Patrick Suppes

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Patrick Suppes
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Tulsa, Oklahoma>Tulsa, Oklahoma2014173|17}}Stanford, California>Stanford, California|alma_mater = University of OklahomaUniversity of ChicagoUniversity of TulsaAnalytic philosophy>AnalyticScientific structuralismPhilosophy of scienceFoundations of quantum mechanicsFoundations of neuroscienceFoundations of probability and measurementLearning theory (education)>Theories of learningAristotle{{·}}David Hume>Hume{{·}}Ernest Nagel{{·}}Alfred Tarski{{·}}William James>James|influenced = Wolfgang Balzer{{·}}Joseph D. Sneed{{·}}Carlos Ulises Moulines{{·}}Elizabeth Loftus{{·}}John L. PollockStructuralism (philosophy of science)>Theory structures as set-theoretic predicatesSemantic view of theories|awards = National Medal of Science (1990)}}Patrick Colonel Suppes ({{IPAc-en|ˈ|s|ʊ|p|ɪ|s}}; March 17, 1922 – November 17, 2014) was an American philosopher who made significant contributions to philosophy of science, the theory of measurement, the foundations of quantum mechanics, decision theory, psychology and educational technology. He was the Lucie Stern Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at Stanford University and until January 2010 was the Director of the Education Program for Gifted Youth also at Stanford.

Early life and career

Suppes was born on March 17, 1922, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He grew up as an only child, later with a half brother George who was born in 1943 after Patrick had entered the army. His grandfather, C.E. Suppes, had moved to Oklahoma from Ohio. Suppes' father and grandfather were independent oil men. His mother died when he was a young boy. He was raised by his stepmother, who married his father before he was six years old. His parents did not have much formal education.Cf. Suppes autobiographySuppes began college at the University of Oklahoma in 1939, but transferred to the University of Chicago in his second year, citing boredom with intellectual life in Oklahoma as his primary motivation. In his third year, at the insistence of his family, Suppes attended the University of Tulsa, majoring in physics, before entering the Army Reserves in 1942. In 1943 he returned to the University of Chicago and graduated with a B.S. in meteorology, and was stationed shortly thereafter at the Solomon Islands to serve during World War II.Suppes was discharged from the Army Air Force in 1946. In January 1947 he entered Columbia University as a graduate student in philosophy as a student of Ernest Nagel and received a PhD in 1950. In 1952 he went to Stanford University, and from 1959 to 1992 he was the director of the Institute for Mathematical Studies in the Social Sciences (IMSSS). He would subsequently become the Lucie Stern Professor of Philosophy, Emeritus, at Stanford.


Computer-aided learning

In the 1960s Suppes and Richard C. Atkinson (the future president of the University of California) conducted experiments in using computers to teach math and reading to school children in the Palo Alto areaweblink Stanford's Education Program for Gifted Youth and Computer Curriculum Corporation (CCC, now named Pearson Education Technologies) are indirect descendants of those early experiments.Kulik, James A., "School Mathematics and Science Programs Benefit From Instructional Technology", NSF Info Brief, NSF 03-301, November 2002. At Stanford, Suppes was instrumental in encouraging the development of high-technology companies that were springing up in the field of educational software up into the 1990s, (such as Bien Logic).One computer used in Suppes and Atkinson's Computer-assisted Instruction (CAI) experiments was the specialized IBM 1500 Instructional System. Seeded by a research grant in 1964 from the U.S. Department of Education to the Institute for Mathematical Studies in the Social Sciences at Stanford University, the IBM 1500 CAI system was initially prototyped at the Brentwood Elementary School (Ravenswood City School District) in East Palo Alto, California by Suppes. The students first used the system in 1966.Suppes, Patrick,"Computer-assisted Instruction at Stanford", Technical Report No.174, May 19, 1971, Psychology and Education series, Institute for Mathematical Studies in the Social Sciences, Stanford UniversityHunka, Stephen; Buck, George (1996) "The Rise and Fall of CAI at the University of Alberta's Faculty of Education" {{webarchive|url= |date=2011-06-08 }}. Canadian Journal of Educational Communication, 21(2), 153–170. (also: full journal issue)Suppes' Dial-a-Drill program was a touchtone phone interface for CAI. Ten schools around Manhattan were involved in the program which delivered three lessons per week by telephone.NEWS, Learning by phone, March 8, 1969, New York Amsterdam News, 9, Dial-a-Drill adjusted the routine for students who answered two questions incorrectly.BOOK, The management of education: A systematic design for educational revolution, Umans, S, Doubleday, 1970, Garden City, N.Y, The system went online in March 1969. Touchtone telephones were installed in the homes of children participating in the program. Field workers educated parents on the benefits of the program and collected feedback.BOOK, Final Report: An Evaluation of the Dial-A-Drill Program, Beech, R. P, McClelland, S. D, Horowitz, G. R, Forlano, G, Center for Field Research and School, 1970, New York University,

