Azerbaijan International

Summer 1996 (4.2)
Page 34


Scientists Who Made A Difference

Bahram Askarov - Semiconductors
Lotfi Zadeh - "Creator of Fuzzy Logic"
Rafig Aliyev - Fuzzy Systems

Bahram Askarov

by Marcus Hopkins

"Being a physicist," according to Dr. Bahram Askarov, "is a lot like being a poet. You have to feel it. You always have to keep asking yourself 'Why?' Substances and processes are not always obvious. Like the intangibles of poetry, you have to imagine them."

Askarov credits his high school teacher in a little village near the town of Taus, in the northwestern corner of Azerbaijan with giving him the curiosity to feel and imagine these intangibles. He was Askarov's teacher in math and physics and very much wanted the young lad to become a physicist.

Askarov, who is now the Vice Chancellor of Baku State University and Head of the Solid State Physics Department, has been deeply involved with the field of semiconductors since college.

Semiconductors are devices inside electrical devices that are in use all the time-televisions, remote controls, tape recorders-it's just that most of us don't know we're using them."

The field of semiconductors began in the 1930s and 40s. Although people had known for quite some time about substances that had the capabilities to conduct electricity; semiconductors had always been considered "bad insulators" and had been ignored. In winter semiconductors could be used as insulators but in the summer, they changed character, and conducted electricity.

Lotfi Zadeh - Creator of Fuzzy Logic. Berkeley, California.

Abram Ioffe was considered the "Father of the Concept of Semiconductors" in the former Soviet Union. He had studied in Germany with Röntgen (Winner of the Nobel Prize in physics in 1901 for the discovery of X-rays). Askarov ended up being one of privileged twelve students from the entire Soviet Union who was chosen to study to do postgraduate work with Ioffe at the Ioffe Institute in Leningrad. Askarov, 22 at the time, went to Leningrad and worked with Ioffe for four and a half years. After the field of nuclear physics, semiconductors was considered the most advanced field of physics in the former USSR.

Three Books on Semiconductors
Askarov's book, "The Theory of Semiconductors" came out in 1963 (Elm). In 1970, a second edition came out, "The Kinectic Effects in Semiconductors" which systematized all the ideas known in the world at that time about semiconductors (about 30 percent of the book). The other 70 percent is his original research. The book was so successful that Askarov did not have to defend his dissertation for his Postdoctorate; the degree was given for the book alone, which was an extremely unique situation. In 1974, when Askarov was 34, he received the State Prize of Azerbaijan for this work. In 1985, the book was reissued with new findings and new ideas (Moscow, 1985). An English translation of the book came out in 1994-"Electron Transport Phenomenon in Semiconductors" (World Science Publishing House-Singapore).

The Future
What about the future? Askarov and his students are continuing to carry out research in the direction of micro-miniaturization which means they're trying to achieve reduction of the size of devices, making them as small as possible. According to Askarov, the achievements that the Japanese and Americans are making in this field, are actually based on theoretical studies that were made in the Soviet Union. "We discovered many of the fundamental theories; now others are putting them to practical use."

Left: Rafig Aliyev Expert in Fuzzy systems. Oil Academy, Baku.

Dr. Lotfi Zadeh developed the concept for "Fuzzy Logic" in 1965. Today, it has myriad uses especially in control systems when it is necessary to deal with information that is inexact and imprecise.

"Fuzzy Logic" has hundreds and thousands of applications and is currently used in air conditioners, car brakes, dishwashers, dryers, elevators, microwaves, computers, and television and much more.

Zadeh was born in Baku in 1921. Though he officially retired from the University of Berkeley in 1991, he's extremely active these days participating in "Fuzzy Logic" and related conferences all over the world.

See our interview with Zadeh in the Autumn 1994 issue (AI 2.4) page 46, which is also available on Azerbaijan International's Web Page: (

Dr. Rafig Aliyev is the leading scientist in Fuzzy Process Control and Soft Computing in Azerbaijan. Professor, Corresponding Member of the Academy of Sciences, and USSR State Prize Winner, Aliyev heads the Department of Control Systems of Azerbaijan's State Oil Academy. He has published extensively-28 books (see photo) and more than 200 articles-mostly in the fields of information and management systems.

Again, this year, Aliyev is the Co-Chair for the Second International Conference on the Application of Fuzzy Systems and Soft Computing which will be held in Siegen, Germany, on June 25-27, 1996. Lotfi Zadeh is the Honorary Chairman.

From Azerbaijan International (4.2) Summer 1996
© Azerbaijan International 1996. All Rights Reserved.

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