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, speech and related areas. I also specialize in professing random gyan to my PhD students at IIT Delhi. 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 hundreds of 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 hundreds of 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 am also serving as an associate editor-in-Chief 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 actively looking to hire researchers and post-docs with a strong publication record in any area of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning at MSR India. I am also looking to hire exceptional engineers, data scientists and an Engineering Manager. Finally, I am also looking for full time PhD students at IIT Delhi to work with me on extreme classification. Please e-mail your CV to me directly in addition to formally applying to IIT/Microsoft.

Projects, Internships and Research Fellowships: I apologize in advance for my inability to respond to e-mails about summer or winter projects, thesis supervision external to IIT Delhi, internships, research fellowships, etc. I hope the following information can help save your time. Unfortunately, I am unable to supervise projects or theses of students outside IIT Delhi. I might be able to take a Research Fellow or a PhD intern at MSR India in exceptional cases. If you are an outstanding undergraduate student looking to work with me as a Research Fellow or a PhD student looking for an internship at MSR India then please e-mail me directly. I get more e-mails on the topic than I can deal with, so I hope that you will accept my apologies and excuse me if I am unable to personally respond to you.

Professional Activities



Current PhD Students

Some Former Students