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Google Looks to Reduce 'Virtual Regret'

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Google is funding research from Tel Aviv University's Blavatnik School of Computer Science to teach computers to understand and utilise hindsight in order to more accurately predict the future.

The research launched at the International Conference on Learning Theory in Haifa, Israel, earlier this year, is designed to help computers minimize what Professor Mansour calls "regret". Could hindsight help algorithms to better predict the future?

"If the servers and routing systems of the Internet could see and evaluate all the relevant variables in advance, they could more efficiently prioritize server resource requests, load documents and route visitors to an Internet site, for instance," Prof. Mansour says - an efficiency that Google finds very attractive.

The idea is that by measuring the distance between a desired outcome and an actual outcome, computers will be able to make better decisions about the future. In a blog post on American Friends To Tel Aviv University, Prof. Mansour said that Google hopes that this input will be of benefit within the paid ad space, and as such "We are asking how we can give incentives to get bidders and buyers in the auction to behave intelligently, by understanding the dynamics of the auction process".

This latest funding follows Google investment in in May 2010, an algorithm designed to analyze momentum around past events in order to make predictions on the likelihood of future events.

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