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3 important themes from Amazon's 2019 NeurIPS papers

Time series forecasting, bandit problems, and optimization are integral to Amazon's efforts to deliver better value for its customers.

Last year, the first 2,000-2,500 publicly released tickets to the Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems, or NeurIPS, sold out in 12 minutes.

This year, the conference organizers moved to a lottery system, allowing aspiring attendees to register in advance and randomly selecting invitees from the pool of registrants. But they also bumped the number of public-release tickets up from around 2,000 to 3,500, testifying to the conference’s continued popularity.

At NeurIPS this year, there are 26 papers with Amazon coauthors. They cover a wide range of topics, but surveying their titles, Alex Smola, a vice president and distinguished scientist in the Amazon Web Services organization, discerns three prominent themes, all tied to Amazon’s efforts to deliver better value for its customers.

Those three themes are time series forecasting (and causality), bandit problems, and optimization.

1. Time series forecasting

Time series forecasting involves measuring some quantity over time — such as the number of deliveries in a particular region in the past six months, or the number of cloud servers required to support a particular site over the past two years — and attempting to project that quantity into the future.

“That’s something that is very dear to Amazon’s heart,” Smola says. “For anything that Amazon does, it’s really beneficial to have a good estimate of what our customers will expect from us ahead of time. Only by being able to do that will we be able to satisfy customers’ demands, be it for products or services.”

A sequence of basis time series, forecast into the near future and summed together to approximate a new time series.
The paper “Think Globally, Act Locally” examines data sets with many correlated time series, such as the demand curves for millions of products sold online. The researchers describe a method for constructing a much smaller set of “basis time series”; the time series for any given product can be approximated by a weighted sum of the bases.
Courtesy of the researchers

The basic mathematical framework for time series forecasting is a century old, but the scale of modern forecasting problems calls for new analytic techniques, Smola says.

“Problems are nowadays highly multivariate,” Smola says. “If you look at the many millions of products that we offer, you want to be able to predict fairly well what will sell, where and to whom.

“You need to make reasonable assumptions on how this very large problem can be decomposed into smaller, more tractable pieces. You make structural approximations, and sometimes those structural approximations are what leads to very different algorithms.

“So you might, for instance, have a global model, and then you have local models that address the specific items or address the specific sales. If you look at ‘Think Globally, Act Locally’” — a NeurIPS paper whose first author is Rajat Sen, an applied scientist in the Amazon Search group — “it’s already in the title. Or look at ‘High-Dimensional Multivariate Forecasting with Low-Rank Gaussian Copula Processes’. In this case, you have a global structure, but it’s only in a small subspace where interesting things happen.”

Side-by-side images depict correlations between taxi traffic at different points in Manhattan at different times of day
The paper "High-Dimensional Multivariate Forecasting with Low-Rank Gaussian Copula Processes" describes a method for predicting correlations among many parallel time series. In one example, the researchers forecast correlations between the taxi traffic at different points in New York City at different times of day. Red lines indicate strong correlations; blue lines indicate strong negative correlations. Weekend midday traffic patterns (left) show negative correlations between locations near the Empire State Building, suggesting that taxis tend to prefer different routes depending on traffic conditions. Weekend evening traffic patterns show positive correlations between the vicinity of the Empire State Building and areas with high concentrations of hotels.
Courtesy of the researchers

An aspect of forecasting that has recently been drawing more attention, Smola says, is causality. Where traditional machine learning models merely infer statistical correlations between data points, “it is ultimately the causal relationship that matters,” Smola says.

“I think that causality is one of the most interesting conceptual developments affecting modern machine learning,” says Bernhard Schölkopf, like Smola a vice president and distinguished scientist in Amazon Web Services. “This is the main topic that I have been interested in for the last decade.”

Two of Schölkopf’s NeurIPS papers — “Perceiving the Arrow of Time in Autoregressive Motion” and “Selecting Causal Brain Features with a Single Conditional Independence Test per Feature” — address questions of causality, as does “Causal Regularization”, a paper by Dominik Janzing, a senior research scientist in Smola’s group.

“Normal machine learning builds on correlations of other statistical dependences,” Schölkopf explains. “This is fine as long as the source of the data doesn't change. For example, if in the training set of an image recognition system, all cows are standing on green pasture, then it is fine for an ML system to use the green as a useful feature in recognizing cows, as long as the test set looks the same. If in the test set, the cows are standing on the beach, then such a purely statistical system can fail.

“More generally: causal learning and inference attempts to understand how systems respond to interventions and other changes, and not just how to predict data that looks more or less the same as the training data.”

2. Bandit problems

The second major theme that Smola discerns in Amazon scientists’ NeurIPS papers is a concern with bandit problems, a phrase that shows up in the titles of Amazon papers such as “MaxGap Bandit: Adaptive Algorithms for Approximate Ranking” and “Low-Rank Bandit Methods for High-Dimensional Dynamic Pricing”. Bandit problems take their name from one-armed bandits, or slot machines.

“It used to be that those bandits were all mechanical, so there would be slight variations between them, and some would have maybe a slightly a higher return than others,” Smola explains. “I walk into a den of iniquity, and I want to find the one-armed bandit where I will lose the least money or maybe make some money. And the only feedback I have is that I pull arms, and I get money or lose money. These are very unreliable, noisy events.”

Bandit problems present what’s known as an explore-exploit trade-off. The gambler must simultaneously explore the environment — determine which machines pay out the most — and exploit the resulting knowledge — concentrate as much money as possible on the high-return machines. Early work on bandit problems concerned identifying the high-return machines with minimal outlays.

