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Citadel has just hired a new head of artificial intelligence from Microsoft

Vintage metal robot toy.

Hedge funds seeking artificial intelligence expertise need to cast the net wide these days, due to a shortage of people and a massive uptick in demand over the past 12 months.

Citadel has just turned to Microsoft for the new role of chief AI officer. Li Deng, who joined the tech firm straight out of academia 17 years’ ago, has just joined Citadel’s hedge fund operation in Seattle, but will work also across Chicago and New York.

Deng announced his move to Citadel on LinkedIn yesterday, saying that he was “very excited about the opportunities for artificial intelligence innovation here and the firm’s passion for growing its leadership in this space.” Citadel didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Deng was chief scientist of AI and partner research manager at Microsoft. He joined in December 1999 from Waterloo University in Washington where he was a professor. He clearly has a passion for expanding AI knowledge – he headed up Microsoft’s AI school, as well as founding its deep learning technology centre.

Citadel is the latest big buy-side firm to create a new role heading up AI and machine learning as hedge funds rely on ever-more complex datasets to gain an edge over the competition.

Man Group brought in William Ferreira as head of machine learning for its discretionary hedge fund business GLG in April. It was a newly-created role and he previously worked at Florin Court Capital. David Ferrucci, who previously headed up IBM’s development of super-computer Watson, joined Bridgewater Associates in 2012 and now heads up its AI function, the Systematized Intelligence Lab, which has been growing this year

He’s kept his hand in academia, and was affiliate professor at the University of Washington for over 17 years until he joined Citadel in May. He’s written numerous books on using deep learning for automatic speech recognition as well as deep learning applications and methods.

Citadel already has senior machine learning employees. Pradeep Natarajan, a senior quantitative researcher in machine learning, joined from Amazon, where he was a senior research scientist, in October 2014.

It’s also its second stab at poaching from Microsoft – it brought in Kevin Turner, the tech firm’s ex-COO as CEO of Citadel Securities in August last year, but he left just seven months later. He’s now founder and CEO of his own start-up Forward Progress Ventures.

Contact: pclarke@efinancialcareers.com

Image: Getty Images

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