The University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Massachusetts Amherst

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From the Director's Desk (Summer 2019)

I’m pleased to share another edition of CDS news and events, significant faculty and student achievements, and noteworthy research that is relevant to your organization’s business and mission.


I’m thrilled with the turnout and enthusiasm for April’s Data Science Research Symposium. Did one of the talks you heard during the day suggest potential applications to your business? If so, let us know and we’ll help you follow up! Each year we make new connections and start conversations that lead to new collaborations with industry partners. For example, thanks to a connection we made at our 2018 Symposium, we’ve just submitted a $1M research proposal with an industry partner to develop new education and training technologies that addresses the upskilling problem for manufacturing industry workers as they adapt to advanced machining systems and co-bots.


More recently, the first annual conference on Automated Knowledge Base Construction was another great success, exceeding all our expectations for turnout, scientific merit, and collegiality. AKBC began nearly ten years ago as a one-day workshop, but over time it became abundantly clear that the community was able to support a three-day conference. The conference format allowed us to connect diverse research fields, spanning machine learning, natural language processing, databases, information retrieval, knowledge representation and reasoning, semantics, common sense, question answering, human computation, dialog, and human-computer interaction. I greatly enjoyed the conversations we shared, ranging from technical to social, as nearly one hundred of us hiked up to the Summit House on Mt. Holyoke on a glorious spring day. I’m grateful to everyone who participated, and already looking forward to AKBC 2020 in Irvine, California!



Now that summer has arrived, the campus is noticeably quieter than during the academic year, yet work proceeds intensively. Without teaching responsibilities, faculty are able to shift all their attention to their research projects. Our high performance computing clusters are running at capacity as experiments are run and hypotheses tested. Grant proposals are being developed to fund new efforts in 2020, and our faculty and students are traveling widely to give invited talks, share results at conferences, and connect with collaborators across the globe. There’s so much we want to accomplish before Labor Day, when the 2019-2020 academic year begins.


On top of everything else going on this summer, our Data Science for Common Good (DS4CG) initiative is off and running strongly. With support and advice from industry partners and area business leaders -- including MassMutual’s Data Science Lab, Kronos, and PeoplesBank -- 16 DS4CG fellowship winners (all graduate students) are using their powers for good to help organizations like the Greater Holyoke YMCA, Springfield Public Schools, and The Nature Conservancy enhance their mission through better use of data. Corporate social responsibility features prominently in many company mission statements. Consider joining forces with us to sponsor DS4CG students  on projects that can significantly aid your company’s portfolio of supported non-profits! In the fall I’ll share highlights of what the teams achieved, and how we’ll build on this summer’s success in the years to come.



That’s all I have room for here. Please read on for all the latest news, and please send us your feedback!