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Criteo Hackathon: Dare to Inspire — 2020 Winners

A report by Chai Ei Lai, Maya Noguchi, Olivier Koch & Sebastian Riera

Innovation has always been an important part of Criteo. Every year, for 48h, we “run” a marathon exploring ideas, challenging assumptions and bringing new concepts to life. With the concept of Hackathons, we have made an Impact to our business in many ways: From designing new products, through improving business efficiency to making research progress.

This year, we took our yearly Hackathon virtual and “we had over 300 Criteos, in over 50 teams, across three hubs and 19 different offices. We were geographically apart but very much Together. From chatting with the juries, the hardest thing of all was to find any daylight between the entries as the standard really was that good. Everyone to let their creativity loose, to play with their crazy ideas and construct something new, all in the spirit of Openness. From APAC, through EMEA to AMERICAS, we had amazing projects with a lot of potential.” …

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An article by Zofia Trstanova and Renaud Bauvin

When responding to the usual question ‘What do you do for a living?’, you tell someone that you work in online advertising, the reaction is often the same: ’So you are the ones with the annoying pop-ups I can’t close’ or ‘Oh, you are the ones showing me ads about some miracle product to lose weight or grow hair?’… Well, the short answer is ‘Most likely, no. Criteo is not behind those ones…’. …

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Interested in becoming part of our tech blog? Apply for a job at Criteo in Paris or Ann Arbor!

You’ve been reading our tech blog for frequent updates and would like to join the crowd? You’re in luck because we are hiring!

Check out June’s hot jobs in our Paris and Ann Arbor offices!


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Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

An article by Morgane Goibert, Alberto Lumbreras & Flavian Vasile from Criteo

The Criteo AI Lab is pioneering innovations in computational advertising. Within this center of scientific excellence, distributed across Paris, Grenoble, and Ann Arbor, our researchers and engineers deliver both fundamental and applied scientific leadership through published research, product innovations, and new technologies powering the company’s products. We are believers of the open internet and we want to shape an adtech industry that has to be open, inclusive, transparent, and privacy-preserving.

Criteo AI Lab in numbers:

  • 90 permanent & part-time, 9 PhDs
  • DNA: 35 researchers, 55 engineers
  • Locations: Paris, Grenoble, Ann…

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Photo by Cathryn Lavery on Unsplash

Last year, we decided to take our Tech Blog to With a lot of hard work from our writers, we had more success than we hoped for, being featured in the ranking of Top 44 French Engineering Blogs published on Toucan Toco in partnership with the guriosity project, with Criteo ranking #1. We are still learning and growing our blog but we thought we share some first insights on how to tech blog. Here are our Engineers' tips and tricks.

Finding inspiration.

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While the holiday season concludes and a brand-new year starts, we look back the incredible 2019 and to all the amazing things that happened and the ones we accomplished. Among others, last December we were back to NeurIPS, and we can’t wait to share all the cool things that we saw there. This year’s edition was held in the impressive Vancouver Convention Center, which hosted over ten thousand researchers and practitioners gathered for the annual appointment of the leading conference on machine learning research. The scale of the conference has become astonishing, with over six thousand submissions, of which almost 1500 accepted for presentation at the conference. …

Cloud Native 2019 took place in London and gather almost 200 hundred cloud practitioners. It has been an opportunity to exchange point of view on various topics, to extensively discuss testing in this context, and to share feedback on such technologies.

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Public or private cloud?

This question was the topic of the opening keynote. It was also a question we have been asked many times at our booth. The general consensus was that nowadays it makes more sense to use a public cloud (AWS, Google Cloud Platform, … ). There are some good reasons to be reluctant to use a public cloud (like the collection of sensitive data). But there are also several injustified reasons. For instance, several speakers mentioned the fear be locked-in within a cloud provider and then to experience a price increase. They dismissed this argument based on price evolution data from the last decade. Yet, this data shows that the situation never occured.. And there are several good reasons to use one. …

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Our team at RecSys: multi-tasked for sure, but far from being easily reproducible!

Recommendation Systems, Deep Learning, User-Centric, Reproducibility and Multi-Task

Authors: Romain Beaumont, Amine Benhalloum, Florian Courtial, Ugo Tanielian, Marina Vinyes, Pranjul Yadav

Recsys 2019 took place in Copenhagen and with 909 attendees from around the world, it is the biggest edition so far. RecSys covers a wide variety of topics about recommender systems from their social impact to the algorithms that power them. Criteo AI Lab contributed two papers to the main conference and is also one of the co-organizers the REVEAL workshop.

This year we could see that the field is maturing, not only from an algorithmic and methods perspective but more importantly by addressing and acknowledging some of its issues. The presence of social scientists among the speakers and attendees is a gentle reminder that we are influencing people’s lives, how they interact with information, how they consume, and how they’re entertained and as a famous philosopher once said: “With great power, comes great responsibility”. We are accountable for this not only to our users but to our peers as well and we owe it to them to be more rigorous. …

This year’s 25th edition focused on data science, data mining and large-scale data analytics. We couldn’t miss it, so 11 of us took a long-ride to attend the KDD conference at Anchorage, Alaska, from August 4 to August 8.

KDD’19 is a 5 days conference, with 34 workshops, and 12 hands-on tutorials. KDD is organized on two main tracks: research and applied data science.

  • Research track welcomes researchers both from the academy and the industry.
  • Applied data science focused on practitioners.
  • Keynote talks were given by leading researchers and domain experts.
  • Hands-on tutorials had a lesson format: the aim was to introduce attenders to (proprietary and open-source) technological stacks by running simple exercises or reproducing results presented in previous papers. …

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The Scala language is used extensively at Criteo and the Recommendation codebase makes no exception to this rule. Our Spark jobs, which compute recommendations from catalogues of 6 billion products and logs of user actions coming in at 1 million entries per second, are written in Scala. We also use it for a number of internal APIs that are implemented using the Finatra framework. Finally, we’ve even managed to wedge Scala into some legacy map reduce jobs that were initially written in Java.

Given this affinity, our interest in the Scala Days conference is obvious. Moreover, we knew that this year the conference was celebrating its 10th anniversary and that it was taking place in the very birthplace of Scala, the prestigious EPFL in Lausanne. We just had to go! Therefore the entire Recommendation Infrastructure team set camp for one week in the lovely Swiss scenery. …


Criteo Engineering

The engineers building the advertising platform for the open Internet.

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