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Alberta universities taking the lead in information science
November 07, 2003

The University of Alberta and the University of Calgary are now home to two leaders in computing-related research. The creation of the two iCORE chairs highlights the excellence of Alberta's information and communications technology research community.

The recently established Alberta Ingenuity Centre for Machine Learning will benefit from Richard Sutton's appointment as the Chair in Reinforcement Learning in the U of A's Department of Computing Science.

Sutton's work focuses on teaching computers to learn through reinforcement, which allows computers to learn during normal operation — for example, an elevator that can adjust in response to usage patterns, rather than needing to be reprogrammed. The most common use of reinforcement learning is found in robotics.

At the U of C, a centre in quantum information science is being established by Barry Sanders, who will integrate researchers from computing science, mathematics, and experimental and theoretical physics.

In quantum informational science, research projects underway are designed to understand pieces of the puzzle that may eventually lead to the creation of a quantum computer. There is also great interest in quantum encryption and the limits of "unbreakable" code.

In addition to these appointments, three visiting professor awards were also announced — Jan Bosch and Kamil Zigangirov at the University of Alberta and Ian Witten at the University of Lethbridge. Visiting professors come to the province from anywhere from two months to two years to stimulate research programs and create international connections.

The awards are valued at almost $5 million and will help build research programs with budgets of close to $15 million.

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