It has now become a tradition that, at every Eurospeech Conference, a medal is awarded for significant scientific achievement in the field of speech communication, science and technology. Let me remind you that the previous medals were awarded to Gunnar FANT, Jim FLANAGAN, Adrian FOURCIN, Ken STEVENS and Mario ROSSI. This year ESCA is proud to award Fred JELINEK, of Johns Hopkins University, the 1999 ESCA Medal for Scientific Achievement. Fred has been chosen to receive this honour for his outstanding contributions to the development of automatic speech recognition.
Since he started at MIT as a teaching assistant - while at the same time preparing for his PhD - Fred has been constantly active and increasingly renowned in the field of automatic speech recognition and natural language processing. After a brief stay at Harvard as a lecturer, he spent several years at Cornell, moving from Assistant Professor to Associate Professor, and then to Full Professor. In 1972 Fred was appointed to a position as senior manager of a large research group within IBM T.J. Watson Research Center - a position he held for over 20 years. Under Fred's leadership, the IBM group conducted seminal research in the areas of Continuous Speech Recognition, Machine Language Translation and Text Parsing and Understanding. In 1993 Fred moved back to academia, taking up a Professorship at Johns Hopkins University, where he is now the Director of the well known Center for Language and Speech Processing.
Fred JELINEK is certainly one of the pioneers for applying statistical solutions to the problems of automatic speech recognition; solutions which he then adapted to related problems such as language understanding and machine translation. He has exploited his solid background in Information Theory to find new ways of modeling spoken language, and for breaking the complex linguistic code hidden behind human speech and language communication. He has been one of the first people to understand and exploit the importance of modeling prediction in automatic speech recognition. A number of ideas that are now considered as common knowledge by many students in the field of speech recognition have been conceived, adapted and promoted by Fred JELINEK and his team of colleagues. Indeed, looking to speech recognition applications, it is possible nowadays, as you know, to find inexpensive commercial products on the market that are able to transcribe dictation automatically. Well, if you happen by accident to experience a difficulty with one of them, don't hesitate to report it to Fred, as he is certainly one of the people who knows best how they work and where the problem may have come from ... Recently given awards by the IEEE Signal Processing Society and by the Information Theory Society, it is now, Fred, the turn of the Speech Community to acknowledge and pay tribute to your outstanding contributions to the field of Automatic Speech Recognition, by presenting you with the 1999 ESCA Medal for Scientific Achievement.