By: Liz Do
10 Jan, 2022
The CIFAR community is mourning the loss of François Laviolette. He was a Canada CIFAR AI Chair at Mila and a professor in the computer science and software engineering department at Laval University, where he mentored a generation of young Quebec AI scientists . He passed away on December 26, 2021 at the age of 59.
“François was among the leaders in a thriving AI ecosystem in Quebec. His expertise brought forth a greater understanding of machine learning algorithms and he was a pioneer in advancing applications of machine learning in health and life sciences,” says Elissa Strome, Executive Director, Pan-Canadian AI Strategy. “He was a respected member of CIFAR’s Canada AI Chairs program and will be deeply missed.”
Laviolette was the director of the Big Data Research Centre at Laval University, which brings together more than 50 professors. Laviolette’s research focused on making artificial intelligence interpretable to better integrate systems where humans are in the decision loop.
He was considered a leader in PAC-Bayesian theory, a framework that provides better insight into machine learning algorithms. Laviolette was especially interested in applying his research in the areas of genomics, proteomics, and drug discovery.
“François was an outstanding AI scientist and all of us are grateful to have had him as a colleague in the Canadian and Montreal AI community,” says Dr. Alan Bernstein, President & CEO of CIFAR. “On behalf of CIFAR, I send my deepest condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.”
In his memory, a François Laviolette Scholarship at Laval University has been established.
CIFAR is a registered charitable organization supported by the governments of Canada, Alberta and Quebec, as well as foundations, individuals, corporations and Canadian and international partner organizations.