Geoffrey Hinton

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Geoffrey Hinton
Geoffrey Hinton at UBC.jpg
Born Geoffrey Everest Hinton
(1947-12-06) 6 December 1947 (age 70)[1]
Wimbledon, London
Residence Canada
Alma mater
Known for
Scientific career
Institutions University of Toronto
Carnegie Mellon University
University College London
Thesis Relaxation and its role in vision (1977)
Doctoral advisor Christopher Longuet-Higgins[3][4][5]
Doctoral students
Other notable students

Geoffrey Everest Hinton FRS FRSC[11] (born 6 December 1947) is an English Canadian cognitive psychologist and computer scientist, most noted for his work on artificial neural networks. Since 2013 he divides his time working for Google (Google Brain) and the University of Toronto.[12][13]

Hinton was one of the first researchers who demonstrated the use of generalized backpropagation algorithm for training multi-layer neural nets. He is a leading figure in the deep learning community and is referred to by some as the "Godfather of Deep Learning".[14][15][16][17][18] His dramatic image-recognition milestone in Imagenet challenge 2012[19] revolutionized the field of computer vision.[20]


Hinton was educated at King's College, Cambridge graduating in 1970, with a Bachelor of Arts in experimental psychology.[1] He continued his study at the University of Edinburgh where he was awarded a PhD in artificial intelligence in 1977 for research supervised by Christopher Longuet-Higgins.[3][21]

Career and research[edit]

After his PhD he worked at the University of Sussex, and (after difficulty finding funding in Britain)[22] the University of California, San Diego, and Carnegie Mellon University.[1] He was the founding director of the Gatsby Charitable Foundation Computational Neuroscience Unit at University College London,[1] and is currently[23] a professor in the computer science department at the University of Toronto. He holds a Canada Research Chair in Machine Learning, and is currently an advisor for the Learning in Machines & Brains program at the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. Hinton taught a free online course on Neural Networks on the education platform Coursera in 2012.[24] Hinton joined Google in March 2013 when his company, DNNresearch Inc., was acquired. He is planning to "divide his time between his university research and his work at Google".[25]

Hinton's research investigates ways of using neural networks for machine learning, memory, perception and symbol processing. He has authored or co-authored over 200 peer reviewed publications[2][26] in these areas. While a professor at Carnegie Mellon University (1982–1987), Hinton was one of the first researchers who demonstrated the use of generalized back-propagation algorithm for training multi-layer neural networks that has been widely used for practical applications.[27] During the same period, Hinton co-invented Boltzmann machines with David Ackley and Terry Sejnowski.[28] His other contributions to neural network research include distributed representations, time delay neural network, mixtures of experts, Helmholtz machines and Product of Experts. In 2007 Hinton coauthored an unsupervised learning paper titled "Unsupervised learning of image transformations".[29] An accessible introduction to Geoffrey Hinton's research can be found in his articles in Scientific American in September 1992 and October 1993.

In October and November 2017 respectively, Hinton published two open access research papers[30][31] on the theme of capsule neural networks, which according to Hinton are "finally something that works well."[32]

Notable former PhD students and postdoctoral researchers from his group include Richard Zemel,[3][6] Brendan Frey,[7] Radford M. Neal,[8] Ruslan Salakhutdinov,[9] Ilya Sutskever,[10] Yann LeCun[33] and Zoubin Ghahramani.

Honours and awards[edit]

From left to right Russ Salakhutdinov, Richard S. Sutton, Geoffrey Hinton, Yoshua Bengio and Steve Jurvetson in 2016

Hinton was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 1998.[11] He was the first winner of the David E. Rumelhart Prize in 2001.[34] His certificate of election for the Royal Society reads:

In 2001, Hinton was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Edinburgh.[citation needed] He was the 2005 recipient of the IJCAI Award for Research Excellence lifetime-achievement award.[citation needed] He has also been awarded the 2011 Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering.[36] In 2013, Hinton was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the Université de Sherbrooke.[citation needed]

In 2016, he was elected a foreign member of National Academy of Engineering "For contributions to the theory and practice of artificial neural networks and their application to speech recognition and computer vision".[37] He also received the 2016 IEEE/RSE Wolfson James Clerk Maxwell Award.[38]

He has won the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award (2016) in the Information and Communication Technologies category "for his pioneering and highly influential work" to endow machines with the ability to learn.

Personal life[edit]

Hinton is the great-great-grandson both of logician George Boole whose work eventually became one of the foundations of modern computer science, and of surgeon and author James Hinton.[39] His father is Howard Hinton.[40] His middle name is from another relative, George Everest.[22] He is the nephew of the economist Colin Clark.[41] He lost his first wife to ovarian cancer in 1994.[42]


Hinton moved from the U.S. to Canada in part due to disillusionment with Reagan-era politics and disapproval of military funding of artificial intelligence.[22] He believes political systems will use AI to "terrorize people". Hinton has petitioned against lethal autonomous weapons. Regarding existential risk from artificial intelligence, Hinton has stated that superintelligence seems more than 50 years away, but warns that "there is not a good track record of less intelligent things controlling things of greater intelligence". Asked in 2015 why he continues research despite his grave concerns, Hinton stated "I could give you the usual arguments. But the truth is that the prospect of discovery is too sweet." Hinton has also stated that "It is very hard to predict beyond five years" what advances AI will bring.[42][43]


