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Data Sciences Summer Institute preparing next generation of data science leaders

2/24/2010 12:51:00 PM

As we all know from everyday life, data is everywhere, seemingly at the tip of our fingers. But making sense of that data is sometimes a different story. Just ask the State Department and homeland security officials who are now scrambling to answer questions about the Christmas Day bomber. If so much information was known about him and his motives, why was the system unable to connect the dots?

Dan Roth
Dan Roth
“It’s one of the key challenges facing Computer Science and the computing industry today -- how to deal with the huge amount of unstructured data, how to locate, organize, access and analyze unstructured data,” said Dan Roth, a professor in the Department of Computer Science.

Roth is the director of a DHS-funded center that is investigating solutions to just this type of problem. The Multimodal Information Access & Synthesis center brings together some of the world’s leading experts in data sciences discover new technologies for extracting and tracking interesting events, entities and relations from multimodal information sources.

The group is taking its mission beyond the research lab, and is actively preparing the next generation of data sciences leaders through its unique 6-week Data Sciences Summer Institute (DSSI) program.

As part of the program, now in its 4th year, students from across the country engage with the leading data science experts to learn the theoretical fundamentals and practical skills needed to advance the field and impact the study of information science.

DSSI is aimed at those interested in the five technical fields of information science, including machine learning, databases and information integration, natural language processing and information extraction, computer vision, and information retrieval and web information access.

The program entwines mathematical foundations, applications, and research over a six-week period. It combines an intensive course on mathematical foundations of information science, a series of guest lectures, immersive tutorials from leading scientists in the field, and a group research project giving the students hands-on, practical experience in their field.

The skills that DSSI students will learn and techniques they will be researching will one day make it easier to solve the problem of finding data dispersed through multiple sources of information, in a quicker timeframe and with greater ease.

The MIAS research program and DSSI education program are funded by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in the hopes that the research conducted will lead towards solutions that aid the DHS mission.

But the program's impact will also be felt more widely. Data sciences technologies impact how we access data and do research in biological sciences and in medical informatics, in the Social Sciences and the humanities. From intelligent search that integrates better understanding of the text and the users’ intention, to integrating multiple modalities when accessing information, to the ability to actually aggregate information from multiple sources and answer users queries, the possibilities are endless.

For more information about the program, visit http://mias.illinois.edu/dssi.
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Contact: Dan Roth, Department of Computer Science, 217/244-7068.

Jennifer LaMontagne, associate director of communications, Department of Computer Science, 217/333-4049.

If you have any questions about the College of Engineering, or other story ideas, contact Rick Kubetz, Engineering Communications Office, 217/244-7716, editor.