Honors and awards presented to Amazon researchers


University of Central Florida names Omar Javed as 2022 distinguished alum

The University of Central Florida (UCF) College of Engineering and Computer Science (CECS) recently recognized Omar Javed as one of its 2022 Distinguished Alumni.

Omar Javed, vice president of applied science at Twitch

Javed is vice president of applied science at Twitch, where he leads the Personalization-ML org, which encompasses the recommendation, search, and machine learning infrastructure groups.

UCF’s CECS recognizes and honors distinguished alumni for their professional contributions and dedication to the college and to the university at large. The 2022 honorees include industry leaders, entrepreneurs, and scientists. Each of UCF’s six departments within CECS designates two alumni with the honor every year.

Javed earned his PhD in computer science from UCF in 2005. His area of expertise involves computer vision. Prior to his role at Twitch, Javed was the chief scientist at ClipMine Inc., which Twitch acquired in 2016.

In his return to UCF for the CECS Alumni Honors Reception in October 2022, Javed delivered a presentation entitled “Using ML to Power Livestream Recommendations at a Global Scale.” In the talk, Javed discussed the challenges of recommending live video content in contrast to those involved with video on demand (VOD) services.

Steve Flammia elected as American Physical Society Fellow

Amazon principal research scientist Steve Flammia was recently elected as a Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS), the world’s largest organization dedicated to physics. Fellowship is one of the highest professional recognitions conferred by the APS and by a scientist’s peers.

Steve Flammia, principal research scientist with the AWS Center for Quantum Computing

Flammia, who works in the AWS quantum computing organization, received his nomination for “proposing, analyzing, and implementing novel techniques to characterize quantum states and processes and to characterize and correct errors in quantum processes.”

Flammia’s research interests center around quantum information theory and its applications to a broad range of topics. These topics include condensed matter theory, topologically ordered phases, tensor networks, error correction, quantum optics, precision metrology, and classical statistical inference and machine learning.

Flammia earned a PhD in physics with distinction from the University of New Mexico in 2007. In 2012, he joined the University of Sydney in Australia as a senior lecturer, working as an associate professor from 2016 to 2018 before becoming a full professor in 2019. He also was a faculty member in the university’s Quantum Physics Group.

In June 2020, Flammia joined the AWS Center for Quantum Computing. The AWS Center for Quantum Computing seeks to develop and build quantum computing technologies for Amazon Web Services (AWS). It features collaboration among hardware engineers, quantum theorists, and software developers.

Inaugural WLA Prize goes to Michael I. Jordan

Distinguished Amazon Scholar Michael I. Jordan has won the inaugural World Laureates Association Prize (WLA Prize) for fundamental contributions to the foundations and applications of machine learning.

Michael I. Jordan, Distinguished Amazon Scholar

The WLA Prize is an international science prize intended to support global science and technology advancement, address challenges to humanity, and promote society’s long-term progress. The prize recognizes recipients in two categories: computer science or mathematics, and life science or medicine.

Since the mid 1980s, Jordan has been a leader in the field of statistical machine learning, the intersection of computer science and statistics. In particular, the WLA cited Jordan’s “variational approach to statistical inference and learning, inference methods based on graphical models and Bayesian nonparametrics, and characterizations of tradeoffs between statistical risk and computational complexity.”

His multidisciplinary research interests include computational, statistical, cognitive, biological, and social sciences, including bringing microeconomic concepts into machine learning. His work spans the fields of artificial intelligence, machine learning, mathematical optimization, and artificial neural networks.

Currently the Pehong Chen Distinguished Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, Jordan was ranked as the world’s most influential computer scientist in 2016 by Science magazine. He has authored more than 600 published papers that have received more than 240,000 citations.

Jordan is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and he is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Based in Shanghai, the WLA is a nonprofit and nongovernmental international organization with a three-pronged mission: science advocacy, international cooperation, and support for young scientists.

Daniela Witten honored with statistical society award

Statistician and Amazon Scholar Daniela Witten recently received the 2022 Presidents’ Award from the Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies (COPSS). Considered one of the highest honors in the field of statistics, the Presidents’ Award honors a statistician aged 40 or younger who has made outstanding contributions to the field of statistics.

Amazon Scholar Daniela Witten

A Scholar at Amazon since October 2020, Witten won the award for her contributions toward statistical machine learning and its applications to biology. The award cited Witten’s ability to bridge the gap between scientists’ questions about their data and the statistical methods that can provide insightful answers, especially in the context of biomedical research. The award also praised her development of “flexible and interpretable approaches for modeling large-scale and high-dimensional data,” as well as her “significant elevation of statistical science via successful translation of statistical ideas to a broad audience.”

The COPSS established the Presidents’ Award in 1976 and presents it annually at the Joint Statistical Meetings, which is the largest gathering of statisticians held in North America.

Witten was a double major in mathematics and biological sciences at Stanford University, graduating with honors and distinction in 2005. She earned her master’s of science in statistics as well as her PhD in statistics from Stanford. Currently, Witten is a professor of statistics and biostatistics at the University of Washington, where she also is the Dorothy Gilford Endowed Chair in Mathematical Statistics. Witten specializes in the development of statistical machine learning methods for high-dimensional data, with a focus on unsupervised learning. She coauthored the textbook Introduction to Statistical Learning.

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