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George Klir

Systems science
20th century Name: George J. Klir Birth: 6 September1932
Prague, CzechoslovakiaSchool/tradition: Czechoslovak Academy of SciencesMain interests: Computer science, Systems scienceNotable ideas: Fuzzy logic, General systems theory, Generalized Information Theory, Interval computationsInfluenced: Richard Sternberg

George Jiri Klir (born 1932 Prague, Czechoslovakia) is a Czech-American computer scientist and professor of systems sciences at the Center for Intelligent Systems at the State University of New York at Binghamton, New York.



George Klir was born in 1932 in Prague, Czechoslovakia. In 1957 he received a M.S. degree in Electrical engineering at the Czech Technical University in Prague. In the early 1960s he taught at the Institute of Computer Research in Prague. In 1964 he received a doctorate in Computer science from the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences.

In the 1960s Klir went to Iraq to teach at the Baghdad University for two years. At the end he managed to immigrate to the U.S.[1]. He started teaching computer science at UCLA and at the Fairleigh Dickinson University. In 1969 he came to State University of New York at Binghamton, now called Binghamton University, where he later became here professor of Systems science. One year 19821983 he stayed as a fellow in Dutch Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences" (NIAS), where he completed the manuscript of his book Architecture of Systems Problem Solving. In 2007 he is retiring after 37 years at the University.[1] On of his doctoral students was Richard Sternberg[2]

Since 1974 Klir is editor of the International Journal of General Systems, and the International Book Series on Systems Science and Systems Engineering since 1985. From 1980 to 1984 George Klir was the first president of the International Federation for Systems Research (IFSR). In the year 19811982 he was is also president of Society for General Systems Research, now International Society for the Systems Sciences. He was further president of the North American Fuzzy Information Processing Society from 1988 to 1991 and the International Fuzzy Systems Association (IFSA) from 1993 to 1995.

Klir received numerous awards and honors, including 5 honorary doctoral degrees, the Gold Medal of Bernard Bolzano, Lotfi A. Zadeh Best Paper Award, the Kaufmann's Gold Medal, SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Research and IFSA Award for Outstanding Achievement.[3] In 2007 he has been awarded the Fuzzy Systems Pioneer Award of the IEEE Computational Intelligence Society (CIS).


George Klir is known for path-breaking research over almost four decades. His earlier work was in the areas of systems modeling and simulation, logic design, computer architecture, and discrete mathematics. More current research since the 1990s include the areas of intelligent systems, generalized information theory, fuzzy set theory and fuzzy logic, theory of generalized measures, and soft computing.

General systems theory

Klir's research in general systems theory formed one of the foundations of systems science as an independent discipline and systems thinking as a process necessary across diverse domains — from biological to manufacturing. This is why he is called “the father of systems science” by many.[4]

Systems science, according to Klir, is the study of knowledge structures and is a bridge between natural language and mathematics. As with applied mathematics, systems science is not confined to one field.[1] Klir started thinking about this when he was still studying electrical engineering. He noted that sophisticated methods for analyzing electrical circuits led to a new mathematical theory. He began to realize that there were profound similarities between phenomena investigated by diverse disciplines of science or engineering that allow us to transfer knowledge from one discipline to another. The boundaries between disciplines started to lose some of their significance in my mind.[1]

In the early 1960s Klir was teaching about computers in a wide range of audiences, which led him to work with biologists, physicians, economists, linguists, psychologists and even musicologists.[1] These collaborations strengthened his belief that “systems and problems were not completely different from one discipline to another. According to Klir "Each system shares fundamental concepts such as information, control, organization, structure, invariance and change, learning and pattern recognition".[1]

Founding of the IFSR

In 1980 the International Federation for Systems Research was founded to interlink groups of system thinkers around the world and to try to find answers to some of the pressing problems of the world. The key persons beside George J. Klir were Robert Trappl and Gerard de Zeeuw, and they became the first officers of the IFSR.[5]

Fuzzy logic

Klir's first contribution to the field of fuzzy logic came from his work with the geologist Robert Demicco. Together they applied fuzzy theory to problems in Earth science, which resulted in the book Fuzzy Logic in Geology. Klir later wrote a history of fuzzy logic. Lotfi Zadeh, the father of fuzzy logic was ridiculed when Zadeh introduced his theories. "It is a wonderful example of a grand paradigm shift in mathematics that affects everything," he said.[1]

Interval computations

Klir contribution to generalized theories of uncertainty, combine fuzzy, probabilistic, intervals, and other types of uncertainty, to the design and analysis of different measures of uncertainty, and in many other areas. Klir sees interval computations is an important tool for fuzzy research. He has been advocating the need to combine interval computations and corresponding fuzzy computations with constraints. He himself contributed to the development of the corresponding constraint fuzzy arithmetic and fuzzy arithmetic with requisite constraints.[6]

Generalized Information Theory

The term "Generalized Information Theory" (GIT) was introduced by George Klir in the early 1990s in his so called article in the Fuzzy Sets and Systems journal. This concept was meant as a research program whose objective was to develop a broader treatment of uncertainty-based information, not restricted to the classical notions of uncertainty.[7] The basic tenet of GIT is that uncertainty can be formalized in many different ways, each based on some specific assumptions. To develop a fully operational theory for some conceived type of uncertainty, we need to address issues at four levels:[8]

