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UW’s Ira Kemelmacher-Shlizerman and Eli Shlizerman to timeshare with Facebook

Eli ShlizermanIra Kemelmacher-ShlizermanIra Kemelmacher-Shlizerman, a professor in UW CSE’s GRAIL group, and Eli Shlizerman, a professor of Electrical Engineering and Applied Mathematics, have joined the Research at Facebook team. Facebook’s gain is not UW’s loss, however, as the duo will be splitting their time between the company and campus.

In a welcome post, Joaquin Quiñonero Candela, Facebook’s director of applied machine learning, expressed excitement at what Kemelmacher-Shlizerman, an expert in computer vision and graphics, and Shlizerman, an expert in dynamical networks, will bring to the team.

“Their knowledge will provide new and fun ways for everyone to express themselves,” he said. “We’re excited for them to come onboard.”

One of the projects that caught the company’s eye was Dreambit, a personalized image search engine developed by Kemelmacher-Shlizerman that enables people to explore what they would look like in a variety of styles and situations. The Dreambit system automatically synthesizes the user’s face from an input photo with online search results based on hair style, hair color, age, historical period, country, and more. Given the importance of images to Facebook’s 1.7 billion users, it is not hard to see why the company was eager to tap into the expertise of the program’s creator.

Kemelmacher-Shlizerman said in a post, “We will both continue moving forward [with] our research programs, advise students at UW, and do absolutely awesome projects at Facebook!” At Facebook they will work closely with UW CSE Affiliate Professors Michael Cohen and Rick Szeliski, long-time GRAIL collaborators and founding members of Facebook’s Computational Photography group.

UW CSE’s GRAIL faculty are in high demand these days. Kemelmacher-Shlizerman joins fellow CSE professor Steve Seitz, who splits his time between UW and Google, in bridging academia and industry. Meanwhile, their colleague Ali Farhadi divides his time between UW and the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence.

We are excited to see what this new partnership with Facebook produces. Congratulations, Ira and Eli!