Geoffrey Hinton

Geoffrey Everest Hinton is a British-Canadian cognitive psychologist and computer scientist, most noted for his work on artificial neural networks.

Geoffrey Everest Hinton is a British-Canadian cognitive psychologist and computer scientist, most noted for his work on artificial neural networks. From 2013 to 2023, he divided his time working for Google (Google Brain) and the University of Toronto, before publicly announcing his departure from Google in May 2023 citing concerns about the risks of artificial intelligence (AI) technology. In 2017, he co-founded and became the chief scientific advisor of the Vector Institute in Toronto.

With David Rumelhart and Ronald J. Williams, Hinton was co-author of a highly cited paper published in 1986 that popularised the backpropagation algorithm for training multi-layer neural networks, although they were not the first to propose the approach. Hinton is viewed as a leading figure in the deep learning community. The dramatic image-recognition milestone of the AlexNet designed in collaboration with his students Alex Krizhevsky and Ilya Sutskever for the ImageNet challenge 2012 was a breakthrough in the field of computer vision.

Hinton received the 2018 Turing Award (often referred to as the "Nobel Prize of Computing"), together with Yoshua Bengio and Yann LeCun, for their work on deep learning. They are sometimes referred to as the “Godfathers of Deep Learning” and have continued to give public talks together.

Notable former PhD students and postdoctoral researchers from his group include Peter Dayan, Sam Roweis, Max Welling, Richard Zemel, Brendan Frey, Radford M. Neal, Yee Whye Teh, Ruslan Salakhutdinov, Ilya Sutskever, Yann LeCun, Alex Graves, and Zoubin Ghahramani.


Geoffrey Hinton, a pioneering figure in the field of artificial intelligence, embarked on an educational journey that led to profound contributions to the world of machine learning and neural networks. He commenced his academic endeavors at King's College, Cambridge, exhibiting an early penchant for interdisciplinary studies by switching between various subjects, including natural sciences, history of art, and philosophy. In 1970, Hinton graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in experimental psychology.

Hinton's thirst for knowledge persisted, and he furthered his studies at the University of Edinburgh, where he earned his Ph.D. in artificial intelligence in 1978 under the guidance of Christopher Longuet-Higgins. His research trajectory led him to diverse academic institutions, including the University of Sussex, the University of California, San Diego, and Carnegie Mellon University, where he navigated challenges in securing research funding in Britain. Hinton's academic journey culminated in his role as the founding director of the Gatsby Charitable Foundation Computational Neuroscience Unit at University College London. Presently, he holds a professorship in the computer science department at the University of Toronto, serving as a Canada Research Chair in Machine Learning and an advisor for the Learning in Machines & Brains program at the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research.

Geoffrey Hinton has made invaluable contributions to the field of artificial intelligence, particularly in the realm of neural networks. He is widely recognized for his groundbreaking work on backpropagation, a critical algorithm for training multi-layer neural networks, which has revolutionized the field. Hinton's research portfolio encompasses over 200 peer-reviewed publications, addressing various aspects of machine learning, memory, perception, and symbol processing. In 2013, he joined Google, bringing his expertise to the tech giant after the acquisition of his company, DNNresearch Inc. However, in May 2023, Hinton announced his resignation from Google.

Published Work

In 2022, Hinton published "The Forward-Forward Algorithm: Some Preliminary Investigations," exploring novel approaches to learning algorithms in neural networks. He also delved into the realm of discrete data generation in "Analog bits: Generating discrete data using diffusion models with self-conditioning."

His research further extended to addressing the challenge of scaling forward gradients with local losses in "Scaling Forward Gradient With Local Losses," offering insights into enhancing the training of neural networks. Hinton, in collaboration with his peers, presented a unified sequence interface for vision tasks in "A unified sequence interface for vision tasks" and a generalist framework for panoptic segmentation of images and videos in "A generalist framework for panoptic segmentation of images and videos."

Hinton's commitment to advancing the capabilities of neural networks is evident in his work on Gaussian-Bernoulli Restricted Boltzmann Machines (RBMs) in "Gaussian-Bernoulli RBMs Without Tears." He also explored the ability of AI models to infer wholes from ambiguous parts in "Testing GLOM's ability to infer wholes from ambiguous parts."

