Recent honors and awards for Amazon scientists
Researchers honored for their contributions to the scientific community.
Ming Lin elected Fellow by the National Academy of Inventors
Lin, who joined Amazon Fashion as a Scholar in 2020, was recognized for her contributions in virtual reality, computer graphics, and robotics. At Amazon, Lin is researching topics such as estimating 3D anthropomorphic measurements of the human body shape from silhouette images.
The NAI was launched in 2009 “to recognize and encourage inventors with U.S. patents, enhance the visibility of academic technology and innovation, encourage the disclosure of intellectual property, educate and mentor innovative students, and to create wider public understanding of how its members’ inventions benefit society.”
The NAI Fellows Program “was established to highlight academic inventors who have demonstrated a prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development and the welfare of society.”
Mingyi Hong wins two awards from IEEE Signal Processing Society
Mingyi Hong, an Amazon Scholar, was recently recognized twice by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Signal Processing Society. Hong earned both a Pierre-Simon Laplace Early Career Technical Achievement Award and a best paper award for “Learning to Optimize: Training Deep Neural Networks for Interference Management”.
Hong, who joined the Amazon Web Services Deep Learning team in June of last year, earned the technical achievement award for “for contributions to non-convex, distributed and learning-based optimization for signal processing."
The award honors individuals who have made “significant technical contributions to theory and/or practice in technical areas within the scope of the Society, as demonstrated by publications, patents, or recognized impact on the field.”
The best paper award honors the authors of “an outstanding technical paper in the areas of interest and scope of the IEEE Communications Society.” Hong’s paper, which he co-authored with Haoran Sun, Xiangyi Chen, Qingjiang Shi, Mingyi Hong, Xiao Fu, and Nicholas D. Sidiropoulos appeared in IEEE Transactions on Signal Processing, October 2018.
The paper addressed the complexity inherent to optimization algorithms and the “serious gap between theoretical design/analysis and real-time processing” arising from that complexity. The authors observed that, at the time, implementing optimization algorithms for resource management over wireless in real systems faced “many serious obstacles. In particular, the high computational cost incurred by these algorithms has been one of the most challenging issues.”
The authors proposed “the first deep-learning based scheme for real-time resource management over interference-limited wireless networks, which bridges the seemingly unrelated areas of machine learning and wireless resource allocation (in particular, power control over interference networks).”
At Amazon, Hong has focused on optimization algorithm design and analysis, with applications for distributed machine learning and reinforcement learning.
Mike Hicks named ACM Fellow
Mike Hicks, a senior principal applied scientist in Amazon Web Services’ Automated Reasoning Group (ARG), was named an Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Fellow “for contributions to programming language design and implementation, program analysis, and software security.”
Hicks, who joined ARG in January of last year, co-leads the development of the Cedar authorization policy language, which is part of the Amazon Verified Permissions service that launched at re:Invent 2022.
The ACM Fellows program “recognizes the top 1% of ACM Members for their outstanding accomplishments in computing and information technology and/or outstanding service to ACM and the larger computing community.”
Before joining Amazon, Hicks was a professor of computer science at the University of Maryland for 20 years. There, he co-directed the Lab for Programming Languages and was the director of the Maryland Cybersecurity Center. He was previously chair of ACM’s Special Interest Group on Programming Languages (SIGPLAN), and is currently the editor-in-chief of Proceedings of the ACM on Programming Languages (PACMPL).
Jean-Baptiste Tristan earns ACM SIGPLAN Programming Languages Software Award
Jean-Baptiste Tristan, a principal applied scientist with Amazon’s Automated Reasoning Group (ARG), has been recognized with the 2022 Association for Computing Machinery Special Interest Group on Programming Languages (ACM SIGPLAN) Programming Languages Software Award. The award was presented at this year's ACM Symposium on Principles of Programming Languages (POPL) in Boston.
The award “recognizes the development of a software system that has had a significant impact on programming language research, implementations, and tools.”
Tristan and his colleagues were cited for their work on CompCert, “a high-assurance compiler for almost all of the C language.” Compilers are programs that translate code from its source programming language into another language. During this process, bugs can cause incorrect code to be inserted, a phenomenon known as miscompilation.
CompCert “put forward a radical, mathematically-grounded solution to the miscompilation problem: the formal, tool-assisted verification of the compiler itself. By applying program proof techniques to the source code of the compiler, we can prove, with mathematical certainty, that the executable code produced by the compiler behaves exactly as specified by the semantics of the source C program, therefore ruling out all risks of miscompilation.”
The award citation notes CompCert is “used in the real world for security-critical control software for emergency power generators and for flight control and navigation algorithms, by companies including Airbus France. It remains an important shared infrastructure for ongoing research.”
Tristan, who joined Amazon in September 2022, holds a master’s in computer science from École Normale Supérieure — PSL in Paris and a PhD in computer science from the University of Paris. He is also an associate professor of computer science at Boston College.
Ruhi Sarikaya named IEEE Signal Distinguished Industry Speaker
Ruhi Sarikaya, the director of applied science for Alexa AI, was named a Distinguished Industry Speaker by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Signal Processing Society. The program identifies “individuals who are recognized experts with a background in industrial applications in the signal processing area and are well versed in the ongoing issues/activities in industry.”
Sarikaya, who was named an IEEE Fellow in 2020, joined Amazon in 2016 and leads the Alexa Intelligent Decisions organization within Alexa AI. His team focuses on enabling customers to have more natural and friction-free interactions with Alexa by enabling the service to improve through self-learning. Sarikaya previously held research roles at Microsoft and IBM.
Gérard Medioni elected to National Academy of Engineering
Gérard Medioni, vice president and distinguished scientist, Amazon Web Services Applications, was recently elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) “for contributions to computer vision and its consumer-facing applications.”
Election to the National Academy of Engineering is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer. The NAE “honors those who have made outstanding contributions to engineering research, practice, or education." The non-profit organization, founded in 1964, brings together eminent scientists and engineers to provide insights to the federal government on matters related to science and technology. The NAE has more than 2,000 members, all of whom are peer elected.
Medioni, who is also Professor Emeritus at the University of Southern California, was elected to the National Academy of Inventors as an academic fellow last year. He joined Amazon in 2014 to lead development of technology to power Amazon Go, and more recently the Amazon One service, a convenient, contactless way for people to use their palm to make everyday activities such as paying at a store more effortless.
René Vidal chosen as ACM Fellow
René Vidal, an Amazon Scholar who is the Rachleff University Professor of Electrical and Systems Engineering and Radiology at the University of Pennsylvania, was named as a fellow by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) “for contributions to subspace clustering and motion segmentation in computer vision”.
Clustering “deals with separating data into multiple groups without necessarily having supervision about what those groups mean,” Vidal explained to Amazon Science last year when he was honored with the Edward J. McCluskey Technical Achievement Award. Subspace clustering finds clusters within high dimensional data by making assumptions about the structure of those groups
With nearly 100,000 student and professional members, ACM is the leading professional society for academic computer scientists. The ACM Fellows program recognizes the top 1 percent of ACM members for their accomplishments in computing and information technology. ACM Fellows are nominated by their peers, and a distinguished selection committee chooses the awardees, who have contributed to the computing field in cloud database systems, deep learning acceleration, high-performance computing, robotics, theoretical computer science, and other specialties.
Vidal joined Amazon as a Scholar in July 2020 and focuses on improving the mobile shopping experience at Amazon in the in Visual Search and Augmented Reality group. Vidal, who moved to Penn earlier this year after 19 years at Johns Hopkins University, was also recently named a Penn Integrates Knowledge University Professor.