Speech Pioneer Raj Reddy to Be Honored by IEEE

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The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), a professional society with more than 375,000 members in 150 countries, has named Raj Reddy as the recipient of its 2008 James L. Flanagan Speech and Audio Processing Award for his efforts in the development of efficient algorithms that gave rise to early continuous speech recognition systems that help computers understand spoken language.

Reddy, a professor of computer science and robotics in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pa., is credited with development of the Hearsay and Harpy systems that were precursors to modern speech recognition systems, demonstrating speaker independence and the capability of handling a large vocabulary. His 40-year career in speech technologies also includes development of the Sphinx recognition system. The open-source Sphinx system has resulted in the emergence of various commercial speech recognition systems such as The Language Tutor, an automated system that helps children learn to read, as well as day-to-day applications such as automated phone centers, automated transcription, and computers and robots that respond to a user's voice. He is also credited with development of the Dragon system.

Sponsored by the IEEE Signal Processing Society, the award recognizes Reddy for leadership and pioneering contributions to speech recognition, natural language understanding, and machine intelligence. The award will be presented to Reddy at the 2008 IEEE International Conference on Acoustics, Speech and Signal Processing (ICASSP) in Las Vegas on April 1.

"Raj Reddy has a special ability to see beyond the limitations of current technology to understand what the future can bring," Randal Bryant, dean of Carnegie Mellon’s School of Computer Science, said in a statement. "Speech recognition seemed like an overwhelmingly difficult task 40 years ago, but through advances in computers and innovative research, our machines now understand us when we talk to them. Raj has also had visionary ideas about robotics and the ability of information technology to serve the needs of developing countries. I look forward to watching his visions become realities."
Reddy’s academic career began as an assistant professor at Stanford University, Palo Alto, Calif., in 1966.  He joined the faculty of Carnegie Mellon in 1969 and served as the founding director of the university’s Robotics Institute from 1979 to 1991 and dean of its School of Computer Science from 1991 to 1999. Reddy’s team is currently working with government and research partners in India and China.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in engineering from the Guindy Engineering College of the University of Madras, India, a master’s degree in engineering from the University of New South Wales, Australia, and a doctorate in computer science from Stanford.

An IEEE Fellow, Reddy has been recognized by the governments of France, India, and Japan and served as co-chair of the U.S. President's Information Technology Advisory Committee from 1999 to 2001.

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