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John Joseph Hopfield (born July 15, 1933) is an American scientist most widely known for his invention of an associative neural network in 1982. It is now more commonly known as the Hopfield Network.

John Joseph Hopfield
Born (1933-07-15) July 15, 1933 (age 84)
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Residence United States
Nationality American
Alma mater Swarthmore College
Cornell University
Known for Hopfield Network
Kinetic Proofreading
Awards Harold Pender Award (2002)
Dirac Medal of the ICTP (2002)
Oliver Buckley Prize of the American Physical Society
Albert Einstein World Award of Science (2005)
Scientific career
Fields Physics, Molecular Biology, Neuroscience
Institutions Bell Labs
Princeton University
University of California, Berkeley
California Institute of Technology
Thesis A Quantum-Mechanical Theory of the Contribution of Excitons to the Complex Dielectric Constant of Crystals (1958)
Doctoral advisor Albert Overhauser
Doctoral students David J. C. MacKay
Terry Sejnowski
Bertrand Halperin
Steven Girvin
Erik Winfree

John Hopfield received his A.B. from Swarthmore College in 1954, and a Ph.D in physics from Cornell University in 1958 (supervised by Albert Overhauser). He spent two years in the theory group at Bell Laboratories, and subsequently was a faculty member at University of California, Berkeley (physics), Princeton University (physics), California Institute of Technology (Chemistry and Biology) and again at Princeton, where he is the Howard A. Prior Professor of Molecular Biology, Emeritus. For 35 years, he also continued a strong connection with Bell Laboratories.

In 1986 he was a co-founder of the Computation and Neural Systems PhD program at Caltech.

He was awarded the Dirac Medal of the ICTP in 2002 for his interdisciplinary contributions to understanding biology as a physical process, including the proofreading process in biomolecular synthesis and a description of collective dynamics and computing with attractors in neural networks, and the Oliver Buckley Prize of the American Physical Society for work on the interactions between light and solids. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He received the Albert Einstein World Award of Science in 2005.[1] He was the President of the American Physical Society in 2006.[2]

His most influential papers have been "The Contribution of Excitons to the Complex Dielectric Constant of Crystals" (1958), describing the polariton; “Electron transfer between biological molecules by thermally activated tunneling” (1974), describing the quantum mechanics of long-range electron transfers; "Kinetic Proofreading: a New Mechanism for Reducing Errors in Biosynthetic Processes Requiring High Specificity" (1974); "Neural networks and physical systems with emergent collective computational abilities" (1982) (known as the Hopfield Network) and, with D. W. Tank, “Neural computation of decisions in optimization problems” (1985). His current research and recent papers are chiefly focused on the ways in which action potential timing and synchrony can be used in neurobiological computation.

His former PhD students include Sir David MacKay, Terry Sejnowski, Bertrand Halperin, Steven Girvin, Erik Winfree and José Onuchic.[3]

Hopfield was born in 1933 to Polish physicist John Joseph Hopfield and his physicist wife Helen Hopfield. Helen was the older Hopfield's second wife. He is the sixth of Hopfield's children and has three children and six grandchildren of his own.


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