Flipkart partners with IIT-Patna for joint research in artificial intelligence

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As part of the pact, IIT-Patna will undertake a number of programmes such as joint research activities, writing research papers, organising seminars and internship/mentorship opportunities.

Flipkart has partnered with IIT-Patna to help create industry-focused applied research in the areas of artificial intelligence (AI), natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning (ML), the company said in a press release.

Flipkart expects to foster an environment of collaboration in the areas of automation, AI, NLP and ML and help build critical national capabilities, the statement said. As part of the pact, IIT-Patna will undertake a number of programmes such as joint research activities, writing research papers, organising seminars and internship/mentorship opportunities, it added.

The aim behind this collaboration is to create industry-focused applied research that could help reach e-commerce more consumers and sellers, said Mayur Datar, chief data scientist at Flipkart.

“With this MoU, we aim to establish deeper academia collaborations which could help students and the academia to leverage our data and platform knowledge to work on India specific e-commerce challenges, in addition to publishing research papers,” he added.

Asif Ekbal, associate professor at Department of Computer Science and Engineering, IIT Patna, said the research is particularly aimed at developing robust machine translation techniques for translating the large amount of user reviews written in English to the Indian vernacular languages.

“At the same time, (it) will ensure that the translation process should preserve the domain knowledge (eg sentiment, emotion, gender traits etc), which is extremely crucial for the translation service providers (TSPs) that make use of machine translation (MT) in production,” he added.

Ekbal said that through this initial collaboration, the two organisations expect to come up with at least two high-quality publications in the relevant foras, and create a baseline translation workflow in the product review domains.

“This academic collaboration is expected to bring real-world industry exposure to the students and scholars of IIT-Patna, and at the same time will provide an opportunity to the faculty member(s) to work closely with Flipkart on research projects,” he added.

Flipkart works closely with academia including Indian Institute of Science, IIT (Kharagpur, Bombay and Kanpur), IIM (Ahmedabad and Kolkata) and a few foreign universities like Carnegie Mellon University and University of California for developing technologies such as fashion recommendation, query understanding, attribute extraction, demand planning, product categorisation, review helpfulness, supply chain management, fraud detection and next basket prediction.

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