Manik Varma

Partner Researcher, Microsoft Research India
Adjunct Professor , Indian Institute of Technology Delhi

I am a Partner Researcher at Microsoft Research India where my primary job is to not come in the way of a team carrying out research on machine learning, information retrieval, natural language processing, systems and related areas. I also hold an adjunct position at IIT Delhi where I specialize in professing random gyan to my PhD students. For instance, I once proclaimed 2 KB (RAM) ought to be enough for everybody prompting the international media to cover my research and compare me to Bill Gates (unfair, I'm more handsome!). Similarly, John Langford and I once coined the term extreme classification and found that we had inadvertently started a new research area in machine learning. Today, by happenstance, extreme classification is thriving in both academia and industry with my algorithms making billions of predictions every day and generating millions of dollars in revenue (up to sign ambiguity). I have, on occasion, also been known to do something useful such as developing classifiers that have protected millions of devices from viruses and malware. I have served as a (senior) area chair for most of the premiere machine learning, artificial intelligence and computer vision conferences and have also served as an associate editor of the IEEE TPAMI journal. I have been awarded the Government of India's Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize, been elected a Fellow of the Indian Academies of Science (IASc) and Engineering (INAE), have won the Microsoft Gold Star and Achievement awards, the WSDM 2019 Best Paper and BuildSys 2019 Best Paper Runner -up Prizes, won the PASCAL VOC Object Detection Challenge at ICCV 2009 and stood first in chicken chess tournaments and Pepsi drinking competitions. Upon learning about this, my son was overheard asking my daughter: How can Dad get a prize for computer science -- he can't even book an Uber by himself? Since then, I have felt it safest to describe myself as a failed physicist (BSc St. Stephen's College, David Raja Ram Prize), theoretician (BA Oxford, Rhodes Scholar), engineer (DPhil Oxford, University Scholar), mathematician (MSRI Berkeley, Post-doctoral Fellow) or astronomer (Visiting Miller Professor, UC Berkeley).


I am interested in the following research areas

Joining my group: I am looking for full time PhD students at IIT Delhi and Research Fellows at Microsoft Research India to work with me on research problems in supervised machine learning, extreme classification, recommender systems, deep learning and resource constrained machine learning for the Internet of Things. Please e-mail your CV to me directly, in addition to formally applying to IIT/Microsoft's programmes, even though I might not be able to personally respond to your mail in most cases. IIT offers PhD Fellowships in collaboration with Microsoft and many other labs such as Facebook, Google, IBM and TCS. Please look at the web pages of the CSE Department, the School of IT and the Center of Excellence in AI for more details and other funding opportunities.

Projects: Unfortunately, I am unable to supervise projects of students outside IIT Delhi. If you are an external student and would like to work with me then the best way would be to join IIT Delhi's PhD programmes or apply for a Research Fellowship at MSR India. I apologize in advance for my inability to respond to e-mails about summer or winter projects, thesis supervision external to IIT Delhi, etc.

Internships: If you are a PhD student looking to do an internship with me then please e-mail me directly. I have only one or two internship slots and competition is stiff so please apply early. Unfortunately, I get more e-mails about internships than I can deal with, so please accept my apologies for not being able to respond to your mail if you are not a PhD student.

Professional Activities



Current PhD Students

Some Former Students