“That problem was solved about 20 years ago,” Smola says. “What hasn’t been solved — and this is where things get a lot more interesting — is once you start adding context. Imagine that I get to show you various results as you’re searching for your next ugly Christmas sweater. The unfortunate thing is that the creativity of sweater designers is larger than what you can fit on a page. Now the context is essentially, what time, where from, which user, all those things. We want to find and recommend the ugly Christmas sweater that works specifically for you. This is an example where context is immediately relevant.”

It’s really beneficial to have a good estimate of what our customers will expect from us ahead of time. Only by being able to do that will we be able to satisfy customers’ demands.
Alex Smola, VP and distinguished scientist, Amazon

In the bandit-problem framework, in other words, the high-payout machines change with every new interaction. But there may be external signals that indicate how they’re changing.

Distributed computing, which is inescapable for today’s large websites, changes the structure of the bandit problem, too.

“Say you go to a restaurant, and the cook wants to improve the menu,” Smola says. “You can try out lots of new menu items, and that’s a good way to improve the menu overall. But if you start offering a lot of undercooked dishes because you’re experimenting, then at some point your loyal customers will stay away.

“Now imagine you have 100 restaurants, and they all do the same thing at the same time. They can’t necessarily communicate at the per-second level; maybe every day or every week they chat with each other. Now this entire exploration problem becomes a little more challenging, because if two restaurants try out the same undercooked dish, you make the customer less happy than you could have.

“So how does this map back into Amazon land? Well, if you have many servers doing this recommendation, the explore-exploit trade-off might be too aggressive if every one of them works on their own.”

3. Optimization

Finally, Smola says, “There is a third category of results that has to do with making algorithms faster. If you look at ‘Primal-Dual Block Frank-Wolfe’, ‘Communication-Efficient Distributed SGD with Sketching’, ‘Qsparse-Local-SGD’ — those are the workhorses that run underneath all of this. Making them more efficient is obviously something that we care about, so we can respond to customer requests faster, train algorithms faster.”

Bird’s-eye view

NeurIPS is a huge conference, with more than 1,400 accepted papers that cover a bewildering variety of topics. Beyond the Amazon papers, Caltech professor and Amazon fellow Pietro Perona identifies three research areas as growing in popularity.

“One is understanding how deep networks work, so that we can better design architectures and optimization algorithms to train models,” Perona says. “Another is low-shot learning. Machines are still much less efficient than humans at learning, in that they need more training examples to achieve the same performance. And finally, AI and society — identifying opportunities for social good, sustainable development, and the like.”

NeurIPS is being held this year at the Vancouver Convention Center, and the main conference runs from Dec. 8 to Dec. 12. The Women in Machine Learning Workshop, for which Amazon is a gold-level sponsor, takes place on Dec. 9; the Third Conversational AI workshop, whose organizers include Alexa AI principal scientist Dilek Hakkani-Tür, will be held on Dec. 14.

Amazon's involvement at NeurIPS

Paper and presentation schedule

Tuesday, 12/10 | 10:45-12:45pm | East Exhibition Hall B&C

A Meta-MDP Approach to Exploration for Lifelong Reinforcement Learning | #192
Francisco Garcia (UMass Amherst/Amazon) · Philip Thomas (UMass Amherst)

Blocking Bandits | #17
Soumya Basu (UT Austin) · Rajat Sen (UT Austin/Amazon) · Sujay Sanghavi (UT Austin/Amazon) · Sanjay Shakkottai (UT Austin)

Causal Regularization | #180
Dominik Janzing (Amazon)

Communication-Efficient Distributed SGD with Sketching | #81
Nikita Ivkin (Amazon) · Daniel Rothchild (University of California, Berkeley) · Md Enayat Ullah (Johns Hopkins University) · Vladimir Braverman (Johns Hopkins University) · Ion Stoica (UC Berkeley) · Raman Arora (Johns Hopkins University)

Learning Distributions Generated by One-Layer ReLU Networks | #49
Shanshan Wu (UT Austin) ·Alexandros G. Dimakis (UT Austin) · Sujay Sanghavi (UT Austin/Amazon)

Tuesday, 12/10 | 5:30-7:30pm | East Exhibition Hall B&C

Efficient Communication in Multi-Agent Reinforcement Learning via Variance Based Control | #195
Sai Qian Zhang (Harvard University) · Qi Zhang (Amazon) · Jieyu Lin (University of Toronto)

Extreme Classification in Log Memory using Count-Min Sketch: A Case Study of Amazon Search with 50M Products | #37
Tharun Kumar Reddy Medini (Rice University) · Qixuan Huang (Rice University) · Yiqiu Wang (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) · Vijai Mohan (Amazon) · Anshumali Shrivastava (Rice University/Amazon)

Iterative Least Trimmed Squares for Mixed Linear Regression | #50
Yanyao Shen (UT Austin) · Sujay Sanghavi (UT Austin/Amazon)

Meta-Surrogate Benchmarking for Hyperparameter Optimization | #6
Aaron Klein (Amazon) · Zhenwen Dai (Spotify) · Frank Hutter (University of Freiburg) · Neil Lawrence (University of Cambridge) · Javier Gonzalez (Amazon)

Qsparse-local-SGD: Distributed SGD with Quantization, Sparsification and Local Computations | #32
Debraj Basu (Adobe) · Deepesh Data (UCLA) · Can Karakus (Amazon) · Suhas Diggavi (UCLA)

Selecting Causal Brain Features with a Single Conditional Independence Test per Feature | #139
Atalanti Mastakouri (Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems) · Bernhard Schölkopf (MPI for Intelligent Systems/Amazon) · Dominik Janzing (Amazon)

Wednesday, 12/11 | 10:45-12:45pm | East Exhibition Hall B&C

On Single Source Robustness in Deep Fusion Models | #93
Taewan Kim (Amazon) · Joydeep Ghosh (UT Austin)

