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Professor Ian Witten Awarded Hector Medal

5 Oct 2005

Waikato University Computer Science Professor Ian Witten Has Been Awarded The Prestigious 2005 Hector Medal By The Royal Society Of New Zealand.

The Hector Medal is awarded biennially by the Royal Society, in rotation, for mathematical and information sciences, chemical sciences and physical sciences. It recognises an investigator who, working within New Zealand, has undertaken work of great scientific or technological merit and has made an outstanding contribution to the advancement of their particular branch of science.

Professor Witten leads the University's New Zealand Digital Library Research Group, one focus of which is developing the Greenstone Digital Library Software. The software is now used internationally, in many languages and for many purposes, including the collection of humanitarian information for use in developing countries and the preservation of cultural heritage.

The Greenstone software resulted in Professor Witten being awarded the IFIP Namur award in 2004, an international honour which recognises recipients for raising awareness internationally of the social implications of information and communication technologies.

He also led the team that produced the first machine learning workbench, known as "Weka", which won the SIGKDD Data Mining and Discovery Service Award of the Association of Computing Machinery in 2005. Weka allows people to apply advanced algorithms in machine learning to their own data.

Ian Witten is the author (or co-author) of ten books, plus over 100 journal articles and 140 conference papers. One of his books, "Managing Gigabytes" (co-authored with Alistair Moffat and Tim Bell), is regarded as the definitive textbook on data compression and information retrieval, and has provided key advice for the construction of search engines such as "Google".

Currently overseas on study leave, Professor Witten says that his achievements in New Zealand have been very much group efforts involving different research groups in the Computer Science Department at Waikato, which he says is a very supportive environment in which to work.


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