Facebook has appointed New York University Professor Yann LeCun the director of a new laboratory devoted to research in artificial intelligence and deep learning.
LeCun who is a professor at NYU’s Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, is well-known as a pioneer in the field of machine learning and computer vision, in particular for the handwriting recognition technology that is used by banks around the world.
In the 1980s,he proposed one of the early versions of the back-propagation algorithm, the most popular method for training artificial neural networks and followed this up over the next decade, while working at AT&T Bell Laboratories by developing the convolutional network model, a pattern-recognition model whose architecture mimics, in part, the visual cortex of animals and humans. His recent research projects include the application of “deep learning” methods to visual scene understanding, visual navigation for autonomous ground robots, driverless cars, and small flying robots, speech recognition, and applications in biology and medicine.
When he takes up his new post January, he will head up a research group that was initially announced in September in new facility in New York City, one block away from NYU's main campus. Other locations for the AI Group are at Facebook's HQ at Menlo Park in California and in London, UK. LeCun will also remain a professor at NYU and continue his research and teaching there on a part time basis. In exchange NYU's Center for Data Science is entering into a partnership with Facebook to carry out research in data science, machine learning, and AI.
By having its own AI research group Facebook falls into line with Google, which hired University of Toronto's neural network guru Professor Geoffrey Hinton to pursue deep learning research to help computers understand human meaning. Microsoft Research has also been busy with deep learning using it to implement a voice recognition system to be used with Bing search.