A Vague Logic That's in Vogue; TECHNOLITES

Article excerpt

Whats a seemingly vague logic thats now in vogue and is gigabucks in the heavy and hi-tech industries in which it is involved? The easy answer is fuzzy logic. It is incorporated into the control systems of factories, washing machines, refrigerators, welding equipment, cameras, robots and automobiles. It is used in image processing, pattern classification, traffic problems, collision avoidance, decision support, project planning, fraud detection, word processor, spelling checkers, etc. and the annual revenues it generates are already in the multi-billion dollar scale.

And almost yearly, there are conferences dealing with fuzzy logic. For example, if you browse through the list of papers to be presented in the International HNICEM 2003 Conference, which will be held from March 27 to March 30, 2003 at the Holiday Inn, Manila, youll find at least two papers whose titles explicitly mention fuzzy logic. One is Two Applications of Fuzzy Logic authored by Drago Matko, et al, from the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, and the other is Soccer Robot Goalie Strategy Using Fuzzy Logic by Elmer A. Maravillas and Elmer P. Dadios from De La Salle University, Manila.

But what, you might ask, is spectacular about fuzzy logic that it is now a la mode in the academe and a moneymaker in technology? Let us first know something about its inventor, Lofti A. Zadeh. Born on 4 February 1921 in Baku, Azerbaijan, a region in NW Iran, he studied at Alborz College, a Presbyterian Missionary School in Teheran, Iran, and later obtained his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Teheran. He went to the United States in 1944 and got his masters degree from MIT in 1946 and his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Columbia University in 1949.

It was in 1965 while already a revered professor at the University of California, Berkeley, when he wrote his seminal paper on fuzzy logic, and from then on his influence on technology became a legend. He has a stunning array of prestigious awards and honorary degrees from around the world. While he is now officially retired, he is still very active and has already accumulated 2 million Frequent Flyer miles from traveling to conferences and speaking engagements throughout the world.

The main advantage of fuzzy logic is that it is a great extension of classical logic or Boolean logic which has only two values or states often expressed as true or false, yes or no, on or off, black or white, start or stop. But in the real world there are many situations where events are not just black or white but some shade of gray. …