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Carnegie Mellon announces partnership with Yahoo, Inc.

Randy Bryant, Dean of the School of Computer Science, spoke about the potential advances in computer science that could result from Carnegie Mellon’s newly announced partnership with Yahoo, Inc.  (credit: Abhinav Gautam/) Randy Bryant, Dean of the School of Computer Science, spoke about the potential advances in computer science that could result from Carnegie Mellon’s newly announced partnership with Yahoo, Inc. (credit: Abhinav Gautam/) Chief Scientist of Yahoo, Ron Brachman, spoke on the benefits of the partnership during a press event Wednesday morning.  (credit: Abhinav Gautam/) Chief Scientist of Yahoo, Ron Brachman, spoke on the benefits of the partnership during a press event Wednesday morning. (credit: Abhinav Gautam/)

Carnegie Mellon and Yahoo, Inc. recently announced a five-year partnership worth $10 million. The partnership, named Project InMind, will allow researchers at Carnegie Mellon to use Yahoo’s data services collection, giving them an opportunity to “test new ways that machine learning and interface technologies can improve personalized user experiences,” according to the official press release.

Project InMind will allow Yahoo and Carnegie Mellon researchers and students to develop new methods that will improve machine intelligence and the personalization of smartphone applications, among other things. It will allow researchers to use algorithms and analyze them to determine what consumers need and want. Carnegie Mellon students and community members will even be able to use some of the company’s experimental mobile software, which will allow researchers to access more data and make swift improvements to existing technolgies.

“We’re thrilled to be partnering with the exceptional faculty and students at Carnegie Mellon, which has established itself as a premier institution for machine learning and user interface technologies,” said Ron Brachman, chief scientist of Yahoo and head of Yahoo labs, in a press release.

“By creating a way for Carnegie Mellon University researchers to work directly with Yahoo software and infrastructure, we hope to speed up the pace of mobile and personalization research and create a better user experience,” Brachman continued.

Project InMind will also include a fellowship program — funded by Yahoo — at Carnegie Mellon that will provide both monetary and research support to members of the university’s computer science community. Individuals in the fellowship program will be given the opportunity to research fields like “machine learning, mobile technologies, human-computer interaction, personalization, novel interaction techniques, and natural language processing,” according to the press release.

Under the terms of the partnership, the university will have ownership over all intellectual property created through it, but Yahoo will be given ownership of anything developed with the company and will be able to license property owned by Carnegie Mellon.

“This is a one-of-a-kind opportunity for our students and faculty to work directly with a team of leading-edge researchers from Yahoo Labs on technologies that could benefit hundreds of millions of mobile users,” said Randall E. Bryant, dean of the School of Computer Science, in the press release. “The overall commitment in this new partnership is a testament to our shared desire to advance the science of machine learning, user interfaces, and mobile technologies.”

Student reaction to the partnership is mixed. Alex Tsai, a first-year information systems major, said, “Despite being overshadowed by companies like Google, Yahoo is still a big player in the tech industry. For example, they just acquired Tumblr. The areas they propose to collaborate with CMU on, such as personalized user experience and machine learning, are both trending and have a lot of potential. My only concern is that project InMind seems to be only for [computer science] majors, and CMU is too interdisciplinary for that.”

Steven Wang, a sophomore economics and statistics major, said, “it will be interesting to see what Yahoo hopes to gain from this partnership. How do they hope to benefit from the findings of CMU professors and students, as well as the increased exposure of the company at CMU? The partnership obviously has great implications for research here but I would love to hear more about Yahoo’s motivations.”