Data Science newsletter – August 30, 2018

Newsletter features journalism, research papers, events, tools/software, and jobs for August 30, 2018


Data Science News

How Technology Is Changing the Way We Love: A WIRED Investigation

WIRED, Culture, Peter Rubin


Let’s just get it out of the way: my wife and I met each other online. This was more than 15 years ago, when “online” meant either chatrooms or some sort of personals-based website. (It was the latter.) We had the internet, but not in our pockets; texting and emoji had yet to worm their way into the mainstream, so we learned each other’s rhythms before read receipts and the tyranny of the three dots. There was no pin-dropping, no swiping, no Instagram archaeology. Instead, we flirted over email—long, performatively casual, even more performatively jokey emails. If we wanted to learn about each other, it was either those emails or whatever meager scraps Google could scrounge up about the other person. We didn’t know any other way.

We also didn’t know any other people who had met like we had, so we felt a little weird about it. OK, I felt a little weird about it. I made up a fake meet-cute story and everything, just so I didn’t have to tell people the truth: that she had seen my profile and emailed me with a joke about the New York Times crossword puzzle. I got over that false stigma quickly enough, but even looking back at that brief period, I’m stunned that I thought anything about it warranted secret.

Either way, though, it’s moot—because, as the last decade has made clear, my wife and I were simply early adopters.

Raiders of the Lost Archive – How the rise of data rescue could help enhance environmental research

National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis


A stack of yellowing datasheets sitting unused in the back corner of a lab, shorthand field notes decipherable only by the individual who took them, long-term records taken without standardized measurements and stored somewhere useless to anyone but the original data collectors – these are all too familiar sights to scientists, examples of the susceptibility of data to a slow and quiet death.

In the environmental sciences, which often rely on long-term data to explain changes in the environment, data death is especially problematic. Now, there is a growing movement to rescue decades-old (or even older) datasets or poorly documented data to help improve the process of interpreting the causes and consequences of environmental change.

Data rescue is the act of salvaging lost or forgotten information, which is becoming easier as the digital age, the discipline of environmental data science, and the open science movement mature and enable more tools for wrangling and tidying data more efficiently and effectively.

“The collective programming intelligence amongst ecologists is increasing, and with that growing intelligence comes an increased capacity to deal with data,” said Jeanette Clark, a projects data coordinator for NCEAS. “Because we are becoming more efficient, I think scientists are finding the time and interest to dig back into old datasets to figure out what can be done with them.”

NSF awards $4.9 million to protect U.S. scientific workflow

Indiana University, News at IU


A $4.9 million award from the National Science Foundation will fund a new Indiana University-led center focused on protecting and securing U.S. research.

The Research Security Operations Center, or ResearchSOC, is a virtual center led by IU and distributed across IU, Duke University, the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center and University of California San Diego. ResearchSOC will help provide the research and education community with the cybersecurity services, training and information sharing necessary to make scientific computing resilient to cyberattacks.

A Massachusetts entrepreneur wants to use data science to save the world. Can he pull it off?, Lucas Ropek


What would the world be like if cryptocurrency millionaires could share some of their wealth with impoverished villages in Nigeria?

Jim Flynn, a Northampton resident and lifelong innovator, wants to find out.

An entrepreneur in residence at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Flynn has been working on an ambitious project to employ data science to create a free and open system of distribution for a universal basic income — UBI.

Kroger and University of Cincinnati Team Up to Join the Grocery Innovation Race

The Spoon, Jennifer Marston


Yesterday, Kroger announced a partnership with the University of Cincinnati to launch an “innovation lab” at the university’s 1819 Innovation Hub.

As its name suggests, the 1819 Innovation Hub is a coworking space that houses classrooms, tools (think 3D printers and laser cutters), and other multipurpose areas meant to connect students, UC faculty, and companies from all types of industries. When UC announced the facility in August of last year, it called the Innovation Hub “University of Cincinnati’s new front door to the community.”

So it makes sense that Kroger, who’s headquartered in Cincinnati, would get involved in a big way.

UPDATE: Illini Hall to be replaced with data-sciences hub

The News-Gazette (Champaign, IL), Julie Wurth


A new data-sciences institute for the Urbana-Champaign campus could be funded through state money allocated to the University of Illinois for the proposed Discovery Partners Institute and its statewide innovation network.

