Five Years In, Amazon Research Awards Program Continues to Grow
This month, Amazon announced the 11 focus areas of the 2019 Amazon Research Awards, a program that provides up to $80,000 in funding and up to $20,000 in Amazon Web Services (AWS) Promotional Credits to academic researchers investigating topics related to machine learning.
This is the fifth year of the program, which in 2018 funded 82 projects. That’s up from 49 projects in 2017 and 18 in 2016. Each grant is intended to support the work of one or two graduate students or postdocs, under the supervision of a tenured or tenure-track faculty member, for one year.
Researchers may, however, re-apply to the program to extend their funding. Of the 2017 award recipients, five roboticists — Daniela Rus and Russ Tedrake of MIT, Kris Hauser of Duke, Ross Knepper of Cornell, and Sven Koenig of the University of Southern California — were funded again in 2018.
Tedrake is also one of three past award recipients — the others being Cornell’s Thorsten Joachims and Columbia’s Shipra Agrawal — to have entered into a more direct partnership with Amazon researchers through the Amazon Scholars program. A fourth past awardee, Sidd Srinivasa, has joined Amazon full time as director of applied science for Amazon Robotics.
Last year’s recipients represented 60 universities in 14 countries, and their projects spanned topics from security, privacy, and abuse prevention, to automatic photo and video captioning, to theory.
Recipients have access to Amazon data sets that are already public, such as the Amazon Bin Image Dataset, but not to non-public data. Since the funding is granted to the primary investigator’s home institution as an unrestricted gift, Amazon retains no intellectual-property rights to the resulting work. Amazon also encourages the publication of the research results and the release of related code under open-source licenses.
Each project is assigned an Amazon research contact, who is available for consultation and monitors the project’s progress.
Project proposals, which should not exceed four pages, will be accepted starting September 10. The final deadline for submissions is October 4.
The focus areas for the 2019 Amazon Research Awards are
- Computer vision
- Fairness in artificial intelligence
- Knowledge management and data quality
- Machine learning algorithms and theory
- Natural-language processing
- Online advertising
- Operations research and optimization
- Search and information retrieval
- Security, privacy, and abuse prevention