First Antidote Scholarship Awarded to Alexandre de Brébisson

April 06, 2017
Alexandre de Brébisson

Yesterday, as part of the Druide Fund for Research in Text Analysis—which was recently created through a donation from Druide informatique—the MILA (Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms) Laboratory at University of Montreal awarded its first ever Antidote Scholarship. The lucky recipient is Mr. Alexandre de Brébisson, a doctoral student under the joint supervision of professors Pascal Vincent and Yoshua Bengio. The Antidote Scholarship entitles Mr. de Brébisson to the sum of $20,000.

Last November, to mark the 20-year anniversary of its software, Antidote, as well as 50 years of University of Montreal’s Department of Computer Science and Operations Research (DIRO), Druide informatique announced the creation of a million-dollar fund for research into deep learning-based text analysis. In addition to establishing the Fund, Druide also set up the Antidote Scholarship, which awards $20,000 to one deserving student each year.

Drawn from the ranks of Supélec, France’s prestigious grande école, Mr. de Brébisson earned a Master’s of Research from the Imperial College in London before enrolling at University of Montreal for his doctoral studies. As a member of the MILA team, Mr. de Brébisson is working to understand the fundamentals of human language, a key focus of the Druide Fund. More specifically, he is attempting to speed up training of neural network language models with large vocabularies, a frequent obstacle in several situations that require predicting a specific word within a large bank of words. He was thus able to apply his work to the field of language models, text-based dialog and voice generation.

The Druide Fund for Research in Text Analysis will go to MILA, a laboratory lead by Professor Yoshua Bengio, a DIRO alumnus globally renowned for his spectacular breakthroughs in deep learning-based artificial intelligence. With its 150 researchers coming from both sides of Montreal’s Mount Royal, MILA is a leader in its field. Drawing inspiration from Silicon Valley, Professor Bengio and his team hope to make Montreal into an “AI Mountain”, a goal that Druide informatique is proud to support through the Druide Fund and the Antidote Scholarship.

Antidote was already a remarkable mainstream application of artificial intelligence when it launched in November 1996. Its corrector, guides and dictionaries have since benefited from 20 years of continuous evolution, culminating in 2015 with the extension of its full capabilities to the English language. Today, more than a million people use Antidote across the French-speaking world in both professional and private settings. Druide is methodically pursuing the development of Antidote and aims to be among the first to pass the benefits of deep learning research onto its users.

Druide informatique produces and markets Antidote, the most complete writing assistance software suite available for English and French, as well as Typing Pal, the renowned typing tutorial application. The company is also the creator of WebElixir, a quality assurance service for websites. In addition to its software, Druide publishes French-language literature and reference works through its subsidiary, Éditions Druide.