McCulloch (right) and Pitts (left) in 1949

McCulloch (right) and Pitts (left) in 1949

Detail map of Endicott, New York, United States Overview map of Endicott, New York, United States

A: Endicott, New York, United States

McCulloch & Pitts Publish the First Mathematical Model of a Neural Network

1943
Walter Pitts (right) with Jerome Lettvin, co-author of the cognitive science paper "What the Frog

Walter Pitts (right) with Jerome Lettvin, co-author of the cognitive science paper "What the Frog's Eye Tells the Frog's Brain" (1959)

In 1943 American neurophysiologist and cybernetician of the University of Illinois at Chicago Warren McCulloch and self-taught logician and cognitive psychologist Walter Pitts published “A Logical Calculus of the ideas Imminent in Nervous Activity,” describing the “McCulloch - Pitts neuron, ”the first mathematical model of a neural network.

Building on ideas in Alan Turing’s “On Computable Numbers”, McCulloch and Pitts's paper provided a way to describe brain functions in abstract terms, and showed that simple elements connected in a neural network can have immense computational power. The paper received little attention until its ideas were applied by John von Neumann, Norbert Wiener, and others.

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