Decision theory

During the 1950s and 1960s Suppes collaborated with Donald Davidson on decision theory, at Stanford. Their initial work followed lines of thinking which had been anticipated in 1926 by Frank P. Ramsey, and involved experimental testing of their theories, culminating in the 1957 monograph (Decision Making: An Experimental Approach). Such commentators as Kirk Ludwig trace the origins of Davidson's theory of radical interpretation to his formative work with Suppesweblink

Awards and honors

  • In 1965 he was elected as a member of the National Academy of Sciences for his work on mathematical psychology.
  • On November 13, 1990, President George H. W. Bush awarded Suppes with the prestigious President's National Medal of Science for work in Behavioral and Social Science.National Medal of Science page ({{webarchive |url= |date=March 11, 2007 }}) Citation: "For his broad efforts to deepen the theoretical and empirical understanding of four major areas: the measurement of subjective probability and utility in uncertain situations; the development and testing of general learning theory; the semantics and syntax of natural language; and the use of interactive computer programs for instruction."
  • In 1994 he was inducted as a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery. He is the laureate of the 2003 Lakatos Award for his contributions to the philosophy of science.
  • He was a member of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters.WEB,weblink Gruppe 3: Idéfag, Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, Norwegian, 16 January 2011,
  • In 2012, he was given the first ever Industry Lifetime Achievement AwardWEB,weblink SIIA Honors Education Industry Veterans with Prestigious Awards, SIIA, English, 7 September 2016,


  • BOOK, Suppes, Patrick, Arrow, Kenneth J., Karlin, Samuel, Kenneth Arrow, Samuel Karlin, Mathematical models in the social sciences, 1959: Proceedings of the first Stanford symposium, Stanford University Press, Stanford, California, 1960, 9780804700214,

Including: Suppes, Patrick (1960), Stimulus-sampling theory for a continuum of response, pp. 348–363.
  • Suppes, Patrick (1972) (1960). Axiomatic Set Theory. Dover. Spanish translation by H. A. Castillo, Teoria Axiomatica de Conjuntos.
  • Suppes, Patrick (1984). Probabilistic Metaphysics, Blackwell Pub; Reprint edition (October 1986)
  • Humphreys, P., ed. (1994). Patrick Suppes: Scientific Philosopher, Synthese Library (Springer-Verlag).
    • Vol. 1: Probability and Probabilistic Causality.
    • Vol. 2: Philosophy of Physics, Theory Structure and Measurement, and Action Theory.
  • Suppes, Patrick (1999) (1957). Introduction to Logic. Dover. Spanish translation by G. A. Carrasco, Introduccion a la logica simbolica. Chinese translation by Fu-Tseng Liu.
  • Suppes, Patrick (2002). Representation and Invariance of Scientific Structures. CSLI (distributed by the University of Chicago Press).
  • Suppes, Patrick; Hill, Shirley (2002) (1964). A First Course in Mathematical Logic. Dover. Spanish translation.
  • Suppes, Patrick; Luce, R. Duncan; Krantz, David; Tversky, Amos (2007) (1972). Foundations of Measurement, Vols. 1–3. Dover.

See also



External links

{{Winners of the National Medal of Science|behav-social}}{{E. L. Thorndike Award |state=autocollapse}}{{Authority control}}

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