Congratulations to Prof Pillay the HOD for the Department of Computer Science, who delivered her inaugural address on 8 May in the Senate Hall at the University of Pretoria. The title was “Artificial intelligence: Myth or reality for the 4th industrial revolution?’ According to Prof Pillay, the talk aims to answer the question of whether artificial intelligence can meet the challenges posed by the fourth industrial revolution and examining the impact of artificial intelligence, specifically search techniques, on the discipline of computer science, industry, education and society. The talk also examined a South African perspective of artificial intelligence.
Prof Pillay joined the University of Pretoria’s Faculty of Engineering, Built Environment and Information Technology in September 2017. She hails from the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal where she obtained her PhD in Computer Science and has held the position of Associate Professor at the same institution. Currently, Prof Pillay’s main research areas are nature-inspired methods for solving combinatorial optimization problems; evolutionary algorithm hyper-heuristics; applications of genetic algorithms and genetic programming and theoretical aspects of genetic programming. Prof Pillay holds a C1 NRF rating and is Chair of the IEEE Task Force on Hyper-heuristics within the Technical Committee of Intelligent Systems and Applications at the IEEE Computational Intelligence Society.
The highlight of Pillay’s inaugural lecture was the attendance of four of her postgraduate students who travelled all the way from Kwa-Zulu Natal to surprise and support Prof Pillay.
The Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Prof Cheryl de la Rey welcomed the guests and delivered a short summary of Prof Pillay’s career path. According to Prof de la Rey, the inaugural lecture was first implemented in 1934 at the University of Pretoria. She further mentioned that this is a good way of highlighting a lecturer’s focus area and sharing their knowledge.
Prof Sunil Maharaj, the Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, Built Environment and Information Technology, thanked Prof Pillay for her enlightening address and mentioned that maybe the area of artificial intelligence should be considered in all academic programmes at the University as it is impacting all aspects of society.