Leon N. Cooper The Nobel Prize in Physics 1972


Research on Theory and Computation at Brown covers many departments, many faculty members and many approaches. A central theme is the study of learning on various levels. The major focus in the Institute for Neural Systems has been the "B-C-M" model for synaptic plasticity, which is the subject of ongoing theoretical studies and experiments on both the molecular and system level. Learning models based on neural nets are studied by several groups and language learning specifically is studied in the Cognitive and Linguistic Sciences (CLS) Department. Models of the compositional structure of thinking are pursued in Applied Mathematics, as well as the CLS and Neuroscience Departments. Much of the research is concentrated on the three major areas of vision, motor skills and language. In all of these areas, computational theories are compared with both biological and psychophysical/psycholinguistic experiments. There is a strong focus on theoretical studies based on stochastic modeling of visual and language abilities in Applied Mathematics, CLS and Computer Science. Another focus is the study of shape: this is an essential component both of object recognition algorithms in computer vision and of object models in computer graphics and is studied in Engineering and Computer Science.

Dr. Leon N CooperInstitute for Brain and Neural Systems, Brown University

Dr. Leon N Cooper is the Thomas J. Watson Senior Professor of Science at Brown University. He specializes in theoretical physics, including low-temperature physics, and has also done theoretical work in neuroscience as well as in neural networks. Dr. Cooper is the director of the Brown University Institute for Brain and Neural Systems, which consists of groups of scientists applying various disciplines to the study of the brain. He is also a professor in the departments of Physics and Neuroscience at Brown University. Dr. Cooper was awarded the Comstock Prize by the National Academy of Sciences in 1968, the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1972, the Descartes Medal by the Academie de Paris in 1977, and the College de France Medal in 2000. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for Advancement of Science, Phi Beta Kappa, and Sigma Xi. He is a member of the American Philosophical Society, the National Academy of Sciences, and the Society for Neuroscience. Members of the Institute for Brain and Neural Systems include faculty from Brown University as well as various other Universities and Institutes in the United States and abroad. Members of the Institute conduct research in brain function and neural systems that draws on biology, psychology, mathematics, engineering, physics, linguistics, and computer science. Their overall goal is a deeper understanding of the basic processes by which the central nervous system learns and organizes itself and acquires the capacity for mental acts.

The Institute is especially interested in the interaction between theoretical ideas and experimental results. Current areas of research include theories of cortical plasticity, cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying learning and memory storage, the analysis and application of artificial neural networks, and signal processing.

Leon Cooper was born in 1930 in New York where he attended Columbia University (A.B. 1951; A.M. 1953; Ph.D. 1954). He became a member of the Institute for Advanced Study (1954-55) after which he was a research associate of Illinois (1955-57) and later an assistant professor at the Ohio State University (1957-58). Professor Cooper joined Brown University in 1958 where he became Henry Ledyard Goddard University Professor (1966-74) and where he is presently the Thomas J. Watson, Sr. Professor of Science (1974-).

Professor Cooper is Director of Brown University's Center for Neural Science. This Center was founded in 1973 to study animal nervous systems and the human brain. Professor Cooper served as the first director with an interdisciplinary staff drawn from the Departments of Applied Mathematics, Biomedical Sciences, Linguistics and Physics. Today, Cooper, with members of the Brown Faculty, postdoctoral fellows and graduate students with interests in the neural and cognitive sciences, is working towards an understanding of memory and other brain functions, and thus formulating a scientific model of how the human mind works.

Professor Cooper has received many forms of recognition for his work in 1972, he received the Nobel Prize in Physics (with J. Bardeen and J.R. Schrieffer) for his studies on the theory of superconductivity completed while still in his 20s. In 1968, he was awarded the Comstock Prize (with J.R. Schrieffer) of the National Academy of Sciences. The Award of Excellence, Graduate Faculties Alumni of Columbia University and Descartes Medal, Academie de Paris, Universit? Rene Descartes were conferred on Professor Cooper in the mid 1970s. In 1985, Professor Cooper received the John Jay Award of Columbia College. He holds seven honorary doctorates.

Professor Cooper has been an NSF Postdoctoral Fellow, 1954-55, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Research Fellow, 1959-66 and John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellow, 1965-66. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society and American Academy of Arts and Sciences; Sponsor, Federation of American Scientists; member of American Philosophical Society, National Academy of Sciences, Society of Neuroscience, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Phi Beta Kappa, and Sigma Xi. Professor Cooper is also on the Governing Board and Executive Committee of the International Neural Network Society and a member of the Defense Science Board.

Professor Cooper is Co-founder and Co-chairman of Nestor, Inc., an industry leader in applying neural-network systems to commercial and military applications. Nestor's adaptive pattern-recognition and risk-assessment systems simulated in small conventional computers learn by example to accurately classify complex patterns such as targets in sonar, radar or imaging systems, to emulate human decisions in such applications as mortgage origination and to assess risks.

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