Sepp Hochreiter

Head of the Institute for Machine Learning



Computer Science, Computer-Based Research, and Machine Learning


Sepp Hochreiter (born Josef Hochreiter in 1967) is a German computer scientist. Since 2018 he is heading the Institute for Machine Learning at the Johannes Kepler University of Linz after having led the Institute of Bioinformatics from 2006 to 2018. Since 2017 he is also head of the Linz Institute of Technology (LIT) AI Lab which focuses on advancing research on artificial intelligence. Previously, he was at the Technical University of Berlin, at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and at the Technical University of Munich.

Sepp Hochreiter has made numerous contributions in the fields of machine learning, deep learning and bioinformatics. He developed the long short-term memory (LSTM) for which the first results were reported in his diploma thesis in 1991.[1] The main LSTM paper appeared in 1997[2] and is considered as a discovery that is a milestone in the timeline of machine learning. The foundation of deep learning were led by his analysis of the vanishing or exploding gradient.[1][3][4] He contributed to meta learning[5] and proposed flat minima[6] as preferable solutions of learning artificial neural networks to ensure a low generalization error. He developed new activation functions for neural networks like exponential linear units (ELUs)[7] or scaled ELUs (SELUs)[8][9] to improve learning. He contributed to reinforcement learning via actor-critic approaches[10] and his RUDDER method.[11] He applied biclustering methods to drug discovery and toxicology. He extended support vector machines to handle kernels that are not positive definite with the “Potential Support Vector Machine” (PSVM) model, and applied this model to feature selection, especially to gene selection for microarray data.[12] Also in biotechnology, he developed “Factor Analysis for Robust Microarray Summarization” (FARMS).[13]

In addition to his research contributions, Sepp Hochreiter is broadly active within his field: he launched the Bioinformatics Working Group at the Austrian Computer Society; he is founding board member of different bioinformatics start-up companies; he was program chair of the conference Bioinformatics Research and Development;[14] he is a conference chair of the conference Critical Assessment of Massive Data Analysis (CAMDA); and he is editor, program committee member, and reviewer for international journals and conferences. As a faculty member at Johannes Kepler Linz, he founded the Bachelors Program in Bioinformatics, which is a cross-border, double-degree study program together with the University of South-Bohemia in České Budějovice (Budweis), Czech Republic. He also established the Masters Program in Bioinformatics, where he is still the acting dean of both studies.

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