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UTSC prof named one of Microsoft’s magnificent seven

Today, Microsoft announced the company is giving Ruslan Salakhutdinov and six other talented researchers from around the globe the freedom to pursue their vision.  Salakhutidnov has been named a Microsoft Research Faculty Fellow, an honour reserved for fewer than 60 promising computer science researchers since the program launched 8 years ago.

Salakhutdinov, an assistant professor of statistics in UTSC’s Department of Computer and Mathematical Sciences, has developed methods used at Microsoft, Google, IBM and Netflix.  His work allows computers to make sense of vast amounts of data, and improves their ability to conduct tasks like web searches, image retrieval and speech recognition.

 “We are trying to design intelligent algorithms that can analyze data and extract meaningful representations from the data,” Salakhutdinov says.

An example might be if you want to teach a computer to recognize a cup today, you might need to show it thousands of pictures of cups. Salakhutdinov would like to create algorithms that allow a computer to see one picture of a cup and generalize from that, much the way a human child can.

He says he will use the money on his research, including funding two postdoctoral students he hopes to hire.

“These are extraordinarily prestigious fellowships, with only a handful being awarded every year to the best researchers in computer science from around the world,” says David Fleet, chair of the CMS department. “The winners in the last few years reads like a who's who for young computer science superstars.”

Earlier this year Salakhutdinov was named an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow.  He is also a recipient of Ontario’s Early Researcher Award and of the Connaught New Researcher Award, and he is a Scholar of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research.


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