Julia Hirschberg and David Blei elected 2015 ACM Fellows
Two professors in the Computer Science department at Columbia University have been elected 2015 Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Fellows: Julia Hirschberg for “contributions to spoken language processing,” and David Blei, for “contributions to the theory and practice of probabilistic topic modeling and Bayesian machine learning.” The ACM fellowship grade recognizes the top 1% of ACM members for their outstanding accomplishments in computing and information technology or outstanding service to ACM and the larger computing community. This year, 42 have been named ACM Fellows.
Julia Hirschberg is the Percy K. and Vida L. W. Hudson Professor of Computer Science and Chair of the Computer Science Department. She is also a member of the Data Science Institute. Her main area of research is computational linguistics, with a focus on the relationship between intonation and discourse. Her current projects include deceptive speech; spoken dialogue systems; entrainment in dialogue; speech synthesis; speech search in low-resource languages; and hedging behaviors.
“I’m deeply honored to be joining this wonderful group of computer scientists,” says Hirschberg. “The ACM has done a wonderful job of supporting and promoting computer science for many years.”
Upon receiving her PhD in Computer and Information Science from the University of Pennsylvania, Hirschberg went to work at AT&T Bell Laboratories, where in the 1980s and 1990s she pioneered techniques in text analysis for prosody assignment in text-to-speech synthesis, developing corpus-based statistical models that incorporate syntactic and discourse information, models that are in general use today. She joined Columbia University faculty in 2002 as a Professor in the Department of Computer Science and has served as department chair since 2012.
As of November 2015, her publications have been cited 14,161 times, and she has an h-index of 60.
Hirschberg serves on numerous technical boards and editorial committees, including the IEEE Speech and Language Processing Technical Committee and the board of CRA-W. Previously she served as editor-in-chief of Computational Linguistics and co-editor-in-chief of Speech Communication and was on the Executive Board of the Association for Computational Linguistics (ACL); on the Executive Board of the North American ACL; on the CRA Board of Directors; on the AAAI Council; on the Permanent Council of International Conference on Spoken Language Processing (ICSLP); and on the board of the International Speech Communication Association (ISCA). She is also noted for her leadership in promoting diversity, both at AT&T and Columbia, and broadening participation in computing.
Among many honors, she is a fellow of the Association for Computational Linguistics (2011), of the International Speech Communication Association (2008), of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (1994); and she is a recipient of the IEEE James L. Flanagan Speech and Audio Processing Award (2011) and the ISCA Medal for Scientific Achievement (2011). In 2007, she received an Honorary Doctorate from the Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, and in 2014 was elected to the American Philosophical Society.
David Blei is a Professor of Computer Science and Statistics and a member of the Data Science Institute. He is a leading researcher in the field of probabilistic statistical machine learning and topic models, having co-authored (with Michael I. Jordan and Andrew Y. Ng) the seminal paper on latent Dirichlet allocation (LDA), the standard algorithm for discovering the abstract “topics” that occur in a collection of documents. LDA has become an important statistical tool and is used to capture interpretable patterns in a range of applications, including document summarization, indexing, genomics, and image database analysis.
In addition to continuing work on topic models, Blei develops models of social networks, music and audio, images and computer vision, and neuroscience and brain activity. Recent work with students has resulted in efficient algorithms to fit a wide class of statistical models to massive data sets, enlarging the scale of data that can be analyzed using sophisticated methods.
“I am deeply honored to have been elected an ACM fellow,” says Blei. “The ACM is a wonderful organization—for many years it has nurtured the fantastic intellectual and community spirit of computer science.”
Blei’s research has earned him a Sloan Fellowship (2010), an Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award (2011), the NSF Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (2011), the Blavatnik Faculty Award (2013), and the ACM-Infosys Foundation Award (2013). He is the author and co-author of over 80 research papers.
Before coming to Columbia in 2014, Blei was an Associate Professor of Computer Science at Princeton University. He received his PhD in Computer Science from UC Berkeley and his BSc in Computer Science and Mathematics from Brown University.
Dean Boyce's statement on amicus brief filed by President Bollinger
President Bollinger announced that Columbia University along with many other academic institutions (sixteen, including all Ivy League universities) filed an amicus brief in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York challenging the Executive Order regarding immigrants from seven designated countries and refugees. Among other things, the brief asserts that “safety and security concerns can be addressed in a manner that is consistent with the values America has always stood for, including the free flow of ideas and people across borders and the welcoming of immigrants to our universities.”
This recent action provides a moment for us to collectively reflect on our community within Columbia Engineering and the importance of our commitment to maintaining an open and welcoming community for all students, faculty, researchers and administrative staff. As a School of Engineering and Applied Science, we are fortunate to attract students and faculty from diverse backgrounds, from across the country, and from around the world. It is a great benefit to be able to gather engineers and scientists of so many different perspectives and talents – all with a commitment to learning, a focus on pushing the frontiers of knowledge and discovery, and with a passion for translating our work to impact humanity.
I am proud of our community, and wish to take this opportunity to reinforce our collective commitment to maintaining an open and collegial environment. We are fortunate to have the privilege to learn from one another, and to study, work, and live together in such a dynamic and vibrant place as Columbia.
Mary C. Boyce
Dean of Engineering
Morris A. and Alma Schapiro Professor