Sunday, October 17, 2010

Luis Von Ahn: digital pioneer from Guatemala, but with an American education

Luis von Ahn (born in 1979 in Guatemala City, Guatemala) is an entrepreneur and a professor in the Computer Science Department at Carnegie Mellon University. He is known as a one of the pioneers of the idea of crowdsourcing.

He is the founder of the company reCAPTCHA, which was sold to Google in 2009.[1] As a professor, his research includes CAPTCHAs and human computation, and has earned him international recognition and numerous honors.

He was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship (a.k.a., the "genius grant") in 2006,[2][3] the David and Lucile Packard Foundation Fellowship in 2009, a Sloan Fellowship in 2009, and a Microsoft New Faculty Fellowship in 2007. He has also been named one of the 50 Best Brains in Science by Discover Magazine, and has made it to many recognition lists that include Popular Science Magazine's Brilliant 10,'s 50 Most Influential People in Technology, Technology Review's TR35: Young Innovators Under 35, and FastCompany's 100 Most Innovative People in Business.

Luis von Ahn grew up in Guatemala City. He attended the American School of Guatemala for his primary and secondary education, and graduated from it in 1996. He received a B.S. in mathematics (summa cum laude) from Duke University in 2000. He obtained a Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon University in 2005 under the supervision of professor Manuel Blum, who is well-known for advising some of the most prominent researchers in the field of computer science.