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Professor Gets Computing's 'Nobel'

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Leslie G. Valiant

Leslie G. Valiant

Eliza Grinnell / Harvard

Harvard University professor Leslie G. Valiant, an artificial intelligence pioneer, has been awarded ACM's 2010 A.M. Turing Award. Valiant's research was the basis for applications including email spam filters, speech recognition software, and IBM's Watson computer system. "This connection with the achievements of the previous winners, and of Turing himself, is more than anyone in my field can reasonably expect," Valiant says.

Cornell University professor Jon Kleinberg praised Valiant's adventurous research and noted that machine learning, Valiant's specialty, is the foundation for tools that computers use to solve problems on their own. "He takes on questions that are fundamental, but very hard to attack, like how do intelligent agents learn? Or how does the brain compute?" Kleinberg says.

Valiant's 1984 paper, "A Theory of the Learnable," was a landmark in the computer science field because it led to the processes that enable computers to decide which emails could be discarded and which Web search results are the most relevant, says Microsoft Research New England's Jennifer Chayes.

From The Boston Globe
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Abstracts Copyright © 2011 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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