Published July 18, 2013
A gift of $200,000 from Melissa Dongmin Ma and Robin Li, MS '94, co-founder of China’s search-engine giant Baidu.com, will fund a laboratory in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
The Robin Li Data Mining and Machine Learning Laboratory will be located in Davis Hall on the North Campus.
UB Engineering Dean Liesl Folks thanked the couple for their generosity.
“This gift ensures the school can continue to pursue significant research while we proceed on an upward trajectory of excellence,” Folks said. “The fact that such an accomplished alumnus and his wife are giving it speaks volumes to our students about the value of earning a UB engineering education. We are very grateful to Melissa Dongmin Ma and Robin Li for serving as a remarkable example of how giving to higher education can transform our world. We are proud to call them our partners as we embark on an exciting future as a premier 21st-century research university.”
Aidong Zhang, UB Distinguished Professor and chair of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, said the Li laboratory will offer students and faculty a multitude of research possibilities.
“This will help us develop new initiatives in data mining and machine learning, and provide our students and faculty with access to invaluable opportunities that would otherwise not be available to us,” Zhang said.
Data mining involves extracting information from large datasets and developing algorithms that are related closely to methods of pattern recognition and machine learning. The latter is a branch of artificial intelligence that involves construction and study of systems that can learn from data.
Robin Yanhong Li, co-founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Baidu Inc., the Chinese-language equivalent of Google, oversees the company's overall strategy and business operations. He studied information management at Peking University and earned a master’s degree from UB, where he studied at the Center of Excellence for Document Analysis and Recognition (CEDAR), learning about vector space models used to interpret word-recognition results.
Since its founding in January 2000, Baidu has grown into the country’s largest search engine, commanding more than 80 percent of the market. The company, which now ranks as the second-largest independent search engine in the world, has launched a Japanese search engine. In December 2007, Baidu became the first Chinese company to be included in the NASDAQ-100 Index.
Prior to founding Baidu, Li already was regarded as one of the world’s top search-engine experts. His patent for hyperlink analysis helped shape today’s search technology, and he has advanced substantially the theoretical framework of China’s Internet sciences, becoming a driving force behind the overall technology development of the entire Chinese IT industry.
Li has received many honors in China and in the U.S., including designations for his business leadership from BusinessWeek and Fortune magazines. TIME Magazine named Li as one of the World’s Most Influential People in 2010. UB bestowed its George W. Thorn Award—for graduates under 40 who have made notable contributions to their fields—on Li in 2006.