CNET reports that Berkeley is establishing a strong research effort in Search — they are establishing a reseach center involving 20 faculty members — led by Robert Wilensky. Wilensky has been an active researcher in language understanding. Full story is available at
This is a good development. By bringing many researchers together to address interesting aspects search some good progress could be made. One interesting fact remains, however. Search has been a rapidly growing area that has been dominated by industry rather than academia. Can academia now take lead? Interesting question. Time will tell what happens.
One interesting thing jumps out from the article. All the research areas that are mentioned in the article are old topics in search. These are the topics like personalization, multimedia research, privacy. I believe that these are the topics that are being researched by industry and academia for very long time. Maybe some interesting perspectives will come out of this center.
Another interesting thing — this center seems to be different from what Yahoo is establishing at Berkeley. In that center Marc Davis is taking lead and Yahoo is working closely. In the center that is announced in CNET that effort is not at all mentioned and strong links (potentially) with Google are emphasized. Also, all the faculty names mentioned are from Engineering school — particularly from EECS while in the Yahoo effort it seems that lead is by School of Information.
In any case, this is a very interesting development.