Professor Yann LeCun wins A.M. Turing Award, computing’s highest honor

Yann Lecun at podium

Professor Yann LeCun speaking at the Modern Artificial Intelligence seminar series hosted by NYU Tandon’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

The highest award in computing has been awarded to Professor Yann LeCun for his breakthroughs in artificial intelligence, specifically, deep learning and convolutional neural networks — the foundation of modern computer vision, speech recognition, speech synthesis, image synthesis, and natural language processing.

The A.M. Turing Award was awarded March 27, 2019 to LeCun, the Silver Professor of Computer Science at NYU Courant, founding director of NYU’s Center for Data Science, vice president and chief AI scientist at Facebook, and a professor affiliated with NYU Tandon’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

The Turing Award, given by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and named after the British mathematician who articulated the mathematical foundation and limits of computing, is commonly known as the “Nobel Prize of Computing.”  LeCun will share the $1 million prize with co-winners Yoshua Bengio of the University of Montreal and Geoffrey Hinton of the University of Toronto; the ACM refers to the trio as the “Fathers of the Deep Learning Revolution.”

yan lecunn

“Artificial intelligence is now one of the fastest-growing areas in all of science and one of the most talked-about topics in society,” said ACM President Cherri M. Pancake. “The growth of and interest in AI is due, in no small part, to the recent advances in deep learning for which Bengio, Hinton, and LeCun laid the foundation. These technologies are used by billions of people. Anyone who has a smartphone in their pocket can tangibly experience advances in natural language processing and computer vision that were not possible just 10 years ago. In addition to the products we use every day, new advances in deep learning have given scientists powerful new tools — in areas ranging from medicine, to astronomy, to materials science.”

LeCun is the third member of the Tandon community to join the elite group of A.M. Turing Award winners in recent years.

Other Tandon laureates include alum Judea Pearl ('65), who garnered the award in 2011 for his fundamental contributions to artificial intelligence, and alumnus Martin Hellman (’66), who won in 2015 for his contributions to public-key cryptography.

LeCun — whose other honors include membership in the National Academy of Engineering, the Nokia-Bell Labs Shannon Luminary Award, and the IEEE Neural Network Pioneer Award — has the congratulations of everyone at NYU Tandon and the thanks of all of us who have benefited from his groundbreaking work.