03/19/2019 17:04:46

MIPT graduate Alexey Melnikov earns Cozzarelli Prize of US National Academy of Sciences

On March 7, the editorial board of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences announced six research papers that will receive the Cozzarelli Prize. This award recognizes “outstanding contributions to the scientific disciplines represented by the National Academy of Sciences” of the United States. Chosen from approximately 3,200 research articles that appeared in the journal in 2018, the winning papers represent the six broadly defined classes under which the Academy is organized.

The first of the six classes is for physics and mathematics papers. The award in this category recognizes the article “Active Learning Machine Learns to Create New Quantum Experiments” by MIPT alumnus Alexey Melnikov et al. It deals with the discoveries made by machine intelligence in quantum experiments.

Experiments such as these push the envelope of human understanding of the fundamental laws of nature. Arguably, further breakthroughs will require complex, unintuitive experiments and methods appropriate for them. The authors of the award-winning paper proposed an autonomous system that learns to design complex quantum physics experiments not grounded in flawed human intuition or previously accumulated knowledge. Not only does the system learn to run experiments more efficiently, but it also discovers nontrivial experimental techniques in the process of experiment design. The authors showed that self-learning machine intelligence systems can significantly improve the process of creating new experiments.

Alexey Melnikov is a researcher at the University of Basel, the K.A. Valiev Institute of Physics and Technology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, ITMO University, and, at the time of working on the prize-winning paper, also at the Institute for Theoretical Physics of the University of Innsbruck. He has worked at MIPT’s department of theoretical physics and continues to collaborate with the team. Melnikov is engaged in developing novel quantum machine learning techniques and new artificial intelligence methods for scientific discovery.

The annual Cozzarelli Prize recognizes research articles that reflect “scientific excellence and originality.” The award was inaugurated in 2005 as the Paper of the Year Prize and was later renamed to honor late PNAS Editor-in-Chief Nicholas R. Cozzarelli. In previous years the Cozzarelli Prize has been awarded to a number of distinguished scientists including Albert-Laszlo Barabási and Yakir Aharonov. The latest awards will be presented at the meeting of the PNAS editorial board. An awards ceremony recognizing the prize recipients will be held April 28, during the annual meeting of the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C.

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