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Fri, Jul 29, 2005 - Page 12 News List

Yahoo eyes researchers as talent `arms race' heats up


Yahoo planned to announce yesterday that it is recruiting scientists who pioneered an advanced search-engine technology at IBM's Silicon Valley research laboratory.

Beginning in the mid-1990s, the researchers at IBM spent several years developing an Internet search engine, called Clever, employing a series of algorithms to improve the quality of the retrieval results. While that project has concluded, the IBM researchers have continued other work in the field.

Prabhakar Raghavan, a computer scientist who once led the Clever effort, joined Yahoo last week as head of research. He left IBM in 2000 to become a vice president and chief scientist at Verity Inc, a maker of search and retrieval software for corporations; he was later named chief technical officer.

Yahoo said that another search-technology researcher, Andrew Tomkins, had recently been landed from IBM, and that negotiations were under way with several others there. Yahoo executives said they expected more hiring.

With the defection of a prominent computer scientist, Kai-Fu Lee (李開復), from Microsoft to Google last week, the Yahoo recruiting is part of a rush of interest among search engine firms in acquiring research talent that will provide an edge in developing a new generation of search technology.

Yahoo offers one of the best opportunities to explore new ideas in search technology, Raghavan said. He said some of the IBM research was protected intellectual property, but added that there were many avenues still to be pursued.

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