Professor Andrew Blake named as BCS Lovelace Medal Winner 2016

29 March 2016

2016 BCS Lovelace Medal winner: Professor Andrew BlakeProfessor Andrew Blake has been named as the recipient of the 2016 BCS Lovelace Medal, the top award in computing in the UK, awarded by BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT. The award is presented annually to individuals who, in the opinion of BCS, have made a significant contribution to the advancement of Information Systems.

Paul Fletcher, Group Chief Executive Officer BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, says: “Professor Blake has made an outstanding contribution to the understanding and advancement of Computing as a discipline in a distinguished career spanning academia and industry. I am delighted that we are awarding him the Lovelace Medal in recognition of his wide range of achievements. The impact he has made to the IT industry, and his contribution to academic research makes him a richly deserving recipient of this prestigious award.”

Professor Blake, Director of The Alan Turing Institute, is a research leader both in the field of machine vision, as a component for artificial intelligence, and more broadly in leading major computer science research institutes. He has made sustained and significant contributions throughout his research career and is recognised as a world-leading authority in this growing field.

He holds honorary doctorates at the Universities of Edinburgh and Sheffield. He is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, and the Royal Society. He won jointly the IEEE David Marr Prize in 2001, and in 2006 the Royal Academy of Engineering awarded him its Silver Medal for ‘technical achievements in visual segmentation and motion tracking’.

In 2007, he received the IET Mountbatten Medal and the IEEE Distinguished Researcher award for ‘major research contributions in Computer Vision’ in 2009. In 2011 his computer vision team at Microsoft were awarded the Royal Academy of Engineering MacRobert Gold medal for their work on the machine learning algorithms in the Kinect 3D camera, which has subsequently sold in the tens of millions. And in 2014, exactly 80 years after Einstein, he gave the 87th Gibbs lecture of the American Mathematical Society on ‘Machines that see, powered by probability’.

Over the last seven years he has taken a broader interest in computing research, largely in his role as Director of Microsoft Research Cambridge. He was primarily responsible for the move of the laboratory to Cambridge city centre, creating a more prominent national institution, better connected with industry. He has overseen and developed substantial programmes in machine learning, distributed computing, computer languages, human computer interaction and computational biology. Some of these developments have had appreciable impact on Microsoft products. He is notable for hiring and developing top talent, the key to building an internationally leading research institute.

He has also made a major contribution to the broader professional community. He chairs the Technical Advisory Board of the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems and the advisory board for the CDT on data science at U Edinburgh. He has served on the Council of the Royal Society, chaired its sectional committee on Engineering, and is currently on its finance committee. He is a current Council Member for EPSRC.

In late 2015, he assumed the role of Director of The Alan Turing Institute, the UK national institute for the data science, supported by the EPSRC and jointly established by the Universities of Cambridge, Edinburgh, Oxford, UCL and Warwick.

Professor Blake says of being presented with the award: “Being awarded the BCS Lovelace Medal is a great honour. In part it reflects the way computer vision has moved from being a futuristic experiment to a mainstream technology that really works. And in part I take the award as a great encouragement for the Alan Turing Institute as the UK develops its new national Institute for data science.”

The Lovelace Medal

The BCS Lovelace Medal was established in 1998 in honour of Lady Augusta Ada Byron, Countess of Lovelace and daughter of Lord Byron. She was born in 1815.

Previous winners include worldwide web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Linux creator Linus Torvalds, ARM designer Steve Furber, information retrieval pioneer Karen Spärck Jones, and Doug Engelbart who developed the computer mouse and the modern style of computer interface.

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Full details of the lecture will be announced on the BCS website later.

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