Eric Nyberg, professor in the Language Technologies Institute, will accept the Boston University Computer Science Distinguished Alumnus Award and present a lecture, "Automatic Optimization of Intelligent Information Systems," on Sept. 27 at the university.
Nyberg earned his bachelor's degree at BU in 1983, before earning a Ph.D. at Carnegie Mellon in 1992. His research interests include automatic text translation, information retrieval, and automatic question answering.
Nyberg pioneered the Open Advancement of Question Answering (OAQA), an architecture and methodology for accelerating collaborative research in automatic question answering. Notably, OAQA supported the Watson system developed by IBM to play human champions on the TV game show "Jeopardy!" He and members of his research team received the Allen Newell Award for Research Excellence in 2011 for their work on question-answering systems and their contributions to Watson in particular.
"Boston University's Computer Science Department is pleased to have this opportunity to acknowledge our alumnus, Professor Eric Nyberg," said Mark Crovella, department chair. "Prof. Nyberg's remarkable career in exploring machine intelligence, most recently in the context of the Jeopardy-champion Watson project, is a great example of the excitement of studying computer science. We're proud of his accomplishments and look forward to being inspired by his Distinguished Alumnus Lecture."
Nyberg's lecture will present recent research on how to combine the large number of algorithms, toolkits and knowledge bases that will be required as the question-answering systems that succeed Watson grow in size and complexity.
BU has presented the distinguished CS alum award since 2008. Previous winners include Manuela Veloso, professor of Computer Science.