Yandex Blog

YSDA-HSE’s Annual Machine Learning Summer School Heads to Germany

We’ve long felt that being one of Europe’s largest tech companies means we have a responsibility to help educate current and future generations of data scientists.  We’re continually looking for ways to advance machine learning for our users and the greater AI community, and one way of doing that is to encourage data science learning.  Our education initiatives offer opportunities for a broad range of learners, from those interested in online courses to professionals looking for career advancement in computer science.  Many of our education programs stem from our collaborations with higher education institutions, which enable us to work with the brightest scientific minds to teach diverse topics in machine learning. 

The annual Machine Learning in High Energy Physics summer school which we help organize is an excellent example of our commitment to academic collaboration.  The Yandex School of Data Analysis and the Laboratory of Methods for Big Data Analysis at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics (HSE) have annually staged the summer school since 2015.  Each year, we work with a different scientific partner in Europe to host the summer program.  This year, the DESY research center in Hamburg, Germany, will host the fifth MLHEP summer school from July 1st to July 10th.  The program will welcome 71 postgraduates and postdoctoral researchers from 17 countries, with most coming from the EU, the United States, and Russia.  

The MLHEP summer school focuses on the emerging fields of data analysis and computational research in High Energy Physics (HEP), also known as particle physics.  Machine learning helps solve essential problems in HEP that range from online data filtering and reconstruction to offline data analysis. Over ten days, students at the summer school will have both a theoretical and practical introduction to machine learning in HEP, covering topics from decision trees to deep learning and hyperparameter optimisation.  Students will have the opportunity to apply what they learn with concrete examples and hands-on tutorials.

Participants in previous years have come from all over the world with diverse backgrounds to enhance their machine learning skills.  

“During the MLHEP school, I widened my understanding of machine learning methods,” says Mikkel Bjorn, a DPhil student in Elementary Particle Physics at the University of Oxford.  “I learned new ideas about where the techniques we studied can be useful in the work of myself and my group.” 

Alexey Kharlamov, a recent graduate of HSE, adds that “Most of all I liked the atmosphere of the program, which cultivated an interest in machine learning as a result of working with both motivated students and excellent teachers who love their subject.  In such an environment, it’s exciting to develop your data science skills.”

The MLHEP summer program emphasizes both theoretical knowledge and practical application to ensure students come away with applicable skills.  We organize a related machine learning competition that spans two to three months to provide a continued opportunity for students to apply their knowledge.  The competition is inspired by Yandex’s long-standing relationship with CERN, where researchers from Yandex have been working with physicists to solve issues related to matter and energy.  In particular, students will be creating solutions related to the Large Hadron Collider beauty experiment at CERN. The competition will require students to process particle information using modelling techniques.  The two-part contest will be similar to Kaggle machine learning competitions and take place in a co-learning environment, encouraging students to work together to solve challenges.

Lecturers from the Faculty of Computer Science at HSE, a department Yandex co-founded, will teach most of the sessions.  As we’re always eager to promote an atmosphere of collaboration in our education initiatives, we’re excited to announce they will be joined by several guest lecturers from Facebook, Oracle, Caltech, and more, who will be teaching sessions on causal inference, probabilistic programming, and other machine learning topics.

The MLHEP summer school is yet another exciting opportunity for Yandex to collaborate with academia and encourage data science learning.  For more information about the program, please visit the website and follow @yandexcom on Twitter to get updates during the summer school!

Yandex’s University Collaboration Honored by Coursera at Annual Partners Conference

As one of Europe’s largest internet companies, we feel we have a responsibility to help educate a future generation of data scientists, as well as encourage current learners interested in subjects such as artificial intelligence and machine learning.  Through our education initiatives, we help provide the tools people need to learn the skills for the jobs of tomorrow.  Our collaborations with universities are a central part of this effort.  We believe that by sharing knowledge in partnerships with academic leaders, tech companies can help advance AI education to better prepare learners for the demands of the growing job market for data scientists.

