The Laureates

Copyright © Klaus Tschira Stiftung / Peter Badge

Raj Reddy

Born 13 June 1937, Katoor, Andhra Pradesh, India

ACM A.M. Turing Award (1994) “for pioneering the design and construction of large scale artificial intelligence systems, demonstrating the practical importance and potential commercial impact of artificial intelligence technology.”

Reddy, son of an agricultural landlord, studied Civil Engineering at the College of Engineering, Guindy in Madras, India (now Anna University, Chennai, Bachelor of Science 1958). He completed a master’s degree at the University of New South Wales in Australia (Master of Technology 1960) and worked as a an Applied Science Representative for IBM (1960-63). He took a doctorate in Computer Science at Stanford University, USA (Ph.D. 1966) and subsequently became an assistant professor there (1966-69). In 1969 he moved to Carnegie Mellon University as an associate professor of Computer Science, became professor in 1973, and was appointed a University Professor in 1984. He has played a leading role at Carnegie Mellon, including founding and directing the Robotics Institute (1980-92), heading the School of Computer Science (1991-99), and holding posts as a Herbert A. Simon and later Moza Bint Nasser University Professor of Computer Science and Robotics.

Reddy is known for his social commitment. He worked for many years on the “Million Book Project”, which made a million basic science textbooks available online for free, a goal which was achieved in 2007. He was instrumental in helping to create Rajiv Gandhi University of Knowledge Technologies (www.rgukt.in) in India, to cater to the educational needs of the low income, gifted rural youth. He is also the Chairman of International Institute of Information Technology, Hyderabad (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IIIT_Hyderabad).

Reddy has received many awards, among others the Indian Padma Bhushan (2001), the Okawa Prize (2004), and the Vannevar Bush Award from the U.S. National Science Foundation (2006).

Raj Reddy has spent years researching how machines and people can work better together. How do you control a robot? How can we teach computers to identify patterns such as faces in images and movies? Can computers understand human language? How can we build robots that act (at least in part) as if they were intelligent? While working on his Ph.D., Reddy began to focus on speech recognition for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) inspired by, amongst other things, his own multilingualism. After his doctoral thesis in the field of speech recognition, Reddy developed at Stanford and later at Carnegie Mellon the first working speech recognition systems.