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Post-grant of $600,000, Google acquires DNNresearch

Prof Geoffrey Hinton

Close on the heels of a $600,000 gift Google awarded Professor Geoffrey Hinton’s research group in the University of Toronto to support their work in the area of neural nets, the global search giant has acquired their upcoming startup DNNresearch, which will enhance Google’s synergies in voice recognition, text search and image search.

The amount of Google’s new acquisition is not revealed by the search giant.

DNNresearch, incorporated in 2012 by University of Toronto professor Geoffrey Hinton and two of his students, Alex Krizhevsky and Ilya Sutskever, is known for its work in neural networks and implications in speech recognition, computer vision and language understanding.

Google has been shopping online for new technologies and its series of acquisitions include an impressive list of startups and research outfits. Last month, Google was given a patent by the United States Patent and Trademark Office for its facial recognition unlock technology, which can be used as a security option to Android users, especially those using Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and/or a Nexus.

“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.”

While Krizhevsky and Sutskever will move to Google, Hinton will divide his time between the University research work and also work from the Toronto office of Google for some time.

“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.

“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 also spend time at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, CA.

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