At the Coursera Partners Conference this week in London, an annual event that brings together industry and academic partners who create content for Coursera, one such partnership was recognized for its innovative approach to online education.  Coursera awarded Yandex with the Outstanding Educator Award for Innovation for our Advanced Machine Learning specialization, which is offered through the Faculty of Computer Science at the Higher School of Economics (HSE) in Moscow, a program we co-founded with HSE in 2014.  The specialization covers seven courses that teach students the skills they need to master modern machine learning methods, such as deep learning, reinforcement learning, natural language understanding, computer vision, and Bayesian methods.  The courses are taught in English by machine learning experts from the Faculty of Computer Science.

We’re thrilled to have been honored by Coursera for our specialization that is a result of our commitment to collaboration with academia and offering educational opportunities to learners everywhere.  Coursera and other online learning platforms have become an integral part of global education, providing a more accessible source of education for people around the world.  In 2018, Coursera hosted over 800 new courses covering various topics, and we are grateful to have been selected for the Innovation award among so many impressive courses.

Sofia Tekhazheva, Manager of Academic Program Services at the Yandex School of Data Analysis (YSDA), attended the Coursera Partners Conference.  Sofia represented Yandex during the “University and Industry Collaborations: Preparing the Workforce of Tomorrow” panel to share insights on the benefits of collaboration between universities and industry partners.  Sofia notes that “it’s critical to work with universities to provide academic opportunities in computer science and related fields.  We need to create education systems that will help people adapt to today’s changing job demands, especially as more industries are increasingly relying on data science.  Building these learning platforms requires both resources and expertise; collaborations among industry and academia can help better provide this.  These collaborative efforts lead to more innovative programs.  The launch and success of the Advanced Machine Learning specialization exemplify what these types of collaboration can achieve.”

The Faculty of Computer Science at HSE, which offers the Advanced Machine Learning specialization on Coursera, is at the cornerstone of our collaborative projects with academia.  When we jointly opened the FCS with HSE in 2014, our goal was to prepare a new generation of learners in software engineering and applied mathematics and informatics.  As the faculty approaches its fifth anniversary, it has grown to enroll over 1,500 students and staff over 200 experts in the field.  FCS now offers three bachelor’s programmes, six master’s programmes, and a doctoral programme, as well as initiatives like the Advanced Machine Learning specialization on Coursera.

The Faculty of Computer Science is just one of many ways that Yandex works with universities to promote education.  Since 2007, the Yandex School of Data Analysis (YSDA) has provided university students with a free master’s level program in computer science and data analysis.  YSDA courses are taught by professors from prestigious Russian universities like Moscow State University, the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT), and HSE, among others.  Educators affiliated with these schools also help administer YSDA.  Yandex also supports a chair of data analysis at MIPT, which teaches data science skills to a select group of bachelor’s students in the School of Applied Mathematics and Informatics.  The chair also directs a master’s program at MIPT.  In Israel, Yandex has partnered with Tel Aviv University to create the Machine Learning Initiative, which brings together a cluster of machine learning courses and supports students with Yandex Fellowships.  YSDA also hosts a career advancement program in the branch of the school at TAU.

The alumni of our many education programs have gone on to work in academia, at Yandex, and at other major tech firms.  We’re proud to see students from our academic programs continuing to foster talent across the global tech ecosystem.  With online education initiatives like our Advanced Machine Learning specialization, students all around the world have the opportunity to explore and lead careers in AI and machine learning.  We’re honored to have our education efforts and academic collaborations recognized by Coursera, and we welcome learners interested in data science to check out the course.

Welcome Learners: Yandex Hosts NLP Week 2019

Education is something we feel passionate about, and as STEM skills become essential in today’s work environments, we are committed to providing avenues for people to improve their data science expertise.  As one of Europe’s largest internet companies, we have a responsibility to help educate future generations in data science, artificial intelligence, and machine learning.  The Yandex School of Data Analysis (YSDA), a free master’s-level program in computer science, is at the centerpiece of these efforts.

Through the MA program, YSDA provides students with the opportunity to take courses in many different data science fields, and participate in internships, online courses, and additional extended educational opportunities.  As part of our commitment to education and our support of data science learning, we’re excited to kick off a new extended education effort this week - the first Natural Language Processing (NLP) Week at Yandex’s headquarters in Moscow.

