Intelligence, Prentice Hall (Englewood Cliffs, NJ), 1992.

Fuzzy Thinking: The New Science of Fuzzy Logic, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1993.

Fuzzy Engineering, Prentice Hall (Upper Saddle River, NJ), 1997.

Nanotime (science fiction novel), Avon Books (New York, NY), 1997.

The Fuzzy Future: From Society and Science to Heaven in a Chip, Harmony Books (New York, NY), 1999.

(Editor, with Simon Haykin) Intelligent Signal Processing, IEEE Press (New York, NY), 2001.

Noise, Viking (New York, NY), 2006.

SIDELIGHTS:

A professor of electrical engineering, Bart Kosko is known as one of the pioneer theorists behind the intriguing fuzzy logic theory. This revolutionary idea is used in computer programming and recognizes that reality is not as clear-cut as the traditional binary system of yes/no computer responses allows. Fuzzy logic theory allows calculations to be performed that recognize the gray area between absolutes so that responses might be made based on percentages, such as seventy percent of one thing or thirty percent of another, rather than all or nothing. Kosko's work, while still cutting-edge, is already being used in some of today's technology. For example, it permits camcorders with computer chips to more accurately focus lenses and is used in computerized automatic transmissions in cars to allow them to shift gears more smoothly and efficiently; it may also be used in future artificial intelligence technology. The engineer first published his ideas in Neural Networks and Fuzzy Systems: A Dynamical Systems Approach to Machine Intelligence. Not meant for the general reader, the textbook includes mathematical exercises on an accompanying computer disk that are aimed at those who understand linear algebra and advanced calculus. The work explains how to integrate fuzzy logic into neural networks.

Kosko followed this work up with books that are more friendly toward the general reader: Fuzzy Thinking: The New Science of Fuzzy Logic and The Fuzzy Future: From Society and Science to Heaven in a Chip. The title of Fuzzy Thinking might lead one to believe it is a book on sloppy logic, but Kosko patiently explains his ideas, which some critics have observed are based on Eastern ways of thinking rather than on the Aristotelian tradition of the West. "Writing with style and risk, Kosko challenges assumptions," remarked a Publishers Weekly critic.

The Fuzzy Future is Kosko's look ahead at the possibilities of a fuzzy logic revolution. The engineer sees it as influencing everything from technology and medicine to politics and art. He even speculates that a computer chip might be developed that could be used to download people's personalities, thus making them immortal. The consequences of this type of engineering might not always be positive for humanity, however, and the author makes "the disturbing prediction that cruise missiles guided by fuzzy logic chips will become so cheap and accurate that attacking an enemy will become more cost-effective than defending against him," reported Jeff Minerd in a Futurist review. Minerd went on to comment that much of the text is philosophical, not practical, in nature, and that it will be enjoyed more by readers who like to indulge in speculation than those "looking for detailed descriptions of future technological marvels." "Fairly demanding, but certain to appeal to readers curious about where leading-edge computer types are headed," commented Mary Carroll in Booklist.

Indulging in some speculation himself, Kosko imagined a world influenced by fuzzy logic technology in his first novel, Nanotime. The story is about a future world where oil is almost depleted and countries are on the verge of World War III. The hero, John Grant, invents a molecule that will allow hydrogen to be used as an efficient and cheap form of fuel, replacing the need for oil. He soon finds himself to be the rope in an international tug-of-war between those who want to kidnap him for their own use and those who wish to kill him so that their oil reserves do not become worthless. While critics found the concept of the book intriguing, many were not impressed by Kosko's fiction-writing skills. "Kosko's abilities to plot and develop characters aren't equal to his skills at the speculative blackboard," as one Publishers Weekly contributor put it, adding that the hero "is thoroughly unpleasant." Robert C. Moore, writing in the Library Journal, found the plot "tedious" and that it had a "disappointing finish for such a promising story."

Kosko was back in his element with his next nonfiction work, Noise. The book is literally about the concept of noise, which is "defined as any unwanted signal," as one Science News writer explained. Noise is usually considered an irritant, something that gets in the way of reception, but Kosko points out that noise can be a good thing at times. For example, when skillfully applied, it can actually be used to enhance signal transmissions. Kosko covers all forms of noise and its issues, including environmental impacts (disturbing the communications of whales, for example) and legal issues (Kosko, a licensed attorney as well as scientist, goes into some depth on such topics as public nuisance laws). Booklist contributor David Pitt declared Noise "an endlessly fascinating book" by "an engaging writer." "Heady reading from a polymath popularizer," concluded a Kirkus Reviews writer, "but exhilarating nonetheless."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

AI Expert, March 1, 1992, review of Neural Networks and Fuzzy Systems: A Dynamical Systems Ap-proach to Machine Intelligence, p. 20; December 1, 1993, review of Fuzzy Thinking: The New Science of Fuzzy Logic, p. 41.

American Scientist, May 1, 2000, review of Fuzzy Future: From Society and Science to Heaven in a Chip, p. 270.

Booklist, June 1, 1993, review of Fuzzy Thinking, p. 1737; August 1, 1999, Mary Carroll, review of Fuzzy Future, p. 2003; September 1, 2006, David Pitt, review of Noise, p. 30.

Byte, October 1, 1993, review of Fuzzy Thinking, p. 50.

Choice, December 1, 1993, review of Fuzzy Thinking, p. 619; February 1, 2000, R. Bharath, review of Fuzzy Future, p. 1133.

Computing, September 30, 1993, review of Fuzzy Thinking, p. 39.

Futurist, October 1, 1999, Jeff Minerd, review of "A Sharp Look at Fuzzy Logic," p. 50.

IEEE Transactions on Neural Networks, March 1, 1993, review of Neural Networks for Signal Processing, p. 372.

ISR: Intelligent Systems Report, July 1, 1991, review of Neural Networks and Fuzzy Systems, p. 16.

Journal of Economic Dynamics & Control, May 1, 1993, review of Neural Networks and Fuzzy Systems, p. 523.

Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, April 1, 1996, review of Fuzzy Thinking, p. 315.

Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 2006, review of Noise, p. 618.

Library Journal, June 1, 1993, review of Fuzzy Thinking, p. 184; March 1, 1994, review of Fuzzy Thinking, p. 55; October 15, 1997, review of Nanotime, p. 92; July 1, 1999, Joe J. Accardi, review of Fuzzy Future, p. 127.

Nature, June 23, 1994, review of Fuzzy Thinking, p. 618; October 12, 2006, P.V.E. McClintock, "Background Buzz," p. 635.

New Scientist, December 3, 1994, review of Fuzzy Thinking, p. 46; October 25, 1997, review of Nanotime, p. 49.

Publishers Weekly, April 19, 1993, review of Fuzzy Thinking, p. 42; September 15, 1997, review of Nanotime, p. 51; July 12, 1999, review of Fuzzy Future, p. 83.

Quarterly Review of Biology, June 1, 1995, review of Fuzzy Thinking, p. 210.

Science Books & Films, July 1, 2000, review of Fuzzy Future, p. 167; November 1, 2000, review of Fuzzy Future, p. 252.

Science News, August 19, 2006, review of Noise, p. 127.

SciTech Book News, September 1, 1991, review of Neural Networks and Fuzzy Systems, p. 7; August 1, 1992, review of Neural Networks for Signal Processing, p. 34.

Times Higher Education Supplement, August 12, 1994, review of Fuzzy Thinking, p. 19.

World Futures, March 1, 1995, review of Fuzzy Thinking, p. 71.

ONLINE

Bart Kosko Home Page, http://sipi.usc.edu/˜kosko (May 11, 2007).