Facebook AI researcher kicks off modern AI seminar series

Leon Bottou recieving his award

Leon Bottou of Facebook AI Research with Anna Choromanska, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Some of the world’s leading artificial intelligence (AI) researchers — from Google, Facebook, and France’s national research center for data sciences — are sharing their own intelligence at NYU Tandon this fall. The three are headlining the 2019 Modern Artificial Intelligence seminars series, which is free to all and streamed worldwide.

The series, in its third year, is held at 370 Jay Street, Brooklyn, New York, in Room 1201, and at NYU Tandon’s MakerSpace at 6 MetroTech. This semester’s series began on October 7, 2019 with a lecture by Leon Bottou of Facebook AI Research, who joined the social media company’s AI unit in 2015, after having received numerous degrees in France, including a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Université de Paris-Sud in 1991. 

Bottou, who has also done research at AT&T Bell Laboratories, NEC Labs America, and Microsoft, harbors the long-term ambition of replicating human-level intelligence. For his seminar talk seminar, he focused on causal inference, or finding the relationship between existing facts and objects. 

An analogy to popular movies explains the idea: with the success of a blockbuster film, one might credit the director, screenwriter, or the cast or combinations of the above. However,  an understanding of the positive and negative factors involved requires a deeper analysis. If one discovered that every single movie from the same director (but different actors) was a hit, than one could be reasonably assured that the director was the magic dust in the production. 

In machine learning, exploring causality is key to the correct interpretation of data, with major applications in medicine, biology, chemistry, physics, technology, and more. 

“With the Modern Artificial Intelligence series, approaching its third year, NYU Tandon’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering has become a major forum for theory and practice in machine learning technologies, and a burgeoning hub for innovation,” said Anna Choromanska, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and organizer of the series.

The second seminar, on November 14, will feature Francis Bach, a researcher at INRIA (the French national research institute for the digital sciences), who leads the machine learning team at École Normale Supérieure. Bach will speak about distributed optimization applicable to process large amounts of data and present a new family of algorithms suitable to this problem.

The series concludes on December 6 with a lecture by Raia Hadsell, a senior researcher in DeepMind, Google’s AI project. She is an expert in continual and transfer learning, deep reinforcement learning, and neural models of navigation.

The series began in Fall, 2017 with a lecture by Yann LeCun, director of AI research at Facebook and a member of the New York University faculty. Since then thousands of people worldwide have viewed the 11 seminars now archived on the youtube playlist.

“We are proud that the ECE Tandon Seminar Series on Modern AI has become an inseparable part of the AI landscape of New York and serves as a platform for research discussions available to everybody: juniors, seniors, students, researchers, academic community, industrial community, etc.,” said Choromanksa. “We are also thrilled that it is watched worldwide. The success of the series exceeded my expectations. I hope it will continue to help unite the AI community.”

Geometric abstract image of brain

ECE Seminar Series: Modern AI

Find out more about the special ECE seminar series addressing the most important new research in the world of artificial intelligence (AI)