NLP Week 2019 offers students a research-oriented intensive program on NLP in English.  Each course will be three hours long, for a total of twelve hours of in-person teaching throughout the week.  NLP Week acts as an extension to the NLP course taught at YSDA, but any students or professionals with a sufficient background in NLP and a strong command of English could also register for the course.  By the end of the four-day course, students at NLP Week will have learned the NLP applications of latent variables, deep generative models and semantic parsing.

Students of the Yandex School of Data Analysis

We are thrilled to welcome two respected experts in the field to teach NLP week!  Wilker Aziz of the Institute for Logic, Language and Computation at the University of Amsterdam will teach courses on latent variable models, deep generative models, and advanced topics.  Mirella Lapata of the School of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh will teach semantic parsing.

Wilker Aziz
Mirella Lapata

We look forward to all the exciting classes ahead this week.  We will be sharing more on our social channels and welcome our students to join the conversation!

International Women’s Day 2019: Celebrating Ambitious Women

People across the world tomorrow are celebrating International Women’s Day, honoring the achievements and significance of all women.  Locally in Russia and most other countries in which Yandex operates, the holiday, often referred to as March 8th, is celebrated as a public holiday.  Throughout the week, members of the Yandex community have been celebrating their female colleagues with gifts and acknowledgements of their hard work.

At Yandex, we are honored to work with thousands of ambitious and talented women across our global offices and the entire tech ecosystem.  Today especially we thank you for all you do.  In honor of the holiday, we’re also celebrating the ambitions of the billions of women around the world.  As we take this day to acknowledge all that women have accomplished, we wanted to recognize the drive and determination of women to realize their goals.

One way we can see millions of women striving to reach their ambitions is through the search trends among our female users.  Especially for the formative young adult years, women across Russia are using the internet to advance their professional development.  We’re inspired to see millions of women searching for ways to teach themselves new languages, whether it be English and German or Python and Java.  Women are also using our search engine to solve complex IT problems, entering queries such as “how to parse JSON.”  Women are searching for information related to their studies as well, entering queries such as “phonetic parsing of words,” and many are asking about running a business by searching for resources such as business plan samples.

We admire women across the world who set out to achieve their personal and professional goals.  Today we wanted to highlight this by featuring a profile on Dasha, a young computer programmer in Russia who is just one of these driven women who has used the internet to help realize her ambitions.  

Like millions of other users, Dasha was seeking resources to grow.  “I worked in an office job for a few months before deciding I wanted to do something more engaging and work with like-minded people.  Web development has always fascinated me, so I began looking for ways to start a job in this field.”

Dasha went online to find resources for starting a career in web development.  Through her research, Dasha came across opportunities on Coursera, one of the leading platforms for online education, and began taking programming courses.  She took a class on HTML and Javascript offered by Yandex in partnership with the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology.  Within two months, Dasha taught herself the basics of web development through a course which typically takes around five months to complete.

Following her studies, Dasha started working in web programming, where her ambitions and independence continue to be essential assets.  “This field is growing rapidly, and the profession of a web developer encourages constant independent learning.  Also, front-end development has a creative component, which is a plus for me.  Absolutely everything I learned in the online courses was useful for me in my new profession."

Here at Yandex, we’re inspired by stories like Dasha’s where women are self-motivated to realize their ambitions.  To see young women like Dasha reaching their goals is just one reason Yandex is a strong supporter of education.  We offer many avenues for aspiring learners to follow in her footsteps with both online and offline opportunities:

  • Yandex’s Coursera lessons in data science and programming provide learners with the tools they need to become web development experts.
  • Master’s level students can enroll in the Yandex School of Data Analysis (YSDA), a free program in Computer Science and Data Analysis, with branches located in Russia, Belarus, and Israel.  
  • The Ilya Segalovich Award and Scholarship for students and researchers encourage study in computer science by recognizing academic achievement.
  • Yandex.Practicum (Russian), currently in testing, offers long-term, professional courses on web development for anyone interested in advancing their skills.

