Facebook July 17 announced a number of hires of academics, including Indian Americans Abhinav Gupta and Jitendra Malik, as it makes an effort to expand its artificial intelligence research.
The new hires will be situated in labs across the U.S. – in Pittsburgh, Pa.; Seattle, Wash.; and Menlo Park, Calif. – and in London.
Gupta, an associate professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute in the computer science department, will team with fellow CMU academic Jessica Hodgins, who will lead the FAIR lab in Pittsburgh. Malik, an academic at U.C. Berkeley, will be based at the Menlo Park lab. Other hires include Luke Zettlemoyer in Seattle and Andrea Vedaldi in London.
The Pittsburgh lab will focus on robotics, lifelong learning systems that learn continuously over years, teaching machines to reason, and AI in support of creativity. The Seattle office has AI Research and Computational Photography teams. With Vedaldi, the London office will focus on computer vision and machine learning. Menlo Park is where FAIR is headquartered.
“We created Facebook AI Research over four years ago to focus on advancing the science and technology of AI, and we’ve always done this by collaborating with local academic communities,” Facebook chief AI scientist Yann LeCun wrote in a news release. “FAIR relies on open partnerships to help drive AI forward, where researchers have the freedom to control their own agenda. Ours frequently collaborate with academics from other institutions, and we often provide financial and hardware resources to specific universities. It’s through working together and openly publishing research that we’ll make progress.”
Gupta, in the Pittsburgh lab, will focus on large-scale visual and robot learning, self-supervised learning and reasoning. While working at the lab, he will retain his Carnegie Mellon University position on a part-time basis.
Prior to his current role at CMU, Gupta was a post-doctoral fellow at the university working with Alyosha Efros and Martial Hebert. Before coming to Pittsburgh, he was working with Larry Davis at UMD and Jianbo Shi at UPenn. His doctoral thesis was on "Beyond Nouns and Verbs," his bio noted.
Malik, one of the most influential researchers in computer vision, recently joined from U.C. Berkeley to lead FAIR out of Menlo Park, the news release said.
“He has been influential in shaping Berkeley’s AI group into the exceptional lab that it is today, and we look forward to his help in continuing the growth of FAIR,” LeCun wrote.
Like Gupta, Malik will retain part-time affiliation with U.C. Berkeley to advise students; the Berkeley AI Research Lab is one of several receiving funding from FAIR.
Malik, a native of Mathura, received a B.Tech degree in electrical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur and a doctorate degree in computer science from Stanford University.
In January 1986, he joined U.C. Berkeley, where he is currently the Arthur J. Chick Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences. He is also on the faculty of the Department of Bioengineering, and the Cognitive Science and Vision Science groups.
During 2002-2004 he served as the chair of the Computer Science Division, and as the department chair of EECS during 2004-2006 as well as 2016-2017, according to his bio.
Malik's research group has worked on many different topics in computer vision, computational modeling of human vision, computer graphics and the analysis of biological images.
The dual affiliation model is common across FAIR, with many of Facebook’s researchers around the world splitting their time between FAIR and a university, according to the news release.
“This model allows people within FAIR to continue teaching classes and advising graduate students and postdoctoral researchers, while publishing papers regularly,” LeCun explained. “This co-employment appointment concept is similar to how many professors in medicine, law, and business operate.”
LeCun added that Facebook plans to support a number of doctoral students who will conduct research in collaboration with researchers at FAIR and their university faculty, or on topics of interest to FAIR under the direction of their faculty.