News and Views

UCC Professor recognised with prestigious AI Research Award

14 Jan 2021
Professor Eugene C. Freuder

Professor Eugene C. Freuder, Professor Emeritus in the School of Computer Science & Information Technology at University College Cork, has been recognised with the world's premier award in the field of artificial intelligence.

Prof. Freuder, the founding director of the Cork Constraint Computation Centre, which transitioned into part of the Insight Centre for Data Analytics, has been granted the International Joint Conferences on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI) Research Excellence Award.

The Research Excellence award is given to a scientist who has carried out a program of research of consistently high quality throughout an entire career yielding several substantial results.

Past recipients of this honor are the most illustrious group of scientists from the field of Artificial Intelligence: John McCarthy (1985), Allen Newell (1989), Marvin Minsky (1991), Raymond Reiter (1993), Herbert Simon (1995), Aravind Joshi (1997), Judea Pearl (1999), Donald Michie (2001), Nils Nilsson (2003), Geoffrey E. Hinton (2005), Alan Bundy (2007), Victor Lesser (2009), Robert Anthony Kowalski (2011),  Hector Levesque (2013), Barbara Grosz (2015), Michael I. Jordan (2016), Andrew Barto (2017), Jitendra Malik (2018), and Yoav Shoham (2019). The founding fathers of the field of AI are included in this list. Geoffrey Hinton is the great-great-grandson of UCC’s own George Boole.

Of the 19 previous winners, 6 also won the ACM Turing Award, regarded as the Nobel Prize in Computer Science (John McCarthy, Allen Newell, Marvin Minsky, Herbert Simon, Judea Pearl, and Geoffrey Hinton). Herb Simon also won the Nobel Prize in Economics (1978).

On receiving the award Professor Freuder said: “I am so honored to receive this award, and so pleased, for myself and my research community. I am grateful to my family, my colleagues and my students, and for the support I have received from University College Cork and Science Foundation Ireland.”

Professor John O'Halloran, Interim President, in congratulating Professor Eugene Freuder, on this outstanding achievement and recognition, described him as "a giant of Artificial Intelligence and Computer Science. This global recognition for Professor Freuder's contribution is richly deserved and we are very proud of him and his contributions at UCC.”

Professor Anita R. Maguire, Vice President for Research and Innovation, said "I am delighted to hear that Gene's contribution to research has been recognised by this prestigious award. In addition to leading excellent research within his own research team over the past two decades in Cork, Gene's leadership, inspiration and international network has led to a thriving cluster of research teams in University College Cork focused on constraint programming and related areas which continue to push the boundaries in this field - a tremendous legacy from Gene's work.”

Professor Barry O’Sullivan, director of the Insight Centre for Data Analytics at UCC and long-time colleague and collaborator of Professor Freuder, said: “I was delighted to hear this fantastic news. Gene has been an inspiration, a colleague, and a friend, to so many of us in the field of constraint-based reasoning right across the world. He has been a wonderful friend and colleague to me over the past 25 years. He has been a true AI pioneer and we’re so lucky to have benefited from one of the most brilliant minds the field has ever known.”

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