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Jennifer Chayes will head up the NYC lab, in addition to her current role as managing director of Microsoft Research New England..

Microsoft Research is opening a new lab in New York City, seeding it with a group of former Yahoo researchers who have made their mark in social networks, computational economics and data-intensive machine learning — hot areas of computer science that Microsoft hopes will ultimately help make its products more competitive.

Fifteen researchers will be brought on board to start the lab. The move follows recent layoffs at Yahoo.

Microsoft announced the news tonight, saying that the new office will be run by Jennifer Chayes, giving her oversight of the New York City lab and the New England lab, which she had previously been running.

One of the Yahoo veterans, computer scientist David Pennock, an economics specialist, will serve as the New York lab’s assistant managing director.

Joining him will be former Yahoo scientists including Duncan Watts, a sociologist who has written books including “Six Degrees: The Science of a Connected Age” and “Everything Is Obvious*: Once You Know the Answer”; and John Langford, an expert in machine learning.

Yahoo, which partners with Microsoft in web search and advertising, last month laid off 2,000 employees, or 14 percent of its workforce, the first in a series of cutbacks expected under new CEO Scott Thompson.

Microsoft Research now has 13 labs around the world and more than 850 Ph.D. researchers total.

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