We enthusiastically encourage any women or men interested in learning new data science skills to take advantage of these educational resources, along with any others they may find online.  

Happy International Women’s Day from Yandex to the millions of women around the world who are taking the initiative to shape both their future and ours!

Yandex Introduces the Ilya Segalovich Award in Computer Science

Yandex is thrilled to announce a new annual award for students and faculty in computer science and related fields, named after Ilya Segalovich, Yandex co-founder and creator of Yandex search.  This award honors Ilya’s commitment to supporting education and his philanthropic pursuits and introduces a new Yandex education initiative to encourage the study of computer science.

The Ilya Segalovich Award recognizes academic achievement and research contributing to technological advancements in areas relevant to Yandex.  These fields include speech recognition and speech synthesis, information search and data analysis, machine learning, computer vision, and natural language processing and machine translation.

The award is open to graduate or postgraduate students and academic advisors in computer science fields at institutions in Russia, Belarus or Kazakhstan.  Students can directly apply for the award, while academic advisors must be nominated.  An award committee composed of members of the Yandex management team and top machine learning experts will consider the quality of candidates’ published work to select winners.

"Yandex has always strongly valued education in computer science," says Arkady Volozh, CEO and co-founder of Yandex.  "We believe education in the field will continue to be central to the advancement of AI and delivering intelligent products and services to users everywhere.  With this award, we want to support researchers who, like us, are engaged in computer science and are inspired to build the technologies of the future.  We named the award after Ilya to honor his commitment to progress and his achievements supporting the IT community."

Ilya Segalovich

The Ilya Segalovich Award follows another Yandex initiative to recognize Ilya’s passion for education, the Ilya Segalovich Scholarship.  Established in 2014, this scholarship supports computer science students at the National Research University Higher School of Economics in Moscow.  Yandex has also partnered with HSE to establish the Faculty of Computer Science, which trains developers, analysts, and researchers in data analysis and software engineering.  

These two academic awards represent just part of Yandex’s commitment to education, a key part of which includes Yandex.Lyceum for secondary students and the Yandex School of Data Analysis (YSDA).  YSDA is a Master’s level program in computer science and data analysis that Ilya helped establish in 2007 together with Arkady Volozh, and pattern recognition specialist, Ilya Muchnik.  YSDA graduates and Yandex professionals regularly advance the computer science field with their contributions of published articles, and their expertise is key to powering Yandex’s intelligent products and services.

Students at the first Ilya Segalovich Scholarship ceremony in 2015

The Ilya Segalovich Award Committee will award a total of up to 15 million rubles (about $230,000) to thirteen winners.  Student awardees will receive 350,000 rubles ($5,300), a grant to travel to an international conference on artificial intelligence, and an internship opportunity at Yandex that includes a professional mentorship.  Academic advisors will receive 700,000 rubles ($10,600).  The application deadline is the end of February, and the award ceremony will take place in Moscow this spring.

Yandex’s Seventh Annual Programming Competition Yandex.Algorithm Starts This Week

Since 2011 Yandex has been running a programming competition, Yandex.Algorithm, to challenge competitive coders and advance the machine learning community. Yandex.Algorithm welcomes coding contestants from around the world to enter up to three tracks of the 2018 competition: algorithm track, optimization track, and ML track. 

Each track was designed to test contestants with a variety of problem solving tasks. Historically, Yandex.Algorithm has focused on the algorithm track but last year it included more diverse problems such as optimization tasks.  Following positive feedback from the community on these changes, we designed the Yandex.Algorithm 2018 competition to include optimization and machine learning problems within separate applied science tracks.

The algorithm track is designed to follow its traditional format in which submitted solutions are run against test cases. The optimization track was developed with the help of our search algorithm engineers and our autonomous vehicle team members to require a multitude of creative approaches rather than a single solution. The optimization track answers will be evaluated and awarded points based on the test performances of submitted solutions. The machine learning track tasks require contestants to create models, which will be evaluated based on how well specified parameters can be predicted using the models.

