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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Renaissance Man of the 20th Century, July 19, 2003
By 
A. Sura (Austin, TX United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Models of My Life (Paperback)
The late Herbert Simon was a veritable renaissance man. His autobiography, "Models of My Life," discusses the single thread that underlined all of his intellectual conquests in artificial intelligence, sociology, cognitive science, psychology and economics. This one thread, animated by philosophical positivism and ripe scientific thirst, was his deep obsession with modeling and researching decision-theoretic behavior.
It's interesting to note that even though decision theory (how intelligent agents percieve and act upon choices amid various modalities) serves as the impetus for Simons work, he uses "Models" instead of "Model" in the book's title. This is no accident. For you see, beautifully fitting of his memoir, this book delves into how Simon's one passion was his "heuristic" in choosing which of many paths he could have taken througout his life. The upshot: Simon's own life emulated the heuristic search (in AI) that he helped invent! Consequently, this lead him all over the globe, from Wisconsin to UChicago to Berkeley to Carnegie Mellon to China.
This book is also about the times of Simon: the positivistic turn in social sciences, the scientific fermet of the 1950's, the cultural tumult of the 60's, the death of behaviorism and the rise of cognitivism -- all along, peppered with intrigue of the politics of academia. Although the writing can get quite dry at times, his book is highly recommended.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Learn the Why and How of a Distinguished Life, May 15, 2002
This review is from: Models of My Life (Paperback)
Herbert Simon's research contributes to human knowledge in many different areas, including economics, artificial intelligence, cognitive psychology, and organizational behavior. In each of the mentioned areas, his contributions are ranked among the most important and influential that even a scientist who focuses solely in one area finds hard to achieve. The testimony is the top awards that the community in each discipline bestowed upon him--the Nobel prize is only one of which.
The secret of this interdisciplinary success is that he is, in his own word, a "monomaniac", studying only one thing--human decision process--for fifty years. The field of his own choosing is not bounded by usual academic disciplines, however, and he did study it from many different aspects, from the levels of individual cognition to organizational decisions, using tools as varied as mathematics, computer simulations, and human subjects.
This book detailed his own account of the various aspects of his life, personal and professional, in a sincere and direct prose. From the childhood that undoubtedly helped set the tone for his later accomplishments, the way he managed and nurtured new academic thoughts that later grown into full-fledged disciplines (artificial intelligence, cognitive science, and, less prominently, bounded rationality), to the philosophy of working and living including brief exposures to familial life, we can learn tremendously from hise xperience, decisions, and actions.
How could he achieve as much as he did? We can glean several lessons from his stories. He collaborated extensively. He learned a great deal from the outstanding individuals he respected. He had a love for truth and rigor in reasoning. An empiricist who firmly believed that any valid theory must be based on empirical facts, he did not hesitate to fight against widely held beliefs conflicting with facts. His work on bounded rationality which helped earn him the Nobel Prize is an outstanding case which his stubborn, and valid, arguments against mainstream theories brought a valuable alternative viewpoint to the world. Strong passion and the ability to break out of the mold and stand tall under storms are important characteristics exemplified by many past giants, including Galileo, Columbus, and Einstein.
Not just a normal autobiography, but the story of a distinguished life we all can learn from.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book, Great Man, June 24, 2001
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This review is from: Models of My Life (Paperback)
Herbert Simon is an amazing figure in the world of science. A Noble winner in economics, a well-known contributor in psychology, and an expert in organizational study. People who know him always wonder how can he be so successful in different fields. By reading this book, you are able to get the light of the stories behind his success.
As same as the papers he wrote for his research work, Simon's writings are always straightforward and intrigue you to think about the world we are living. When you read this book, it may change your thinking of this world. By reading his books, you would understand why simple human being will always have complex behavior.
Though passed in Feb., 2001, Herbert Simon is an unforgettable figure to our lives.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Twentieth-Century Polymath, May 21, 2005
By 
Thomas J. Hickey (River Forest, IL USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Models of My Life (Paperback)
This intellectual autobiography is not just a chronology of the particulars of a great intellectual life. It is a wonderful opportunity to obtain a coherent overview of the views and contributions of one of the twentieth century's great thinkers. Simon - political scientist with his Ph.D. from University of Chicago, founder of the new and emerging area of artificial intelligence, cognitive psychologist, Cargegie-Mellon faculty member, Nobel laureate for economics (1978), and contributing philosopher of science - was no dilitante. This book, which is written is a very accessible style, reveals the integrity and evolution of his thinking, which can be extracted only with relative difficulty from his large and diverse literary corpus. It is also an inspiring book for any person with an active intellectual life in science or philosophy.

Thomas J. Hickey, [...]
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent treatise on academic life, June 27, 2009
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This is an excellent book for those who are considering life in academia on up through junior faculty. It should be required reading in all doctoral programs. This book provides unique insights into academic life, teaching philosophies, sparking and executing research, and the thought processes of senior faculty.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Satisficing Animal in Our Bounded Rationality, July 11, 2007
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This review is from: Models of My Life (Paperback)
Satisficing as in searching for "good enough" actions rather than the optimal ones is one of the many contributions Herbert Simon is most famous for, in addition to being one of the parents of Artificial Intelligence. Whether the topic is management decision making, economics, traveling, teaching, or computer programs, this Renaissance Man had a life that many or most would envy.

Herbert Simon is a true example to exemplify the benefits of multi-discipline efforts as one subject does not always know the answers. If anyone is interested in building their own latticework of mental models then the life of Mr. Simon is one to emulate. As this is not your average biography, expect to be challenged as the reading may take you to subjects that you are unaware of or have been exposed to. However, this is what makes the experience worth the trip as my many notes and earmarks attest to.

As his life was about scientific discovery to quote, "I have sketched the theory of scientific discovery to which my study of these problems has led me. It is not a theory of global rationality but one of human limited computation in the face of complexity". Yes, we live in an evermore complex world and I am glade I have some of Mr. Simon's mental models to guide me through it.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Great Reference, January 5, 2007
If you are a graduate student of management, this is must for you. Simon is an icon in the field of decision-making. Much of his work has inspired contiuned research in the field of decision-making. An extraordinary man with extraordinary vision.
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Models of My Life
Models of My Life by Herbert A. Simon (Paperback - October 8, 1996)
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