Tshilidzi Marwala

Tshilidzi Marwala (born 28 July 1971) is a South African mechanical engineer and computer scientist. He became Professor at the University of the Witwatersrand in 2003 and also chairperson of System and Control Engineering in South Africa. He has previously worked at the CSIR and for South African Breweries.

Tshilidzi Marwala
Marwala tshilidzi.jpg
Born (1971-07-28) 28 July 1971 (age 49)
NationalitySouth African
Alma materCase Western Reserve University
University of Pretoria
University of Cambridge
Harvard Business School
Columbia Business School
Known forengineering, artificial intelligence, counterfactual thinking, St. Petersburg paradox, bounded rationality, information asymmetry, efficient market hypothesis, Lewis turning point, supply and demand, opportunity cost, finite element updating
Spouse(s)Dr Jabulile Vuyiswa Manana (m. 2003; 3 children)
AwardsOrder of Mapungubwe
Scientific career
FieldsMechanical engineering, Computer science
InstitutionsImperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine
University of Witwatersrand
University of Johannesburg
ThesisFault identification using neural networks and vibration data (2000)
Doctoral studentsFulufhelo Nelwamondo, Evan Hurwitz, Megan Jill Russell

He is currently Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Johannesburg with effect from 1 January 2018. He was previously the Deputy Vice Chancellor for Research and Internationalization as well as the Dean of Engineering at the University of Johannesburg, a Professor of Electrical Engineering, the Carl and Emily Fuchs Chair of Systems and Control Engineering as well as the sarchi[1] Chair of Systems Engineering at the University of the Witwatersrand.

Early life and educationEdit

Tshilidzi Marwala was born at Duthuni Village in the Tshivhase region of the Limpopo Province on 28 July 1971. He attended the Dimani Agricultural High School and matriculated from the Mbilwi Secondary School in 1989. In his matriculation year, Marwala entered and won the National Youth Science Olympiad and was sent to the United Kingdom to attend the London International Youth Science Fortnight.

The youthful Marwala used the opportunity to visit the University College of London and Oxford University where he gained an appreciation of the importance of engineering and science for the development of modern society.

Determined to make a difference in his own country, he made up his mind to follow a career in engineering, but having missed the deadline for university study, he wasted no time in enrolling in a post-matric programme at St.John's College in Johannesburg. The following year, Marwala was awarded a scholarship by the Educational Opportunities Council to study Mechanical Engineering at Case Western Reserve University in the USA where he graduated Magna Cum Laude (higher distinction).

In 1995 he was employed at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research as a project engineer. Marwala studied at the University of Pretoria and obtained his Masters in Mechanical Engineering in 1996. Between 1997 and 2000, Marwala went to the University of Cambridge to do a PhD in Artificial Intelligence, after which he became a post-doctoral research associate at the University of London's Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine where he worked on intelligence software


Marwala was previously the Deputy Vice Chancellor for Research and Internationalisation as well as the Dean of Engineering at the University of Johannesburg,[2] a Professor of Electrical Engineering, the Carl and Emily Fuchs Chair of Systems and Control Engineering as well as the SARChI Chair of Systems Engineering at the University of the Witwatersrand.[3] He was the Chair of the Local Loop Unbundling Committee[4] as well as the non-executive director of the State Information Technology Agency (Pty) Ltd.[5]

He has served as a trustee of the Nelson Mandela Foundation and on boards of Nedbank,[6] International University Sports Federation,[7] EOH (Pty) Ltd,[8] Denel[9] and City Power Johannesburg.[10] He was a councillor of Statistics South Africa[11] as well as the National Advisory Council on Innovation.[12] He has served as a trustee of the Bradlow Foundation[13] and the Carl and Emily Fuchs Foundation.[14] He is the recipient of the Order of Mapungubwe[15] and his doctoral student Fulufhelo Nelwamondo also received this order. He was the first African Engineer to be awarded the President Award by the National Research Foundation of South Africa.[16]

One of the books he co-authored on modelling interstate conflict has been translated into Chinese by the National Defense Industry Press.[17][18] He is a fellow of TWAS,[19] The World Academy of Sciences, Academy of Science of South Africa[20] and African Academy of Sciences[21] as well as a senior member of the IEEE and a distinguished member of the Association for Computing Machinery.[22] His work and opinion have appeared in media such as New Scientist,[23] Time Magazine,[24] The Economist,[25] CNN,[26][27] BBC,[28] Rhodes House[29] and Oxford Union. [30] [31] In 2016 Tshilidzi Marwala delivered the Bernard Price Memorial Lecture in South Africa. With Stephen Hawking and Guy Laliberté he was a judge of the YouTube Space Lab competition.[32]

