Media Releases

U of T computer scientist wins $1‑million Herzberg Canada gold medal

February 14, 2011

Andre Hamer postgraduate prize also goes to U of T

TORONTO, ON – Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to com­put­er sci­ence pro­fes­sor Geof­frey Hin­ton, con­sid­ered one of the world’s fore­most researchers in the fields of machine learn­ing and arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence, has been award­ed the 2010 Ger­hard Herzberg Cana­da Gold Medal for Sci­ence and Engi­neer­ing.

The medal, named for Cana­di­an Nobel Lau­re­ate Ger­hard Herzberg, is award­ed annu­al­ly by the Nat­ur­al Sci­ences and Engi­neer­ing Research Coun­cil of Cana­da (NSERC) to an indi­vid­ual who has made out­stand­ing and sus­tained con­tri­bu­tions to Cana­di­an research in the nat­ur­al sci­ences and engi­neer­ing.  The prize pro­vides the researcher with $1 mil­lion over five years to fur­ther his or her research.

“Pro­fes­sor Hin­ton is a tremen­dous inno­va­tor who rich­ly deserves the pres­ti­gious Herzberg Cana­da Gold Medal,” said U of T Pres­i­dent David Nay­lor.  “He is a sci­en­tist absolute­ly on the lead­ing edge of his field and one who is mak­ing a tan­gi­ble and pos­i­tive impact on our every­day lives.”

As a result of Hinton’s research, com­put­ers are now bet­ter able to find com­pli­cat­ed pat­terns in sci­en­tif­ic, med­ical, eco­nom­ic and oth­er data.  He has devel­oped algo­rithms used in appli­ca­tions such as cre­at­ing bet­ter sys­tems for voice recog­ni­tion, auto­mat­i­cal­ly read­ing bank cheques and mon­i­tor­ing indus­tri­al plants for improved safe­ty.

Hin­ton has also con­tributed to cog­ni­tive psy­chol­o­gy and neu­ro­science by propos­ing influ­en­tial the­o­ries of how the brain gen­er­ates its inter­nal rep­re­sen­ta­tions of the visu­al world from the sen­so­ry input it receives from the eyes.

Among his many awards, Hin­ton is a Uni­ver­si­ty Pro­fes­sor, the high­est research hon­our U of T bestows on its fac­ul­ty mem­bers. He is also a fel­low of the Roy­al Soci­ety, the Roy­al Soci­ety of Cana­da and the Asso­ci­a­tion for the Advance­ment of Arti­fi­cial Intel­li­gence.

“It’s great being at an insti­tu­tion where there are so many oth­er lead­ing researchers who are equal­ly deserv­ing,” said Hin­ton. “The one mil­lion dol­lars of research fund­ing that comes with the Herzberg medal will allow my grad­u­ate stu­dents and me to con­tin­ue attack­ing the tough prob­lems.”

At the Feb. 14 NSERC awards cer­e­mo­ny in Ottawa, Audrey Kertesz, a U of T master’s degree stu­dent in elec­tri­cal and com­put­er engi­neer­ing, was award­ed one of the two André Hamer Post­grad­u­ate Prizes for her research into ways to improve the effi­cien­cy of urban-based solar pan­el arrays by design­ing bet­ter con­trol sys­tems. The Hamer Prize is award­ed to the most out­stand­ing can­di­dates in NSERC’s mas­ters and doc­tor­al schol­ar­ship com­pe­ti­tions.


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