USC and Meta Collaborate to establish the USC-Meta Center for Research and Education In AI and Learning

Ben Paul | December 17, 2021

New Joint Research Center Strengthens USC Viterbi’s Commitment to Improving AI

REAL@USC Associate Director Meisam Razaviyayn (L) and Director Murali Annavaram (R).

Associate Director Meisam Razaviyayn (L) and Director Murali Annavaram (R).


As with other new technologies, AI and Machine Learning have come to play an increasingly important role in our lives, however, there are many technological challenges to making them sustainable, energy efficient, and scalable to planetary scale demands. In an effort to address these challenges, advance AI research, and increase accessibility in AI education, the Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Daniel J. Epstein Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering together with Meta, have established the USC ECE-ISE Meta Center for Research and Education in AI and Learning.

Supporting a variety of activities, including open-source AI research and graduate scholarships, the center will be run by Murali Annavaram, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, serving as Director and by Meisam Razaviyayn, Assistant Professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering serving as Associate Director.

“This center will tackle the scaling and sustainability aspects of AI/ML systems as these technologies are deployed for solving planetary-scale challenges,” said Annavaram. “To this end we aim to advance our understanding of how AI algorithms interact with hardware, and to use this understanding in the design of energy efficient and open-source AI/ML systems of the future. Alongside open-source technology initiatives, the center will take initiatives to advance AI education equitably into the future.” Said Razaviyayn, “A major step in creating dependable AI systems is the development of reliable training mechanisms and responsible algorithms for modern world challenges. To this end, we believe that by equally supporting research and education, we will help bring about groundbreaking, fair, and trustworthy AI technology”.

The center will support a variety of initiatives through Research, Fellowships, Curriculum, and Outreach activities. Initially the research themes will be centered on benchmarking and assessment technologies for AI algorithm-hardware platform interactions, and developing computational optimization algorithms for AI. “These two areas of research are of vital importance to both the Epstein and the Ming Hsieh Departments, while also helping advance our work in AI in several ways,” said Maged Dessouky, Chair of the Daniel J. Epstein Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering.

Producing consequential research will be coupled with rigorous educational training. The center will train a new generation of students who understand both the technical and the societal impacts of this important and pervasive new technology. “I am excited to see USC and Meta come together to create the research center, “ said Bill Jia, Vice President of Engineering at Meta. “The center will draw more students to understand AI and how it benefits and connects us all. With a focus on research in AI hardware, compilers, frameworks and algorithms, we can improve the performance, scalability, efficiency and productivity of AI.”

“I look forward to seeing a new generation of students take interest in helping to shape the future of AI and Machine Learning,” said Vijay Rao, Director of Infrastructure at Meta. “As we tackle the challenges we face today in AI it is essential that we invest in education and research in this growing field.”

The center will support enhancing curricula and opportunities for hands-on laboratory training on AI and Machine Learning computing clusters for students in the MS program in Electrical and Computer Engineering-Machine Learning and Data Science, and in the MS in Analytics and other related programs. The former program provides students with focused, rigorous training in the theory, methods, and applications of data science, machine learning and signal and information process; the latter combines optimization, statistics, and machine learning to solve real problems in today’s data-driven world.

“These machines and the graduate courses they will help support are hugely useful to our department and we expect them to play a vital role in enhancing our ability to train the next generation of AI scientists,” said Richard Leahy, Chair of the Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Finally, the new center will pursue a variety of initiatives aimed at improving outreach to a diverse group of students. Some of the planned initiatives include summer internship programs and workshops to provide students with more hands-on ML system design experiences, as well as an annual symposium and poster session to give students better access to mentors and industry leaders. “Diversity and inclusion are important values to USC Viterbi. Pursuing them is not only the right thing to do, but it also makes for better engineers and a better society,” said Kelly Goulis, Sr. Associate Dean for Viterbi Admissions and Student Affairs of the Viterbi School of Engineering. “Established programs in our office such as SURE (Summer Undergraduate Research Experience) and CURVE (Center for Undergraduate Research in Viterbi Engineering) address undergraduate research and outreach to diverse communities, thus helping also advance the outreach goals of the USC-Meta Center.

Published on December 17th, 2021

Last updated on May 16th, 2024

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