Google acquires neural network startup for better speech and image processing

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Speech processing has become very important in the modern world. There are so many apps today that listen to your commands and then execute them. The voice based virtual assistants from Apple (Siri) and Google (Google Now) are great examples for this. Also, image processing has some important applications as well. For example, biometric security. For all these, neural networks is important. And for this reason, the search engine giant, Google, has acquired a new start up company from the University of Toronto’s computer science department.

The start up named DNNresearch Inc. is a product of the collaborative efforts of University professor Geoffrey Hinton and two of his graduate students in 2012. Google was pretty much interested in the research that the company has done, and hence, bought it. The research work going on in the company is going to help Google in its speech and image processing software. Professor Geoffrey is now going to divide his time for carrying out his work at the University, and continuing his research at Google. The money involved in the acquisition was not disclosed. The press release by the University follows.


U of T neural networks start-up acquired by Google

TORONTO, ON – Google has picked up a ground-breaking start-up out of the Department of Computer Science, University of Toronto.

University Professor Geoffrey Hinton and two of his graduate students, Alex Krizhevsky and Ilya Sutskever, incorporated DNNresearch Inc. in 2012, and the company has been acquired by Google for its research on deep neural networks.

Hinton is world-renowned for his work with neural nets, and this research has profound implications for areas such as speech recognition, computer vision and language understanding.

“Geoffrey Hinton’s research is a magnificent example of disruptive innovation with roots in basic research,” said U of T’s president, Professor David Naylor. “The discoveries of brilliant researchers, guided freely by their expertise, curiosity, and intuition, lead eventually to practical applications no one could have imagined, much less requisitioned.

“I extend my congratulations to Professor Hinton for this latest achievement.”

Recently, Krizhevsky and Sutskever, who will both be moving to Google, developed a system that dramatically improved the state of the art in object recognition.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for Geoff, and a great opportunity for the department,” said Computer Science Chair Sven Dickinson. “In recent years, we have been expanding our industrial relations, and this acquisition represents a wonderful opportunity to strengthen our existing ties with Google, one of the world’s most innovative IT companies.”

The Google deal will support Prof. Hinton’s graduate students housed in the department’s machine learning group, while protecting their research autonomy under academic freedom. It will also allow Prof. Hinton himself to divide his time between his university research and his work at Google.

“I am extremely excited about this fantastic opportunity to keep my research here in Toronto and, at the same time, help Google apply new developments in deep learning to make systems that help people,” said Professor Hinton.

Professor Hinton will spend time at Google’s Toronto office and several months of the year at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, CA.

This announcement comes on the heels of a $600,000 gift Google awarded Professor Hinton’s research group to support further work in the area of neural nets.

Source: Boy Genius Report

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