Yandex Blog

Bringing the Classroom Home with Yandex.School

With schools closed and millions of children home during the COVID-19 outbreak, communities everywhere are faced with the challenge of ensuring that their children can continue learning.  Yandex has over thirty educational programs spanning from early education to graduate-level courses.  We are excited to apply our thirteen years of expertise in this field to help families navigate the challenges of homeschooling. Together with the Center for Pedagogical Excellence in Moscow, we created a free online education platform, Yandex.School, to help students, teachers, and parents follow the school curriculum from their desktops and smartphones at home.  

Yandex.School provides free access to online lessons for grades 5-11 and tools for recording and sharing classes for first through fourth graders.  Yandex.School is available in Russia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus.  Our online school is in session during regular school hours and adheres to the state curriculum, providing a sense of normalcy during the pandemic.

We invited educators from some of the most respected schools in Moscow to help us create and deliver online lessons. Many of the teachers have authored textbooks and are seen as the foremost experts in their field. We are very grateful to the more than one hundred of them for their quick response, collaboration, and commitment to ensuring that learning remains a priority during the pandemic.

“Even in these difficult times, it is important for children to have an opportunity to learn,” says Elena Bunina, General Director of Yandex in Russia. “Even if they can’t attend school in person, they should still be able to learn at home. In order to bring a complete learning environment home for millions of children, we created the Yandex.School. Thanks to our cooperation with the Center for Pedagogical Excellence (CPE) in Moscow, we managed to launch our online school in record time. Yandex provided the necessary infrastructure and educational services to our partners at CPE to create the first lessons. While there’s currently a great demand for services like Yandex.School, we also look forward to supporting traditional education with this platform once the children can to go back to school.”

During the first month of Yandex.School, we were thrilled to see that students viewed our lessons over three million times and that peak usage was over 40,000 students participating simultaneously in online lessons. In addition, over 20,000 new teachers  joined our education platform in the first week since the shelter-in-place order was issued. We look forward to welcoming even more students and teachers in the months to come!  

Learning at Home for Grades 5-11 with Yandex.School 

We designed Yandex.School to provide continuity for millions of Russian students now learning from home.  During the regular school hours of 9:00 am-2:00 pm across all of Russia’s eleven time zones, we stream live lessons on more than a dozen different subjects.  The lessons follow the national school curriculum and range from algebra and geometry to social studies and physics.  Beyond the regular curriculum, we also designed state exam prep lessons for 9th and 11th graders.  

Our video lessons are organized by grade so that the students can follow the same material that they would be learning in school. At the end of every school day, lessons are uploaded to Yandex.School. If students miss a live lesson or want to revisit a class, they can access all the video courses on-demand. For students who wish to prepare for the week ahead, we upload weekly lesson plans just before the school week starts.  

The flexibility of Yandex.School allows teachers to use the program in whatever way best suits the progress of their students. Teachers can use Yandex.School as a single resource or incorporate it into other remote learning programs. Schools and teachers conducting remote lessons using other platforms can selectively add certain Yandex.School lessons into their lesson plan or utilise the interactive homework assignments. Yandex.School can also serve as a temporary remote learning platform while schools move their classes online. 

Yandex Resources for Teaching Younger Students in Grades 1-4 

For primary school-age children, we introduced broadcasting tools on Yandex.School. The tools allow teachers of grades 1-4 to plan and record their lessons, which children can then watch online. Teachers can use these tools to continue teaching their curriculum by moving their lesson plans onto our platform. Yandex.School also offers live, interactive text chats to allow teachers to engage with students in real-time. Students and teachers can share images and videos via the chat function to supplement the lessons with additional visuals and explanations. Yandex.School also offers over 50,000 entertaining and informative assignments that students can work on remotely. Parents also can use these activities separately from the teachers.  

Supporting Families in the Months to Come

Yandex.School is a great tool to help students and teachers adapt, while also aiming to give families a sense of normalcy during these challenging times.  In addition to assisting children in sticking to a routine, this platform provides easy and intuitive ways for parents to monitor and manage their children’s studies. 

We are very appreciative of our academic partners and the teachers who helped create Yandex.School.  We wish all of our students and teachers happy and fruitful learning in their new online classrooms!  

Check out Yandex.School (in Russian) to learn more.  

Advancing Data Science Education in Israel with More Students and Opportunities in 2020

Last week, the newest class of students at Y-DATA, the hub of our education initiatives in Israel, completed their first semester of the one-year data science program.  By summer, this cohort of roughly 90 students will become the second alumni class of Y-DATA, enhancing both the Israeli tech and global research communities.

We initially launched the program on the campus of Tel Aviv University in 2018 as a new branch of our Yandex School of Data Analysis (YSDA), an intensive, master’s-level program in data science.  We designed Y-DATA to bridge the gap between online courses and a full-time masters program in computer science.  Our primary goal of the program is to equip students with the skills and experience to start a career in data science.  The Y-DATA curriculum develops particular skill requirements that are beneficial to Israeli employers, meaning our graduates are well-prepared to enter (or reenter) the local workforce.  

