Hartmut Neven

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Hartmut Neven
Hartmut Neven.png
Hartmut Neven at Further Future 2016
Born1964 (age 57–58)
Scientific career
FieldsPhysics, Computer Science, Neuroscience
Doctoral advisorChristoph von der Malsburg

Hartmut Neven (born 1964) is a scientist working in quantum computing, computer vision, robotics and computational neuroscience. He is best known for his work in face and object recognition and his contributions to quantum machine learning. He is currently Vice President of Engineering at Google where he is leading the Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab which he founded in 2012.[1][2][3][4][5]


Hartmut Neven studied Physics and Economics in Brazil, Köln, Paris, Tübingen and Jerusalem. He wrote his Master thesis on a neuronal model of object recognition at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics under Valentino Braitenberg. In 1996 he received his Ph.D. from the Institute for Neuroinformatics at the Ruhr University in Bochum, Germany, for a thesis on "Dynamics for vision-guided autonomous mobile robots" written under the tutelage of Christoph von der Malsburg. He received a scholarship from the Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes, Germany’s most prestigious scholarship foundation.


1998 Neven became research professor of computer science at the University of Southern California at the Laboratory for Biological and Computational Vision. 2003 he returned as the head of the Laboratory for Human-Machine Interfaces at USC's Information Sciences Institute.

Face recognition, avatars and face filters[edit]

Neven co-founded two companies, Eyematic for which he served as CTO and Neven Vision which he initially led as CEO. At Eyematic he developed face recognition technology and real-time facial feature analysis for avatar animation.[6] Teams led by Neven have repeatedly won top scores in government sponsored tests designed to determine the most accurate face recognition software.[7] Face filters, now ubiquitous on mobile phones, were launched for the first time by Neven Vision on the networks of NTT DoCoMo and Vodafone Japan in 2003. Neven Vision also pioneered mobile visual search for camera phones. [8][9] Neven Vision was acquired by Google in 2006.[10]

Object recognition and adversarial images[edit]

At Google he managed teams responsible for advancing Google's visual search technologies and was the engineering manager for Google Goggles.[11][12][13][14] The concept of adversarial patterns originated in his group when he tasked Christian Szegedy with a project to modify the pixel inputs of a deep neural network to lower the activity of select output nodes.[15] The motivation was to use this technique for object localization which did not work out. But the idea gave rise to the fields of adversarial learning and DeepDream art. In 2013 his optical character recognition team won the ICDAR Robust Reading Competition by a wide margin[16] and in 2014 the object recognition team won the ImageNet challenge.[17]

Google Glass[edit]

Neven was a co-founder of the Google Glass project. His team completed the first prototype, codenamed Ant, in 2011.

Quantum artificial intelligence[edit]

In 2006 Neven started to explore the application of quantum computing to hard combinatorial problems arising in machine learning. In collaboration with D-Wave Systems he developed the first image recognition system based on quantum algorithms. It was demonstrated at SuperComputing07.[18] At NIPS 2009 his team demonstrated the first binary classifier trained on a quantum processor.[19][20][21]

In 2012 together with Pete Worden at NASA Ames he founded the Quantum Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. In 2014 he invited John Martinis and his group at UC Santa Barbara to join the lab to start a fabrication facility for superconducting quantum processors. The Quantum Artificial Intelligence team performed the first experimental demonstration of a scalable simulation of a molecule.[22] In 2016 the team formulated an experiment to demonstrate quantum supremacy.[23] Quantum supremacy was then declared by Google in October 2019.[24]

Neven's law[edit]

The observation that quantum computers are gaining computational power at a doubly exponential rate is called "Neven's law".[25]

Hartmut Neven was named as one of Fast Company’s Most Creative People of 2020.[26] Citing Neven: "It’s not one company versus another, but rather, humankind versus nature — or humankind with nature."[27]


  1. ^ "10 Breakthrough Technologies". MIT Technology Review. 2017-03-01.
  2. ^ "The Infinity Machine". Time Magazine. 2014-02-17.
  3. ^ Quantum AI Lab on Google+
  4. ^ "A first look inside Google's futuristic quantum lab". The Verge.
  5. ^ "Publications Hartmut Neven". Google Research Blog.
  6. ^ "Seal of Excellence Winners". Animation Magazine. Archived from the original on 2012-02-13. Retrieved 2008-04-13.
  7. ^ Face Recognition Vendor Test
  8. ^ "Phones That Get in Your Face". Wired Magazine.
  9. ^ "Hyperlinking the World". The Feature. Archived from the original on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2008-04-13.
  10. ^ Flanigan, James (2007-01-18). "The Route From Research to Start-Up". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-04.
  11. ^ Graham, Jefferson (2008-09-17). "Google can sort digital photos on face value". USA Today. Retrieved 2010-05-04.
  12. ^ "Google begins blurring faces in Street View". CNET News.
  13. ^ "Google Goggles". Google Labs.
  14. ^ "A new landmark in computer vision". Google Blog.
  15. ^ Intriguing properties of neural networks
  16. ^ PhotoOCR: Reading Text in Uncontrolled Conditions
  17. ^ "Going Deeper with Convolutions" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2019-08-05. Retrieved 2019-08-02.
  18. ^ "D-Wave's quantum computer ready for latest demo". CNET News.
  19. ^ "Google demonstrates quantum computer image search". New Scientist.
  20. ^ "Google exploring quantum computing algorithms". Physics Today. Archived from the original on 2011-09-18. Retrieved 2010-06-19.
  21. ^ "Machine Learning with Quantum Algorithms". Google Research Blog.
  22. ^ Scalable Quantum Simulation of Molecular Energies
  23. ^ Characterizing quantum supremacy in near-term devices
  24. ^ Arute, Frank; Arya, Kunal; Babbush, Ryan; Bacon, Dave; Bardin, Joseph C.; Barends, Rami; Biswas, Rupak; Boixo, Sergio; Brandao, Fernando G. S. L.; Buell, David A.; Burkett, Brian; Chen, Yu; Chen, Zijun; Chiaro, Ben; Collins, Roberto; Courtney, William; Dunsworth, Andrew; Farhi, Edward; Foxen, Brooks; Fowler, Austin; Gidney, Craig; Giustina, Marissa; Graff, Rob; Guerin, Keith; Habegger, Steve; Harrigan, Matthew P.; Hartmann, Michael J.; Ho, Alan; Hoffmann, Markus; et al. (23 October 2019). "Quantum supremacy using a programmable superconducting processor". Nature. 574 (7779): 505–510. arXiv:1910.11333. Bibcode:2019Natur.574..505A. doi:10.1038/s41586-019-1666-5. PMID 31645734. S2CID 204836822.
  25. ^ Hartnett, Kevin (2019-06-18). "Does Neven's Law Describe Quantum Computing's Rise?". Quanta Magazine.
  26. ^ Google scientist Hartmut Neven coined the term ‘Quantum AI.’
  27. ^ "Google quantum breakthrough will help solve 'impossible problems'". Financial Times. Oct 24, 2019. Retrieved 2019-10-28.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)

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