Duke University’s Professor bags $1 million AI Award for Her Efforts

Cynthia Rudin wins a ‘New Nobel Awad’in AI field



After 15 years of developing ‘interpretable’ machine learning algorithms that which can permit humans to see inside Artificial Intelligence, Cynthia Rudin, who is a professor of computer science, electrical and computer engineering at Duke University has contributed to the field of have been rewarded with US$1 million Squirrel AI Award for Artificial Intelligence for the Benefit of Humanity from the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) which serves as the vital international scientific society serving AI practitioners, researchers and educators. When other scholars were busy developing the field of machine learning to improve the algorithms, Cynthia was exploring how AI can be used to help society.  

Cynthia Rudin is being cited for pioneering scientific work in the fields of interpretable and transparent AI systems in real-world deployments, and advocated for these features in sensitive areas such as medical diagnosis and social justice playing a great role for practitioners and researchers. 

The AAAI awards committee chair and past president, Yolanda Gil said “Only world-renowned recognitions, such as the Nobel Prize and the A.M. Turing Award from the Association of Computing Machinery, carries monetary rewards at the million-dollar level. Her courage in tackling controversial issues calls out the importance of research to address critical challenges in responsible and ethical use of AI”. 

Cynthia’s first applied project was in collaboration with Con Edison, which is an energy company that was behind powering New York City. After the next decade, she developed techniques for interpretable machine learning that are predictive models that are capable enough to explain themselves in ways that can understand humans. She applied her knowledge and developed a model that can help discover commonalities between crimes to determine if they may be part of a series committed by the same criminals.  This program has helped the New York Police Department’s Patternize algorithms to determine crimes. 

The deputy superintendent of the Cambridge Police Department, praises Cynthia for her commitment to solve vital real-world problems, and ability to distill and explain complex models is unparalleled. The methods applied in these AI algorithms make it tough for humans to understand what factors the models depend on and how they are being used. 

While coming to the career, Cynthia earned undergraduate degrees  in both music theory and mathematics from the University at Buffalo before achieving her PhD in applied and computational mathematics at Princeton. Later she worked at National Science Foundation postdoctoral research fellow at New York University. She then became an associate professor of statistics at  MIT before becoming a faculty at Duke University. 

Cynthia Rudin is a three-time recipient of the INFORMS which is Innovative Applications in Analytics Award which is to recognise unique applications of analytical techniques. “I want to thank AAAI and Squirrel AI for creating this award that I know will be a game-changer for the field. To have a ‘Nobel Prize for AI’ to help society makes it finally clear without a doubt that this topic, AI work for the benefit of society, is actually important”, says Cynthia.