Perceiving the Arrow of Time in Autoregressive Motion | #155
Kristof Meding (University Tübingen) · Dominik Janzing (Amazon) · Bernhard Schölkopf (MPI for Intelligent Systems/Amazon) · Felix A. Wichmann (University of Tübingen)

Wednesday, 12/11 | 5:00-7:00pm | East Exhibition Hall B&C

Compositional De-Attention Networks | #127
Yi Tay (Nanyang Technological University) · Anh Tuan Luu (MIT) · Aston Zhang (Amazon) · Shuohang Wang (Singapore Management University) · Siu Cheung Hui (Nanyang Technological University)

Low-Rank Bandit Methods for High-Dimensional Dynamic Pricing | #3
Jonas Mueller (Amazon) · Vasilis Syrgkanis (Microsoft Research) · Matt Taddy (Amazon)

MaxGap Bandit: Adaptive Algorithms for Approximate Ranking | #4
Sumeet Katariya (Amazon/University of Wisconsin-Madison) · Ardhendu Tripathy (UW Madison) · Robert Nowak (UW Madison)

Primal-Dual Block Generalized Frank-Wolfe | #165
Qi Lei (UT Austin) · Jiacheng Zhuo (UT Austin) · Constantine Caramanis (UT Austin) · Inderjit S Dhillon (Amazon/UT Austin) · Alexandros Dimakis (UT Austin)

Towards Optimal Off-Policy Evaluation for Reinforcement Learning with Marginalized Importance Sampling | #208
Tengyang Xie (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) · Yifei Ma (Amazon) · Yu-Xiang Wang (UC Santa Barbara)

Thursday, 12/12 | 10:45-12:45pm | East Exhibition Hall B&C

AutoAssist: A Framework to Accelerate Training of Deep Neural Networks | #155
Jiong Zhang (UT Austin) · Hsiang-Fu Yu (Amazon) · Inderjit S Dhillon (UT Austin/Amazon)

Exponentially Convergent Stochastic k-PCA without Variance Reduction | #200 (oral, 10:05-10:20 W Ballroom C)
Cheng Tang (Amazon)

Failing Loudly: An Empirical Study of Methods for Detecting Dataset Shift | #54
Stephan Rabanser (Technical University of Munich/Amazon) · Stephan Günnemann (Technical University of Munich) · Zachary Lipton (Carnegie Mellon University/Amazon)

High-Dimensional Multivariate Forecasting with Low-Rank Gaussian Copula Processes | #107
David Salinas (Naverlabs) · Michael Bohlke-Schneider (Amazon) · Laurent Callot (Amazon) · Jan Gasthaus (Amazon) · Roberto Medico (Ghent University)

Learning Search Spaces for Bayesian Optimization: Another View of Hyperparameter Transfer Learning | #30
Valerio Perrone (Amazon) · Huibin Shen (Amazon) · Matthias Seeger (Amazon) · Cedric Archambeau (Amazon) · Rodolphe Jenatton (Amazon)

Mo’States Mo’Problems: Emergency Stop Mechanisms from Observation | #227
Samuel Ainsworth (University of Washington) · Matt Barnes (University of Washington) · Siddhartha Srinivasa (University of Washington/Amazon)

Think Globally, Act Locally: A Deep Neural Network Approach to High-Dimensional Time Series Forecasting | #113
Rajat Sen (Amazon) · Hsiang-Fu Yu (Amazon) · Inderjit S Dhillon (UT Austin/Amazon)

Thursday, 12/12 | 5:00-7:00pm | East Exhibition Hall B&C

Dynamic Local Regret for Non-Convex Online Forecasting | #20
Sergul Aydore (Stevens Institute of Technology) · Tianhao Zhu (Stevens Institute of Technology) · Dean Foster (Amazon)

Interaction Hard Thresholding: Consistent Sparse Quadratic Regression in Sub-quadratic Time and Space | #47
Suo Yang (UT Austin), Yanyao Shen (UT Austin), Sujay Sanghavi (UT Austin/Amazon)

Inverting Deep Generative Models, One Layer at a Time |#48
Qi Lei (University of Texas at Austin) · Ajil Jalal (UT Austin) · Inderjit S Dhillon (UT Austin/Amazon) · Alexandros Dimakis (UT Austin)

Provable Non-linear Inductive Matrix Completion| #215
Kai Zhong (Amazon) · Zhao Song (UT Austin) · Prateek Jain (Microsoft Research) · Inderjit S Dhillon (UT Austin/Amazon)

Amazon researchers on NeurIPS committees and boards

  • Bernhard Schölkopf – Advisory Board
  • Michael I. Jordan – Advisory Board
  • Thorsten Joachims – senior area chair
  • Anshumali Shrivastava – area chair
  • Cedric Archambeau – area chair
  • Peter Gehler – area chair
  • Sujay Sanghavi – committee member

Workshops

Learning with Rich Experience: Integration of Learning Paradigms

Paper: "Meta-Q-Learning" | Rasool Fakoor, Pratik Chaudhari, Stefano Soatto, Alexander J. Smola

Human-Centric Machine Learning

Paper: "Learning Fair and Transferable Representations" | Luco Oneto, Michele Donini, Andreas Maurer, Massimiliano Pontil

Bayesian Deep Learning

Paper: "Online Bayesian Learning for E-Commerce Query Reformulation" | Gaurush Hiranandani, Sumeet Katariya, Nikhil Rao, Karthik Subbian

Meta-Learning

Paper: "Constrained Bayesian Optimization with Max-Value Entropy Search" | Valerio Perrone, Iaroslav Shcherbatyi, Rodolphe Jenatton, Cedric Archambeau, Matthias Seeger

