By Sandra Dieron, PR Student Assistant, Computer Science

The Google Faculty Research Award Program aims to recognize and support world-class, permanent faculty pursuing cutting-edge research in areas of mutual interest. The program is structured as seed funding to support one graduate student for one year and are awarded as an unrestricted gift. The award is highly competitive - only 15% of applicants receive funding - and each proposal goes through a rigorous Google-wide review process.

This year, the program received 910 proposals covering 40 countries and over 320 universities. Two UCSB faculty members were awarded funding for their projects in the ‘Information Retrieval and Real-Time Content’ and ‘Other’ categories.

William Wang, Director of UC Santa Barbara's Natural Language Processing group and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science, submitted a winning proposal titled, “Deep Recursive Reinforcement Learning for Knowledge and Language Reasoning,” tackled the major challenge for Artificial Intelligence research, which is to integrate the power of representation learning and knowledge reasoning. Wang’s project introduced a new, transformative framework for learning to reason with knowledge graph and multimodal data. Wang’s project can recursively learn with multiple relations, determine the knowledge sources in the form of either text, image, or knowledge graph, and automatically learn the weights for logical clauses to perform explicit reasoning.

Tao Yang, Professor of Computer Science, also received funding for his proposal titled, “Privacy-Preserving Neural Ranking for Top K Search on the Cloud.” As sensitive information is increasingly stored on the cloud, preserving privacy is a critical factor for users to

adopt cloud-based information services such as document search. Tackling privacy concerns and data storage in the cloud, Yang’s project investigated algorithmic solutions and indexed support for integrating compute-intensive neural ranking with learning ensembles in private cloud data search.


Congratulations to the well-deserving recipients of this round's awards! We are especially proud of our two faculty members, William Wang and Tao Yang. More information on how to apply for the next round of the Google Faculty Research Award Program will be available at the end of the summer here. You can find award recipients from previous years here.