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Three Pioneers in Artificial Intelligence Win Turing Award



SAN FRANCISCO – In 2004, Geoffrey Hinton doubled down on his pursuit of a technological idea called a neural network.

It's a way to see the world around them, recognize sounds and even understand natural language. But scientists had spent more than 50 years working on the concept of neural networks, and could not really do any of that.

Hinton, a computer science professor at the University of Toronto, is organizing a new research community. They included Yann LeCun, a professor at New York University, and Yoshua Bengio at the University of Montreal.

On Wednesday, the Association for Computing Machinery, the world's largest society of computing professionals, announced that Drs. Hinton, LeCun and Bengio had won this year's Turing Award for her work on neural networks. The Turing Award, which was introduced in 1966, is often called the Nobel Prize in Computing, and it includes a $ 1 million prize.

The London-born dr. Hinton, 71, first embraced the idea as a graduate student in the early 1970s, a time when most artificial intelligence researchers turned against it. Even his own Ph.D. adviser questioned the choice.

"We met once a week," Hinton said in an interview. "Sometimes it ends in a shouting match, sometimes not."

Neural networks had a brief revival in the late 1980s and early 1990s. After a year of postdoctoral research with Dr. med. Hinton in Canada, the Paris-born dr. LeCun moved to AT & T's Bell Labs in New Jersey, where he designed a neural network that could read handwritten letters and numbers. To AT & T subscribes to the system to banks, read about 10 percent of all the reviews written in the United States.

Though a neural network was unable to make a lot of headway with big AI tasks, like recognizing faces and objects in photos, talking words, and understanding the natural way people talk.

"They worked well only when they had lots of training data, and there were lots of training data, "Dr. LeCun, 58, said.

But some researchers persisted, including the Paris-born dr. Bengio, 55, who worked alongside LeCun at Bell Labs before taking a professorship at the University of Montreal.

In 2004, with less than $ 400,000 in funding from the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. H invited a research program dedicated to what he calls "neural computation and adaptive perception." Bengio and Dr. LeCun to join him.


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