Areas of Study

Cornell Tech’s research vision is based on the premise that rapid technological advance — particularly in the information and communication industries — is a defining element of our modern society, playing a fundamental role in restructuring our social, economic and political relations. We recognize that information and communication technologies are embedded in a variety of physical, social and economic contexts, and to advance the state of the art requires a deep understanding and engagement with the underlying systems and theory.

Our research contributes to this by: 

  1. advancing the state of the art in technology innovation and design, creating new possibilities for technology where and how it did not exist before,
  2. understanding the impact of rapid technological changes, creating new opportunities for reflection as and where it is most needed, and 
  3. educating the next generation of technology leaders, who will have a deep understanding not only of the profound technological possibility of our times, but also of their responsibility within it, and the techniques and skill to explore both across contexts

We take a longer and broader outlook in our work, taking risks that simply wouldn’t be possible in the commercial and public sectors. This includes inventing new technologies that can radically alter what is possible for humans and machines to achieve together. We also creatively identify new combinations and applications of technology that serve users, markets and ideals not addressed by current market-driven approaches. Throughout, we try to understand the impact and implications of these technologies - both that we create and that already exist, with a level of depth and rigor is only possible in an academic environment.

Our degree programs and research emphasize this combination of technical and theoretical depth while providing practical experience applying ideas to a range of real-world conditions. This approach blurs the lines between research, teaching and practice. We believe that understanding how to apply the state of the art sometimes requires advancing it, and vice versa. Our courses emphasize creative problem-solving, which requires both a deep engagement with the problem and its domain, and also attention to the surrounding context. Synthesizing these activities across contexts requires not only academic rigor and technical excellence, but also an underlying vision of the world, and how to drive it forward in ways that are both desirable and potentially revolutionary.

In the following sections we describe the work being undertaken within our research groups, that illustrate Cornell Tech’s unique blend of research, implementation and engagement with practice.