Paper: "A Quantile-Based Approach to Hyperparameter Transfer Learning" | David Salinas, Huibin Shen, Valerio Perrone

Paper: "A Baseline for Few-Shot Image Classification" | Guneet Singh Dhillon, Pratik Chaudhari, Avinash Ravichandran, Stefano Soatto

Conversational AI

Organizer: Dilek Hakkani-Tür

Paper: "The Eighth Dialog System Technology Challenge" | Seokhwan Kim, Michel Galley, Chulaka Gunasekara, Sungjin Lee, Adam Atkinson, Baolin Peng, Hannes Schulz, Jianfeng Gao, Jinchao Li, Mahmoud Adada, Minlie Huang, Luis Lastras, Jonathan K. Kummerfeld, Walter S. Lasecki, Chiori Hori, Anoop Cherian, Tim K. Marks, Abhinav Rastogi, Xiaoxue Zang, Srinivas Sunkara, Raghav Gupta

Paper: “Just Ask: An Interactive Learning Framework for Vision and Language Navigation” | Ta-Chung Chi, Minmin Shen, Mihail Eric, Seokhwan Kim, Dilek Hakkani-Tur

Paper: “MA-DST: Multi-Attention-Based Scalable Dialog State Tracking” | Adarsh Kumar, Peter Ku, Anuj Kumar Goyal, Angeliki Metallinou, Dilek Hakkani-Tür

Paper: “Investigation of Error Simulation Techniques for Learning Dialog Policies for Conversational Error Recovery” | Maryam Fazel-Zarandi, Longshaokan Wang, Aditya Tiwari, Spyros Matsoukas

Paper: “Towards Personalized Dialog Policies for Conversational Skill Discovery”| Maryam Fazel-Zarandi, Sampat Biswas, Ryan Summers, Ahmed Elmalt, Andy McCraw, Michael McPhillips, John Peach

Paper: “Conversation Quality Evaluation via User Satisfaction Estimation” | Praveen Kumar Bodigutla, Spyros Matsoukas, Lazaros Polymenakos

Paper: “Multi-domain Dialogue State Tracking as Dynamic Knowledge Graph Enhanced Question Answering” | Li Zhou, Kevin Small

Science Meets Engineering of Deep Learning

Paper: "X-BERT: eXtreme Multi-label Text Classification using Bidirectional Encoder from Transformers" Wei-Cheng Chang, Hsiang-Fu Yu, Kai Zhong, Yiming Yang, Inderjit S. Dhillon

Machine Learning with Guarantees

Organizers: Ben London, Thorsten Joachims
Program Committee: Kevin Small, Shiva Kasiviswanathan, Ted Sandler

MLSys: Workshop on Systems for ML

Paper: "Block-Distributed Gradient Boosted Trees" | Theodore Vasiloudis, Hyunsu Cho, Henrik Boström

Women in Machine Learning

Gold sponsor: Amazon

Research areas
About the Author
Larry Hardesty is the editor of the Amazon Science blog. Previously, he was a senior editor at MIT Technology Review and the computer science writer at the MIT News Office.

