Google acquires neural network startup that may help it hone speech recognition and more

Mountain View has just picked up some experts on deep neural networks with their acquisition of DNNresearch, which was founded last year by University of Toronto professor Geoffrey Hinton and graduate students Alex Krizhevsky and Ilya Sutskever. The group is being brought into the fold after developing a solution that vastly improves object recognition. As a whole, advances in neural nets could lead to the development of improved computer vision, language understanding and speech recognition systems. We reckon that Page and Co. have a few projects in mind that would benefit from such things. Both students will be transitioning to Google, while Hinton will split his attention between teaching and working with the search giant.

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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.