Y-DATA starts 2020 with double the enrolled students, a new, second branch on the campus of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beer-Sheva, and an improved curriculum taught by a faculty with several new exciting members.  Over the past year, we've improved the Y-DATA curriculum to provide our students with a more comprehensive data science learning experience.  We’ve also welcomed several new outstanding faculty members to our program who bring their expertise from BGU and other prestigious academic institutions.

Among other changes, we now cover Deep Learning later in the program, when students have a more solid base of classic ML techniques.  Program faculty expanded this section from four to six hours per week to provide students with a more in-depth understanding.  We’ve also added a new mini-course on autonomous vehicles that a Yandex expert from our self-driving division teaches.  In addition, the final six weeks of Y-DATA will now include three parallel specialisations on different advanced topics in data science: Reinforcement learning, Adversarial learning and NLP.  We can’t wait to kick that off later in the spring and see how these changes better prepare our students for success!

Together with the local tech community in Israel, we have delivered a hands-on learning opportunity in which students master the basics of machine learning and then apply their skills through industry projects with local companies.  Our first class of Y-DATA students contributed to over a dozen impactful industry projects that ranged from detecting early stages of cancer using medical imagery to improving road safety by classifying driving behavior and predicting dangerous situations.

Our principles for sharing knowledge and continued education have led to our alumni advancing AI applications around the world.  We awarded a sponsorship to the top project team from our 2019 Y-DATA Demo Day to attend the ACDL summer school in Tuscany, Italy.  This team went on to win best poster at ACDL for their work detecting pulmonary nodules in 3D scan images, which targets a highly challenging aspect of early-stage cancer detection.  This team is now working on publishing a paper based on their work.

Though Y-DATA is less than two years old, several of our alumni have  already applied their newly learned skills to reach exciting and lucrative positions with their employers.  Many graduates have also successfully transitioned to the new careers that led them to Y-DATA, and all have enhanced various businesses with their machine learning expertise.  Along with their career success, the fledgling Y-DATA alumni community actively participates in opportunities for collaboration and further education.  For instance, our alumni can participate in unique advanced workshops that teach subjects like Hyperparameter Optimization and they can serve as Teaching Assistants for the current academic year. 

In addition to the Y-DATA community of students and alumni, we also host regular tech meetups that focus on different topics in data science from ML in cybersecurity to creative AI.  Each meetup brings together industry experts and tech professionals, who are ultimately making Y-DATA a hub for the Israeli tech industry.

We couldn’t be prouder of our first alumni class in all that they have achieved within such a short time and, for many, without any prior experience in data science.  We are thrilled to be entering the second semester with our 2019/2020 cohort with even more opportunities that we introduced to improve the program.  If you’re interested in applying to Y-DATA, applications for 2020/2021 open in April.  You can find more information on the program website.

Yandex Helps Establish Online English MS in Data Science from HSE University

We’re always looking for new ways to provide people with the tools they need for learning the most in-demand data science skills.  Collaborating with leading academic institutions to create online learning opportunities is an excellent way for us to impact as many learners as possible.  Today, we’re proud to announce another channel for online learners - we’ve partnered with Moscow’s Higher School of Economics (HSE) University and Coursera to help launch Russia’s first online English master’s program in data science.

Students of the Master of Data Science will benefit from the combined expertise of one of Russia’s top universities, the country’s largest tech company, and the world’s leading online learning provider.  By hosting the courses on Coursera and teaching the curriculum entirely in English, the new program will be more accessible to learners around the world and help prepare students for more global opportunities.

As an industry partner for the program, we will lend our background in end-user products to suggest today’s most critical data science skills.  Experts from Yandex helped create some of the courses for the online program, and Yandex representatives will take part in reviewing final project presentations.

“Yandex and the Higher School of Economics are both renowned experts in data science and leaders in online learning,” says Elena Bunina, Director of HR and Educational Programs for Yandex.  “Working with academic partners to create online learning opportunities is a key part of our education initiatives.  We believe that online education is crucial for satisfying the growing demand for data scientists.  Thanks to a combination of practical training, complex mathematics, and a research training track, future Master of Data Science graduates will be prepared to pursue opportunities in either tech or scientific research.”

The new Master of Data Science program is just the latest in our academic collaborations with both HSE and Coursera.  We also co-founded the Faculty of Computer Science at HSE, which now has nearly 2,200 students across ten degree programs.  There are several specializations on Coursera jointly designed by FCS and Yandex experts, one of which Coursera recognized with the Outstanding Educator Award for Innovation earlier this year.  We also offer several data science courses on Coursera, in both Russian and English.

