Michael Irwin Jordan is the Pehong Chen Distinguished Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and the Department of Statistics at the University of California, Berkeley. Jordan received his BS magna cum laude in Psychology in 1978 from the Louisiana State University, he received his Masters in Mathematics from Arizona State University, and earned his PhD in Cognitive Science in 1985 from the University of California, San Diego.

In the 1980s Jordan started developing recurrent neural networks as a cognitive model. In recent years, his work is less driven from a cognitive perspective and more from the background of traditional statistics.

Jordan popularised Bayesian networks in the machine learning community and is known for pointing out links between machine learning and statistics. He was also prominent in the formalisation of variational methods for approximate inference and the popularisation of the expectation-maximization algorithm in machine learning.

He was a professor at MIT from 1988 to 1998. In 2001, Jordan and others resigned from the editorial board of the journal Machine Learning. In a public letter, they argued for less restrictive access and pledged support for a new open access journal, the Journal of Machine Learning Research, which was created by Leslie Kaelbling to support the evolution of the field of machine learning.

His research interests bridge the computational, statistical, cognitive and biological sciences. Prof. Jordan is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has been named a Neyman Lecturer and a Medallion Lecturer by the Institute of Mathematical Statistics. He was a Plenary Lecturer at the International Congress of Mathematicians in 2018. He received the IEEE John von Neumann Medal in 2020, the IJCAI Research Excellence Award in 2016, the David E. Rumelhart Prize in 2015 and the ACM/AAAI Allen Newell Award in 2009. He is a Fellow of the AAAI, ACM, ASA, CSS, IEEE, IMS, ISBA and SIAM. In 2016, Professor Jordan was named the “most influential computer scientist” worldwide in an article in Science, based on rankings from the Semantic Scholar search engine.