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Carnegie Mellon ranks as top grad school in artificial intelligence

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Carnegie Mellon University
Carnegie Mellon University’s board of trustees named Farnam Jahanian as the university’s 10th president by a unanimous vote Wednesday, March 7, 2018.

Carnegie Mellon University has the nation’s best graduate program in artificial intelligence, according to a ranking released this week by U.S. News & World Report.

The university’s AI program moved from No. 2 on the list to the top spot in U.S. News & World Report’s most recent rankings, released this week .

The University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia was the only other Pennsylvania school to crack the top 20, coming in at No. 13.

CMU’s pioneering work with AI dates back to the 1950s. That’s when CMU professors Allen Newell and Herbert A. Simon, along with RAND Corp. researcher Cliff Shaw, wrote Logic Theorist — considered the first artificial intelligence computer program.

In some high-profile demonstrations of Carnegie Mellon’s prowess in the field, a poker-playing AI developed at CMU known as Libratus defeated some of the world’s best professional poker players. CMU collaborated with IBM to develop Watson, an AI that beat the legendary “Jeopardy” champion Ken Jennings. CMU-developed AIs also have beaten top backgammon and chess players.

Artificial intelligence developed at CMU helped teams from the university complete the first cross-country road trip in a self-driving car and win the 2007 DARPA Urban Grand Challenge.

CMU is now playing a leading role in a discussion about ethics and artificial intelligence and the application of AI in the real world.

K&L Gates in 2016 donated $10 million to the university to create the K&L Gates Endowment for Ethics and Computational Technologies. CMU and K&L Gates will host a conference on ethics and AI next month featuring Eric Horvitz, director of Microsoft Research Labs, as keynote speaker.

CMU’s professors are some of the top minds in the field and some have gone on to work at top tech companies such as Apple. CMU graduates are behind some of the top AI companies in the $5 million IBM Watson AI XPRIZE challenge. Pittsburgh has more teams than any other city in the country in the late rounds of that competition, with teams using AI to fight addiction to opioids, help patients suffering from Alzheimer’s and memory loss, improve education, increase recycling and combat sex trafficking. All seven remaining teams have ties to CMU.

U.S. News & World Report artificial intelligence rankings were included as part of the publication’s look at computer science graduate programs. CMU, MIT, Stanford and Berkeley all tied for the top computer science program. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign ranked fifth.

CMU ranked second for programming language and systems graduate programs, both subsets under computer science. It tied for fourth with Cornell University for theory.

Aaron Aupperlee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at [email protected], 412-336-8448 or via Twitter @tinynotebook.

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