Google has awarded a grant to the Montreal Institute of Learning Algorithms (MILA), that will expand the academic support provided by the search engine giant to deep learning and artificial intelligence research being down in Quebec.
Google is renewing the Focused Research Award for Yoshua Bengio, professor of the Department of Computer Science and Operations Research, and head of MILA. The company is also offering Focused Research Awards to MILA faculty at University of Montreal and McGill University: Pascal Vincent, Aaron Courville, Christopher Pal, Doina Precup, Joelle Pineau, Simon Lacoste-Julien, and Laurent Charlin.
Bengio is a French-born Canadian computer scientist. He is well known for his work in artificial neural networks and deep learning.
“These awards taken together, for a period of 3 years, bring Google’s total donation to MILA (bridging University of Montreal and McGill) to a total of $4.5 million,” according to Shinl Mourad, head of engineering at Google Montreal.
Google has donated about $13 million to academic research in Canada in the past 10 years. Nearly half of that amount was allocated for AI research.
The term artificial intelligence is applied when a machine mimics cognitive functions that humans associate with other human minds, such as learning and problem solving. AI has been used in a wide range of fields including medical diagnosis, stock trading, robot control, law, remote sensing, scientific discovery, and even toys.
Deep learning is part of a broader family of machine learning methods based on learning representations of data.
The group will be led by Hugo Larochelle, a former research scientist for Twitter’s AI team. Until recently, he was based in Boston. The new assignment will be sort of a homecoming for Larochelle, who got his PhD in machine learning from the University of Montreal.
Larochelle, who is also a professor Universite de Sherbrooke, has been called deep learning “rising star” by Bengio.
Montreal is fast becoming a hub for AI research and development, according to Mourad.
It’s hard to find experts in AI and deep learning because the field is in its early stages.
Google has been building AI connections in Canada for several years now. In 2013, the company hired Geoff Hinton, a British-born computer scientist at the University of Toronto, and a deep learning pioneer.
Other large technology companies are building up their AI teams.
Facebook has opened an AI laboratory in Paris to augment its first AI lab in New York.
Russ Salahutdinov, an associate professor in the deep learning department at Carnegie Mellon University, was hired by Apple Inc., to lead the company’s AI research.
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