academics & research

$3 million to be used to explore learning approaches

A new research team at IU has been awarded $3 million to study how children learn and if machines can learn in the same manner. This $3 million award is the inaugural grant of a new Emerging Areas of Research initiative, which was put forth in the Bicentennial Strategic Plan for IU.

This first EAR project is being led by Linda Smith, a professor of psychological and brain sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Provost and Executive Vice President Lauren Robel said in a press release the new program is designed to keep IU on the cutting edge of research.

“The stellar team led by Professor Smith epitomizes the strengths that allow us to build toward that future,” Robel said.

Smith said in the press release that many people do not think there is a connection between cognitive learning for children and machine learning, but she said that is a fundamental misunderstanding.

“From its beginnings, computer science has always had overlapping questions with cognitive psychology and neuroscience,” Smith said in the release.

Smith is known internationally for her work and research on human cognition, particularly with children. According to the press release, Smith plans to bring new faculty who are experts in cognition, neuroscience and machine learning.

“The proposal leverages exemplary areas of research on our campus, and the combination is certain to yield exciting results,” Rick Van Kooten, the vice provost for research at IU, said in the press release.

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