In 2021, Hinton contributed to the field with "How to represent part-whole hierarchies in a neural network," shedding light on neural network representations. He co-authored "Neural Additive Models: Interpretable Machine Learning with Neural Nets," emphasizing interpretable machine learning. Hinton, along with Yann LeCun and Yoshua Bengio, presented "Deep Learning for AI" in the Communications of the ACM, underscoring the significance of deep learning in the AI landscape.

Hinton's exploration of capsules continued with "Canonical Capsules: Unsupervised Capsules in Canonical Pose" and "Unsupervised part representation by Flow Capsules," both contributing to the development of unsupervised learning methodologies.

In 2020, he co-authored "NASA: Neural Articulated Shape Approximation," advancing the understanding of articulated shapes, and "Subclass distillation," a framework for efficient model training. Additionally, Hinton's work on self-supervised models and contrastive learning in "Big Self-Supervised Models are Strong Semi-Supervised Learners" and "A Simple Framework for Contrastive Learning of Visual Representations" demonstrated the potential of these approaches in improving machine learning models' performance.

Lastly, Hinton, along with his colleagues, explored the intersection of neuroscience and AI in "Backpropagation and the Brain," offering insights into the relationship between the brain's functioning and artificial neural networks. In "Detecting and Diagnosing Adversarial Images with Class-Conditional Capsule Reconstructions," they addressed the crucial challenge of identifying and mitigating adversarial images in machine learning systems.


Geoffrey Hinton's vision for the field of artificial intelligence revolves around achieving human-level understanding and reasoning through the advancement of neural networks and machine learning. He envisions a future where AI systems possess not just impressive pattern recognition capabilities but also a deeper comprehension of context, enabling them to make sense of complex data and make decisions in a manner more akin to human thinking. Hinton's research focus on neural networks and deep learning reflects his belief that these technologies hold the key to unlocking AI's potential for human-level cognition.

Furthermore, Hinton is an advocate for pushing the boundaries of AI research, emphasizing the importance of exploring unconventional and innovative approaches to machine learning. He believes that to achieve true artificial intelligence, we need to move beyond shallow learning algorithms and embrace more sophisticated models inspired by the human brain. Hinton's vision extends to creating AI systems that can generalize knowledge, understand causal relationships, and adapt to novel situations—a pursuit that aligns with his commitment to the responsible development of AI technologies that benefit society and minimize risks.

Recognition and Awards
In 1998, Geoffrey was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS), a prestigious honor that reflects his significant impact on the field. Hinton's pioneering work in artificial neural networks was further acknowledged when he became the inaugural recipient of the Rumelhart Prize in 2001. This award highlights his groundbreaking contributions to the theory and practice of neural networks. Throughout his career, Hinton has continued to earn accolades for his lifetime achievements. In 2005, he was honored with the IJCAI Award for Research Excellence, a lifetime-achievement award recognizing his profound influence on the field of artificial intelligence. His remarkable contributions to science and engineering were further acknowledged in 2011 when he received the Herzberg Canada Gold Medal. In 2016, Geoffrey Hinton's impact on artificial neural networks and their applications earned him foreign membership in the National Academy of Engineering. He was also the recipient of the 2016 IEEE/RSE Wolfson James Clerk Maxwell Award, acknowledging his significant contributions to the field of computer science. His work in advancing the capabilities of machines to learn was recognized with the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in 2016, specifically in the Information and Communication Technologies category. One of the most prestigious honors came in 2018 when Hinton, along with Yann LeCun and Yoshua Bengio, received the Turing Award, often referred to as the "Nobel Prize of Computing." This award recognized their conceptual and engineering breakthroughs that have made deep neural networks a vital component of computing. In recognition of his immense contributions to science and technology, Hinton became a Companion of the Order of Canada in 2018. His accolades continued as he received the Dickson Prize in Science from Carnegie Mellon University in 2021 and the Princess of Asturias Award in the Scientific Research category in 2022, alongside Yann LeCun, Yoshua Bengio, and Demis Hassabis.

Geoffrey Hinton
cognitive psychologist, computer scientist
Known for
Backpropagation (application), Boltzmann machine, Deep learning (Godfather), Capsule neural networks
AAAI Fellow (1990), Rumelhart Prize (2001), IJCAI Award for Research Excellence (2005), IEEE Frank Rosenblatt Award (2014), James Clerk Maxwell Medal (2016), BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award (2016), Turing Award (2018), Dickson Prize (2021), Princess of Asturias Award (2022)
University of Cambridge (BA), University of Edinburgh (PhD)
Fri Feb 23 2024

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