John Hopfield

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
John Joseph Hopfield
Born (1933-07-15) July 15, 1933 (age 85)
ResidenceUnited States
Alma materSwarthmore College
Cornell University
Known forHopfield Network
Kinetic Proofreading
AwardsHarold Pender Award (2002)
Dirac Medal of the ICTP (2002)
Oliver Buckley Prize of the American Physical Society
Albert Einstein World Award of Science (2005)
Scientific career
FieldsPhysics, Molecular Biology, Neuroscience
InstitutionsBell Labs
Princeton University
University of California, Berkeley
California Institute of Technology
ThesisA Quantum-Mechanical Theory of the Contribution of Excitons to the Complex Dielectric Constant of Crystals (1958)
Doctoral advisorAlbert Overhauser
Doctoral studentsDavid J. C. MacKay
Terry Sejnowski
Bertrand Halperin
Steven Girvin
Erik Winfree
Sam Roweis

John Joseph Hopfield (born July 15, 1933) is an American scientist most widely known for his invention of an associative neural network in 1982. It is now more commonly known as the Hopfield Network.


Hopfield was born in 1933 to Polish physicist John Joseph Hopfield and his physicist wife Helen Hopfield. Helen was the older Hopfield's second wife. He is the sixth of Hopfield's children and has three children and six grandchildren of his own.

He received his A.B. from Swarthmore College in 1954, and a Ph.D in physics from Cornell University in 1958 (supervised by Albert Overhauser). He spent two years in the theory group at Bell Laboratories, and subsequently was a faculty member at University of California, Berkeley (physics), Princeton University (physics), California Institute of Technology (Chemistry and Biology) and again at Princeton, where he is the Howard A. Prior Professor of Molecular Biology, Emeritus. For 35 years, he also continued a strong connection with Bell Laboratories.

In 1986 he was a co-founder of the Computation and Neural Systems PhD program at Caltech.

His most influential papers have been "The Contribution of Excitons to the Complex Dielectric Constant of Crystals" (1958), describing the polariton; "Electron transfer between biological molecules by thermally activated tunneling" (1974), describing the quantum mechanics of long-range electron transfers; "Kinetic Proofreading: a New Mechanism for Reducing Errors in Biosynthetic Processes Requiring High Specificity" (1974); "Neural networks and physical systems with emergent collective computational abilities" (1982) (known as the Hopfield Network) and, with D. W. Tank, "Neural computation of decisions in optimization problems" (1985). His current research and recent papers are chiefly focused on the ways in which action potential timing and synchrony can be used in neurobiological computation.

Awards and Honours[edit]

He was awarded the Dirac Medal of the ICTP in 2002 for his interdisciplinary contributions to understanding biology as a physical process, including the proofreading process in biomolecular synthesis and a description of collective dynamics and computing with attractors in neural networks, and the Oliver Buckley Prize of the American Physical Society for work on the interactions between light and solids. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He received the Albert Einstein World Award of Science in 2005.[1] He was the President of the American Physical Society in 2006.[2]


His former PhD students include Sir David MacKay, Terry Sejnowski, Bertrand Halperin, Steven Girvin, Erik Winfree and José Onuchic.[3]


  1. ^ "Albert Einstein World Award of Science 2005". Archived from the original on October 23, 2013. Retrieved August 13, 2013.
  2. ^ John Hopfield, Array of Contemporary Physicists
  3. ^ John Joseph Hopfield at the Mathematics Genealogy Project

External links[edit]