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Tehran University withdraws report on death of researcher

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Professor Lotfi Aliasker Zadeh

The University of Tehran has withdrawn a previous report on the passing of its graduate and the founder of fuzzy logic, Lotfi Aliasker Zadeh.

The university's website had earlier reported that mathematician and artificial intelligence scientist, Aliasker Zadeh, had passed away last Saturday, several days after news broke that his health was severely deteriorating. He was born in 1921 in Baku to an Iranian Azerbaijani father from Ardabil and a Russian Jewish mother, who was also an Iranian citizen.

The University of Tehran, however, withdrew the report on Monday, saying it had obtained the death report from "sources familiar with" Aliasker Zadeh.

The university wished the professor a healthy and long life and apologized to his family and its readers.

In in 1931, when Aliasker Zadeh was 10 years old, he and his family moved to Tehran, where he studied at the Alborz College for eight years.

He emigrated to the US in 1943 after graduating from the University of Tehran with a degree in electrical engineering.

He was a professor emeritus of computer science at the University of California, Berkeley, and the director of the Berkeley Initiative in Soft Computing.

He is best known for proposing the fuzzy mathematics in the 1960s.

Fuzzy logic is an approach to computing based on "degrees of truth" rather than the usual "true or false" (1 or 0) Boolean logic on which the modern computer is based.

In an interview he was once asked how he came up with the fuzzy logic idea to which he replied, “I have been concerned with systems analysis for many, many years and I began to realize at some point that traditional approaches do not work that well with human-centered systems. They work well in the case of physical systems, but they don't work that well in the social realm, in politics, in medicine, and so forth. A simple idea occurred to me. In the world of mathematics, for example, everything has sharp boundaries, either it's a circle or it's not a circle, either the lines are parallel or not parallel. But in the real world, when it comes to ‘is this person honest, or tall, or beautiful?’ the boundaries are fuzzy.”

According to his son, Norman, Aliasker Zadeh "is pretty ill. We are supposed to transport him to Azerbaijan when that horrible day comes. He specifically asked me to have him buried in Azerbaijan."

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