Turing Award honors pioneers of AI

The three winners made deep neural networks a critical component of computing, setting the foundations for artificial intelligence, says the group behind the award.

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The 2018 ACM A.M. Turing Award goes to three pioneers of AI. From left: Yoshua Bengio, Geoffrey Hinton, Yann LeCun.


Three trailblazers in artificial intelligence have been honored with the 2018 Turing Award.

On Wednesday, the Association for Computing Machinery named Yoshua Bengio, Geoffrey Hinton and Yann LeCun recipients of the award, considered by some to be the "Nobel Prize of computing," for the breakthroughs they've made in AI.

The three developed conceptual and engineering foundations for AI by making deep neural networks a critical component of computing, according to the ACM's release. The recipients will be awarded a $1 million prize, with financial support provided by Google.

"Artificial intelligence is now one of the fastest-growing areas in all of science and one of the most talked-about topics in society," Cherri Pancake, president of the ACM, said in the release. "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. These technologies are used by billions of people."

Bengio is a professor at the University of Montreal and the science director of both Mila (Quebec's AI Institute) and the Institute for Data Valorization. Hinton is a vice president and engineering fellow at Google, chief scientific adviser of the Vector Institute and a professor at the University of Toronto. LeCun is a vice president and chief AI scientist at Facebook and a professor at New York University. Bengio and LeCun are also co-directors of CIFAR's Learning in Machines and Brains program.

A pair of San Francisco Bay Area professors, Dave Patterson and John Hennessy, won the 2017 Turing Award for revolutionizing processors with a technology called RISC. The award is named after Alan Turing, the British researcher who famously helped crack German Enigma codes in World War II and lay the foundations of computer science. 

ACM will present the 2018 A.M. Turing Award at its annual awards banquet on June 15 in San Francisco.