Facebook invests over $7M U.S. in MILA and AI research in Montreal

Pascal Vincent

Pascal Vincent

Credit: Claude Lacasse

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The social media giant is opening a new laboratory here. MILA's Joelle Pineau will run it and Pascal Vincent will be one of its research scientists.

Facebook is opening a new AI research lab in Montreal and investing in MILA (the Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms), headed by Yoshua Bengio, a world pioneer in research into artificial intelligence. The Montreal lab will be called Facebook Artificial Intelligence Research (FAIR) and will be led by McGill University professor Joelle Pineau, a member of MILA. It will employ research scientists and engineers engaged in a wide range of projects, with a special focus on reinforcement learning and dialog systems.

Université de Montréal Professor Pascal Vincent, a long-time collaborator of Yoshua Bengio, and early contributor to the scientific advances in artificial neural networks that enabled the deep-learning A.I. renaissance, will join FAIR as a Research Scientist while maintaining his affiliation with the University and devoting a part of his time to supervising his graduate students. Dr. Vincent’s research focuses on fundamental principles and algorithms for constructing more meaningful representations of both sensory and textual data.

Besides MILA, Facebook is launching new partnerships with Université de Montréal, the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) and McGill University. FAIR Montreal will engage with the broader research community through publications, open source software, participation in technical conferences and workshops, and research collaborations.

In all, Facebook is investing more than $7M U.S. in the AI ecosystem in Montreal.

"Facebook is clearly a leader in AI and the creation of Facebook's AI lab here is going to contribute to the expansion of Montreal as an international hub for AI, an ecosystem that brings together universities and established companies, as well as start-ups," said Yoshua Bengio, a professor at UdeM's department of computer science since 1993 and head of MILA, the world's largest academic research group working on deep learning.

"Montreal already has an existing fantastic academic AI community, an exciting ecosystem of startups, and promising government policies to encourage AI research," added Yann LeCun, Facebook's director of AI research. "We are excited to become part of this larger community, and we look forward to engaging with the entire ecosystem and helping it continue to thrive."

With the involvement of UdeM and its affiliated engineering school Polytechnique Montréal and business school HEC Montréal, as well as McGill, MILA is at the heart of Quebec's AI cluster. It is also part of the pan-Canadian AI Consortium with the Vector Institute (Toronto) and the Amii (Edmonton), giving Canada a global edge in AI, both scientifically and in terms of innovation and economic development.

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