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Barto to Receive IJCAI-17 Award for Research Excellence

Andrew Barto

CICS professor emeritus Andrew Barto is the 2017 recipient of the prestigious International Joint Conferences on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI) IJCAI-17 Award for Research Excellence. 

The IJCAI-17 Award for Research Excellence is a lifetime achievement award recognizing scientists who consistently produce high-quality research in their field resulting in several noteworthy findings or outcomes. Barto is being recognized for his groundbreaking and impactful research in both the theory and application of reinforcement learning.

Reinforcement learning is a type of machine learning that allows a system to learn from the consequences of its decisions instead of trying to replicate the decisions of human experts. It has strong connections to psychology and neuroscience, and it is contributing to some of the most striking recent developments in artificial intelligence, such as DeepMind's AlphaGo program that has defeated human masters of the very challenging game of Go.

This is the second IJCAI Research Excellence Award for UMass Amherst artificial intelligence pioneers; professor emeritus Victor Lesser received the award in 2009.

Barto also received the 2004 IEEE Neural Network Society Pioneer Award for his contributions to the field of reinforcement learning. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a fellow and senior member of the IEEE, and a member of the Society for Neuroscience.

Barto has published over one hundred papers or chapters in journals, books, and conference and workshop proceedings. He is co-author with Richard Sutton of the book "Reinforcement Learning: An Introduction," MIT Press, 1998, which has been cited over 25,000 times -- Barto and Sutton are currently working on the second edition. Barto is also a co-editor with Jennie Si, Warren Powell, and Don Wunch II of the "Handbook of Learning and Approximate Dynamic Programming," Wiley-IEEE Press, 2004.

He joined the Computer Science Department in 1977 and served as department chair for four years prior to his retirement in 2012. He received a B.S. with distinction in mathematics from the University of Michigan in 1970, and his Ph.D. in computer science in 1975, also from the University of Michigan.

The award will be presented to Barto at IJCAI/ECAI 2018 in Stockholm, Sweden.