Data scientists rejoice! There’s an online marketplace selling algorithms from academics

13 Mar 2015

Image by Mclek via Shutterstock

Algorithmia, an online marketplace that connects computer science researchers’ algorithms with developers who may have uses for them, has exited its private beta.

Algorithms are essential to our online experience. Google uses them to determine which search results are the most relevant. Facebook uses them to decide what should appear in your news feed. Netflix uses them to make movie recommendations.

Founded in 2013, Algorithmia could be described as an app store for algorithms, with over 800 of them available in its library. These algorithms provide the means of completing various tasks in the fields of machine learning, audio and visual processing, and computer vision.

An app store for algorithms

Algorithmia found a way to monetise algorithms by creating a platform where academics can share their creations and charge a royalty fee per use, while developers and data scientists can request specific algorithms in return for a monetary reward. One such suggestion is for ‘punctuation prediction’, which would insert correct punctuation and capitalisation in speech-to-text translation.

While it’s not the first algorithm marketplace online, Algorithmia will accept and sell any type of algorithm and host them on its servers. What this means is that developers need only add a simple piece of code to their software in order to send a query to Algorithmia’s servers, so the algorithm itself doesn’t have to be integrated in its entirety.

During its private beta testing phase – which involved academics, students and some businesses – Algorithmia raised US$2.4m in seed funding led by Madrona Venture Group. Other investors included Rakuten Ventures and angel investor Oren Etzioni, CEO of th Allen Instittue for Artificial Intelligence.

Creating a community for academics and developers

Computer science researchers can spend years developing algorithms, only for them to be published in a scientific journal never to be read by software engineers.

Algorithmia intends to create a community space where academics and engineers can meet to discuss and refine these algorithms for practical use. A voting and commenting system on the site will allow users to engage and even share insights on how contributions can be improved.

To that end, Algorithmia’s ultimate goal is to advance the development of algorithms as well as their discovery and use.

Computer programming image by Mclek via Shutterstock

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.