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Google, Oxford University team up on artificial intelligence

The company and venerable university will work together to advance the field of machine learning.

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The skyline of Oxford University. Oxford

Google and Oxford University have formed a partnership to accelerate research on artificial intelligence.

The partnership will focus specifically on the fields of image recognition and natural language, Demis Hassabis, vice president of engineering at Google, said Thursday on the Google Europe Blog.

Hassabis is also the co-founder of DeepMind, a UK-based company that Google acquired in January. Little has been made public about DeepMind aside from its specialization in algorithms and machine-based learning protocols for e-commerce software, simulations and games.

The DeepMind team will be the group working specifically with two of Oxford's artificial intelligence groups. As part of the partnership, Google has also hired seven co-founders of the two artificial-intelligence groups, which had also formed startups.

Oxford professors Nando de Freitas and Phil Blunsom, as well as Edward Grefenstette and Karl Moritz Hermann, co-founded Dark Blue Labs last year and are experts in the "use of deep learning for natural language understanding." The specialists will focus on "enabling machines to better understand what users are saying to them."

Karen Simonyan, Max Jaderberg and Oxford Professor Andrew Zisserman are the co-founders of Vision Factory, which focuses on improving visual recognition systems using deep learning.

The three professors will continue to work at Oxford. As part of the collaboration, Google will make a "substantial" donation to establish a research partnership with the Computer Science Department and the Engineering Department at Oxford, including student internships, joint lectures and workshops.

"We are thrilled to welcome these extremely talented machine learning researchers to the Google DeepMind team and are excited about the potential impact of the advances their research will bring," Hassabis said.

This story originally posted as "Google, Oxford University partner in artificial intelligence research" on ZDNet.