May 11, 2022

Recommendation algorithms that power Amazon, Netflix can improve satellite imagery, too

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2022-05-12 16:30:06

May 11, 2022

by Rutgers University

Algorithms that help consumers decide what to stream or buy online can do more than predict customers' habits: They can help satellites see the Earth better, according to a Rutgers study.

Optical satellites lose sight of the Earth's surface when it is covered by clouds, and researchers have long relied on inaccurate tools to fill the blind spots, particularly along coastlines. By adapting a recommendation algorithm first built for Netflix, Ruo-Qian (Roger) Wang, an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at the Rutgers School of Engineering, created a system that is more accurate and faster at predicting cloud-covered landscapes in coastal areas than conventional data-filling tools.

"E-service platforms like Alibaba and Amazon use recommender systems, which leverage large datasets to provide customized product recommendations to aid customers' decision making," Wang said. "Interestingly, the way recommender systems process data is not unlike the process for predicting coastal landscapes obscured by clouds."

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