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We’re looking for a passionate, talented, and inventive Senior Applied Scientist to help build industry-leading technologies in speech translation. Our team's mission is to enable Alexa to break down language barriers for our customers.Job responsibilitiesAs a Senior Applied Scientist with the Alexa Artificial Intelligence (AI) team, you will be responsible for developing novel algorithms that advance the state-of-the-art in language processing and entity resolution, driving model and algorithmic improvements, formulating evaluation methodologies and for influencing design and architecture choices. You will leverage Amazon’s heterogeneous data sources and large-scale computing resources to build novel products and services that make use of speech and language technology. You will work in a hybrid, fast-paced organization where scientists and engineers work together and drive improvements to production. You will collaborate with and mentor other scientists to raise the bar of scientific research in Amazon.Amazon is committed to a diverse and inclusive workplace. Amazon is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, national origin, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, protected veteran status, disability, age, or other legally protected status. For individuals with disabilities who would like to request an accommodation, please visit https://www.amazon.jobs/en/disability/us.
US, WA, Seattle
Are you excited about powering Amazon’s physical stores’ expansion through the application of Machine Learning and Big Data technologies? Do you thrive in a fast-moving, innovative environment that values data-driven decision making, scalable solutions, and sound scientific practices? We are looking for experienced scientists to build the next level of intelligence that will help Amazon physical stores grow and succeed.Our team is responsible for building the core intelligence, insights, and algorithms that support the real estate acquisition strategies for Amazon physical stores. We are tackling cutting-edge, complex problems — such as predicting the optimal location for new Amazon stores — by bringing together numerous data assets from disparate sources inside and outside of Amazon, and using best-in-class modeling solutions to extract the most information out of them.You will have a proven track-record of delivering solutions using advanced science approaches. You will be comfortable using a variety of tools and data sources to answer high-impact business questions. You will transform one-off models into automated systems. You will be able to break down complex information and insights into clear and concise language and be comfortable presenting your findings to audiences with a broad range of backgrounds.Responsibilities:· Develop production software systems utilizing advanced algorithms to solve business problems.· Analyze and validate data to ensure high data quality and reliable insights.· Partner with data engineering teams across multiple business lines to improve data assets, quality, metrics and insights.· Proactively identify interesting areas for deep dive investigations and future product development.· Design and execute experiments, and analyze experimental results in collaboration with Product Managers, Business Analysts, Economists, and other specialists.· Leverage industry best practices to establish repeatable applied science practices, principles & processes.
US, IL, Chicago
Are you excited about powering Amazon’s physical stores’ expansion through the application of Machine Learning and Big Data technologies? Do you thrive in a fast-moving, innovative environment that values data-driven decision making, scalable solutions, and sound scientific practices? We are looking for experienced scientists to build the next level of intelligence that will help Amazon physical stores grow and succeed.Our team is responsible for building the core intelligence, insights, and algorithms that support the real estate acquisition strategies for Amazon physical stores. We are tackling cutting-edge, complex problems — such as predicting the optimal location for new Amazon stores — by bringing together numerous data assets from disparate sources inside and outside of Amazon, and using best-in-class modeling solutions to extract the most information out of them.You will have a proven track-record of delivering solutions using advanced science approaches. You will be comfortable using a variety of tools and data sources to answer high-impact business questions. You will transform one-off models into automated systems. You will be able to break down complex information and insights into clear and concise language and be comfortable presenting your findings to audiences with a broad range of backgrounds.Responsibilities:· Develop production software systems utilizing advanced algorithms to solve business problems.· Analyze and validate data to ensure high data quality and reliable insights.· Partner with data engineering teams across multiple business lines to improve data assets, quality, metrics and insights.· Proactively identify interesting areas for deep dive investigations and future product development.· Design and execute experiments, and analyze experimental results in collaboration with Product Managers, Business Analysts, Economists, and other specialists.· Leverage industry best practices to establish repeatable applied science practices, principles & processes.
US, WA, Seattle
Are you excited about powering Amazon’s physical stores’ expansion through the application of Machine Learning and Big Data technologies? Do you thrive in a fast-moving, innovative environment that values data-driven decision making, scalable solutions, and sound scientific practices? We are looking for experienced scientists to build the next level of intelligence that will help Amazon physical stores grow and succeed.Our team is responsible for building the core intelligence, insights, and algorithms that support the real estate acquisition strategies for Amazon physical stores. We are tackling cutting-edge, complex problems — such as predicting the optimal location for new Amazon stores — by bringing together numerous data assets from disparate sources inside and outside of Amazon, and using best-in-class modeling solutions to extract the most information out of them.You will have a proven track-record of delivering solutions using advanced science approaches. You will be comfortable using a variety of tools and data sources to answer high-impact business questions. You will transform one-off models into automated systems. You will be able to break down complex information and insights into clear and concise language and be comfortable presenting your findings to audiences with a broad range of backgrounds.Responsibilities:· Develop production software systems utilizing advanced algorithms to solve business problems.· Analyze and validate data to ensure high data quality and reliable insights.· Partner with data engineering teams across multiple business lines to improve data assets, quality, metrics and insights.· Proactively identify interesting areas for deep dive investigations and future product development.· Design and execute experiments, and analyze experimental results in collaboration with Product Managers, Business Analysts, Economists, and other specialists.· Leverage industry best practices to establish repeatable applied science practices, principles & processes.
US, VA, Arlington
