The 2010 Turing Award Goes to Harvard Professor Leslie ValiantMarch 9, 2011 0 Comments
The 2010 A.M. Turing Award has been announced and the recipient is Harvard professor Leslie Valiant. The Turing Award is basically considered equivalent to a Nobel Prize in computing. The prize is named after the famed British mathematician Alan M. Turing.
Geeky readers will recognize Turing's name, of course. He was a brilliant homosexual scientist responsible for breaking Nazi codes in World War II. He was also instrumental in building one of the world's first stored-program computers. Turing was later prosecuted by Britain for his homosexuality and forced to take female enzymes in an attempt to cure him. He later died of cyanide poisoning. The British government only recently formally apologized in 2009 for Turing’s treatment.
Turing is most famous for developing the Turing Test for Artificial Intelligence. In essence, the Turing Test is a language test. A human engages in a natural conversation with an unseen partner, who happens to be a machine. If the human cannot detect that his conversation partner is a machine, then the machine is said to have “passed” the Turing Test. In essence, the Turing Test represents one of the strictest measures for true Artificial Intelligence.
Professor Valiant’s work over 30 years has been crucial to the development of modern-day A.I., including the recently infamous Watson. Valiant developed the underlying mathematical models for how the human brain “computes”, and in particular how to teach machines to learn.
Professor Valiant will receive his award in a ceremony on June 4 in San Jose, CA. The award comes with a $250,000 prize funded by Google and Intel. A full list of Turing winners going back to 1966 can be found here.
Photo by Eliza Grinnell