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Goldwasser, Micali, and Rivest win BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Awards

This week it was announced that MIT professors and CSAIL principal investigators Shafi Goldwasser, Silvio Micali, Ronald Rivest, and former MIT professor Adi Shamir won this year’s BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Awards in the Information and Communication Technologies category for their work in cryptography.

Shrinking data for surgical training

Laparoscopy is a surgical technique in which a fiber-optic camera is inserted into a patient’s abdominal cavity to provide a video feed that guides the surgeon through a minimally invasive procedure. Laparoscopic surgeries can take hours, and the video generated by the camera — the laparoscope — is often recorded. Those recordings contain a wealth of information that could be useful for training both medical providers and computer systems that would aid with surgery, but because reviewing them is so time consuming, they mostly sit idle.

CSAIL's Daniel Jackson receives two ACM awards

This week the Association for Computer Machinery presented CSAIL principal investigator Daniel Jackson with the 2017 ACM SIGSOFT Outstanding Research Award for his pioneering work in software engineering. (This fall he also received the ACM SIGSOFT Impact Paper Award for his research method for finding bugs in code.)An EECS professor and associate director of CSAIL, Jackson was given the Outstanding Research Award for his “foundational contributions to software modeling, the creation of the modeling language Alloy, and the development of a widely used tool supporting model verification.”

Voice control everywhere

The butt of jokes as little as 10 years ago, automatic speech recognition is now on the verge of becoming people’s chief means of interacting with their principal computing devices. In anticipation of the age of voice-controlled electronics, MIT researchers have built a low-power chip specialized for automatic speech recognition. Whereas a cellphone running speech-recognition software might require about 1 watt of power, the new chip requires between 0.2 and 10 milliwatts, depending on the number of words it has to recognize.

Learning words from pictures

Speech recognition systems, such as those that convert speech to text on cellphones, are generally the result of machine learning. A computer pores through thousands or even millions of audio files and their transcriptions, and learns which acoustic features correspond to which typed words.But transcribing recordings is costly, time-consuming work, which has limited speech recognition to a small subset of languages spoken in wealthy nations.

Learning spoken language

Every language has its own collection of phonemes, or the basic phonetic units from which spoken words are composed. Depending on how you count, English has somewhere between 35 and 45. Knowing a language’s phonemes can make it much easier for automated systems to learn to interpret speech.In the 2015 volume of Transactions of the Association for Computational Linguistics, CSAIL researchers describe a new machine-learning system that, like several systems before it, can learn to distinguish spoken words. But unlike its predecessors, it can also learn to distinguish lower-level phonetic units, such as syllables and phonemes.