Microsoft opens New York research lab, hires mainly Yahoo researchers

Most of the initial 15 hires to the lab are researchers from Yahoo Research

Microsoft on Thursday is opening a research lab in New York city that aims to benefit from interaction with the academic and tech communities in the metropolitan area, as well as attract new talent to Microsoft, the company said.

To start, the lab has hired 15 researchers of which the majority, including David Pennock, the assistant managing director of the new lab, are from Yahoo Research, Jennifer Chayes, managing director of Microsoft Research New England, who also heads the new Microsoft Research New York City, said in a blog post on Wednesday.

The New York lab has reached out to universities in the area, including Columbia, New York University, the new Cornell-Technion NYC campus, Princeton and Rutgers, to discuss ways to collaborate more closely, Chayes said.

The New York City researchers will become part of the Microsoft Research network of more than 850 Ph.D. researchers, focused on more than 55 areas of computing.

The Manhattan lab joins 12 other Microsoft research labs in seven countries, and will focus on creating new disciplines at the intersection of computer science and the social sciences, Microsoft said.

The New England lab already works in the areas of social media, empirical economics, and machine learning, besides theoretical computer science, cryptography, and mathematics. The Manhattan lab will investigate complementary research areas such as computational and experimental social science, algorithmic economics, machine learning, and information retrieval, Microsoft said.

Among the Yahoo researchers who have signed up are Pennock, a past chair of the Association for Computing Machinery's Special Interest Group on Electronic Commerce, and Duncan Watts, a former full professor of Sociology at Columbia University who is focused on computational and experimental social science, Microsoft said. Both Pennock and Watts worked as researchers at Yahoo Research in New York, according to the Yahoo Research website.

Yahoo announced in April that it was laying off about 2,000 staff across many functions.

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