Yandex.Algorithm contestants are competing to advance their programming capabilities in addition to cash prizes.  The winner of the algorithmic track will take home approximately a $5000 cash prize and the second and third place winners will receive $2600 and $1600 respectively.  The winners in the other two categories will each receive approximately $1800 and runners up in these new tracks will also be awarded cash prizes as well.  Over 500 of the top performing participants will receive a Yandex.Algorithm t-shirt.

The three tracks will run consecutively in order to give all participants the opportunity to try their hand at solving every type of a problem in the Yandex.Algorithm 2018 competition. The first qualification round for the algorithmic track will take place on February 17th. The 25 best performers in the three qualifying rounds of the algorithmic track will be invited to Saint Petersburg on May 19th for the finals.  The optimization track and the machine learning track will run online competitions starting in March.

Interested programmers can register and find all relevant information for Yandex.Algorithm in both English and Russian on the competition website.  Congratulations to the 2017 winner, Gennady Korotkevich, a Belarusian information technology student from Saint Petersburg, who has won the top Yandex.Algorithm prize four times! Good luck to all of the 2018 participants!

Yandex Partners with Tel Aviv University to Enhance AI Education

Yandex is thrilled to partner with Tel Aviv University (TAU) to create the Yandex Machine Learning Initiative and open the sixth branch of the Yandex School of Data Analysis (YSDA), where a new career advancement program will be offered.

From digital learning platforms to our master’s program, Yandex has led several major education initiatives to improve the development and impact of AI in both academia and the private sector over the last decade. Our new partnership with TAU marks a key step in expanding our machine learning education and innovation programs to one of the world’s leading tech centers.

Today the tech community in Israel hosts many of the top startups creating innovative products and services that are shaping the future of AI globally.  As the largest university in Israel, TAU plays a critical role in the development of both the local and global tech community. The team at TAU provides a world-class computer science education and shares our vision to enhance the global AI ecosystem by creating more experts and innovators in the field.  Yandex CEO, Arkady Volozh, who spearheaded the partnership explains, “It’s our goal to not only ensure education in AI continues to grow the global community but also to keep challenging and advancing our ability to shape the future of AI.”  

The Yandex Machine Learning Initiative will be run through TAU’s Blavatnik School of Computer Science as part of the BSc Program in Computer Science. The program will introduce a cluster of courses that will focus on machine learning, deep learning, natural language processing, computer vision and robotics.

The majority of the initiative will be dedicated to expanding opportunities for students through Yandex Fellowships, which will award scholarships to the brightest students at the master’s, doctoral, and post-doctoral level.  As part of the initiative, the Yandex International Distinguished Lecture Series in Machine Learning will enhance collaboration by bringing experts from around the world to TAU to give lectures and conduct research with TAU faculty.  Furthermore, the Yandex Initiative will also support new faculty recruitment and the acquisition of state-of-the-art equipment to enhance the program.

In addition to the Yandex Machine Learning Initiative at the university, TAU will become the sixth campus location of the Yandex School of Data Analysis (YSDA), where YSDA will launch a one-year career advancement program for the first time.  For over ten years now, YSDA has been offering a master’s level program in Computer Science and Data Analysis that challenges students with two vigorous years of training from top experts in the most advanced data science topics.  To date, over 600 YSDA graduates have brought their understanding of theoretical foundations and hands-on experience at YSDA to academia and leading technology companies around the world. 

While the majority of YSDA graduates have gone on to work at companies like Yandex, Microsoft, and Apple, the future of AI is not limited to tech companies and academia but will continue to expand into a wide range of industries and businesses where machine learning experts are in growing demand.  In recognition of the increasing need for skilled AI professionals, the YSDA faculty is designing a new one-year machine learning career advancement program for students and professionals that will be offered at the new TAU location.  The new program aims at serving students with diverse academic and professional backgrounds who can apply their machine learning expertise across many industries.

We are excited about the work ahead in 2018 and the opportunity to help educate the next generation of AI experts who will be innovating for years to come.  Last week the Yandex TAU partnership kicked off with a ceremony in which Yandex CEO, Arkady Volozh signed the agreement for the initiative with TAU President Joseph Klafter.