Saul Amarel (1928 – December 18, 2002) was professor of computer science at Rutgers University, and best known for his pioneering work in artificial intelligence (AI). He also had a distinguished career as a scientist, engineer, and teacher. He was a pioneering contributor to advanced computing and AI methodologies, both applied to scientific inquiry as well as engineering practice.

Biography

Amarel was born into a Thessaloniki, Greek Jewish family in 1928.[1] He served in the Greek Resistance movement during World War II as the Germans invaded Greece. He was forced to flee with his family to Gaza, which was then in British Palestine.

He graduated from Technion – Israel Institute of Technology in 1948 with a bachelor's degree in engineering and worked for the Israeli Ministry of Defense before heading to the United States. There he obtained his master's degree in 1953 and then a doctorate in Electrical Engineering in 1955 from Columbia University in New York.

From 1958 to 1969, he led the Computer Theory Research Group at RCA Sarnoff Labs.

In 1969, he founded the Department of Computer Science at Livingston College of Rutgers University, in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

From 1985 to 1988, he served as Director of the Information Sciences and Technology Office for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

In 1988, he returned to Rutgers and was appointed the Alan M. Turing Professor of Computer Science, pioneering research in the field of AI.

Amarel received the Allen Newell Award from the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) for his wide-ranging contributions to Artificial Intelligence, especially in advancing our understanding of the role of representation in problem solving, and of the theory and practice of computational planning.[2] He was elected a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) in 1994.

He lived in Princeton, New Jersey, where he died in 2002 from a heart attack following a six-year battle with cancer.[3] This occurred just as the celebration of his retirement from Rutgers University, after more than 40 years of leadership in computer science nationally and internationally, was under preparation for December 20, 2002.