Prospective students can learn more about the Master of Data Science on the HSE website, as well as on Coursera, where they can apply to enroll in the program.  Applications are due on December 6th.  Good luck and happy learning!

Our new initiative to train 500,000 teachers and 100,000 data specialists

We've always been passionate about education. It's critical for the world's leading tech companies, including Yandex, to create more opportunities for people to learn and grow. We have a central role to play in teaching people the skills they need for the jobs of tomorrow. We have over a decade of experience creating academic initiatives that provide the necessary training for the most in demand careers.

We're excited to announce a new initiative to further advance our efforts to provide IT education and training to as many people as possible. Over the next three years, we will spend 5 billion rubles ($78 million) to dramatically expand our education programs in Russia. We plan to train 500,000 teachers and 100,000 IT specialists by 2022, and ultimately support almost every other teacher in Russia through our education programs. The 2022 graduates will join over 1 million people who have studied through our education projects across 85 regions in Russia.

Yandex students working on a project

"Dedicated, passionate teachers taught most of us at Yandex," says Elena Bunina, Director of HR and Educational Programs for Yandex. "This education initiative is an opportunity for us to give back to these educators and the rest of Russia's academic system. In today's world, what matters most is not data and algorithms, but the people who build them - their knowledge, experience, and unique ideas. Through our education programs, we want to give people the tools they need to build the companies and technologies of tomorrow."

To reach these goals, all of our education programs and partners will benefit from increased resources. Partnerships have been a critical part of our education platforms, and they will continue to serve a central role in the new, three-year initiative. We plan to work even more closely with academic institutions like schools and universities to achieve our goal of training hundreds of thousands of teachers and learners. Teachers will benefit from more resources and training, and learners of all ages will have greater access to our programs.

Increased support for primary school teachers and students

Teachers play a central role in education, and we're always eager to support them with the resources to build a productive learning environment. Yandex.Textbook is a central part of how we do this. Started in 2018, Yandex.Textbook is our main platform for supporting primary school students and educators in Russia. Currently, over 50,000 teachers use Yandex.Textbook as an online learning supplement for their 1st through 4th grade students in math and Russian language. Through the free platform, teachers can assign tasks, prepare lessons, and check homework. With Yandex.Textbook, we help make school more fun for students, while providing teachers with an intuitive resource that keeps their students engaged with the lesson.

As part of this new education initiative, we will dramatically increase the reach of Yandex.Textbook. Over the next three years, we plan to increase the material available through Yandex.Textbook tenfold. Whereas now lessons are available in math and Russian, soon teachers will be able to offer engaging activities in natural science, foreign languages, and computer science. We will also extend the reach of Yandex.Textbook through senior year, so students in all stages of grammar school can use Yandex.Textbook.

The planned expansion of Yandex.Textbook will help us reach a much greater number of primary and secondary students in Russia, as well as support more teachers in creating engaging lesson plans.

Expanding Yandex.Textbook is just one of the ways we're helping support teachers in our new education initiative. Working with higher education institutions, we will also provide training for up to 500,000 teachers and teaching students as part of a new program called "I am a Teacher." Through "I am a Teacher," educators will learn how to use new technologies and teaching software that help create an interactive learning environment. The initiative to train half a million teachers through higher education centres is an exciting new step in our academic partnerships.

Train 100,000 IT specialists

With our support of primary school teachers, we're helping create learning environments across Russia that prepare students for data science studies. Starting from the secondary school years and continuing into adulthood, Yandex offers several ways for learners to study computer science. Our programs help people build their data skills at every stage of their professional career.

This new education initiative will include expanding the scale of our current programs. By 2022, we ultimately plan to train 100,000 new IT specialists in Russia of every age, including:

  • 30,000 students through our free network of Yandex.Lyceum sites, which teach 8th and 9th graders beginner programming skills.
  • 20,000 students from our programs with higher education institutions, such as the Faculty of Computer Science we co-founded at Moscow's Higher School of Economics.
  • 50,000 learners via Yandex.Practicum, our online continuing education program for people looking to reorient their career to data science. Launched earlier this year, Yandex.Practicum is one of our newest programs and we're excited to help it grow as part of this new initiative. We also plan to launch Yandex.Practicum for those outside Russia as part of our goal to reach as many learners as possible.

One of our first education programs, the Yandex School of Data Analysis (YSDA), will also benefit from this three-year education initiative. YSDA is our free Masters-level program in machine learning and data science. By 2022, YSDA will train over 600 more experts in areas such as computer vision and natural language processing. They will join over 700 data scientists who have graduated from YSDA since we established the program in 2007. YSDA will receive new resources that include research laboratories established at partner universities, as well as the means to stage scientific conferences to promote an exchange of learning. We also hope to partner with more foreign institutions and organizations to open new YSDA branches, similar to our program at Tel Aviv University in Israel.

