Books by Bart Kosko

Bart Kosko, a professor of electrical engineering at USC, holds degrees in law, philosophy, economics, mathematics, and engineering, and is the author of Fuzzy Thinking, Heaven in a Chip, Nanotime, and several textbooks. His writings appear in the Los Ang


NOISE by Bart Kosko
NONFICTION
Released: Aug. 21, 2006

"Heady reading from a polymath popularizer, but exhilarating nonetheless."
What's bad and—surprise—what's good about noise, explicated by fuzzy-logic/neural-network doyen Kosko (Fuzzy Thinking, 1993; The Fuzzy Future, 1999). Read full book review >
NON-FICTION
Released: Sept. 1, 1999

Flights of fuzzy fancy, and fantasy, from an expert in the field (Fuzzy Thinking, 1993)—but hardly a guide for the perplexed. In fuzzy logic things are not black and white (true or not true, in binary fashion) but shades of gray (partly true, partly not true). In turn, the concept has spawned a form of systems theory, a branch of mathematics, and applications in design and manufacturing. Kosko (Electrical Engineering/USC), a chief proponent of fuzzy thinking, alludes to these applications (the new Beetle has a fuzzy automatic transmission; fuzzy systems are used to control industrial and manufacturing processes), but his aims are loftier. Thus the book's three main sections describe how fuzzy thinking can effect dramatic changes in politics, science, and ultimately human biology. Assumptions abound. For example, Kosko's politics/economics seems grounded in Henry George and the English philosophers from Hume to Mill. He dreams of a fuzzy tax form giving taxpayers the right to parcel at least half their federal taxes to nine or ten categories, and he proposes bounties to achieve breakthroughs in science. He goes on to speculate on the politics of genomes (who owns you), on environmental issues (who owns the sea) and war, in which fuzzy technology of smart weapons is making it easier to attack than to defend. There's lots of talk of rules and explosions of rules and feedback and AI and intelligent systems, but for the general reader the result is fuzzy in the old-fashioned sense. Finally, Kosko fantasizes that immortality can be gained by a gradual (fuzzy) transformation of thee or me through successive brain surgeries that, piece by piece, replace the brain's "meat" with chips. Of course, these work ever faster, better, and more creatively than old-fashioned neurons and synapses. That kind of thinking might launch a Kosko cult. For the rest, the book succeeds in capturing the flavor of fuzziness but not enough to convince us it's time to throw the binary baby out with the bathwater. (Author tour) Read full book review >
NANOTIME by Bart Kosko
Released: Nov. 1, 1997

Debut novel from the guru of fuzzy logic (the nonfiction Fuzzy Thinking, 1993). By 2030 the world's oil is running out, leading to conflict in the Middle East. Backed by Israel, John Grant has invented a ``smart'' molecule that splits water into hydrogen fuel and oxygen, and has a pilot plant up and running at Eilat. Then Sufi mystic, genius mathematician, and terrorist Hamid Tabriz destroys Eilat before grabbing Denise Cheng, John's lover and financial backer, in order to replace her brain with a super- microchip controlled by Tabriz. John is forced to kill Denise, though the unnamed US agencies that are keeping tabs on him seem curiously reluctant to get involved in the action. Later, the Israelis implant a chip in John's brain, so now his mind works at nanospeeds, while the Israelis control him via the chip—and use him as bait to tempt Tabriz out of hiding. But John's secret ally, Jism, an artificial intelligence he's created using the template of Victorian genius John Stuart Mill, can help him handle his new superfast intellect, evade the Israeli mindblocks, and zap Tabriz. Meanwhile, the Middle East conflict rapidly accelerates towards WW III. A brash, confused, and, well, fuzzy yarn that, with its relentlessly amoral inhabitants and doings, leaves an unpleasant aftertaste. Read full book review >
NON-FICTION
Released: June 15, 1993

Aristotle is out and Buddha is in; the law of the excluded middle (either A or not-A) is repealed, and A and not-A together replaces it. No more black and white, right and wrong, true or false. In their place come shades of gray, more or less, maybe so, maybe not. Why? Because the new world of fuzzy logic more closely mirrors reality, has a rigor all its own, and is paying off in the marketplace. Kosko (Electrical Engineering/USC) has been called the ``St. Paul'' of fuzziness, and for good reason: Not only has he contributed major theories and proofs in the development of fuzzy logic, but he's also been a major proselytizer and gadfly, organizing conferences and frequently going on the road (which usually leads to Japan). He's also young...which may account for the passion and posturing that color the text. Indeed, until Kosko gets down to chapter and verse on what FL is and how it works, reader will be put off by the constant put-down of Western logic and philosophy and opposing schools of computer science. But when Kosko is good, he's very, very good. One comes away from his text with a real understanding of the concepts of fuzzy sets, rules, and systems, and of how they're applied to make ``smart'' machines, devices, trains, and planes. He's also good in extending these ideas to neural nets in hypothesizing how brains change, learn, get smart. But toward the end, he plunges big time into metaphysical questions about life, death, cosmology, God (seen as the math- maker). Curious about the future, Kosko says that he'll opt for freezing at death. Still, for all the self-indulgence, probably the best primer around for learning what FL is all about, certainly cuts above Daniel McNeill and Paul Freiberger's Fuzzy Logic (p. 45). Read full book review >