Google (GOOG) has acquired a startup from the University of Toronto’s computer science department. The “ground-breaking” startup called DNNresearch Inc was founded by University professor Geoffrey Hinton and two of his graduate students in 2012. Google was interested in the company’s research on deep neural networks, which will assist the company in improving its speech and image recognition software. Professor Hinton will now split his time between his work at the University and continuing his research with Google. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. The University of Toronto’s press release follows below.
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.