Research vs. applied research

At some companies, you might encounter roles involving applied research. Applied research is somewhere between research and production, but much closer to research than production. Applied research involves finding solutions to practical problems, but doesn’t involve implementing those solutions in actual production environments.

Applied researchers are researchers. They come up with novel hypotheses and theses as well as validate them. However, since their hypotheses and theses deal with practical problems, they need to understand these problems as well. In industry lingo, they need to have subject matter expertise.

In machine learning, an example of a research project would be to develop an unsupervised transfer learning method for computer vision, experiment on a standard academic dataset. An example of an applied research project would be to develop techniques to make that new method work on a real-world problem in a specific industry, e.g. healthcare. People working on this applied research project will, therefore, need to have expertise in both machine learning and healthcare.

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