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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