Seymour Papert

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Seymour Papert
Born February 29, 1928 (1928-02-29) (age 81)
Pretoria, South Africa
Residence  United States
Nationality American
Fields Cognitive science
Computer science
Institutions MIT
Alma mater Cambridge University
University of Geneva
Doctoral students Marina Bers
David Cavallo
Idit Harel Caperton
Carl Hewitt
Fred Martin
Uri Wilensky
Mitchel Resnick
David Williamson Shaffer
Gerald Jay Sussman
Terry Winograd
Known for Artificial intelligence
Logo programming language

Seymour Papert (born February 29, 1928 in Pretoria, South Africa) is an MIT mathematician, computer scientist, and educator. He is one of the pioneers of artificial intelligence, as well as an inventor of the Logo programming language.


[edit] Early years and education

Papert attended the University of Witwatersrand, receiving a B.A. in 1949 and a PhD in mathematics in 1952. He then went on to receive another PhD, also in mathematics, at Cambridge University in 1959.[1] He was a leading figure in the revolutionary socialist circle around Socialist Review while living in London in the 1950s.[2]

[edit] Career

Papert worked as a researcher in a variety of places, including St. John's College, Cambridge, the Henri Poincare Institute at the University of Paris, the University of Geneva and the National Physical Laboratory in London before becoming a research associate at MIT in 1963.[1] He held this position until 1967, when he became professor of applied math and director of the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, until 1981; he also served as Cecil & Ida Green professor of education at MIT from 1974-1981.[1]

[edit] Research and theories

Papert worked on learning theories, and is known for focusing on the impact of new technologies on learning in general and in schools as learning organizations in particular.

[edit] Constructionism

At MIT, Papert went on to create the Epistemology and Learning Research Group at the MIT Media Lab[3]. Here, he was the developer of an original and highly influential theory on learning called constructionism, built upon the work of Jean Piaget in Constructivism learning theories. Papert worked with Jean Piaget during the 1960s and is widely considered the most brilliant and successful of Piaget's proteges; Piaget once said that "no one understand's my ideas as well as Papert." Papert has rethought how schools should work based on these theories of learning.

[edit] Logo

Papert used Piaget's work in his development of the Logo programming language whilst at MIT. He created Logo as a tool to improve the way that children think and solve the problems. A small robot called the "Logo Turtle" was developed and children used it to solve problems. A main purpose of the Logo Foundation research group is to strengthen the ability to learn knowledge. Papert insists a simple language or program that children can learn -- like Logo -- can also have advanced functionality for expert users.

[edit] Other work

As part of his work with technology, Papert has been a proponent of the Knowledge Machine. He is also currently one of the principals for the One Laptop Per Child initiative to manufacture and distribute The Children's Machine in developing nations.

Papert has also collaborated with Lego on their Logo-programmable Lego Mindstorms robotics kits.

[edit] Influence and awards

Papert's work has been highly influential to other researchers in the fields of education and computer science. He influenced the work of Uri Wilensky in the design of NetLogo and collaborated with him on the study of knowledge restructurations, as well as the work of Andrea diSessa and the development of dynaturtles. In 1981, Papert along with several others in the Logo group at MIT, started Logo Computer Systems Inc., of which he was Board Chair for over 20 years. Working with LCSI, Papert designed a number of award-winning programs, including LogoWriter[4] and Lego/Logo (marketed as Lego Mindstorms). He also influenced the research of Idit Harel Caperton, coauthoring articles and the book Constructionism and chairing the advisory board of the company MaMaMedia. [5] He also influenced Alan Kay and the Dynabook concept, and worked with Kay on various projects.

Papert won a Guggenheim fellowship in 1980, a Marconi International fellowship in 1981,[6] the Software Publishers Association Lifetime Achievement Award in 1994, and the Smithsonian Award from Computerworld in 1997.[7] Papert has been called by Marvin Minsky "the greatest living mathematics educator."[8]

[edit] Personal life

Papert's first wife was Sherry Turkle, and together they wrote the influential paper "Epistemological Pluralism and the Revaluation of the Concrete." [9]

Papert is married to Suzanne Massie Papert, who is a Russian scholar and author of Pavlovsk, Life of a Russian Palace and Land of the Firebird.

[edit] Accident in Hanoi

While attending the 17th ICMI Study conference in Hanoi, Papert was struck by a motorcycle while crossing a road near his hotel on Tuesday December 5, 2006. He underwent brain surgery at the French Hospital of Hanoi on Wednesday December 6 to remove the blood clot that had formed. By the evening of Tuesday December 12, he was in stable but critical condition.[10]

On December 16, 2006 he was transferred by air ambulance to Boston, Massachusetts, and on January 23, 2007 he was transferred to a hospital in his home state of Maine. In March 2007, he suffered an attack of septicemia, which required treatment in the hospital until May. Another problem occurred in April, when he had to have a heart valve replaced due to the septicemia. As of 2008, he has fully recovered from the septicemia and heart operation, and can think clearly, walk "almost unaided", and communicate. However, he still has "some complicated speech problems", and is still undergoing extensive rehab, although he is at home. [11]

His rehabilitation team is using some of the very principles of experiential, hands-on learning which he pioneered to aid him in recovery. [12]

[edit] Selected bibliography


[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ a b c Papert, Seymour A. in American Men and Women of Science, R.R. Bowker. (1998-99, 20th ed). p. 1056.
  2. ^ Jim Higgins: "More Years for the Locust: The Origins of the SWP" Published by IS Group, London, 1997. Chapter 5 page 1 "Another South African, Seymour Papert – a man of considerable talent ... was recruited by Kidron and, for a few years, he added considerably to the impact of Socialist Review. His review of John Strachey’s, at that time very influential book, Contemporary Capitalism, for example, is an excellent attack on Strachey and, incidentally, one of the better statements on the permanent arms economy." "'More Years for the Locus' reproduced in the Marxist Internet Archive"
  3. ^ Epistemology and Learning homepage
  4. ^ see [this history
  5. ^ see for instance google scholar
  6. ^ Marconi Foundation - the Marconi Fellows. Accessed March 28, 2009.
  7. ^ Henderson, Harry. 2003. A to Z of Computer Scientists. New York: Facts on File. p. 208.
  8. ^ From the cover of Mindstorms. (date needed).
  9. ^ Turkle, Sherry; Papert, Seymour (1992). "Epistemological Pluralism and Revaluation of the Concrete". Journal of Mathematical Behavior 11 (1). 
  10. ^ Tench, Megan. "Top MIT scientist injured in Vietnam." (December 8, 2006). Boston Globe.
  11. ^ (copy) (aka. the Seymour Papert Institute) (verified through the IRS as being a 501(c)3, as they claim)
  12. ^ Linda Matchan (2008-07-12). "In search of a beautiful mind". Boston Globe. Retrieved on 2008-07-16. 

[edit] External links




NAME Papert, Seymour
SHORT DESCRIPTION Cognitive science, Education, Mathematics, Computer science
DATE OF BIRTH March 1, 1928
PLACE OF BIRTH Pretoria, South Africa
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