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John J. Hopfield

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Biography

John J. Hopfield’s research demonstrated how modeling biological processes in the brain can be used to solve complex computational problems. The beginning of the modern era of neural networks can be traced to Dr. Hopfield’s pioneering work in the early 1980s.

Relating an understanding of the electrical and cellular activity that takes place in the brain to computer technology, Dr. Hopfield described a feedback network of highly interconnected neurons that could reconstruct memories from clues (associative memory) and showed how stable states of network activity could represent memories, emphasizing the importance of computers (and the brain) as dynamical systems (now known as a “Hopfield Network”). A large portion of all studies concerning neural circuits are based on Hopfield’s concepts and the use of attractors for computation. Beyond the benefit to computing technology, Dr. Hopfield’s work also serves as a basic paradigm in neuroscience for understanding how the brain carries out its tasks.

Dr. Hopfield is the Howard Prior Professor of Molecular Biology, emeritus, at Princeton University, New Jersey.