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Peter Norvig

Peter Norvig is an American computer scientist, current director of research at Google and previously head of the “Intelligent Systems Division” at NASA. In his spare time, he has designed approximation algorithms to solve some of the most complex known problems in graph theory and he has always been very active in sharing knowledge and educating people, with a strong focus on Artificial Intelligence (AI)I. He is a fellow and counsellor of the “Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence” and co-author, with Stuart Russell, of “Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach”, today considered the reference text in the field.

He is considered one of the fathers of many modern concepts related to AI and more specifically Machine Learning, and Google’s visionary approach to AI and big data is mostly due to him.

He has hosted a number of amazing talks, but one of his most famous quotes is:

We should stop acting as if our goal is to author extremely elegant theories, and instead embrace complexity and make use of the best ally we have: the unreasonable effectiveness of data

This quote by itself is probably enough to describe the whole field of data science. Norvig is also an author of various essays and articles, including the infamous “Teach Yourself Programming in Ten Years”. I find it inspiring that he was able, before anyone else, to foresee the potential of AI applied to Big Data and that he has contributed so much to the development of this field. I also happen to love all of his shirts.