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Researchers Use Patent Data to Assess Technological Improvement

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New research from MIT aims to assist in the prediction of technology performance improvement using U.S. patents as a dataset. The study describes 97 percent of the U.S. patent system as a set of 1,757 discrete technology domains, and quantitatively assesses each domain for its improvement potential.

"Our method provides predictions of performance improvement rates for nearly all definable technologies for the first time," says Anuraag Singh, a Fellow with MIT System Design and Management, and lead author of the study, "Technological Improvement Rate Predictions for All Technologies: Use of Patent Data and an Extended Domain Description," published in the journal Research Policy.

Notably, the number of patents in a technological area was not a strong indicator of a higher improvement rate.

"Fast-improving domains are concentrated in a few technological areas," says Chris Magee, a professor with the MIT Institute for Data, Systems, and Society. "The domains that show improvement rates . . . are predominantly based upon software and algorithms,"

From MIT Institute for Data, Systems, and Society
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