The Challenge of Computing on a Planetary Scale: Inside Google’s Faculty Summit

7/25/11

For the first time, Google held its annual Americas Faculty Summit in our New York City offices. On July 14th and 15th, about 100 faculty members from universities in the western hemisphere attended the two-day summit, which focused on systems, artificial intelligence, and mobile computing. Google New York is our second largest office outside of our HQ in Mountain View and it employs more than 2,300 employees, about half of whom work in engineering and computer science.

We run this gathering each year to stay on the cutting edge of technology and innovation, and we learn enormously from the vibrant computer science research community in our universities. But, we also want to share with the faculty our experiences, which often relate to doing computer science at planetary scale. (Even we are amazed as to how much processing we do!) This helps the faculty do a better job focusing their research and preparing students. The field of computer science has endless challenges and is still sufficiently young that progress will continue to accelerate—and that’s good for our users, our industry, and our company. Of course, we also want to maintain Google’s reputation for quirkiness, irreverence, and passionate excellence, so that we can attract and hire the next generation of computer scientists.

While it’s difficult to cover all the topics at a two day event, I’ll provide some highlights. Johan Schalkwyk, one of our top speech scientists in New York, described some of the fascinating challenges related to implementing speech recognition on mobile phones. One goal, for example, is to get a device to execute any … Next Page »

Alfred Spector is Vice President of Research and Special Initiatives at Google. Follow @

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