IEEE Systems, Man and Cybernetics Magazine - July 2018 - 48

Remembering Lotfi Zadeh (continued from page 47)
The last one is a set of studio monitor speakers, Yamaha

Although Prof. Zadeh will be missed, we continue to

Monitor NS-1000. Prof. Zadeh was a famous audio maniac,

benefit from his documented foresight on ideas supporting

and their house on Berkeley Hill was full of his audio sets. Fay

the fields of interest of the SMCS. Whether they are based

finally got fed up with the piles of audio sets and left their

on concepts from his earlier career focused on the

home for a brief period after leaving a note for Prof. Zadeh,

development of systems theory and analysis, including

"I will not return until they are sold off." Prof. Zadeh sold some

early thoughts from his 1950 article on the notion of thinking

of them with sorrow. My Yamaha monitor is one of them, and

machines, or based on more recent ideas for computing

I am still enjoying its sound in our living room.

with words, Prof. Zadeh's foresights remain relevant today and
into the emerging technological future. Furthermore, as we

Eddie Tunstel

encounter semblances of his pioneering character among

The late Prof. Zadeh, whom we lost in September 2017, was

our colleagues worldwide, the IEEE SMCS. will continue to

a world-renowned luminary who, as an active member,

recognize and honor such exemplars with his namesake

appreciated the value of the SMCS and made it a pro -

pioneer award.

fessional home for many years. Beyond his technical
accomplishments and long-lasting contributions, I remember

Jerry M. Mendel

him for his very calm demeanor and unassuming personality.

I have spent more than 30 years working on many aspects

He was also very equitable in inspiring scholars at any stage

of fuzzy sets and systems, but for more than 20 of those years

of their careers, as he encouraged me with reassuring

my attention has been focused on so-called type-2 fuzzy sets

compliments after I presented one of my first conference

and systems. I have often wondered, "Why (around 1975) did

papers involving fuzzy logic more than two decades ago.

Prof. Zadeh invent type-2 fuzzy sets when there was so much

Having interacted with him since then on a number of

that needed to be done with type-1 fuzzy sets?" I never did

occasions at the SMCS annual flagship conference and

get a satisfactory answer about this from him, so I can only

other conferences, I know that he is sorely missed by all who

speculate on why. During the 1960s and early 1970s, he was

knew him.

under attack for his works on fuzzy sets (what courage it took

Among many elements of his legacy, the SMCS has

for a brilliant system theorist to go "fuzzy"), and one such

been a consistent backdrop for the past half-century. That

attack was about the membership function of a fuzzy set

association spans a period including the 1973 publication

(e.g., how could a fuzzy set be an uncertainty model if, once

of his seminal manuscript introducing rule-based fuzzy

its membership function parameters are specified, there is

logic in IEEE Transactions on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics

nothing uncertain about it?). Perhaps a type-2 fuzzy set was

and, more recently, the SMCS's establishment of the Lotfi A.

a response to this attack, or maybe he realized from the very

Zadeh Pioneer Award in 2014. That award honors a person

beginning of fuzzy sets that requiring something that is "fuzzy"

or persons with outstanding and pioneering contributions

to be precise seemed like a contradiction.

to academic and/or industrial research in systems

To many, the word "fuzzy" still has a negative connotation

science and engineering, human-machine systems, and/

when used in a technical context. Of course, Prof. Zadeh

or cybernetics. This honor was first awarded in October

was aware of this but felt that, in 1965, fuzzy was the best

2017 at the IEEE SMC 2017 conference in Banff, Canada,

word for him to use for this kind of a set. I feel that, after

posthumously to Prof. Zadeh himself.

more than 50 years, the time has come for these sets to be
called Zadehian (or Zadeh) sets. Such sets would have the
property of fuzziness. Let's do this to honor this great scholar
in perpetuity.
Enric Trillas and Alejandro Sobrino
This section presents a dialogue between its two authors,
Enric Trillas (ET), and Alejandro Sobrino (AS), concerning
both the man and the engineer, scientist, and thinker whom
they both had the fortune of knowing personally.

at the University of South California (USC), Prof.
Jerry m. mendel hosted Prof. zadeh. mendel and
zadeh at USC stand with three of mendel's former
students (from left): John Kormylo, mendel, Fred
aminzadeh, zadeh, and mostafa Shiva.

48

IEEE SyStEmS, man, & CybErnEtICS magazInE July 2 0 1 8

ET: I learned about and read Prof. Zadeh's 1965 paper
"Fuzzy Sets" [S11] in 1975 and met him personally in July 1977,
and we maintained a long, sincere friendship that lasted up
(continued on page 49)



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