Over the years, Yahoo! Labs has partnered closely with many universities and colleges. As a company, we want to invent the sciences needed for the next-generation Internet. Working with the faculty, researchers, and students of the world’s great universities is one of the best ways to meet that goal.
Looking back, 2009 was our most successful year to date. Through a variety of programs, we brought together a lot of smart folks and important ideas. As we head into 2010, we want to share our excitement about these programs and events.
Our University Hack Day competitions (Hack U) brought Yahoo!’s open technology, top developers, and hack spirit to campuses for technical talks and a 24-hour student programming competition. Students from 11 universities in the U.S., Canada, and India built more than 300 hacks. Winners from each campus participated in the New York Open Hack Day, ultimately winning 6 of the 11 categories.
Yahoo! Big Thinkers Series:
As part of our Big Thinkers distinguished speaker series, Yahoo! brought the brightest minds in the academic community to our campus for talks, and we’ve made those lectures available on the Web for all to see and enjoy. We had talks on
- Global climate change with Kenneth Arrow, Nobel Laureate and Professor Emeritus of Economics at Stanford University
- The psychology of the Web with Sandy Pentland, MIT
- Getting around the “you don’t know what you don’t know” syndrome with Ion Stoica, University of California, Berkeley
- How computational thinking can transform education with Jeannette Wing of the National Science Foundation
- Calculating the largest prime number ever found with Ron Graham, University of California, San Diego
- How the Internet and the science of computing are on the verge of driving a revolution in medical and biological science with Leroy Hood, Institute of Systems Biology
Next year’s Big Thinkers series should be just as captivating — we’ve got a great lineup for 2010.
Our Webscope™ program offers a reference library of 24 interesting and scientifically useful datasets we’ve made available for noncommercial use by academics and other scientists. More than 880 academic researchers have used the datasets, resulting in 28 technical papers, journal articles and theses so far. Very few companies have the resources and global scale to help academics and students interact with the types of real-world datasets it takes to spark innovation, but Yahoo! is one of them and it’s really paid off.
Key Scientific Challenges (KSC):
Our Key Scientific Challenges program partnered with 21 graduate students in 2009. We gave them scholarships, plus the opportunity to work closely with Yahoo!’s scientists on solving some of the biggest challenges the Web offers. The winners attended the KSC Graduate Student Summit, where they presented the fruits of their labor to fellow students and other Yahoo! researchers. It was the first of what will surely be many peer-reviewed conferences for these talented folks.
Cloud Computing Research:
Our M45 Cloud Computing Cluster is a 4,000-processor testbed being used in academia for the advancement of cloud computing research and education. Faculty members at Carnegie Mellon University have written 40 technical publications based on research performed on M45, and the cluster is now being used by three additional universities. Yahoo! is also part of both the Open Cirrus testbed and the Open Cloud Consortium.
Global Impact – Yahoo! Days in Haifa:
In November we held two very successful “Yahoo! Days” at major Israeli universities – Tel Aviv University and Technion, the Israel Institute of Technology. Yahoo! scientists from around the world joined the event, which featured a keynote by Prabhakar Raghavan, the head of Yahoo! Labs. Pictures from the Tel Aviv and Technion events are available on Flickr.
Netflix Prize-winner Yehuda Koren’s Campus Tour:
Yehuda Koren, a research scientist with Yahoo! Labs in Israel, was part of a team that spanned countries, time zones, and companies, collaborating over a three-year period to win the Netflix Prize, one of the most well-publicized and interesting machine learning contests ever conceived. It's a story with surprises, twists and turns, game-playing, late nights, and computational brute force. There's also deep science behind it all — science that will drive future innovation on the Web. Naturally, Yahoo! thought it was the kind of story that students and faculty at some of the world’s best universities would like to hear in person. Yehuda has visited seven universities since the award was announced in September 2009, including MIT, Harvard, Carnegie Mellon, Columbia, Rutgers, Princeton, Penn, and GA Tech. And he’ll be back at in 2010.
And, of course, we continued to sponsor our campus seminar series, leaving “purple footprints” at Carnegie Mellon University, MIT, and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. All of those seminars have been recorded and are available online. Yahoos also presented more than 100 lectures, seminars, workshops and training sessions at campuses worldwide.
If you want to learn more about Yahoo! Academic Relations programs and how you can participate in 2010, please visit us.