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The History of AI: Professor Cheryl Misak spoke about Frank Ramsey

The first event of the AIWS House, the History of AI, is the talk by University Professor of University of Toronto Cheryl Misak.

Professor Judea Pearl, Chancellor’s Professor of UCLA, Turing Award, Member of the History of AI Board, advised and raised questions to discuss with Professor Cheryl Misak.

Professor Nazli Choucri, MIT, Member of the History of AI Board, gave opening remarks and conclusion. Ms. Ta Bich Loan, Chief of Vietnam National Television 3 (VTV3), moderated the event.

Here are some interesting notes from Cheryl’s talk about Frank Ramsey:

Undergraduate thesis: ‘The Foundations of Mathematics

Tried to repair a problem in Russell and Whitehead’s Principia Mathematica and improve on the theory of types. It didn’t win the Smith’s Prize.

He became a Superstar in 4 disciplines, at least:

  1. Pure Mathematics
  2. Economics
  3. Subjective Probability/Expected Utility Theory
  4. Philosophy

Pure Mathematics:

Ramsey Theory: the conditions under which order must occur


Published two papers in Keynes’s Economic Journal

‘A Mathematical Theory of Saving’

‘A Contribution to the Theory of Taxation’

Influence on Artificial Intelligence:

Subjective Probability/Expected Utility Theory

1926, a few years before de Finetti, Ramsey figured out how to measure partial belief; put forward a theory of probability as subjective degree of belief; and showed that rationality could be understood as expected utility.

These results play a prominent role in contemporary economics and Bayesian statistics, as well as much of psychology, artificial intelligence, etc.


Many things are named for him: Ramsey Sentences, the Ramsey Test for Conditionals, and on and on.

The Ramsey Effect: discovering that your exciting and apparently original philosophical discovery has been already presented, and presented more elegantly, by Frank Ramsey when he was 26 years old.

The video of the talk can be found here.

The presentation can be found here.