Turing award goes to 'machine learning' expert

Mar 09, 2011 By JORDAN ROBERTSON , AP Technology Writer

A Harvard University professor has been awarded a top technology prize for research that has paved the way for computers that more closely mimic how humans think, including the one that won a "Jeopardy!" tournament.

Leslie Valiant, who teaches computer science and applied mathematics at Harvard's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, was awarded the A.M. Turing Award for 2010, the Association for Computing Machinery said Wednesday. The $250,000 award is considered the of computing and is named after the famous British mathematician Alan M. Turing.

Some of Valiant's biggest contributions concern the mathematical foundations of computer learning, an area of study that has led to breakthroughs such as IBM Corp.'s Watson, the machine built to play "Jeopardy!" In matches aired last month, the computer breezed past two of the game show's top winners in a display of how far have come in programming computers to understand the subtleties of human language and make decisions based on the mountains of data the machines are able to store.

The association cited contributions that have led to advances in artificial intelligence and areas such as , handwriting recognition and computer vision. It also cited his influential models for "parallel computing," or processing many different kinds of data at once rather than the one-at-a-time approach of traditional computing.

Corp., the world's biggest computer chip maker, and Inc., the Internet search leader, provide funding for the prize.

ACM President Alain Chesnais said Valiant's accomplishments over the past 30 years have led to "extraordinary achievements" in machine learning.

"His work has produced modeling that offers computationally inspired answers on fundamental questions like how the brain 'computes,'" Chesnais said. "His profound vision in computer science, mathematics, and have been combined with other techniques to build modern forms of machine learning and communication, like IBM's 'Watson' computing system, that have enabled computing systems to rival a human's ability to answer questions."

The organization cited Valiant's "Theory of the Learnable," published in 1984 in Communications of the Association for Computing Machinery, as one of the "seminal contributions to machine learning." His 1982 paper, "A Scheme for Fast Parallel Communication," offered a simple solution to data congestion when computers communicate over networks with limited capacity.

The award will be presented June 4 at a ceremony in San Jose, Calif.

Explore further: Berkeley team explores sound for indoor localization

4.3 /5 (8 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

'Nobel of computing' goes to early PC designer

Mar 09, 2010

(AP) -- A Microsoft Corp. researcher won the $250,000 Turing Award, one of technology's most coveted prizes, on Tuesday for his work helping design and build what is widely considered the first modern personal computer.

'Jeopardy!' to pit humans against IBM machine

Dec 14, 2010

(AP) -- The game show "Jeopardy!" will pit man versus machine this winter in a competition that will show how successful scientists are in creating a computer that can mimic human intelligence.

Archive of WWII codebreaker Alan Turing preserved

Feb 25, 2011

(AP) -- Papers relating to codebreaker and computer pioneer Alan Turing will go to a British museum after the National Heritage Memorial Fund stepped in to help buy them for the nation.

Recommended for you

Berkeley team explores sound for indoor localization

1 hour ago

The global positioning system, or GPS, has its limitations—namely, it cannot work indoors. Potential solutions for indoor positioning continue to fire up the imaginations of scientists. The latest news ...

Tesla loss widens as it ramps up expansion plan

2 hours ago

US electric automaker Tesla Motors reported Thursday a widening loss in the past quarter amid record revenues as it ramped up plans for a giant battery plant for future vehicles.

CIA director reverses himself on Senate spying

2 hours ago

For months, CIA Director John Brennan had stood firm in his insistence that the CIA had little to be ashamed of after searching the computers of the Senate Intelligence Committee. His defiant posture quickly ...

Tesla says decision on battery factory months away

2 hours ago

(AP)—Electric car maker Tesla Motors said Thursday that it is preparing a site near Reno, Nevada, as a possible location for its new battery factory, but is still evaluating other sites.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Eikka
not rated yet Mar 09, 2011
Mr. Turing held that judging the intelligence of machines is pointless because we can't distinguish between an intelligent entity and a sufficiently complex non-intelligent automation.

Unfortunately, many people have taken the idea in the opposite way, and think that whatever seems intelligent must be intelligent, and argue that if we can reproduce what looks like the same action, then that is what intelligence is.

Even though machines like Watson or Deep Blue or others are really just sufficiently complex automations that deliver the result through sheer brute force. If you have enough time, typewriters and monkeys, you can do anything.