Cornell and r4 Announce Partnership to Lead Industry Innovation and Social Impact Through Applied AI

The Initiative brings AI and data science to Cornell students across any discipline.

Cornell University and r4 have announced a wide-ranging collaboration focused on applying artificial intelligence (AI) to new domains. The partnership will develop and apply AI solutions to structural challenges that have traditionally hindered growth and modernization in both the private and public sectors, and will train a new generation of students to thrive in a data-driven world.

The newly formed Cornell-r4 Applied AI Initiative will bring together cross-disciplinary scholars and industry experts to apply AI, data science, advanced mathematics, and leading-edge technology to help solve business and societal problems holistically. The Initiative will focus on developing AI solutions to large scale industrial and societal challenges, and developing new courses that bring AI and data science to a much broader range of students across the university.  The partnership’s core goals are:

  • Delivering better economic outcomes for large organizations and businesses;
  • Identifying new models of working that advance human potential; and
  • Driving positive impact on societal and environmental challenges facing the world.

As part of the collaboration, selected research areas will be led by Cornell faculty and graduate student teams, who will work closely with r4 and industry partners. In keeping with Cornell’s legacy of leadership in agricultural sciences, the initial research area will focus on “farm to table” challenges in the food industry. The Initiative plans to address problems in consumer retail, supply chain management, and forecasting while looking at broad societal challenges in optimizing the food chain to better align with predicted local demand patterns – thereby improving profitability for producers and retailers while also reducing food waste.

The Cornell-r4 Applied AI Initiative will be co-chaired by Greg Morrisett, Dean of Computing and Information Science at Cornell, and Paul Breitenbach, founder and CEO of r4 Technologies (Cornell BA, Sociology, 1992 and MBA, 1995).  An advisory board drawn from Cornell’s cross-departmental leadership, the r4 Leadership Council and industry sponsors will govern the Initiative and select individual research focus areas.

“Cornell University believes in the vast potential of applied AI to achieve breakthrough solutions in business and society,” said Morrisett. “Our partnership with r4 Technologies puts us at the leading edge of academic discovery across crucial disciplines such as statistics, machine learning and optimization.”

“What makes this partnership unique is that it’s not just theoretical,” added Breitenbach. “It’s about the actual application of AI at scale – for business, for education and for social good.  Together, we will deliver real-world results for business. And all future Cornellians will lead the new world they enter as AI natives, which will make them unique.  This is Cornell University embracing its mission of ‘any student, any study’ for the next 100 years.”

Photo: The Cornell-r4 announcement, Dec. 6 2018 at Cornell Tech in New York City.

From L to R: Igor Zhuk, Chief Data Scientist, r4. Irving Wladawsky-Berger, Chairman of r4 Advisory Board. Rachel Bean, Senior Associate Dean and Professor of Astronomy, Cornell. Greg Morrisett, Dean of Computing and Information Science, Cornell. Ron Brachman, Director, Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute. David Shmoys, Professor of Operations Research and Information Engineering, Cornell. David Bradley, EVP of Solutions, r4.