A Turing Award-winning computer scientist and statistician shows how understanding causality has revolutionized science and will revolutionize artificial intelligence
"Correlation is not causation." This mantra, chanted by scientists for more than a century, has led to a virtual prohibition on causal talk. Today, that taboo is dead. The causal revolution, instigated by Judea Pearl and his colleagues, has cut through a century of confusion and established causality -- the study of cause and effect -- on a firm scientific basis. His work explains how we can know easy things, like whether it was rain or a sprinkler that made a sidewalk wet; and how to answer hard questions, like whether a drug cured an illness. Pearl's work enables us to know not just whether one thing causes another: it lets us explore the world that is and the worlds that could have been. It shows us the essence of human thought and key to artificial intelligence. Anyone who wants to understand either needs The Book of Why.
Judea Pearl is a professor of computer science at UCLA. The author of three books, he has won numerous awards, including the Alan Turing Award. He lives in Los Angeles, California.
Dana Mackenzie is a PhD mathematician turned science writer and has written for Science, New Scientist, and Scientific American, among others. He lives in Santa Cruz, California.
One of Science Friday's "Best Science Books of 2018"
"Illuminating... The Professor Pearl who emerges from the pages of The Book of Why brims with the joy of discovery and pride in his students and colleagues... [it] not only delivers a valuable lesson on the history of ideas but provides the conceptual tools needed to judge just what big data can and cannot deliver."—New York Times
"Cause and effect is one of the most heavily debated, difficult-to-prove things in science and medicine. This book really gets you thinking about cause and effect as it applies to issues of our time, such as: How come cigarettes were around for years and we never showed they were causing cancer or heart disease? The authors goes through these cases like an interrogation, and it's just extraordinary."—Science Friday
"Seriously, everyone should read The Book of Why."—Jeff Witmer, American Mathematical Monthly
"'Correlation is not causation.' That scientific refrain has had social consequences...Judea Pearl proposes a radical mathematical solution...now bearing fruit in biology, medicine, social science and AI."—Nature
"Lively and accessible...Pearl was one of the visionary leaders of the causal revolution, and The Book of Why is his crowning achievement."—Jewish Journal
"Anyone interested in probing connections between cause and effect, and their relevance for the future of AI, will find this a fascinating and provocative book. Highly recommended."—CHOICE
Pearl is on a mission to change the way we interpret data. An eminent professor
of computer science, Pearl has documented his research and opinions in scholarly
books and papers. ... With the release of this historically grounded and
thought-provoking book, Pearl leaps from the ivory tower into the real
world...Pearl has given us an elegant, powerful, controversial theory of
causality."—American Mathematical Society
"Have you ever wondered about the puzzles of correlation and causation? This wonderful book has illuminating answers and it is fun to read."—Daniel Kahneman, winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences and author of Thinking, Fast and Slow
"Pearl's accomplishments over the last 30 years have provided the theoretical basis for progress in artificial intelligence... and they have redefined the term 'thinking machine.'"—Vint Cerf, Chief Internet Evangelist, Google, Inc.
"Judea Pearl has been the heart and soul of a revolution in artificial intelligence and in computer science more broadly."—Eric Horvitz, Technical Fellow and Director, Microsoft Research Labs
"If causation is not correlation, then what is it? Thanks to Judea Pearl's epoch-making research, we now have a precise answer to this question. If you want to understand how the world works, this engrossing and delightful book is the place to start."—Pedro Domingos, professor of computer science, University of Washington, and author of The Master Algorithm
"The Book of Why ... questions and redefines the building blocks of our AI systems"—theverge.com