Towards AI-powered Industrial Digital Transformations 

Tie-Yan Liu

Artificial intelligence will have more practical value if it could help to digitally transform the industrial landscape. However, it is far from trivial to make this happen and many last-mile innovations are sorely needed. In this talk, I will introduce Microsoft Research Asia's story of empowering our partners to achieve successful digital transformation using advanced AI technologies. Specifically, I will first introduce our collaborations with AMC, one of the largest mutual fund companies in China, and China Taiping, one of the largest insurance companies in China, on AI investment. The AI investment models we developed achieved outstanding excess return and very good risk control. In both back testing and online trading, the enhanced index funds powered by our AI model significantly outperformed other funds of the same kind. Inspired by the collaborations with us, AMC and China Taiping have made AI investment one of their most important strategies in the next few years. Second, I will introduce the collaborations with OOCL, one of the largest ocean transportation companies in the world. We invented a new AI technology, called coopetitive reinforcement learning, to solve their empty container repositioning problem. The new model, as compared to their current OR-based solution, is significantly more robust and efficient. What’s more, it also achieved comparable fulfillment ratio with lower operational cost. OOCL is deploying this new AI model into their global transportation network, which will have profound impact on their daily operations. Beyond these examples, we are also helping other companies from the healthcare, education, logistics, manufacturing, and telecommunications industries on their digital transformations. We hope with our efforts, more and more industries will realize the super power of AI, and work closely together with the AI community to change the world.

Tie-Yan Liu is an assistant managing director of Microsoft Research Asia, a fellow of the IEEE, and a distinguished scientist of the ACM. He is also an adjunct/honorary professor of Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), University of Nottingham, and Tsinghua University. He is well known for his pioneer work on machine learning for information retrieval, and recently he has done impactful research on deep learning, reinforcement learning, and distributed learning. He published 200+ papers in top conferences and journals, with tens of thousands of citations. He has been invited to serve as general chair, program committee chair, or area chair for a dozen of top conferences including WWW, SIGIR, KDD, ICML, NIPS, IJCAI, and AAAI. He won the best (student) paper award of SIGIR (2008) and ACML (2018), the most cited paper award of Journal of Visual Communications and Image Representation (2004-2006), the most cited Chinese researcher award by Elsevier (2017, 2018), China AI Leader Award – Technical Innovation (2018), and Most Influential Scholar Award by AMiner - Information Retrieval (2007-2017). His team helped Microsoft achieve human parity in machine translation in 2018 and won 8 champions in the WMT machine translation contest in 2019.  His team also built the world-best Mahjong AI, named Suphx, which achieved 10 DAN on the Tenhou Mahjong platform in mid 2019. In addition, his team helped several industrial partners, including Asset Management China (AMC), China Taiping, OOCL, SF-Express, and FareastTone, to achieve successful digital and intelligent transformations.