College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Adobe awards gift funds for ongoing research collaboration with ECpE professor

Photo of Ratnesh Kumar
Ratnesh Kumar

Adobe Inc., an American multinational computer software company engaged in digital and cloud publishing, multimedia, advertising and more, has awarded new gift funds to Iowa State University Harpole Professor Ratnesh Kumar. The gift, in support of Kumar’s research activities of the ESSeNCE (Embedded Software, Sensors, Networks, Cyberphysical, and Energy) lab he directs, is part of an ongoing research collaboration between Adobe and Kumar, of ISU’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

In 2009, Adobe recruited Kumar’s Ph.D. student Saayan Mitra, who is now a researcher in the Systems Technology Lab with Adobe Research. His current research is primarily in how contextual data can be used effectively for recommendations and advertising.

In 2011, Adobe recruited another Ph.D. student of Kumar’s, Herman Sahota, for an internship position to work on “Video Usage Analytics,” in connection with Adobe’s flash video format that is used in YouTube videos. Sahota was the first Ph.D. student at Iowa State to work on a soil sensor network and its soil-air communication models, that also developed the statistical background needed for the internship, and is now a research scientist at Cerebras Systems.

The next year, in 2012, another of Kumar’s Ph.D. students, Gang Wu, was offered an internship with Adobe to continue working on Video Usage Analytics. This project focused on predicting what fraction of an online video a new user is likely to watch, based on the historical record of fraction of different videos watched by various users in the past. Such video usage prediction is then used for “video recommendation,” to recommend new videos that a user might enjoy watching. Wu is now a research scientist with Adobe Research, conducting research on recommender systems and user engagement maximization. A fourth Ph.D. student of Kumar’s, Anupam Bhar, was recruited for an Adobe internship in 2018 to work on “Real-Time Bidding,” where machine-learning and runtime optimization are used to analyze bids that are placed to win advertising space.

Adobe started providing the gift funds for the collaborative research projects with Kumar’s group in 2013, which continues through this recent gift and will jointly explore the real-time bidding and other analytics research topics.