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Big Thinkers 2013

2013 Big Thinkers India Series: Yahoo! Labs' thought leadership in research and science

Posted: 7th of June, 2013


Ronny Lempel
Chief Data Scientist, Yahoo! Labs, Israel, drew an extremely engaged audience from across industry and academia at his recent Big Thinkers session in Bangalore. Ronny’s talk kicked off the Yahoo Big Thinkers India Series for 2013, a well-regarded lecture series by Yahoo Labs on cutting edge areas in science, technology and the Internet. Ronny’s topic was Recommendation Challenges in Web Media Settings. He spoke about how recommendation technology is at the core of the effort to personalize media consumption on the Web, be it news stories or streaming music. Outlining research challenges and trends in the art of recommendation technology, Ronny said, “The key problem researchers are looking at involve the ability to suggest sequences, frame the user’s context, find people with similar interests and, finally, recommend to people things their friends have experienced.” 


With Yahoo!’s focus on building highly personalized experiences that connect people to what matters most to them, technologies like recommender systems are central to personalizing user experience.
 Ronny’s visit to India served to highlight Yahoo!’s thought leadership in research and science, and how it links to our business, in this case personalization and ad targeting.


The talk 
brought together over 130 researchers and practitioners around the emerging topics of recommender systems from leading tech companies like GE, Bosch, Siemens and Flipkart, along with several start-ups. “This kind of participation stimulates an exchange of ideas among the top minds in industry and academia and promotes a culture of open collaboration,” said Dr. Sridhar Mitta, an industry veteran and founder of NextWealth, who attended the talk. 


RonnyLempel


During his visit, Ronny also visited IIT-Bombay, a top tech college in India, where he guided several students on their research topics around recommendation technology.


His interactions through his India visit were characterized by deep technical discussions in research areas like Recommendation Technology, evolution of big data and the challenges of maintaining a balance between personalization and contextualization of the Internet. On his role as Chief Data Scientist, Yahoo Labs, Ronny Lempel explained, “It is about looking at the areas where Yahoo Labs interacts with our product groups to develop Yahoo products. A lot of it has to do with personalization and ad targeting, which has a big reliance on recommendation technology. Machine learning, natural language processing and search technologies are all aspects that are important as to me as Chief Data Scientist. Beyond that, I also interact with our systems teams to define what the next generation of big data computational systems might look like or what is missing in our current generation of systems.”


Ahead of his Big Thinkers session, Ronny interacted with the media and was featured in-depth in some 
of India’s leading mainstream and financial dailies. You can see a snapshot of the coverage below:

Personalization and ad targeting rely on recommendation – The Financial Express 
Big data is not a new thing: Ronny Lempel – Mint
Yahoo! bets big on personal recommendations – Deccan Chronicle