Academic contributions and researchEdit

Marwala's research interests include the theory and application of artificial intelligence to engineering, computer science, finance, economics, social science and medicine. Marwala has made fundamental contributions to engineering science including the development of the concept of pseudo-modal energies, proposing the theory of rational counterfactual thinking, rational opportunity cost and the theory of flexibly bounded rationality.[33] Marwala was a co-inventor of the innovative methods of radiation imaging[34] and with Megan Jill Russell as well as David Rubin the artificial larynx.[35] Marwala also observed that the applicability of prospect theory depends on how much artificial intelligence is used to make a decision. He also observed that the more artificial intelligence is used for decision making the more efficient the markets become. For example, if all decisions are made by artificially intelligent machines then the markets will be fully rational.[36] Marwala together with an Israeli researcher Daniel Muller mathematically solved the St. Peterburg paradox through the use of the concept of the relative net utility.[37]

Marwala together with Evan Hurwitz proposed that there is less level of information asymmetry between two artificial intelligent agents than between two human agents and that the more artificial intelligence there is in the market the less is the volume of trades in the market.[38][39] With Evan Hurwitz, Marwala was the first researcher to build software agents that are able to bluff on playing a game of poker.[40][41] Tshilidzi Marwala and Evan Hurwitz in their book[42] applied Lewis turning point theory to study the transition of the economy into automated production and identified an equilibrium point (Lewis turning point) where it does not make economic sense to move human labor to automated machines.

Tshilidzi Marwala and Evan Hurwitz in their book[43] observed that the advent of intelligent online buying platforms such as Amazon and technologies such as flexible manufacturing offers the opportunity for individualized supply and demand curves to be produced. They observed that these reduce the degree of arbitrage in the market, permit for individualized pricing for the same product and brings fairness and efficiency into the market. Furthermore, with Evan Hurwitz in their book[44] they observed that decision making and predicting machines that are executed using artificial intelligence and other machine learning techniques reduce the biases and variances of the errors on decision making and thus make decisions in a closer manner to the conclusions of rational expectations theory than human decision makers. Marwala and Bo Xing have also studied the relationship between blockchain and artificial intelligence.[45] Marwala in his response to Bill Gates has also brought to the attention of the difficulty of taxing robots given the fact that a great deal of the devices that we use have robotics features.[46]

Visiting AppointmentsEdit

In year 2006 to 2007 he was a visiting fellow at Harvard University[47] and in the year 2007 to 2008, he was a visiting fellow of Wolfson College, Cambridge.[48] In year 2009 he was a Visiting Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley Center for Studies in Higher Education.[49] He is an honorary professor at the Nanjing Tech University as well as the Central South University in The People's Republic of China.

Awards and honorsEdit

Marwala has received numerous awards and honors including winning the National Youth Science Olympiad and because of this he attended the 1989 London International Youth Science Forum,[50] the Order of Mapungubwe, Case Western Reserve University Professional Achievement Award,[51] The Champion of Research Capacity Development and Transformation at SA Higher Education Institutions,[52] NSTF Award,[53] Harvard-South Africa Fellowship,[54] TWAS-AAS-Microsoft Award,[55] and ACM Distinguished Member Award.[56]



  • David Mark Starfield, David Milton Rubin and Tshilidzi Marwala. Method and Apparatus for Radiation Imaging. IPC8 Class: AG01T100FI USPC Class: 25036302.
  • David Mark Starfield, David Milton Rubin and Tshilidzi Marwala. Coded Appertures Masks for Ration-Based Medical Imaging. WO 2008/14254
  • Megan J. Russell, David M. Rubin, B. Wigdorowitz and Tshilidzi Marwala. (PCT/IB2009/006125) An artificial larynx.
  • Tshilidzi Marwala, Dipanjan Paul and Satyakama Paul. (South African Provisional Patent 2018/03463) System and method for real time prediction of water level and hazard level of a dam.
  • Tshilidzi Marwala, Rendani Mbuvha. (South African Provisional Patent 2018/06344) A system and method for imputing missing data in a dataset, a method and system for determining a health condition of a person, and a method and system of calculating an insurance premium.


