Harvard computer scientist Leslie Valiant wins Turing Award
Thursday, 10 March 2011

The 2010 Turing Award has been awarded to Leslie Valiant for his "fundamental contributions to the development of computational learning theory and to the broader theory of computer science".

 

The Turing Award is presented annually by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) are is sometimes referred to a the Nobel Prize for Computing. The 2010 award, which comes with a $250,000 prize funded by Google and Intel, has been won by British-born computer scientist Leslie Gabriel Valiant who is currently the T. Jefferson Coolidge Professor of Computer Science and Applied Mathematics in the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

ACM President Alain Chesnais explained:

"Valiant's accomplishments over the last 30 years have provided the theoretical basis for progress in artificial intelligence and 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.'

His profound vision in computer science, mathematics, and cognitive theory 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."

His work has also led to advances in areas such as natural language processing, handwriting recognition and computer vision, according to the ACM.

Most recently, Valiant's research has focused on computational neuroscience, offering a concrete model of the brain and relating its architecture to complex cognitive functions, a topic explored in his book Circuits of the Mind, (Oxford University Press, 1994, 2001).

Valiant's paper titled "Theory of the Learnable" is considered a seminal source on machine learning. Another paper, "A Scheme for Fast Parallel Communication," addresses parallel processing and distributed computing challenges and other papers are in much the same area as Turing's own work, namely computability.

More information:

Leslie Valiant's Wikipedia entry

Leslie Valiant's Home Page at Harvard

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