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NY Times: “Geek Appeal: New York vs. Seattle”

bldgsThe New York Times compares New York and Seattle for Geek Appeal, featuring UW CSE and Carlos Guestrin.

In New York, it’s driven by tens of millions of dollars of civic initiatives led by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.

“Meanwhile, in Seattle, with its green hiking trails, coffee culture and tech industry, the University of Washington is making its own pitch.  The university has opened the eScience Institute for studying data across disciplines and has a new Ph.D. program in Big Data.  It also has many rich and powerful neighbors in tech to finance its data initiatives and lure big-name faculty members.

“Since 2000, Microsoft has donated $22 million to the computer science program; Google gives several million dollars a year. And Amazon has endowed two professorships with $2 million; Jeff Bezos, its founder and chief executive, personally recruited Carlos Guestrin for computer science and Emily B. Fox for statistics.

“The companies offer more than just money, said Mr. Guestrin, one of the world’s top machine-learning researchers, previously of Carnegie Mellon. ‘Money helps because students have to eat their ramen, but it’s not just that,’ he said. Companies also lend students their real-world data to crunch. ‘Companies often see big challenges we might not see at that scale or have access to at the university,’ he said, ‘and those connections can be transformative.’

“Like New York, Seattle has draws outside the classroom. ‘It attracts certain geeks like me, nature-loving and into music, food and biking,’ Mr. Guestrin said. But the biggest attraction, he said: ‘The data is on the West Coast.'”

Read more here.

April 12, 2013