MIT model explains how the brain can learn novel tasks while still remembering what it has already learned.
Bruce C.H. Cheng, head of one of the most successful electronics firms in Asia, has endowed a new chair for senior researchers to be held first by Victor Zue, a pioneer in speech-based computer interfaces in the Laboratory for Computer Science (LCS).
The Delta Electronics Chair is named for Delta Electronics, Inc., an international firm founded by Mr. Cheng with headquarters in Taiwan. Delta makes a wide array of networking and computer products.
"As one of the most far-sighted and successful industrialists in the world, Bruce has a unique perspective on what MIT has to offer. His decision to establish this chair is therefore an especially meaningful honor for the Institute and its Laboratory for Computer Science," said President Charles M. Vest.
Mr. Cheng, whose contribution to MIT totals $3 million, said his decision to make the gift reflects his admiration for MIT's leadership in areas such as electronics, and his appreciation for the quality of the Institute's education and research. "When I was in college, I remember that several of my classmates wanted to go to MIT to continue their educations," said Mr. Cheng, who is not an Institute alumnus,
Since then, his familiarity with MIT has grown through his involvement with the Epoch Foundation, an organization created a decade ago to forge new ties between MIT and Taiwanese companies. His experience with the foundation (he is currently vice chairman and chairman elect) has given him further insights into MIT's role.
"One unique thing about MIT is that it has a much greater orientation toward solving practical problems than many other universities," said Mr. Cheng, who founded Delta Electronics in 1971.
Delta has more than 20,000 employees and annual revenues of about $2.5 billion. Besides being a pioneer in rear-projection displays, the company is the world's largest merchant power management provider and a supplier of components to information and communication industries. The company has research and engineering laboratories in 12 cities in North America, Europe and Asia.
Delta Electronics is also a corporate sponsor of Project Oxygen, an initiative spearheaded by the LCS with the aim of revolutionizing the way computers and humans interact by creating a system that brings an abundance of computation and communication to users through natural spoken and visual interfaces, making it easy for them to collaborate, access information and automate repetitive tasks.
The current work of Dr. Zue, a senior research scientist, focuses on developing computers with speech-recognition capabilities, including the abilities to "hear" spoken questions, obtain answers to those questions and then "recite" the answers.
"The Delta Electronics Chair is doubly important for us," said Professor Michael Dertouzos, head of the LCS. "Unlike faculty chairs, it is earmarked for a senior researcher. It is also in the important area of human-machine interaction. We are grateful to our friend Bruce Cheng for his generous gift, and we congratulate Victor Zue on being the first holder of the chair."
"Victor's vision, expertise and tenacity in developing effective voice-recognition technology have been extraordinary," said President Vest. "I know that he will continue to bring distinction to MIT as the first holder of the Delta Electronics Chair."
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on December 13, 2000.