Remembering Jeffrey L. Elman

A celebration of life was held to recognize and honor Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science Jeffrey L. Elman, whose contributions redefined the fields of linguistics and social sciences. At the memorial, Chancellor Khosla shared that Elman would be remembered as an inspirational and visionary person. Elman served as dean of the Division of Social Sciences from 2006 to 2014 and was a founding member of the Department of Cognitive Science, the first of its kind in the world.

He also served as founding director of the Center for Research in Language and founding co-director of the university’s Kavli Institute for Brain and Mind. Most recently, Elman held the Chancellor’s Associates Endowed Chair and co-founded the Halicioğlu Data Science Institute at UC San Diego. A pioneer in artificial neural networks, Elman introduced what is known as the “Elman net” in 1990. Elman nets are still used today in fields ranging from psychology to economics to model behaviors that happen over time.

Elman will be remembered as a trailblazer, a keen observer, an enthusiastic collaborator and a good friend. He mentored many students and, as an accomplished administrator, he helped to expand UC San Diego’s educational and research programs. He will be deeply missed by the department, the Division of Social Sciences and the university.