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Roger C. Schank, Theorist of Artificial Intelligence, Dies at 76


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Roger C. Schank in 2000.

Outspoken and blustery, Schank was viewed as an ornery eccentric in A.I. circles, but he was also engaging, articulate, and a very effective salesman for his ideas.

Credit: Todd Buchanan

Roger C. Schank, a scientist who made influential contributions to the field of artificial intelligence and then, as an academic, author and entrepreneur, focused on how people learn, died on Jan. 29 in Shelburne, Vt. He was 76.

His wife, Annie Schank, said the cause was heart failure. She added that Dr. Schank, who lived in Quebec, had been in failing health for more than a year.

Dr. Schank's research combined linguistics, cognitive science and computing. In a 1995 essay, he described the common theme of his varied projects in academics and business as "trying to understand the nature of the human mind" and "building models of the human mind on the computer."

In the late 1960s and '70s, Dr. Schank developed ideas for how to represent in symbols for a computer simple concepts — like people and places, objects and events, cause-and-effect relationships — that humans describe with words. His model was called "conceptual dependency theory."

From The New York Times
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