Media Releases

U of T neural networks start-up acquired by Google

March 12, 2013

TORONTO, ON – Google has picked up a ground-break­ing start-up out of the Depart­ment of Com­put­er Sci­ence, Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to.

Uni­ver­si­ty Pro­fes­sor Geof­frey Hin­ton and two of his grad­u­ate stu­dents, Alex Krizhevsky and Ilya Sutskev­er, incor­po­rat­ed DNNre­search Inc. in 2012, and the com­pa­ny has been acquired by Google for its research on deep neur­al net­works.

Hin­ton is world-renowned for his work with neur­al nets, and this research has pro­found impli­ca­tions for areas such as speech recog­ni­tion, com­put­er vision and lan­guage under­stand­ing.

“Geof­frey Hinton’s research is a mag­nif­i­cent exam­ple of dis­rup­tive inno­va­tion with roots in basic research,” said U of T’s pres­i­dent, Pro­fes­sor David Nay­lor. “The dis­cov­er­ies of bril­liant researchers, guid­ed freely by their exper­tise, curios­i­ty, and intu­ition, lead even­tu­al­ly to prac­ti­cal appli­ca­tions no one could have imag­ined, much less req­ui­si­tioned.

“I extend my con­grat­u­la­tions to Pro­fes­sor Hin­ton for this lat­est achieve­ment.”

Recent­ly, Krizhevsky and Sutskev­er, who will both be mov­ing to Google, devel­oped a sys­tem that dra­mat­i­cal­ly improved the state of the art in object recog­ni­tion.

“This is a won­der­ful oppor­tu­ni­ty for Geoff, and a great oppor­tu­ni­ty for the depart­ment,” said Com­put­er Sci­ence Chair Sven Dick­in­son. “In recent years, we have been expand­ing our indus­tri­al rela­tions, and this acqui­si­tion rep­re­sents a won­der­ful oppor­tu­ni­ty to strength­en our exist­ing ties with Google, one of the world’s most inno­v­a­tive IT com­pa­nies.”

The Google deal will sup­port Prof. Hinton’s grad­u­ate stu­dents housed in the department’s machine learn­ing group, while pro­tect­ing their research auton­o­my under aca­d­e­m­ic free­dom. It will also allow Prof. Hin­ton him­self to divide his time between his uni­ver­si­ty research and his work at Google.

“I am extreme­ly excit­ed about this fan­tas­tic oppor­tu­ni­ty to keep my research here in Toron­to and, at the same time, help Google apply new devel­op­ments in deep learn­ing to make sys­tems that help peo­ple,” said Pro­fes­sor Hin­ton.

Pro­fes­sor Hin­ton will spend time at Google’s Toron­to office and sev­er­al months of the year at Google’s head­quar­ters in Moun­tain View, CA.

This announce­ment comes on the heels of a $600,000 gift Google award­ed Pro­fes­sor Hinton’s research group to sup­port fur­ther work in the area of neur­al nets.


For more infor­ma­tion, con­tact:

Sara Fran­ca
Depart­ment of Com­put­er Sci­ence
Tel: 416–978-3619