2018 Turing Award goes to three AI pioneers

Thursday, 28 March 2019, 04:06 Hrs
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2018 Turing Award goes to three AI pioneers

Three researchers have won the 2018 Turing Award, known as the "Nobel Prize of computing", for conceptual and engineering breakthroughs in artificial intelligence (AI).

Yoshua Bengio, Geoffrey Hinton and Yann LeCun were named the recipients of the award on Tuesday by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).

The award, which carries a $1 million prize, is named for Alan M. Turing, British mathematician who articulated the mathematical foundation and limits of computing. 

"Artificial intelligence is now one of the fastest growing areas in all of science and one of the most talked-about topics in society," said ACM President Cherri Pancake. "The growth of and interest in AI is due, in no small part, to the recent advances in deep learning for which Bengio, Hinton and LeCun laid the foundation," Pancake said. 

Bengio is Professor at the University of Montreal in Canada, Hinton is Vice-President and Engineering Fellow, Google and Professor Emeritus at the University of Toronto, and LeCun is Professor at New York University and Vice-President and Chief AI Scientist at Facebook.

Working independently and together, Hinton, LeCun and Bengio developed conceptual foundations for AI, identified surprising phenomena through experiments and contributed engineering advances that demonstrated the practical advantages of deep neural networks. 

In recent years, deep learning methods have been responsible for astonishing breakthroughs in computer vision, speech recognition, natural language processing, robotics and other applications.

While the use of artificial neural networks as a tool to help computers recognise patterns and simulate human intelligence had been introduced in the 1980s, by the early 2000s, LeCun, Hinton and Bengio were among a small group who remained committed to this approach.

Though their efforts to rekindle the AI community's interest in neural networks were initially met with skepticism, their ideas recently resulted in major technological advances, and their methodology is now the dominant paradigm in the field.

Bengio, Hinton and LeCun are scheduled to receive the award at ACM's annual awards banquet on June 15 in San Francisco, California.

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