  • LEVEL 1 – we need to find an appropriate mathematical representation of the conceived type of uncertainty
  • LEVEL 2 – we need to develop a calculus by which this type of uncertainty can be properly manipulated
  • LEVEL 3 – we need to find a meaningful way of measuring the amount of relevant uncertainty in any situation formalizable in the theory
  • LEVEL 4 – we need to develop methodological aspects of the theory

This Generalizes Information Theory is according to Klir, an outgrowth of two classical uncertainty theories. The older one, which is also simpler and more fundamental, is based on the notion of possibility. The newer one, which has been considerably more visible, is based on the notion of probability.


He is the author of some 16 books, over three hundred articles, and he also edited 10 books:


  • 1967, Cybernetic Modelling, Iliffe, London.
  • 1969, An Approach to General Systems Theory, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York.
  • 1972, Trends in General Systems Theory, (ed.) 462 pp.
  • 1979, Methodology in Systems Modelling and Simulation, with B. P. Zeigler, M. S. Elzas, and T. I. Oren (ed.), North-Holland, Amsterdam.
  • 1978, Applied General Systems Research, (ed.), Plenum Press, New York.
  • 1985, Architecture of Systems Problem Solving, with D. Elias, Plenum Press, New York, 354 pp.
  • 1988, Fuzzy Sets, Uncertainty and Information, with T. Folger, Prentice Hall.
  • 1991, Facets of Systems Science, Plenum Press, New York, 748 pp.
  • 1992, Fuzzy Measure Theory, with Zhenyuan Wang, Plenum Press, New York, 1991.
  • 1995, Fuzzy Sets and Fuzzy Logic: Theory and Applications, with Bo Yuan, Prentice Hall, 592 pp.
  • 1996, Fuzzy Sets, Fuzzy Logic, and Fuzzy Systems, with Lotfi Asker Zadeh (author) & Bo Yuan (ed.), Selected Papers, 840 pp.
  • 1997, Fuzzy Set Theory: Foundations and Applications, with U. St. Clair and B. Yuan, Prentice Hall, 257 pp.
  • 1998, Uncertainty-Based Information: Elements of Generalized Information Theory, with M. Wierman, Springer Verlag, Heidelberg.
  • 2000, Fuzzy Sets: An Overview of Fundamentals and Personal Views, Beijing Normal University Press, Beijing.
  • 2005, Uncertainty and Information: Foundations of Generalized Information Theory, John Wiley, Hoboken, NJ, 499 pp.

Articles (a selection)

  • 1991, Generalized information theory, Fuzzy Sets and Systems, Vol 40 nr. 1, pp. 127–142.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g George Klir, pioneer in systems science, ready to retire, Watsons Review, Spring 2007.
  2. ^ Richard Sternberg Curriculum vitae (partial)
  3. ^ George Klir bibliography, Thomas J. Watson school, 2007.
  4. ^ Inside Binghamton University
  5. ^ International Federation For Systems Research, flyer 15 January 2006.
  6. ^ George Klir receives 2007 Fuzzy Systems Pioneer Award of the IEEE Computational Intelligence Society, 2007.
  7. ^ 1991, George Klir, Generalized information theory, Fuzzy Sets and Systems, Vol 40 nr. 1, pp. 127–142.
  8. ^ An Update on Generalized Information Theory, George Klir, 2000

See also

External links

v • d • eSystemsand systems scienceSystems categoriesConceptual systems · Physical systems · Social systems · Systems theory · Systems science · Systems scientistsSystemsBiological system · Complex system · Complex adaptive system · Conceptual system · Cultural system · Dynamical system · Economic system · Ecosystem · Formal system · Global Positioning System · Human anatomy · Information systems · Legal systems of the world · Living systems · Systems of measurement · Metric system · Multi-agent system · Nervous system · Nonlinearity · Operating system · Physical system · Political system · Sensory system · Social structure · Solar System · Systems artTheoretical fields Chaos theory · Complex systems · Control theory · Cybernetics · Scientific holism · Sociotechnical systems theory · Systems biology · System dynamics · Systems ecology · Systems engineering · Systems psychology · Systems science · Systems theorySystems scientists Russell L. Ackoff · William Ross Ashby · Gregory Bateson · Stafford Beer · Ludwig von Bertalanffy · Kenneth E. Boulding · Peter Checkland · C. West Churchman · Heinz von Foerster · Charles François · Jay Wright Forrester · Ralph W. Gerard · Debora Hammond · George Klir · Niklas Luhmann · Humberto Maturana · Donella Meadows · Mihajlo D. Mesarovic · Howard T. Odum · Talcott Parsons · Ilya Prigogine · Anatol Rapoport · Francisco Varela · John N. Warfield · Norbert Wiener Categories: 1924 births | American computer scientists | Czech computer scientists | Fairleigh Dickinson University faculty | Theoretical computer scientists | Living people | Systems scientists | Binghamton University faculty

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