  1. ^ a b c d Anon (2015) Hinton, Prof. Geoffrey Everest. Who's Who (online Oxford University Press ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc.  closed access publication – behind paywall doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.20261 (subscription required)
  2. ^ a b Geoffrey Hinton publications indexed by Google Scholar Edit this at Wikidata
  3. ^ a b c Geoffrey Hinton at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  4. ^ Geoffrey E. Hinton's Academic Genealogy
  5. ^ Gregory, R. L.; Murrell, J. N. (2006). "Hugh Christopher Longuet-Higgins". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 52: 149. doi:10.1098/rsbm.2006.0012. 
  6. ^ a b Zemel, Richard Stanley (1994). A minimum description length framework for unsupervised learning. (PhD thesis). University of Toronto. OCLC 222081343. 
  7. ^ a b Frey, Brendan John (1998). Bayesian networks for pattern classification, data compression, and channel coding. (PhD thesis). University of Toronto. OCLC 46557340. 
  8. ^ a b Neal, Radford (1995). Bayesian learning for neural networks. (PhD thesis). University of Toronto. OCLC 46499792. 
  9. ^ a b Salakhutdinov, Ruslan (2009). Learning deep generative models. (PhD thesis). University of Toronto. ISBN 9780494610800. OCLC 785764071. 
  10. ^ a b Sutskever, Ilya (2013). Training Recurrent Neural Networks. (PhD thesis). University of Toronto. OCLC 889910425. 
  11. ^ a b Anon (1998). "Professor Geoffrey Hinton FRS". London: Royal Society. Archived from the original on 2015-11-03.  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from the website where:

    "All text published under the heading 'Biography' on Fellow profile pages is available under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License." --"Royal Society Terms, conditions and policies". Archived from the original on 11 November 2016. Retrieved 2016-03-09. 

  12. ^ Daniela Hernandez (7 May 2013). "The Man Behind the Google Brain: Andrew Ng and the Quest for the New AI". Wired. Retrieved 10 May 2013. 
  13. ^ "Geoffrey E. Hinton – Google AI". Google AI. 
  14. ^ "Geoffrey Hinton was briefly a Google intern in 2012 because of bureaucracy – TechCrunch". Retrieved 2018-03-28. 
  15. ^ Somers, James. "Progress in AI seems like it's accelerating, but here's why it could be plateauing". MIT Technology Review. Retrieved 2018-03-28. 
  16. ^ "How U of T's 'godfather' of deep learning is reimagining AI". University of Toronto News. Retrieved 2018-03-28. 
  17. ^ "'Godfather' of deep learning is reimagining AI". Retrieved 2018-03-28. 
  18. ^ "Geoffrey Hinton, the 'godfather' of deep learning, on AlphaGo". 2016-03-18. Retrieved 2018-03-28. 
  19. ^ Krizhevsky, Alex; Sutskever, Ilya; Hinton, Geoffrey E. (2012-12-03). "ImageNet classification with deep convolutional neural networks". Curran Associates Inc.: 1097–1105. 
  20. ^ "How a Toronto professor's research revolutionized artificial intelligence | Toronto Star". Retrieved 2018-03-13. 
  21. ^ Hinton, Geoffrey Everest (1977). Relaxation and its role in vision. (PhD thesis). University of Edinburgh. hdl:1842/8121. OCLC 18656113. EThOS  Free to read
  22. ^ a b c Smith, Craig S. (23 June 2017). "The Man Who Helped Turn Toronto into a High-Tech Hotbed". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 June 2017. 
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^ "U of T neural networks start-up acquired by Google" (Press release). Toronto, ON. 12 March 2013. Retrieved 13 March 2013. 
  26. ^ Geoffrey Hinton's publications indexed by the Scopus bibliographic database, a service provided by Elsevier. (subscription required)
  27. ^ Rumelhart, David E.; Hinton, Geoffrey E.; Williams, Ronald J. (1986-10-09). "Learning representations by back-propagating errors". Nature. 323 (6088): 533–536. doi:10.1038/323533a0. ISSN 1476-4687. 
  28. ^ Ackley, David H; Hinton Geoffrey E; Sejnowski, Terrence J (1985), "A learning algorithm for Boltzmann machines", Cognitive science, Elsevier, 9 (1): 147–169
  29. ^ Hinton, Geoffrey E. "Geoffrey E. Hinton's Publications in Reverse Chronological Order". 
  30. ^ Sabour, Sara; Frosst, Nicholas; Hinton, Geoffrey. October 2017. "Dynamic Routing Between Capsules"
  31. ^ "Matrix capsules with EM routing" November 3, 2017.
  32. ^ Geib, Claudia. November 2nd 2017. "We’ve Finally Created an AI Network That’s Been Decades in the Making"
  33. ^ "Yann LeCun's Research and Contributions". Retrieved 2018-03-13. 
  34. ^ "Current and Previous Recipients". David E. Rumelhart Prize. 
  35. ^ Anon (1998). "Certificate of election EC/1998/21: Geoffrey Everest Hinton". London: Royal Society. Archived from the original on 5 November 2015. 
  36. ^ "Artificial intelligence scientist gets M prize". CBC News. 14 February 2011. 
  37. ^ "National Academy of Engineering Elects 80 Members and 22 Foreign Members". NAE. 8 February 2016. 
  38. ^ "2016 IEEE Medals and Recognitions Recipients and Citations" (PDF). IEEE. Retrieved July 7, 2016. 
  39. ^ The Isaac Newton of logic
  40. ^ Salt, George (1978). "Howard Everest Hinton". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 24 (0): 150–182. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1978.0006. ISSN 0080-4606. 
  41. ^ Shute, Joe (26 August 2017). "The 'Godfather of AI' on making machines clever and whether robots really will learn to kill us all?". The Telegraph. Retrieved 20 December 2017. 
  42. ^ a b Shute, Joe (26 August 2017). "The 'Godfather of AI' on making machines clever and whether robots really will learn to kill us all?". The Telegraph. Retrieved 30 January 2018. 
  43. ^ Khatchadourian, Raffi (16 November 2015). "The Doomsday Invention". The New Yorker. Retrieved 30 January 2018.