Allen Newell

Allen Newell ( born March 19, 1927 in San Francisco, † July 19, 1992 in Pittsburgh) was an American computer scientist and cognitive psychologist. Newell is considered one of the fathers of artificial intelligence and cognitive science.

Newell studied physics at Stanford University and mathematics at Princeton. From 1950 to 1961 he worked for the think-tank RAND Corporation. Inspired by the development of computer technology and the formulation of Cybernetics by Norbert Wiener, but he soon began to take an interest for automatic problem solving. By Herbert A. Simon together, he developed some of the earliest artificial intelligence programs.

Newell was a professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. It was founded in 1975 together with Herbert A. Simon received the Turing Award. In 1992, he died of cancer.

Early work with Herbert Simon

Newell developed in 1956 with Herbert A. Simon the Logic Theorist. This program was first able to prove a set of logical theorems. Specifically, led the Logic Theorist proof of 38 theorems from the Principia Mathematica by Bertrand Russell and Alfred North Whitehead. This result was a milestone in artificial intelligence because it has been shown that programs are able to actions for which a person needs intelligence.

The General Problem Solver (GPS ) was the next evolution of Newell and Simon. He could solve many more tasks than the Logic Theorist. The GPS is about to be able to prove theorems and games, such as chess or the Towers of Hanoi to play. The GPS goes out to a problem in which he formulated a main destination, and then determines a set of intermediate objectives whose achievement is necessary in order to finally reach the main goal. However, despite these achievements, the GPS stayed on applications in a small area limited. There was also an application area in which many problems of everyday intelligence had no applications. In the tasks that could solve the GPS, there were about no misleading information or unforeseen events.


Soar With Newell wanted to describe the beginning of a unified theory of human cognition. Soar is a cognitive architecture, which is a computer program that models human cognitive abilities brings together and realized. In Soar, the results of modern cognitive psychology if formally represented, integrated into the program. The model grows with the rise of cognitive psychological knowledge and can thus always better predict human behavior. From Soar there are now some commercial applications. Besides Soar, there are two other known cognitive architectures: ACT- R and EPIC.

Publications (selection)

  • An example of human chess play in the light of chess playing programs. Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh 1964
  • On the analysis of human problem solving protocols. Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh 1966
  • George W. Ernst: GPS: a case study in generality and problem solving. Academic Press, New York 1969
  • Herbert A. Simon, Human Problem Solving. Prentice- Hall, Englewood Cliffs 1972
  • Productions systems: models of control structures. Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh 1973
  • Reasoning, problem solving and decision processes: the problem- space as a fundamental category. Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh 1979
  • The knowledge level. Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh 1981
  • Two Soar studies: toward chunking as a general learning mechanism. Carnegie Mellon University / Department of Computer Science, 1985
  • Unified theories of cognition. Harvard University Press, Cambridge 1990