• United States
by Juan Carlos Perez

Yahoo extends research efforts to Europe, Latin America

Jan 23, 20062 mins
Enterprise ApplicationsWeb Search

Yahoo Monday announced it has expanded its research team’s geographic reach outside of the U.S., with new centers in Santiago, Chile, and Barcelona to tap into new resources in Latin America and Europe.

Both centers will be led by Ricardo Baeza-Yates, who specializes in Web information retrieval and mining, said Usama Fayyad, Yahoo’s chief data officer and senior vice president.

Baeza-Yates will help Yahoo in areas such as relevance of search engine results, an area in which search engine operators toil nonstop. Yahoo also expects to benefit from his expertise in text mining and categorization of documents, particularly as they apply to matching ads to contextually relevant Web pages, a key area for providers of paid search ads, such as Yahoo and its archrival Google.

Chile and Spain may not be the first countries that come to mind when one thinks of Internet-related research, but they are countries where Baeza-Yates has developed his work. “Our philosophy is to go where the talent is,” Fayyad said.

Both Yahoo centers will be run in conjunction with institutions with which Baeza-Yates has existing relationships. In Barcelona, it will be the nonprofit Center for Innovation Barcelona Media, which has support from the local government and industry. In Santiago, the tie-up will be with the Center for Web Research, created by Baeza-Yates, funded by the Chilean government and located in the University of Chile.

“Both in Santiago and Barcelona, we’re getting a lot of support from local universities and government, helping us with cost,” he said. “We’re also leveraging existing [research] teams, so we can build a lab overnight with a team of experts that functions together.”

Baeza-Yates, who will be based in Barcelona, has a master’s degree in computer science and electrical engineering from the University of Chile and a Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Waterloo in Ontario.

A former professor at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona and at the University of Chile, Baeza-Yates became a full-time Yahoo employee several weeks ago, but will retain his ties to both institutions to foster collaboration between them and Yahoo, Fayyad said.

He is also co-author of the book “Modern Information Retrieval” with Berthier Ribeiro Neto. “If we combed Silicon Valley searching for the kind of talent Ricardo brings to the table we wouldn’t be able to find it,” Fayyad said.