This three-year initiative will ultimately help us train a new generation of data scientists. Through our education platforms, people will be better prepared for the most in demand careers by having the skills they need for the jobs of tomorrow. Our graduates will also continue to help advance the fields of data science and machine learning by applying their skills and expertise at institutions and private organizations around the world.

Stayed tuned for more updates on the ways we're taking our education programs to new heights!

Creating Academic Opportunities for Global Learners

As one of Europe's largest tech companies, we believe we have a responsibility to create learning opportunities for the current and future generations of data scientists.  As many industries continue to enhance their businesses with AI and data science, it's critical to teach students the skills they need for the jobs of tomorrow.  While we began our education initiatives in our core market of Russia, our education goals are part of a broader global learning environment.  We're committed to steps that reflect the needs of learners around the world and extend the reach of our academic programs to as many individuals as possible. 

Successful education is rooted in the exchange of knowledge - sharing expertise and learning of experts from different parts of the world.  Today we are expanding our global efforts in multiple ways and continuing to engage education professionals from around the world to enhance both our programs and others’.

Adapting to Local Learning Environments

The Yandex team members who founded our Yandex School of Data Analysis headed to Israel in 2018 to establish a program suited for local learners.  Through collaboration with local experts, we created Y-DATA at Tel Aviv University, a one-year career advancement program meant to bridge the gap between online courses and a full-time Master of Science program.  YSDA personnel designed the Y-DATA curriculum to precisely reflect the needs of the data science community in Israel.  Y-DATA provides fundamental skills for data science careers but also uniquely offers engaging hands-on projects with local companies. 

Our team in Israel has continued to take steps to integrate Y-DATA into the local data science community and boost the exchange of knowledge.  For example, the Y-DATA team hosts regular meet-ups in Tel Aviv that are open to anyone interested in learning more about machine learning and data analysis.

Offering Programs for Global learners by Global Experts

We welcome international experts to contribute to our programs for learners both in Russia and elsewhere in the world.  By welcoming experts from different institutions and education systems, we drive more diverse learning opportunities for students. 

One example is the Machine Learning in High Energy Physics summer school.  Each year since 2015, we've helped organize a ten-day machine learning summer program.  Working with one of our academic partners in Moscow, the Higher School of Economics, we annually stage the school at a different European host and welcome experts from around the world to teach.  This year, the DESY research center in Hamburg, Germany, hosted 71 postgraduates and postdoctoral researchers from 17 countries.  MLHEP is an excellent way for us to engage with global learners interested in machine learning, as well as academic institutions across Europe.

Students from the 2018 MLHEP at St. Anne's College, University of Oxford

Similarly, we invite experts from around the world to teach at our Natural Language Processing (NLP) Week that we host at Yandex headquarters.  This past year we welcomed two international data scientists to NLP Week.  Wilker Aziz of the Institute for Logic, Language and Computation at the University of Amsterdam taught courses on latent variable models, deep generative models, and advanced topics; Mirella Lapata of the School of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh taught semantic parsing.

Establishing Online Courses for Learners Everywhere 

We believe it's critical to make education opportunities as accessible as possible.  By partnering with Coursera, the leading online education provider, we bring data science tools to an even larger audience, unhindered by physical location.  We host several online specializations on Coursera in English, which are open to anyone around the world interested in data science. 

In April, we attended the Coursera Partners Conference to engage other academic partners.  We shared more about our experience leading the way with collaboration between industry and academia.  Through in-depth cooperation with academia, we can help define the skills today’s learners need for the jobs of tomorrow.  We were also honored to accept an award from Coursera for our Advanced Machine Learning specialization.

Engaging in Open Dialogues with International Representatives 

Besides bringing our programs to an international audience and adapting them to local learners, we also share our expertise and engage in cross-cultural dialogue.  By meeting with representatives who have a similar passion for education, we can share our knowledge and learn how other education leaders are shaping their tech programs.  Russia has traditionally excelled in STEM, and we are always eager to share our current work and vision for the future in this area. 

As part of our efforts to engage with the global education community, we recently welcomed Shamma Al Mazrui, the Minister of State for Youth Affairs for the United Arab Emirates, to our Yandex office.  Our academic team spoke with Al Mazrui about our shared interest in expanding access to data science education.  Al Mazrui discussed the various education projects of the UAE, and we presented information on Yandex's academic programs.  Our team shared how the Yandex.Textbook service provides elementary school teachers with interactive assignments.  For older learners, Al Mazrui learned how Yandex.Practicum provides tools for adults seeking to retrain themselves for new careers in data science.

UAE Minister of State for Youth Affairs Shamma Al Mazrui visits Yandex

Learning more about the education systems of other countries is an excellent way for us to tailor our academic programs to a global audience.

We look forward to creating more opportunities for global data science learners and expanding the reach of our educational programs.

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.