Managing trillions of objects in storage, retrieving them in sub-x ms, new features that deploy to hundreds of thousands of hosts, achieving 99.999999999% durability. These are just a few of the numbers that give you a sense of the scale of the exciting problems you will find every day working in Simple Storage Service (S3). Amazon S3 powers businesses across the globe that make the lives of consumers better daily. Whether its electronic content delivered to your home, technology that betters your remote working experience, allows you to plan travel to exotic places or simply get stuff delivered to your home. As a Data Scientist in S3, you will be able to dive deep into some of the most interesting and complex problems at the largest scale.We are seeking an innovative and technically strong data scientist with a background in performance optimization, machine learning, and statistical modeling/analysis. This role requires a team member to have strong quantitative modeling skills and the ability to apply optimization/statistical/machine learning methods to complex decision-making problems, with data coming from various data sources. The candidate should have strong communication skills, be able to work closely with stakeholders and translate data-driven findings into actionable insights. The successful candidate will be a self-starter, comfortable with ambiguity, with strong attention to detail and ability to work in a fast-paced and ever-changing environment.This role will sit in our new headquarters in Northern Virginia, where Amazon will invest $2.5 billion dollars, occupy 4 million square feet of energy efficient office space, and create at least 25,000 new full-time jobs. Our employees and the neighboring community will also benefit from the associated investments from the Commonwealth including infrastructure updates, public transportation improvements, and new access to Reagan National Airport.About UsInclusive Team CultureHere at AWS, we embrace our differences. We are committed to furthering our culture of inclusion. We have ten employee-led affinity groups, reaching 40,000 employees in over 190 chapters globally. We have innovative benefit offerings, and host annual and ongoing learning experiences, including our Conversations on Race and Ethnicity (CORE) and AmazeCon (gender diversity) conferences. Amazon’s culture of inclusion is reinforced within our 14 Leadership Principles, which remind team members to seek diverse perspectives, learn and be curious, and earn trust.Work/Life BalanceOur team puts a high value on work-life balance. It isn’t about how many hours you spend at home or at work; it’s about the flow you establish that brings energy to both parts of your life. We believe striking the right balance between your personal and professional life is critical to life-long happiness and fulfillment. We offer flexibility in working hours and encourage you to find your own balance between your work and personal lives.Mentorship & Career GrowthOur team is dedicated to supporting new members. We have a broad mix of experience levels and tenures, and we’re building an environment that celebrates knowledge sharing and mentorship. Our senior members enjoy one-on-one mentoring and thorough, but kind, code reviews. We care about your career growth and strive to assign projects based on what will help each team member develop into a better-rounded engineer and enable them to take on more complex tasks in the future.
US, CA, Palo Alto
** This job can be based in Seattle or Palo Alto **Amazon Advertising is one of Amazon's fastest growing and most profitable businesses. As a core product offering within our advertising portfolio, Sponsored Products (SP) helps merchants, retail vendors, and brand owners succeed via native advertising, which grows incremental sales of their products sold through Amazon. The SP team's primary goals are to help shoppers discover new products they love, be the most efficient way for advertisers to meet their business objectives, and build a sustainable business that continuously innovates on behalf of customers. Our products and solutions are strategically important to enable our Retail and Marketplace businesses to drive long-term growth. We deliver billions of ad impressions and millions of clicks and break fresh ground in product and technical innovations every day!Sponsored Products helps merchants, retail vendors, and brand owners succeed via native advertising that grows incremental sales of their products sold through Amazon. The Sponsored Products Ad Marketplace organization optimizes the systems and ad placements to match advertiser demand with publisher supply using a combination of machine learning, big data analytics, ultra-low latency high-volume engineering systems, and quantitative product focus. Our systems and algorithms operate on one of the world's largest product catalogs, matching shoppers with products - with a high relevance bar and strict latency constraints. Our goals are to help buyers discover new products they love, be the most efficient way for advertisers to meet their business objectives, and to build a major, sustainable business that helps Amazon continuously innovate on behalf of all customers.As a Senior Applied Scientist for the Sponsored Products Detail Page Allocation and Pricing team, you will own systems which make the final decision on which ads to show, where to place them on the page and how many ads to place. This also includes selection of various themes that would appear in detail pages. This is a challenging technical and business problem, which requires us to balance the interests of advertisers, shoppers, and Amazon. You'll develop a data-driven product strategy to define the right quantitative measures of shopper impact, using this to evaluate decisions and opportunities. You'll balance a portfolio of pragmatic and long-term investments to drive long term growth of the ads and retail businesses.As a Senior Applied Scientist on this team you will:· Act as the technical leader in Machine Learning and drive full life-cycle Machine Learning projects.· Develop real-time algorithms to allocate billions of ads per day in advertising auctions.· Lead technical efforts within this team and across other teams.· Build machine learning models, perform proof-of-concept, experiment, optimize, and deploy your models into production.· Run A/B experiments, gather data, and perform statistical analysis.· Establish scalable, efficient, automated processes for large-scale data analysis, machine-learning model development, model validation and serving.· Work closely with software engineers to assist in productionizing your ML models.· Research new machine learning approaches.· Recruit Applied Scientists to the team and act as a mentor to other Scientists on the team.Impact and Career Growth:In this role you will have significant impact on this team as well as drive cross team projects that consist of Applied Scientists, Data Scientists, Economists, and Software Development Engineers. This is a highly visible role that will help take our products to the next level. You will work alongside many of the best and brightest science and engineering talent and the work you deliver will have a direct impact on customers and revenue!Why you love this opportunity:Amazon is investing heavily in building a world class advertising business and we are responsible for defining and delivering a collection of self-service performance advertising products that drive discovery and sales. Our products are strategically important to our Retail and Marketplace businesses driving long term growth. We deliver billions of ad impressions and millions of clicks daily and are breaking fresh ground to create world-class products. We are highly motivated, collaborative and fun-loving with an entrepreneurial spirit and bias for action. With a broad mandate to experiment and innovate, we are growing at an unprecedented rate with a seemingly endless range of new opportunities.Team video ~ https://youtu.be/zD_6Lzw8raE
US, WA, Seattle
This early-stage initiative is tackling problems that span a variety of domains: computer vision, machine learning, Human-Computer-Interaction and real-time systems.As a Computer Vision Applied Scientist you will help solve a variety of technical challenges and mentor other team members while actively following our entrepreneurial culture that encourages us to wear many hats. You will play an active role in leading translation of business and functional requirements into concrete deliverables. Build quick prototypes and proofs of concept in partnership with other technology leaders within the team. Improve products and concepts as a direct result of your research while delivering significant benefits to business.You are well versed in the relevant literature and will have the ability to find, understand and adapt new state of the art methods from the core discipline as well as beyond to create breakthrough problem-solution pairs. You will tackle challenging, novel situations every day and you’ll have the opportunity to work with other technical teams at Amazon within and outside the organization. You should be comfortable with a degree of ambiguity that’s higher than most projects and relish the idea of solving problems that haven’t been dreamed up and much less solved at scale before - anywhere. Along the way, you’ll learn a ton, have fun and make a positive impact on millions of people.Here at Amazon, we embrace our differences. We are committed to furthering our culture of inclusion. We have ten employee-led affinity groups, reaching 40,000 