ECE Hall of Fame: Monroe "Monty" Newborn

Posted: February 19, 2021

Alumnus Dr. Monroe "Monty" Newborn excelled in a distinguished engineering career exploring artificial intelligence, computer circuit design, and automated reasoning. He played a major role in the great automated chess race renaissance.  

Newborn earned both his MS and Ph.D. at The Ohio State University in 1962 and 1967, respectively. He later became an Assistant- then an Associate Professor of Dept. EECS of Columbia University between 1967 and 1975. He joined McGill University in 1975 as an Associate Professor of the School of Computer Science (SOCS). He then became the Director of SOCS between 1976 and 1984. He was a Full Professor between 1981 and 2008. He has been a Professor Emeritus since 2008.

Designing a computer that could defeat the world human chess champion was a major focus of artificial intelligence research throughout the second half of the 20th century, and Newborn played a central role in this effort. His program, Ostrich, nearly won the first computer chess world championship in 1974.

Newborn played a major role in organizing the two historic chess matches between IBM’s Deep Blue and Gary Kasparov. He was Head of the officials for the IBM Deep Blue versus Kasparov Chess Rematch, 1997. He wrote seven books on the subject of computer chess between 1975 and 2011. His books document the great progress made in this field where computers now are far stronger at playing chess than any human.

In addition to his involvement in computer chess activities, he developed a world-class automated theorem-proving program. In his early years, he published a number of papers related to computer circuit design.

Deep Blue

Newborn received numerous awards from Canadian and international associations of Computer Science, Computing Machinery, and Computer Chess. He is a Distinguished Alumnus of Ohio State, College of Engineering, 1996. He was elected to be in the Canadian Chess Hall of Fame in 2001. He is also a Fellow of the Association of Computing Machines (ACM).

Among his professional activities, Newborn served as chairman of ACM’s Computer Chess Committee, 1981-1997. He was President of the International Computer Chess Association, 1983-1986. It is an organization of about 600 computer scientists and chess enthusiasts. He was the Organizer or Co-organizer of six Computer Chess World Championships, 1974-1995.