Roth honored with the IJCAI John McCarthy Award

5/11/2017 Colin Robertson, CS @ ILLINOIS

Professor Dan Roth has been named the winner of the 2017 John McCarthy Award, the highest award the Artificial Intelligence community gives to mid-career AI researchers.

Written by Colin Robertson, CS @ ILLINOIS

Founder Professor Dan Roth
Founder Professor Dan Roth
CS Professor Dan Roth has been named the winner of the 2017 John McCarthy Award by the International Joint Conferences on Artificial Intelligence Organization (IJCAI). The IJCAI John McCarthy Award is the highest award the Artificial Intelligence (AI) community gives to mid-career AI researchers who are 15 to 25 years past their PhD. It is intended to recognize established researchers who have built up a major track record of research excellence in artificial intelligence. Recipients of the award will have made significant contributions to the research agenda in their area and will have a first-rate profile of influential research results.

Roth, a Founder Professor of Engineering, was recognized “for major conceptual and theoretical advances in the modeling of natural language understanding, machine learning, and reasoning.”  He has done pioneering work that has helped bridge learning and reasoning in AI. This includes developing a theory integrating learning and reasoning – formally showing the benefit in jointly studying these important phenomena – and creating a highly influential constrained optimization framework that augments the learning of statistical models with declarative constraints.

Building on these theories, Roth and his team have developed tools that can analyze human language, categorize it, parse it semantically, and “wikify” it—disambiguate it and map snippets of text to the relevant Wikipedia pages. These tools are used by numerous researchers and some commercial companies to access text in more sophisticated ways than a keyword search, which is used by search engines such as Google.

Roth has published broadly in machine learning, natural language processing, knowledge representation and reasoning, and learning theory, and has developed advanced machine learning based tools for natural language applications that are being used widely by the research community.

Roth is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM), the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI), and the Association of Computational Linguistics (ACL), for his contributions to Machine Learning and to Natural Language Processing. Additional recognitions include the AAAI’s Innovative Application of AI Award in 2001 and the distinction of University Scholar from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2010. Until recently, he was the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research.

About the IJCAI John McCarthy Award
The award is named for John McCarthy (1927-2011), who is widely recognized as one of the founders of the field of artificial intelligence. As well as giving the discipline its name, McCarthy made fundamental contributions of lasting importance to computer science in general and artificial intelligence in particular, including time-sharing operating systems, the LISP programming languages, knowledge representation, common-sense reasoning, and the logicist paradigm in artificial intelligence.

The award was established with the full support and encouragement of the McCarthy family. Past recipients of this honor have been:  Bart Selman (2015) and Moshe Tennenholtz (2016).

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This story was published May 11, 2017.