employees in over 190 chapters globally. We have innovative benefit offerings, and host annual and ongoing learning experiences, including our Conversations on Race and Ethnicity (CORE) and AmazeCon (gender diversity) conferences. Amazon’s culture of inclusion is reinforced within our 14 Leadership Principles, which remind team members to seek diverse perspectives, learn and be curious, and earn trust.Work/life BalanceOur team puts a high value on work-life balance. It isn’t about how many hours you spend at home or at work; it’s about the flow you establish that brings energy to both parts of your life. We believe striking the right balance between your personal and professional life is critical to life-long happiness and fulfillment. We offer flexibility in working hours and encourage you to find your own balance between your work and personal lives.Mentorship & Career GrowthOur team is dedicated to supporting new members. We have a broad mix of experience levels and tenures, and we’re building an environment that celebrates knowledge sharing and mentorship. Our senior members enjoy one-on-one mentoring and thorough, but kind, code reviews. We care about your career growth and strive to assign projects based on what will help each team member develop into a better-rounded engineer and enable them to take on more complex tasks in the future.
US, CA, Sunnyvale
Our Alexa Product Advisor (part of Alexa Shopping) vision is to provide the best possible answers for a wide range of questions around product being asked by the customer. The first step in providing these answers is to form high quality classification and machine understanding of natural language questions into their core components (shape, product references, attributes, pronouns etc).Alexa Shopping is looking for an experienced Sr Data Scientist to be a part of a team solving complex natural language processing problems and customer demand insights (including segmentation analysis and personas building using big data, ML and potentially AI). This is a blue-sky role that gives you a chance to roll up your sleeves and dive into big data sets in order to build simulations and experimentation systems at scale, build optimization algorithms and leverage cutting-edge technologies across Amazon. This is an opportunity to think big about how to solve a challenging problem for the customers and understand their requirements for products.You will work closely with product and technical leaders throughout Alexa Shopping and will be responsible for influencing technical decisions in areas of development/modelling that you identify as critical future product offerings. You will identify both enablers and blockers of adoption for product understanding, and build programs to raise the bar in terms of understanding product questions and predict the shaping of customer utterances as we move from simple to complex utterances.The ideal candidate will have extensive experience in Science work, business analytics and have the aptitude to incorporate new approaches and methodologies while dealing with ambiguities in sourcing processes. Excellent business and communication skills are a must to develop and define key business questions and to build data sets that answer those questions. You should have a demonstrated ability to think strategically and analytically about business, product, and technical challenges. Further, you must have the ability to build and communicate compelling value propositions, and work across the organization to achieve consensus. This role requires a strong passion for customers, a high level of comfort navigating ambiguity, and a keen sense of ownership and drive to deliver results.
US, WA, Seattle
Amazon Performance Advertising sits at the intersection of e-commerce and advertising, developing new native advertising experiences that are a critical area of strategic focus for the company. Amazon Sponsored Brands is an always-on advertising product that amplifies brand content to shoppers researching on Amazon through prominent cost-per-click ads. As we move up the purchase funnel, and create more touch points for shoppers, Sponsored Brands plays a key role in the discoverability and reach of brand content. Amazon Sponsor Brands is looking for a scientist to lead innovation for our global advertising marketplace. At the heart of our advertising business are systems for optimizing the ad marketplace involving sourcing and targeting, experimentation infrastructure, AI methods for inference and control, as well as metrics-driven closed loop optimizations.Job Responsibilities:· Design, develop, and productionize end-to-end machine learning solutions.· Work closely with software engineers and data scientists on detailed requirements, technical designs and implementation of end-to-end solutions in production· Run regular A/B experiments, gather data, perform statistical analysis, and communicate the impact to senior management· Establish scalable, efficient, automated processes for large-scale data analysis, machine-learning model development, model validation and serving· Provide technical leadership, research new machine learning approaches to drive continued scientific innovation· Be a member of the Amazon-wide Machine Learning Community, participating in internal and external MeetUps, Hackathons and Conferences· Help attract, lead, and mentor technical talent.Impact and Career Growth:· You will invent new shopper and advertiser experiences, and accelerate the pace of Machine Learning and Optimization.· Influence customer facing shopping experiences to helping suppliers grow their retail business and the auction dynamics that leverage native advertising, this role will be powering the engine of one the fastest growing businesses at Amazon.· Define a long-term science vision for our ad marketplace, driven fundamentally from the needs of our customers, translating that direction into specific plans for research and applied scientists, as well as engineering and product teams. This is a role that combines science leadership, organizational ability, technical strength, product focus and business understanding.Why you love this opportunity:Amazon is investing heavily in building a world class advertising business and we are responsible for defining and delivering a collection of self-service performance advertising products that drive discovery and sales. Our products are strategically important to our Retail and Marketplace businesses driving long term growth. We deliver billions of ad impressions and millions of clicks daily and are breaking fresh ground to create world-class products. We are highly motivated, collaborative and fun-loving with an entrepreneurial spirit and bias for action. With a broad mandate to experiment and innovate, we are growing at an unprecedented rate with a seemingly endless range of new opportunities.
US, VA, Arlington
We are developing advanced technologies that enhance the experience of shoppers in physical stores. Designed and custom-built by Amazon, existing products such as the Amazon Dash Cart and Amazon Go integrate a variety of advanced technologies including computer vision, sensor fusion, and advanced machine learning.We are seeking talented people who want to join an ambitious research and development program that who will help us define the future of physical retail. As a Principle Applied Scientist, you will architect systems that involve addressing complex technical challenges while meeting stringent performance and robustness goals. You will mentor other engineers and ensure they are producing state-of-the-art solutions while also continuing to advance their knowledge and capabilities. You will play an active role in guiding the development of research infrastructure for real-time machine learning and you will play a key role in translating technology solutions into real-world systems in partnership with other product organizations.You will tackle challenging situations every day and you’ll have the opportunity to work with multiple technical teams at Amazon. You should be comfortable with a high degree of ambiguity and have the communication skills necessary to articulate strategic approaches that both address immediate product needs and which set your team up for future success. Along the way, we guarantee that you’ll learn a lot, have fun, and make a positive impact on many customersIn this role:• You will encounter challenging, open-ended technical problems to solve, with solutions that span the entire implementation stack from devices to real-time algorithms to cloud-based services.• You will be able to demonstrate your strong technical and communication skills as well as your leadership abilities to deliver brand new customer experiences on behalf of Amazon.• You must be curious in the face of ambiguity and able to develop prototypes and perform experiments to create robust, scalable, distributed and fault-tolerant features to enhance the experience of Amazon customers around the globe.NOTE re: LOCATION: The main location for this job is the Washington DC metro region.
