Tuesday, April 02, 2019

2019 Turing Award Presented to Canadian Researchers

          By Brian Orlotti

Three researchers, two of them Canadian, have won the 2019 Turing Award, generally considered to to be the world's top computer science award, for their work in developing machine learning and neural networks.

From left, Yann LeCun, Geoffrey Hinton and Yoshua Bengio. Photo c/o Facebook, via Associated Press; Aaron Vincent Elkaim for The New York Times; Chad Buchanan/Getty Images.

Université de Montréal professor Yoshua Bengio, University of Toronto professor emeritus Geoffrey Hinton and New York University professor Yann LeCun will each share the 2019 award.

The three have close ties and are perhaps best known for their work outside of academia.

Bengio also acts as and scientific director of Mila, Quebec's artificial intelligence institute  Hinton is a vice-president and engineer fellow at Menlo Park CA based Google, and the chief scientific advisor at the Toronto ON based Vector Institute for Artificial Intelligence. LeCun is vice-president and chief AI scientist for Menlo Park CA based Facebook. He completed his postdoctoral work at Hinton's University of Toronto lab and then worked with Bengio at US based Bell Labs.

As outlined in the March 27th, 2019 Canada AI post, "Canadian Researchers Who Taught AI To Learn Like Humans Win $1M Turing Award," the Turing Award is a $1Mln US ($1.3Mln CDN) annual prize given by the New York NY based Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) to an individual or group selected for contributions "of lasting and major technical importance to the computer field."

The award is named after British mathematician, computer scientist and World War II code breaker Alan Turing. It has been sponsored by Google since 2014, though the company says it is not involved with the selection committee.

Machine learning and neural networks are two related fields which have given today’s computers the ability to learn by imitating the human brain and its networks of neurons to find patterns in data. Together, they form the core of the artificial intelligence (AI) which powers much of the modern world’s software, from web and smartphone apps to voice, image and facial recognition to language translation.

The development of new AI applications is the largest source of growth in the Canadian robotics industry. AI software applications increasingly act as controlling mechanisms for manufacturing and robotics equipment, allowing them to learn new processes that increase their flexibility and usefulness.

AI learning capabilities are also expected to be included with the next generation Canadarm being planned as Canada's contribution to the US led Lunar Gateway.

Machine learning and neural networks are poised to transform our society and economy in the coming decades. That Canada is a world leader in this field is due in no small part to the foresight and support of both the Canadian government and the private sector. Our country’s AI success story is a reminder that while Canada has declined in its traditional strengths, such as space and aerospace, Canadians can still excel when we choose to.
Brian Orlotti.

Brian Orlotti is a network operator at the Ontario Research and Innovation Optical Network (ORION), a not-for-profit network service provider to the education and research sectors.

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