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Friday, August 1, 2008

Louis HodesScientist

Louis Hodes, 74, a mathematician and scientist who conducted groundbreaking work in artificial intelligence, computer programming language and cancer research, died June 30 of pulmonary failure at Suburban Hospital. He lived in Rockville.

Dr. Hodes was at the forefront of computer-related research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the National Institutes of Health.

While working toward his doctorate in mathematic logic at MIT from 1957 to 1962, he studied under two founders of theoretical computer science and artificial intelligence, Marvin Minsky and John McCarthy.

Dr. Hodes was a member of the artificial intelligence group of the MIT Research Laboratory of Electronics and did pioneering work in the development of the computer programming language LISP, which was used in artificial intelligence research.

He also is credited with being one of the first people to recognize that logic could be used as a programming language.

In 1966, Dr. Hodes joined NIH and worked in the artificial intelligence laboratory before moving to the National Cancer Institute. There he worked on computer tools for biomedical applications, including developing a software for online analysis of biomedical images.

Prominent among his contributions to cancer research was the computer system he designed that compared chemicals compounds. His work helped the NCI remove potential anti-tumor chemicals that were being tested on animals, resulting in fewer animals being used in scientific testing.

"We're saving twice as many animals as we used to," Dr. Hodes said in a 1982 article in the Globe and Mail of Toronto.

He was born in New York City and graduated summa cum laude with a degree in electrical engineering from what was then the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn. He worked full time at the post office to put himself through college.

His PhD thesis at MIT was titled, "Hyperarithmetical Real Numbers and Hyperarithmetical Analysis," and noted mathematician Hartley Rogers Jr. was his adviser.

All his life, Dr. Hodes had peripheral neuropathy, a nerve condition that made walking and other activities difficult.

He began painting pastel portraits 10 years ago, had two one-man shows in Rockville and won prizes for his paintings. He belonged to the Rockville Art League, Strathmore Artists and the Senior Artists Alliance.

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