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Yahoo hires DARPA director to head research

Artificial-intelligence expert will run research center on East Coast, start similar operations in other countries.

Yahoo has opened an East Coast research center and hired an artificial intelligence expert and former director at the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to open research centers in other countries.

Ron Brachman, 56, was named vice president of worldwide research operations, the Internet giant said Thursday.

Ron Brachman
Ron Brachman,
Yahoo VP

The new research center in New York City will initially focus on media, microeconomics and e-commerce to help understand "how people get together and do things in markets (and) auctions, (how they) exchange goods and services, and how large groups of people have macroeconomic behaviors," Brachman said.

Brachman previously served as the director of DARPA's Information Processing Technology Office.

In his new position, Brachman said he will research data-mining and how to make computer systems adaptive over time. "Recommendations made by online services--understanding similarities between interests and how to recommend things to people--have underlying (artificial intelligence) technology," he said.

Artificial intelligence can also be used to help fight fraud and help improve targeted advertising, he said. "We can use expert rules and Bayesian reasoning to understand when transactions may be fraudulent," Brachman said.

Before joining DARPA in 2002, Brachman was a research vice president at AT&T Labs, where he developed an artificial intelligence team. He also served as president of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence. He received a bachelor's degree from Princeton University and a master's degree and doctorate from Harvard University.

Yahoo has three other research centers in Sunnyvale, Burbank and Berkeley, Calif.