CLS Senior Fellow Peter Dayan

10 August 2020

Prof. Dr. Peter Dayan, Director of the Department for Computational Neuroscience at the MPI for Biological Cybernetics in Tübingen, has joined our Center as a CLS Senior Fellow. Peter Dayan has long worked at the interface between natural and engineered systems for learning and choice, and is also regarded as a pioneer in the field of Artificial Intelligence.

Peter Dayan studied mathematics at Cambridge University and received his doctorate from the University of Edinburgh. After postdoctoral research at the Salk Institute and the University of Toronto he moved to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston as assistant professor in 1995. In 1998, he moved to London to help co-found the Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit, which became one of the best-known institutions for research in theoretical neuroscience, and was its Director from 2002 to 2017. From here, two former postdocs went on to found the company DeepMind. He was also Deputy Director of the Max Planck/UCL Center for Computational Psychiatry and Ageing Research. In 2018, he moved to Tübingen to become a Director of the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, founding the Department for Computational Neuroscience. He also holds a Humboldt Professorship at the University of Tübingen.

Professor Dayan writes “My department works in the general field of neural reinforcement learning and decision-making. This covers the ways that humans, other animals, and artificial systems should and do optimize their actions and cognition in the light of rewards and punishments. We also study the consequences for neurological and psychiatric disease when these mechanisms, or their embedding in their environment, break down. These areas are developing and expanding very quickly because of technical innovations in cognitive science, artificial intelligence, neuroscience, psychiatry and in large-scale natural experiments. We develop both theories and behavioural and analytical methodologies in rich collaborations across questions and model systems“. Read more in this interview with Peter Dayan from Cyber Valley: “Tübingen offers the perfect environment for our work”.

Since January 2020, Professor Dayan has participated in the Center for Learning Systems as a CLS Senior Fellow. CLS Senior Fellows are outstanding European researchers in machine learning and AI, elected to expand the CLS network beyond its two main partners, the ETH Zurich and MPI for Intelligent Systems. As a world expert in computational neuroscience and reinforcement learning, the involvement of Peter Dayan as a CLS Senior Fellow will strengthen the CLS scientifically and provides a connection to important biomedical topics. We are delighted that Professor Dayan has accepted the invitation to join the CLS in this capacity.

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