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Models of My Life (MIT Press) Paperback – October 8, 1996

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Simon observes himself as an object for scientific inquiry in this refreshingly innovative autobiography. Principal architect of the field of artificial intelligence, this polymath has applied the metaphor of a decision-making maze to human cognition, management science, economics and politics--winning a Nobel Prize in 1978. Instead of a dry, rationalist exercise, this traipse through the branching paths of his personal labyrinth turns out to be a quirky, soul-baring self-analysis. In early chapters on his introspective Milwaukee childhood, he refers to himself in the third person as "the boy." He is equally objective in discussing his 1930s flirtation with political radicalism, his half-century-long marriage and the politics of scientific infighting. This is a disarming self-portrait by a gifted writer who believes that the real self is an illusion and that one's life need not have a unifying thread. Photos.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Simon is a veritable Renaissance man: considered the father of artificial intelligence, he also contributed to the theory of organizational behavior and was the first social scientist to be admitted to the National Academy of Science. In this extensive and entertaining autobiography, he writes smoothly and provocatively on a range of topics from his early youth to his years at UC Berkeley, Illinois, and, finally Carnegie Mellon. He is surprisingly candid in discussing how he "prepared" for his Nobel prize in economics, and his descriptions of political and personal in-fighting in academe document an aspect often not shown. Simon has participated in some of the most wide-ranging intellectual developments of this century, and his autobiography surely will interest many readers.
- Hilary D. Burton, Lawrence Livermore National Lab., Livermore, Cal.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: MIT Press
  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press; First Edition edition (October 8, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 026269185X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262691857
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #737,784 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A. Sura on July 19, 2003
Format: 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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Format: 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.
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Format: 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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By Oscar on September 24, 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book came to me as an incredible eye opener. I love reading biographies that show how people face tough, uncertain times; how they dealt with it, what they thought as they were experiencing adversity.

Sometimes it feels like everyone is following a trend. We are continously searching for our path. It is a great example of how learning and having your own criteria is the most valuable asset in life. It is comforting to read about someone that encourages learning different fields turning us into thoughtful, conscious and meaningful human beings.

We all know about this man's achievements, but it is truly amazing to read on detail how he came to be this multidisciplined knowledable man. How this led to AI given his ability to correlate and integrate different interests that are so valuable to our every day life.

The book is easy to read for people that are curious. It's a great mix of history, innovation, politics and learning.

I can only say this was a remarkable man that left a legacy, knowledge, technology and set the stage for modern life.
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Format: 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. For more about Simon see BOOK VIII in Twentieth-Century Philosophy of Science: A History

Thomas J. Hickey
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