  • Tshilidzi Marwala (2009). Computational Intelligence for Missing Data Imputation, Estimation, and Management: Knowledge Optimization Techniques. Pennsylvania: IGI Global. ISBN 9781605663364.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Tshilidzi Marwala (2010). Finite Element Model Updating Using Computational Intelligence Techniques: Applications to Structural Dynamics. Heidelberg: Springer. ISBN 978-1-84996-322-0.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Tshilidzi Marwala; Monica Lagazio (2011). Militarized Conflict Modeling Using Computational Intelligence. Heidelberg: Springer. ISBN 978-0-85729-789-1.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Tshilidzi Marwala (2012). Condition Monitoring Using Computational Intelligence Methods. Heidelberg: Springer. ISBN 978-1-4471-2380-4.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Tshilidzi Marwala (2013). Economic Modeling Using Artificial Intelligence Methods. Heidelberg: Springer. ISBN 978-1-84996-323-7.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Tshilidzi Marwala (2014). Artificial Intelligence Techniques for Rational Decision Making. Heidelberg: Springer. ISBN 978-3-319-11423-1.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Tshilidzi Marwala (2015). Causality, Correlation, and Artificial Intelligence for Rational Decision Making. Singapore: World Scientific. ISBN 978-9-814-63086-3.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Tshilidzi Marwala; Ilyes Boulkaibet; Sondipon Adhikari (2016). Probabilistic Finite Element Model Updating Using Bayesian Statistics: Applications to Aeronautical and Mechanical Engineering. London: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-1-119-15303-0.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • D. Zhang; Tshilidzi Marwala; M. Balas; J. Kim, eds. (2016). International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (ICAIR 2016) and 2016 International Conference on Automation, Control and Robotics Engineering (CACRE 2016) Kitakyushu; Japan; 1. ACM International Conference Proceeding Series, Volume 13-15-July-2016.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Tshilidzi Marwala; Evan Hurwitz (2017). Artificial Intelligence and Economic Theory: Skynet in the Market. London: Springer. ISBN 978-3-319-66104-9.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Bo Xing; Tshilidzi Marwala (2018). Smart Maintenance for Human–Robot Interaction: An Intelligent Search Algorithmic Perspective. London: Springer. ISBN 978-3-319-67480-3.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Bo Xing; Tshilidzi Marwala (2018). Smart Computing in Crowdfunding. London: CRC Press. ISBN 978-1-138-57771-8.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Tshilidzi Marwala (2018). Handbook of Machine Learning Volume 1: Foundation of Artificial Intelligence. Singapore: World Scientific Publishing. ISBN 978-981-3271-22-7.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Tshilidzi Marwala; Collins Achepsah Leke (2019). Handbook of Machine Learning Volume 2: Optimization and Decision Making. Singapore: World Scientific Publishing. ISBN 978-981-120-566-8.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Collins Achepsah Leke; Tshilidzi Marwala (2019). Deep Learning and Missing Data in Engineering Systems: Applications to Engineering Systems. London: Springer. ISBN 978-3030011796.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Fernando Buarque de Lima Neto; Nicky Roberts; Tshilidzi Marwala; Mpho Nemasetoni (2019). MY FIRST A.I. BOOK – Artificial Intelligence and Learning. USA: Amazon Digital Services LLC. ISBN 978-1513654249.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Doorsamy Wesley; Sena Paul; Tshilidzi Marwala (2020). The Disruptive Fourth Industrial Revolution. London: Springer. ISBN 978-3-030-48230-5.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Tankiso Moloi; Tshilidzi Marwala (2020). Artificial Intelligence in Economics and Finance Theories. London: Springer. ISBN 978-3-030-42961-4.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Tshilidzi Marwala (2020). Closing the Gap: The Fourth Industrial Revolution in Africa. Johannesburg: Macmillan. ISBN 978-1-77010-786-1.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)

Journal articlesEdit

  • Tshilidzi Marwala (2003). "Fault classification using pseudo modal energies and neural networks". American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Journal. 41 (1): 82–89. doi:10.2514/2.1916.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Tshilidzi Marwala; M. Lagazio (2006). "Assessing different Bayesian neural network models for militarized interstate dispute". Social Science Computer Review. 24 (1): 119–131. doi:10.1177/0894439305281512.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • D. Lunga, T. Marwala. Online forecasting of stock market movement direction using the improved incremental algorithm. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, In Neural Information Processing, Springer Berlin / Heidelberg, Volume 4234, 2006, pp. 440–449.
  • Tshilidzi Marwala (2005). "The national democratic revolution, technology and a developed economy". Umrabulo. 22: 58–60.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Tshilidzi Marwala; T.N. Tim (2006). Sun I. Kim; Tae Suk Sah (eds.). "Computational Intelligence Methods for Risk Assessment of HIV. Proceedings of the International Federation of Medical and Biological Engineering". 14. Berlin Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag: 3581–3585. ISSN 1727-1983. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)CS1 maint: ref=harv (link).
  • Tshilidzi Marwala; S. Chakraverty (2006). "Fault classification in structures with incomplete measured data using autoassociative neural networks and genetic algorithm". Current Science. 90 (4): 542–548.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)


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External linksEdit