January 15, 2018
AMHERST, Mass. – Distinguished scientist and professor Andrew McCallum, director of the Center for Data Science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, will lead a new partnership with the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to accelerate science and medicine. The goal of this project, called Computable Knowledge, is to create an intelligent and navigable map of scientific knowledge using a branch of artificial intelligence known as knowledge representation and reasoning.
The Computable Knowledge project will facilitate new ways for scientists to explore, navigate, and discover potential connections between millions of new and historical scientific research articles. Once complete, the service will be accessible through Meta, a free CZI tool, and will help scientists track important discoveries, uncover patterns, and deliver insights among an up-to-date collection of published scientific texts, including more than 60 million articles.
“We are excited for the opportunity to advance our research in deep learning, representation and reasoning for such a worthy challenge,” said McCallum. “We believe the result will be a first-of-its-kind guide for every scientist, just as map apps are now indispensable tools for navigating the physical world. We hope our results will help solve the mounting problem of scientific knowledge complexity, democratize scientific knowledge, and put powerful reasoning in the hands of individual scientists.”
The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) is building a team of AI scientists to collaborate on the project, and has made an initial grant of $5.5 million to the university’s Center for Data Science. It is CZI’s first donation and partnership with the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
McCallum expects CZI’s investment to result in hiring software engineers in Western Massachusetts to work on the project. It will also support the related research of several graduate, Ph.D. and postdoctoral students in the Center for Data Science and create internships for UMass Amherst students at other CZI projects worldwide.
“We are very pleased CZI selected UMass Amherst to play a major role in this groundbreaking initiative that will give scientists tremendous power to share their research around the world,” Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker said. “Massachusetts’ renowned research and health care institutions make the Commonwealth an attractive location to advance CZI’s work, and we welcome their engagement here.”
“We are grateful for CZI’s generous support and recognition of UMass Amherst’s leadership in artificial intelligence,” said UMass Amherst Chancellor Subbaswamy. “Andrew McCallum and his colleagues are engaged in extraordinary and innovative research, and we are thrilled to be partners with CZI in their goal to cure, prevent, or manage all diseases by the end of the century.”
“This project has the potential to accelerate the work of millions of scientists around the globe,” said Cori Bargmann, president of science at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. “Andrew McCallum and the Center for Data Science at UMass Amherst are global leaders in artificial intelligence and natural language processing. Andrew will bring deep knowledge and expertise to this effort, and we are honored to partner with him.”
About Professor Andrew McCallum
McCallum, who joined the UMass Amherst faculty in 2002, focuses his research on statistical machine learning applied to text, including information extraction, social network analysis, and deep neural networks for knowledge representation. He served as president of the International Society of Machine Learning and is a Fellow of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence as well as the Association for Computing Machinery. Recognized as a pre-eminent researcher in these field, he has published more 150 papers and received over 50,000 citations from fellow researchers. He was named the founding director of the UMass Amherst Center for Data Science in 2015.
About the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative
The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative was founded by Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan in December 2015. The philanthropic organization brings together world-class engineering, grant-making, impact investing, policy, and advocacy work. Its initial areas of focus include supporting science through basic biomedical research and education through personalized learning. It is also exploring other issues tied to the promotion of equal opportunity including access to affordable housing and criminal justice reform.