Yahoo taps up Carnegie Mellon's machine learning smarts in $10m deal

Yahoo's search for better mobile experiences and more personalisation is headed to Carnegie Mellon's campus.

Yahoo has been snapping up startups all through last year to bolster its mobile strategy, and now looks to be taking that further with a $10m, five-year machine learning partnership with Carnegie Mellon University.

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As part of the deal, the university's researchers will be able to experiment with real Yahoo user data via a new mobile software kit from the company.

"By creating a way for Carnegie Mellon University researchers to work directly with Yahoo software and infrastructure, we hope to speed up the pace of mobile and personalisation research and create a better user experience," Ron Brachman, chief scientist and head of Yahoo Labs said in a statement.

Yahoo's research incubator, Yahoo Labs, announced the partnership yesterday and is calling it Project InMind. It includes several initiatives aimed at speeding up advances in personalisation and mobile technologies through machine learning algorithms.

The deal offers researchers a "living laboratory", according to Brachman.

"We like to think of this as part of a grand-scale living laboratory where researchers can explore new approaches to understanding human behaviour through machine learning and interface technologies. Members of the CMU community who opt in to test the experimental mobile software will provide researchers access to real user data and the opportunity to iterate rapidly on key technologies."

Mobile and personalisation have been high items on Yahoo's agenda since Marissa Mayer took the helm and led the company's $1.1bn Tumbler acquisition, as well as a host of smaller startups in mobile such as Stamped , Summly , and most recently Sparq . It also acquired natural language processing startup  SkyPhrase  late last year whose team joined Yahoo Labs in New York.

The InMind Project spans a few faculties at CMU via the heads of its Machine Learning Department and Human-Computer Interaction Institute.

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