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Professor Moncef Gabbouj receives Pirkanmaa Regional Fund award from Finnish Cultural Foundation

The Finnish Cultural Foundation has granted its 2017 Pirkanmaa Regional Fund award to Professor Moncef Gabbouj from TUT’s Laboratory of Signal Processing for “revealing the secrets of signals and building international bridges”. Grants were awarded to other operators in arts and sciences, as well.

Moncef Gabbouj was born in Tunisia, received his doctoral degree in the United States, and arrived in Finland in 1990. In 1995, Gabbouj received a professorship at Tampere University of Technology. He has contributed significantly to the internationalisation of signal processing and to the research and study collaboration in the field.

Gabbouj is well known for his research in the fields of non-linear digital filters, content-based information retrieval, machine learning, and big data visual analytics. As an Academy Professor for the Academy of Finland in 2011–2015, his research at TUT focussed especially on the finding of desired targets in video and on intelligent search services based on images, video, and sound rather than text.

His latest research has concerned big data, which traditional methods of data analysis and management cannot handle. The development of new methods requires foundational research, but the end goals include significant commercial applications and close industry collaboration.

“Large masses of data can be processed into meaningful information that companies and other societal operators can utilise for both solving existing problems and realising new ideas,” Moncef Gabbouj says.

Gabbouj acts as the director of the TUT site of the US-based NSF CVDI (Center for Visual and Decision Informatics) research centre. CVDI’s TUT site has just received significant extra funding, as well. The TUT site is the first CVDI research site established outside USA. CVDI develops next generation visual and decision support tools and techniques for improved information analysis and interpretation. CVDI conducts research in collaboration with the industry, public administration, and universities.

“The CVDI site has offered TUT a unique opportunity to extend its famous industry collaboration to international circles. The research centre’s projects have strengthened and diversified TUT researchers’ collaboration networks and brought new ideas and influences into the Finnish innovation environment,” Gabbouj says.

Grants for arts and sciences

In addition to the award granted to Moncef Gabbouj, the Finnish Cultural Foundation’s Pirkanmaa Regional Fund awarded 43 grants to different operators in the fields of arts and sciences on 12 May. Most applicants and grantees were from Tampere, but 12 municipalities around the Tampere region received at least one grant.

Grantees included a number of TUT researchers. One of the grantees was PhD Otto Pulkkinen, who received funding for his research in time correlation and memory in music and its machine learning. On the Finnish Cultural Foundation website (in Finnish) Pulkkinen wonders whether artificial intelligence could be creative. Could AI be artistic and create music?

“There is not much evidence yet on whether AI could be truly creative and artistic, which is why many research groups at the moment are very interested in subjects such as neural networks’ ability to compose music. This is a complex issue. The usual approach in machine learning is to devise a rather detailed model of a system and learn its defining features: "What separates a snake from an eel?” Instead, the question “Can AI compose new and interesting music that invokes positive feelings in us?” goes a step beyond this. AI would have to first learn the desired musical theories and stylistic features, and then be able to compose music that breaks these rules enough not to be boring, but not so much to seem too strange or otherwise tasteless,” says Pulkkinen.

“So far, just modelling the music has proved a great challenge. The compositions created by neural networks have typically lacked melodic and harmonic progressions, modulation, and other musical features pleasant to human listeners.”

The list of awarded grants can be found on the Finnish Cultural foundation website (in Finnish). >>

News submitted by: Sanna Kähkönen
Keywords: science and research, working at tut, signal processing