The Board of The Alan Turing Institute is delighted to announce that Professor Andrew Blake has agreed to become the first Institute Director. He is expected to begin a five year appointment in October.
Andrew Blake is currently a Microsoft Distinguished Scientist and Laboratory Director of Microsoft Research UK. He is an Honorary Professor in Information Engineering at the University of Cambridge, and a leading researcher in computer vision.
He studied Mathematics and Electrical Sciences at Trinity College, Cambridge and after a year as a Kennedy Scholar at MIT and time in the electronics industry, he completed a PhD in Artificial Intelligence at the University of Edinburgh in 1983. Serving next on the faculty of the Computer Science Department in Edinburgh, he developed early variational approaches and optimisation algorithms for image processing.
On the faculty of Engineering Science of Oxford University, subsequently as Professor, he pioneered a probabilistic approach to algorithms that can enable computers to behave as seeing machines. In 1999 he moved to Microsoft Research in Cambridge to found the Computer Vision Group which developed algorithms for image processing and 3D vision underlying several Microsoft technologies. In 2010 he became Laboratory Director at Microsoft, was appointed to the council of the Royal Society, and to the council of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) in 2012. He holds honorary doctorates at the Universities of Edinburgh and Sheffield.
Andrew was elected Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 1998 and Fellow of the Royal Society in 2005. He won jointly the IEEE David Marr Prize in 2001, and in 2006 the Royal Academy of Engineering awarded him its Silver Medal for ‘technical achievements in visual segmentation and motion tracking’. In 2007 he received the IET Mountbatten Medal (previously awarded to computing pioneers Maurice Wilkes and Tim Berners-Lee, amongst others) and the IEEE Distinguished Researcher award for ‘major research contributions in Computer Vision’ in 2009.
In 2011 his computer vision team at Microsoft were awarded the Royal Academy of Engineering MacRobert Gold medal for their work on the machine learning algorithms in the Kinect 3D camera, which has subsequently sold in the tens of millions. In 2014, Andrew gave the 87th Gibbs lecture of the American Mathematical Society on ‘Machines that see, powered by probability’.
Commenting today Howard Covington, chairman of The Alan Turing Institute, said: “We are absolutely delighted that Andrew Blake has agreed to become the Institute’s first Director. His experience, drive, wisdom and enthusiasm will get the Institute off to a great start.”
Professor Andrew Blake added: “I am very excited to be chosen for this unique opportunity to lead The Alan Turing Institute. The vision of bringing together the mathematical and computer scientists from the country’s top universities to develop the new discipline of data science, through an independent institute with strategic links to commerce and industry, is very compelling. The institute has a societally important mission and ambitious research goals. We will go all out to achieve them.”