The inaugural Vencer o Adamastor Prize, worth €20,000, has been awarded to the machine learning researcher Gonçalo Correia.

A senior researcher at Priberam Labs and Instituto de Telecomunicações — where he is working on the development of neural network models — and an Instituto Superior Técnico PhD graduate, Correia was awarded the Prize for his work on simplifying machine learning models used for automatic translation.

Correia’s research project “Modelos compactos e transparentes de redes neuronais baseados em representações esparsas” (“Compact and transparent neural network models based on sparse representations”) proposes to “change a common perspective in the area of ​​machine learning and artificial intelligence: models that use neural networks cannot be interpretable, that is, capable of explaining their decisions; nor compact, that is, able to represent what they learned in a summarized way.” In this project Correia is allowing the neural network model to “learn its own sparsity, thus being able to learn that it is possible to override components of your decision, in order to make the model’s interpretability simpler.”

Set up to recognize a researcher who demonstrates not only a clear ability to produce high quality scientific work, a vision for future scientific and technological developments in their respective area of ​​research, but the potential to make a significant contribution to the future scientific development of the country, Vencer o Adamastor — roughly translating to “Beating Adamastor”, a reference to the mythical stone giant who guarded maritime passage through the Cape of Good Hope and is featured in Luis de Camões’ Os Lusíadas — was established by INESC and the Portuguese newspaper Público. The prize winner was selected by a jury chaired by founder and ex-President of INESC, and Instituto Superior Técnico Emeritus Professor, José Tribolet.

More details on the Vencer o Adamastor Prize are available here and a feature on Correia by Público, one of the prize’s founders, can be viewed here. The award ceremony is scheduled for 01 February, 3pm, at Instituto Superior Técnico.