The Emergence of Fuzzy Sets: A Historical Perspective

  • Didier DuboisEmail author
  • Henri Prade
Part of the Studies in Fuzziness and Soft Computing book series (STUDFUZZ, volume 341)


This paper tries to suggest some reasons why fuzzy set theory came to life 50 years ago by pointing out the existence of streams of thought in the first half of the XXth century in logic, linguistics and philosophy, that paved the way to the idea of moving away from the Boolean framework, through the proposal of many-valued logics and the study of the vagueness phenomenon in natural languages. The founding paper in fuzzy set theory can be viewed as the crystallization of such ideas inside the engineering arena. Then we stress the point that this publication in 1965 was followed by several other seminal papers in the subsequent 15 years, regarding classification, ordering and similarity, systems science, decision-making, uncertainty management and approximate reasoning. The continued effort by Zadeh to apply fuzzy sets to the basic notions of a number of disciplines in computer and information sciences proved crucial in the diffusion of this concept from mathematical sciences to industrial applications.


Fuzzy sets Many-valued logics Vagueness Possibility theory Approximate reasoning 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.IRIT-CNRSUniversité Paul SabatierToulouse Cedex 09France

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