Yahoo! Inc. recently convened more than 200 of the company’s leading scientists to examine the most important trends and questions about the future of the Web at Yahoo! Labs’ annual Science Week event. Yahoo! also celebrated the fifth anniversary of Yahoo! Labs, one of the world’s premier industrial research organizations.
“Yahoo! Labs is tackling the biggest scientific questions facing the industry and Yahoo! — from how to define what’s personally meaningful to the billions of people online, to investigating what the Web can teach us about ourselves and society,” said Dr. Prabhakar Raghavan, Yahoo!’s chief scientist and head of Yahoo! Labs. “I joined Yahoo! with the belief that we would be the ultimate environment for inventing the new sciences of the Internet, and in the past five years that belief has been proven true time and time again. Our scientists conduct research at unparalleled scale in the real world.”
Highlighted topics at this year’s Yahoo! Labs Science Week included:
- Accelerating the shift of advertising dollars to online media by pioneering new digital advertising science and technologies, like Computational Advertising, and improving the measurement of advertising effectiveness
- Personalizing the user experience on the Web while maintaining leading consumer privacy protection
- Exploring group-based communications and the implications for helping people manage their diverse social spheres
- Developing new experiences based on the growing flow of social and real-time data on the Web
- Pushing the boundaries of machine learning across a variety of Web applications
- Innovating on cloud computing systems and open-source software
Formally created in 2005, Yahoo! Labs has expanded globally with offices in the United States, Europe, South America, Asia, and the Middle East. Scientists at Yahoo! Labs have made significant contributions to the industry by producing more than 1,000 papers, workshops, and presentations for conferences and academic journals.
"Yahoo! Labs is a unique industrial research lab which promotes academic-style research that advances the frontiers of science, but wisely focuses on a few areas key to Yahoo!'s business,” said Jeannette M. Wing, the president's professor of computer science and department head of the computer science department at Carnegie Mellon University, and the former assistant director of the Computer and Information Science and Engineering Directorate at the National Science Foundation (NSF). “It also engages directly and openly with the academic community, providing academics resources to which the community otherwise would not have access to. For example, through a partnership with the National Science Foundation, Yahoo!, along with HP and Intel, through their Open Cirrus effort, helped provide a cluster computer hosted at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. This industry-government-academia collaboration enabled the entire academic community reached by the NSF, to conduct novel experimental research in cloud computing."
In addition to advancing a variety of technical disciplines, such as information retrieval, Web mining, microeconomics, social systems, and machine learning, Yahoo! Labs has made many contributions to Yahoo! by building cutting-edge science into the company’s products and computing infrastructure. Science and engineering teams at Yahoo! continually improve Yahoo!’s business by analyzing real-world data to extend Yahoo!’s competitive advantage in a number of categories, from online advertising to media, communications, and content discovery.
These innovations from Yahoo! Labs leverage Yahoo!’s global platforms and technology infrastructure with both the Yahoo! Cloud and Hadoop — the latter an open-source technology pioneered by Yahoo! that sits at the epicenter of big data and cloud computing &mdahs; making it possible for Yahoo! Labs’ scientists to conduct experiments at scale, iterate on systems and algorithms, and crunch the massive amounts of data generated on the Web.