Vapnik's trajectory looks like a shooting star. Originally from the Uzbek State University, he did a Phd in statistics at the Moscow Institute of Control Sciences in 1964 and become Head of the Computer Science Research Department. During this period, he built the theory of statistical learning around the Vapnik Dimension and the so-called Vapnik-Cervonenkis theory.
He moved to the US at AT&T Bells Labs in 1990 and develop with Isabelle Guyon and Bernhard Boser the most popular algorithm of the machine learning community : Support Vector Machines.
Best of all, the last position he got in the Facebook AI Research group (FAIR) at the age of 80. This recruitment smells like entertainment but reveals a strong ability of the big four (Google, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft) to hire world-class mathematicians all around the world.
In this phenomenon, French researcher are not forgotten. Many of them (like Remi Munos at Google DeepMind, Jean-Yves Audibert in an hedge fund, or Sébastien Bubeck at Microsoft Research) has been involved in this hiring process. If we go back to the dream team of FAIR, we discover that the french pionneer of Deep Learning Yan LeCun (next to Vapnik in the Wall above) is at the origin of FAIR in NY ! It's no coincidence that the first FAIR team outside the US has been created in Paris in June, 2015 !
Mike Schroepfer, Facebook CTO posted on his wall that "France has one of the strongest research communities in the world". Just wait and see innovative challenges that are expected to spring up in the next months.
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