Geoffrey Hinton Awarded Royal Society's Premier Medal
Written by Sue Gee   
Sunday, 28 August 2022

Geoffrey Hinton, pioneer of neural networks and deep learning, has been awarded a Royal Medal by the Royal Society, the UK's national academy of sciences. 

g hinton uot

Geoffrey Hinton should need no introduction. As well as an emeritus professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Toronto, he is also an Engineering Fellow at Google and in 2017 co-founded and became the Chief Scientific Advisor of the Vector Institute for Artificial Intelligence in Toronto.

Hinton's contributions to machine learning and artificial intelligence have been acknowledged on multiple occasions. Over the years he has been awarded the first David E. Rumelhart prize (2001), the IJCAI award for research excellence (2005), the Killam prize for Engineering (2012) , The IEEE James Clerk Maxwell Gold medal (2016), the NSERC Herzberg Gold Medal (2010) which is Canada's top award in Science and Engineering and, as we reported at the time, he shared the 2018 ACM Turing Award, widely regarded as the Noble Prize for Computer Science.

Hinton was made a Fellow of the Royal Society, which is a significant honor, in 1998 and now he is the recipient of one of the Royal Society's most prestigious awards that recognize exceptional and outstanding science.

The Royal Society dates from the C17th. Its website states:

We published Isaac Newton’s Principia Mathematica, and Benjamin Franklin’s kite experiment demonstrating the electrical nature of lightning. We backed James Cook’s journey to Tahiti, reaching Australia and New Zealand, to track the Transit of Venus. We published the first report in English of inoculation against disease, approved Charles Babbage’s Difference Engine, documented the eruption of Krakatoa and published Chadwick’s detection of the neutron that would lead to the unleashing of the atom. 

The Royal Medals, also known as the Queen’s Medals, were founded by King George IV in 1825 and are awarded annually by the Sovereign on the recommendation of the Council of the Society.  Between 1826 and 1964 two medals were awarded each year.for the most important contributions to the advancement of "Natural Knowledge” in the physical and biological sciences respectively. In 1965 the third medal, covering the applied sciences, was introduced and it is this medal that has been awarded to Hinton. The citation reads:

For pioneering work on algorithms that learn distributed representations in artificial neural networks and their application to speech and vision, leading to a transformation of the international information technology industry.

Hinton RoyalSoc

In acknowledgment Hinton states:

“It is a great honour to receive the Royal Medal – a medal previously awarded to intellectual giants like Darwin, Faraday, Boole and G.I. Taylor. But unlike them, my success was the result of recruiting and nurturing an extraordinarily talented set of graduate students and post-docs who were responsible for many of the breakthroughs in deep learning that revolutionized artificial intelligence over the last 15 years.”

Outlining the background to the award in the University of Toronto News, Chris Sasaki explains:

Deep learning is a type of machine learning that relies on a neural network modelled on the network of neurons in the human brain. In 1986, Hinton and his collaborators developed the breakthrough approach – based on the backpropagation algorithm, a central mechanism by which artificial neural networks learn – that would realize the promise of neural networks and form the current foundation of that technology.

Hinton and his colleagues in Toronto built on that initial work with a number of critical developments that enhanced the potential of AI and helped usher in today’s revolution in deep learning with applications in speech and image recognition, self-driving vehicles, automated diagnosis of images and language, and more.

In a final comment, Hinton adds:

“I believe that the spectacular recent progress in large language models, image generation and protein structure prediction is evidence that the deep learning revolution has only just started.”  



More Information

Deep learning pioneer Geoffrey Hinton receives prestigious Royal Medal from the Royal Society

The Royal Society - Royal Medals

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Hinton, LeCun and Bengio Receive 2018 Turing Award

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Last Updated ( Sunday, 28 August 2022 )