Computer Scientist Pollack Given Lifetime Achievement Award

Jordan Pollack
Mike Lovett
Jordan Pollack

Jordan Pollack, chair of the computer science department, has received the International Society for Artificial Life’s 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his work on computer-simulated evolution and artificial life forms.

Pollack, who came to Brandeis in 1994, develops computational and mathematical models that can mimic evolution. The grand objective is to achieve artificial intelligence by enabling computers to continually “evolve” entities of greater complexity and intelligence without the need for programming.

In 1997, Pollack and Pablo Funes, PhD’01, wrote a computer program that applied the laws of physics to building robots with Lego bricks. The computer then “evolved” more complicated structures on its own. The research, which was published in the journal Artificial Life, garnered Pollack international press as well as funding for another decade of research on evolving robotic life forms.

Despite his 20 years of research, Pollack reports he and other experts are still a long way from being able to develop artificial life. “I’m very happy to be recognized by my chosen scientific field,” he says. “I wish I had completely solved the problem of simulated evolution, but I think we are all learning that simulating life is harder than it looks.”

Pollack was given the award in early September at the European Conference on Artificial Life, in Lyon, France.

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