Thursday, December 17, 2009

[DMANET] Obituary Ray Solomonoff

Obituary: Ray Solomonoff, Founding Father of Algorithmic Information Theory

Ray J. Solomonoff, founding father of Algorithmic Information
Theory, died on December 7, 2009, of complications
of a stroke caused by an aneurism in his head. Ray was the
first inventor of Algorithmic Information Theory which
deals with the shortest effective description length of objects
and is commonly designated by the term ``Kolmogorov complexity.''

The latter notion was a side product of his approach to induction.
His crucial results concerning prediction, in 1960 and later,
partially resolve the old philosophical problem concerning how to
obtain a valid prior distribution in Bayes's rule by showing that
a single ``universal'' distribution can be used instead of any computable
prior with almost the same resulting predictions. This may be viewed
as a central problem of Artificial Intelligence, Machine
Learning and Statistical Inference--with the caveat that the universal
distribution is incomputable. Solomonoff's theory has led to feasible
induction and prediction procedures.

Ray Solomonoff is survived by his wife, Grace Morton, 72 Winter Street,
Arlington, MA 02474, and by his nephew, Alex Solomonoff, of Somerville.

An obituary outlining Solomonoff's contributions to science
together with biographical remarks is at

Paul Vitanyi, CWI, Science Park 123, 1098 XG Amsterdam, The Netherlands,
Tel. (+)31 20 5924124; Fax (+)31 20 5924199;;
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