Judea Pearl, chancellor’s professor of computer science at the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering, has received the 2021 BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in the information and communication technologies category “for laying the foundations of modern artificial intelligence, so computer systems can process uncertainty and relate causes to effects.”

The Spain-based awards were established in 2008 to recognize fundamental contributions in a broad array of areas of scientific knowledge, technology, humanities and artistic creation. There are eight awards categories and each award includes a prize of €400,000 (about $457,000), commemorative artwork and a diploma. The foundation works in conjunction with the Spanish National Research Council in administering the awards.

Pearl’s research has paved the way for AI tech, such as driverless cars and voice recognition software. Through his invention of Bayesian networks, which enables computers to reason with uncertainty, Pearl became a giant in the field of artificial intelligence. He is also credited with developing a calculus of causation that allows empirical scientists to quantify and discover cause-and-effect relationships from statistical data and auxiliary knowledge.

Pearl is the second UCLA computer science faculty member to receive the BBVA Frontiers of Knowledge Award. Distinguished professor of computer science Leonard Kleinrock received the award in 2014 for his contributions to the development of the internet.

Read the news release about Pearl’s award.