AI Research Rankings 2020: Can the United States Stay Ahead of China?

About the author: My name is Gleb Chuvpilo, and I’m the Managing Partner at Thundermark Capital, a Venture Capital firm that invests in AI and robotics startups. I have a Master’s degree from the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab and an MBA in Finance and Strategic Management from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. You can read more about me here. Please drop me a line at gleb@thundermark.com if you’d like to talk about AI, robotics, innovation in general, or your startup idea in particular. 🤖

Introduction

Welcome to our annual AI Research Rankings, 2020 edition (here are the 2019 edition and the 2017/2018 pilot). For 2020, we analyzed publications at the two most prestigious AI research conferences: International Conference on Machine Learning (ICML 2020) and Neural Information Processing Systems (NeurIPS 2020). Using conference proceedings, we went into each of the 2,986 accepted papers (1,087 papers at ICML and 1,899 papers at NeurIPS) and compiled a list of authors and their affiliated organizations, and then calculated the Publication Index for each organization (see “Methodology” section below). The most intuitive way to think of the Publication Index is from the point of view of full paper equivalents: Google’s Publication Index of 220 can be interpreted as if Google published 220 full papers at the two leading AI conferences in 2020.

Methodology

The methodology of our Publication Index is inspired by the Nature Index:

AI Research Rankings 2020

Top 50 Countries Leading in AI Research in 2020:

AI Research Rankings 2020 — Top 50 Countries Leading in AI Research in 2020
AI Research Rankings 2020 — Top 100 Organizations (Industry & Academia) Leading in AI Research in 2020
AI Research Rankings 2020 — Top 100 American Universities Leading in AI Research in 2020
AI Research Rankings 2020 — Top 100 Global Universities Leading in AI Research in 2020
AI Research Rankings 2020 — Top 100 Global Companies Leading in AI Research in 2020

Further Analysis

Top 30 Regions Leading in AI Research in 2020:

AI Research Rankings 2020 — Top 30 Regions Leading in AI Research in 2020
AI Research Rankings 2020 — Top 50 Countries by Per Capita Publication Index*
AI Research Rankings 2020 — Academia vs. Industry
AI Research Rankings 2020 — Word Cloud of Paper Titles
The Herfindahl index calculation: si is the market share (percents are used as whole numbers, as in 75 instead of 0.75), and N is the number of participants.
  • An H below 1,500 indicates an unconcentrated industry.
  • An H between 1,500 to 2,500 indicates moderate concentration.
  • An H above 2,500 indicates a high concentration.
  • Herfindahl index by organization: H=142, which indicates a non-concentrated industry. In 2019, H=146, so over last year AI research got slightly more competitive at the organization level.

Changes in AI Rankings Between 2019 and 2020

Changes in Top 5 Countries Leading in AI Research:

Can the United States Stay Ahead of China?

A heated debate is going on today on the state of the strategic race between the United States and China to dominate in AI. We tend to side with a more balanced perspective, but before we begin our analysis, a bit of history is in order (some of this will look familiar to the regular readers of our AI research rankings).

Dataset

Please note that even data science conferences still don’t release publication data in any sort of Python-friendly form 🤷‍♂️, so our analysis ended up being quite manual (i.e. first parse HTML, then fix typos in organization names, standardize them, split lines with multiple organizations per author, summarize with a pivot table, etc.). If you find any bugs, please email us.

Further Reading

If you liked this post, you might also be interested in our analysis of ICML 2020 and NeurIPS 2020, where we show AI rankings at each conference separately. If you’d like to check out last year’s AI Research Rankings 2019, they are here.

Serial Entrepreneur & Investor | AI @ MIT & MBA @ Wharton | Peter Thiel, Y Combinator, Palantir, Goldman Sachs