Who’s Ahead in AI Research in 2020? Insights from the International Conference on Machine Learning (ICML 2020)

UPDATE: We have published an update to this analysis for 2020 here. Enjoy!

Introduction

The International Conference on Machine Learning (ICML) is one of the most prestigious AI research conferences (the other one is the Neural Information Processing Systems, or NeurIPS). In 2020, the acceptance rate at ICML was 21.8% (vs. 2019’s 22.6%) — a total of 1,088 papers out of 4,990 submissions got in. Using conference proceedings (ICML 2020), we went into each of the accepted papers 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 92.2 can be interpreted as if Google published 92.2 full papers at ICML 2020.

Methodology

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

Who’s Ahead in AI Research at ICML 2020?

Top 50 Global Organizations (Industry & Academia) Leading in AI Research at ICML 2020 (with Publication Indices):

Top 50 Global Organizations (Industry & Academia) Leading in AI Research at ICML 2020
Top 20 American Universities Leading in AI Research at ICML 2020
Top 20 Global Universities Leading in AI Research at ICML 2020
Top 20 Companies Leading in AI Research at ICML 2020

Further Analysis

Top 50 Global Organizations (Industry & Academia) at ICML 2020 vs. ICML 2019 (with Publication Indices):

Top 50 Global Organizations (Industry & Academia) Leading in AI Research at ICML 2019 vs ICML 2020
Word Cloud of Paper Titles at ICML 2020

Discussion

Let’s see what changed between ICML 2019 and ICML 2020 (for 2019 data please see our AI Research Rankings 2019, where we combined insights from NeurIPS 2019 and ICML 2019). As you can see, the Top 5 global organizations leading in AI research are still Google, Stanford University, MIT, UC Berkeley, and Carnegie Mellon University. Each one of them significantly increased their Publication Index at ICML 2020: Google published an equivalent of 19.4 more papers at ICML 2020, Stanford University is up by 14.7, MIT is up by 15.4, UC Berkeley is up by 10.0, and Carnegie Mellon University is up by 4.8. Just like in Lewis Carroll’s Red Queen’s race, top researchers need to publish more papers each year just to maintain the lead.

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, summarize with a pivot table, etc.). If you find any bugs, please email us, and we’ll be happy to fix them.

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