Turing Award Winner Valiant Speaks at CSAIL

Turing Award winner and Harvard University Professor Leslie Valiant spoke at CSAIL last week as part of the lab’s Dertouzos Lecturer Series. Valiant discussed his work with, “A Computational Theory of Cortex and Hippocampus.”
During his talk, Valiant explained his work applying computer science to understanding the inner workings of the human brain, in particular how the brain stores new information. After years of research on this topic, Valiant proposed the “Hippocampus as the stable memory allocator for the cortex.”
Valiant spoke as part of CSAIL’s Distinguished Lecturer Series (renamed the Dertouzos Lecturer Series in honor of former lab director Michael Dertouzos) years ago, and at the time was asked to give one piece of advice to students, garnered from his years of experience in computer science. When CSAIL Director Anant Agarwal asked him what his advice would be for students today, Valiant gave the same response, “Never despair." He went on to explain that he was still pursuing research in the same area that he was focused on when he spoke at CSAIL 20 years ago.
Leslie Valiant was educated at King's College, Cambridge; Imperial College, London; and at Warwick University where he received his Ph.D. in computer science in 1974. He is currently T. Jefferson Coolidge Professor of Computer Science and Applied Mathematics in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard University, where he has taught since 1982. Before coming to Harvard he had taught at Carnegie Mellon University, Leeds University, and the University of Edinburgh.

His work has ranged over several areas of theoretical computer science, particularly complexity theory, computational learning, and parallel computation. He also has interests in computational neuroscience, evolution and artificial intelligence.

He received the Nevanlinna Prize at the International Congress of Mathematicians in 1986, the Knuth Award in 1997, the European Association for Theoretical Computer Science EATCS Award in 2008, and the 2010 A. M. Turing Award. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society (London) and a member of the National Academy of Sciences (USA).
For more information on the Dertouzos Lecturer Series, please visit: http://www.csail.mit.edu/events/eventcalendar/calendar.php?show=series&id=181.

Abby Abazorius, CSAIL