Professor Yorick Wilks, a pioneering AI scientist who is helping develop virtual agents to keep older people company, and Dr Byron Cook, an academic who has broken new ground on program termination, have been named as winners of this year's Lovelace medal and Roger Needham award, respectively. The awards by the BCS recognize the winners' significant contributions to the development of IT.
Prof. Wilks is currently Professor of Artificial Intelligence at Sheffield University and a Senior Research Fellow at Oxford Internet Institute. He pioneered meaning-based approaches to the understanding of natural language content by computers, while his work on preference semantics during the 1970s laid the foundations of what has now become known as word sense disambiguation.
Dr Byron Cook created the first practical tool for automatically proving termination of real-world programs. Called TERMINATOR, his tool caused a major stir in the program verification research community when it appeared because it extended Alan Turing's statement on the halting of programs. It has rapidly spilled beyond research circles and is to be productized by the Windows kernel team.
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