US, WA, Seattle
Within Alexa Shopping, we are forming a new, insurgent team to better serve Alexa customers who are less engaged with Amazon stores. This is a large cohort of customers who want to use Alexa as their Shopping assistant and we want to meet the particular needs of these customers. The first job is to understand these customers better, how they shop in and out of Amazon stores, how they use Alexa and Alexa Shopping features, and what gaps remain between their needs and the features we have today.A day in the lifeYou will use data science to better understand how we can fulfill Alexa Shopping’s aspirations to be the anywhere shopping AI for with a focus on customers who are less engaged with Amazon. In the first months on the job, you will hire a new team and undertake a deep dive on this customer cohort using data on Amazon shopping behaviors, Alexa feature usage and primary research on their needs. This deep dive will lead to specific marketing program, feature and product ideas. You will influence the most senior leaders in the Alexa Shopping organization to steer marketing and feature roadmaps in order to better serve these customers. In the first year, you will write several PRFAQs for new feature and product ideas and you will advocate for them at the highest levels of the organization.About the hiring groupAt Alexa Shopping, we strive to enable shopping in everyday life through technology innovations in both voice and screen applications, from organizing shopping to covering in the moment shopping needs. We allow customers to create, add to, and collaborate on shopping lists that can be used in any store and to instantly order whatever they need, by simply interacting with their Smart Devices such as Echo or Fire TV. Our products range from package tracking to shopping lists and instant ordering, and with these capabilities we seek to make advertising more actionable and useful to customers. The business is both focused on generating value for shoppers as well as advertisers.Job responsibilities· Use data science to understand the shopping behaviors and needs of Alexa customers who are less engaged in Amazon stores· Hire and develop a nimble team of insurgents· Identify marketing and product gaps between our current feature portfolio and the needs of this customer cohort· Develop and experiment with product, feature and program ideas (e.g. write PRFAQs) and advocate for them at the highest levels of leadership in the organizationAmazon is committed to a diverse and inclusive workplace. Amazon is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, national origin, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, protected veteran status, disability, age, or other legally protected status. For individuals with disabilities who would like to request an accommodation, please visit https://www.amazon.jobs/en/disability/us.
US, WA, Bellevue
Join us in a historic endeavor to make Computer Vision accessible to the world with breakthrough research!The AWS Computer Vision science team has a world-leading team of researchers and academics, and we are looking for world-class colleagues to join us and make the AI revolution happen. Our team of scientists have developed the algorithms and models that power AWS computer vision services such as Amazon Rekognition and Amazon Textract. As part of the team, we expect that you will develop innovative solutions to hard problems, and publish your findings at peer reviewed conferences and workshops.AWS is the world-leading provider of cloud services, has fostered the creation and growth of countless new businesses, and is a positive force for good. Our customers bring problems which will give Applied Scientists like you endless opportunities to see your research have a positive and immediate impact in the world. You will have the opportunity to partner with technology and business teams to solve real-world problems, have access to virtually endless data and computational resources, and to world-class engineers and developers that can help bring your ideas into the world.Our research themes include, but are not limited to: few-shot learning, transfer learning, unsupervised and semi-supervised methods, active learning and semi-automated data annotation, large scale image and video detection and recognition, face detection and recognition, OCR and scene text recognition, document understanding, and 3D scene and layout understanding.We are located in Seattle, Pasadena, Palo Alto, Atlanta (USA) and in Haifa and Tel Aviv (Israel).Inclusive Team CultureHere at AWS, we embrace our differences. We are committed to furthering our culture of inclusion. We have ten employee-led affinity groups, reaching 40,000 employees in over 190 chapters globally. We have innovative benefit offerings, and host annual and ongoing learning experiences, including our Conversations on Race and Ethnicity (CORE) and AmazeCon (gender diversity) conferences.Work/Life BalanceOur team puts a high value on work-life balance. It isn’t about how many hours you spend at home or at work; it’s about the flow you establish that brings energy to both parts of your life. We believe striking the right balance between your personal and professional life is critical to life-long happiness and fulfillment. We offer flexibility in working hours and encourage you to find your own balance between your work and personal lives.Mentorship & Career GrowthOur team is dedicated to supporting new members. We have a broad mix of experience levels and tenures, and we’re building an environment that celebrates knowledge sharing and mentorship. Our senior members enjoy one-on-one mentoring and thorough, but kind, code reviews. We care about your career growth and strive to assign projects based on what will help each team member develop into a better-rounded engineer and enable them to take on more complex tasks in the future.
GB, MLN, Edinburgh
We’re looking for a Machine Learning Scientist in the Personalization team for our Edinburgh office. You will be responsible for developing and disseminating customer-facing personalized recommendation algorithms. This is a hands-on role with global impact working with a team of world-class engineers and scientists across the Edinburgh offices and wider organization.You will design deep learning algorithms that scale to very large quantities of data, and serve high-scale low-latency recommendations to all customers worldwide. You will embody scientific rigor, designing and executing experiments to demonstrate the technical efficacy and business value of your methods. You will work alongside more senior team members to delight customers by aiding in recommendations relevancy, and raise the profile of Amazon as a global leader in machine learning and personalization.Successful candidates will have strong technical ability, focus on customers by applying a customer-first approach, excellent teamwork and communication skills, and a motivation to achieve results in a fast-paced environment. Our position offers exceptional opportunities for every candidate to grow their technical and non-technical skills. If you are selected, you have the opportunity to make a difference to our business by designing and building state of the art machine learning systems on big data, leveraging Amazon’s vast computing resources (AWS), working on exciting and challenging projects, and delivering meaningful results to customers world-wide.Key responsibilities· Develop deep learning algorithms for high-scale recommendations problem· Rapidly design, prototype and test many possible hypotheses in a high-ambiguity environment, making use of both quantitative analysis and business judgement.· Collaborate with software engineering teams to integrate successful experimental results into large-scale, highly complex Amazon production systems capable of handling 100,000s of transactions per second at low latency.· Report results in a manner which is both statistically rigorous and compellingly relevant, exemplifying good scientific practice in a business environment.