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Xiao Ma is a PhD candidate advised by Mor Naaman and a WiTNY PhD Fellow. Prior to Cornell Tech, she received a Bachelor of Science in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from Peking University.

What are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on understanding and improving the trustworthiness of online marketplaces photos through computer vision. Ample previous work has shown that photo quality plays an important role in trust and sales of products, and digital photography is a hundred-billion-dollar business.

What we are seeing, however, is an increasing amount of user-generated photos (through their mobile phones) and it’s quite noisy. Using computational ways to automatically improve the quality of these images could contribute to the continued growth of peer-to-peer marketplaces.

What excites you most about your current research?

Being able to combine computational methods with social sciences excites me. Computational social science is a new field gaining significant importance. Industry-wise, talents who are technically sound and able to apply state-of-art technologies to social problems are also increasingly in demand.

Why did you choose Cornell Tech?

Cornell Tech was a unique place where I can stay in touch with the topics I was interested in — entrepreneurship — but focus and dig deeper into research and hone an expertise in an emerging field.

How do you think Cornell Tech differs from traditional academia?

I don’t think Cornell Tech differs in terms of research that much from traditional academia in terms of the rigor that is required for good research. But the research topics might lean more towards ones with real-world impact — a selection bias perhaps for the types of faculty and students Cornell Tech draws.


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