The campus announced today that Illini Hall, in the heart of Campustown, will be replaced with a state-of-the-art classroom and research facility focused on statistics, data analysis and machine learning, as part of the Illinois Innovation Network anchored by DPI in Chicago.

The UI Research Park in Champaign will also be expanded, with funding amounts to be announced later, UI officials said today.

Chunk of DPI funds put UI’s planned data-sciences hub on fast track

The News-Gazette (Champaign, IL), Julie Wurth


A “world class” data-sciences center for the Urbana-Champaign campus, in the works for more than a year, is on a fast track because of state funding allocated to the University of Illinois for the Discovery Partners Institute and its statewide innovation network.

UI officials say part of the $500 million allocated to the UI will be used to build a $40 million to $50 million state-of-the-art research and classroom facility where Illini Hall now stands, in the heart of Campustown. The 111-year-old brick building will be torn down and replaced with a larger, five-story 60,000- to 80,000-square-foot center.

The DPI funding will also be used to expand the UI Research Park, Chancellor Robert Jones said Wednesday, though officials had few details about that effort.

Hypergiant Partners with The University of Texas at Austin to Train the Next Generation of AI and Machine Learning Specialists

PR Newswire, Hypergiant


Hypergiant, the office of machine intelligence, today announced their partnership with The University of Texas at Austin (UT) to offer Designing for Artificial Intelligence, a new course created to give students a competitive advantage in the increasingly technical, modern workplace. Starting August 29th, the course will teach students how to apply design thinking to the complicated technologies of tomorrow, including machine learning and artificial intelligence.

The course, offered by the Center for Integrated Design, will be taught by Hypergiant co-founder John Fremont, who is currently the Chief Strategy Officer of Hypergiant Space Age Solutions and was previously a Managing Director and the Artificial Intelligence Lead for Accenture. Hypergiant’s unique curriculum will teach students how to maximize the benefits of these technologies for real world business applications, and how to apply skills for visual, verbal, and technical creative problem-solving.

Chasing quakes with machine learning

BBC News, Mary Halton


“If you think about making forecasts of earthquakes,” says study co-author Prof Brendan Meade of Harvard University, “you want to do three things; you want to predict when they’re going to be, you want to say something about how large they’re going to be and about where they’re going to be.

“What we wanted to do is to tackle the last leg of this problem – that is where aftershocks are going to be.”

Why Asia Will Become The World’s AI Powerhouse

AI Business, Mike Ghasemi


To understand why, here are some of the key factors driving Asia towards becoming a global hub for AI:

Government support for AI in Asia

Tech-savvy Asian economies are propelling AI adoption through extensive government support. The Chinese central government has promised to become the world leader in AI by 2030, and plans to build a domestic industry worth almost US$150 billion.

How Pennsylvania and Massachusetts Automate Financial Oversight

Socrata, Melissa Crowe


State financial officers in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania are unlocking new internal controls to reduce human error, waste, and abuse through proactive data-mining, real-time alerting, anomaly detection, and analytics.

These tools, built on the Socrata platform, improve operational insight and financial oversight. They also provide access to up-to-date data through automation.

NSF Seeks to Mitigate Burden of Rising Facility Costs

American Institute of Physics,


To protect budgets for research grants from being further squeezed by rising facilities operations costs, the National Science Foundation plans to propose shoring up support for research disciplines such as astronomy and ocean sciences, where the problem is particularly pressing.


Health 2.0



Santa Clara, CA September 16-18. “Health 2.0 showcases cutting-edge innovation transforming the health care system.” [$$$$]

Ascent Conference

The Ascent Conference


New York, NY October 3-4. “The Main Stage is packed full, from sun up to sun down, with highly engaging content from some of the biggest names in tech.” … “The Startup Stage is where each of our 200 hand-picked startups will pitch in front of industry-specific investors.” [$$$]

2018 Jacobs Levy Center Conference – Financial Markets, Volatility, and Crises: A Decade Later

University of Pennsylvania, Wharton Jacob Levy Center


New York, NY September 14, starting at 9 a.m. “a special focus on the tenth anniversary of the financial crisis and include paper presentations, a panel discussion on market crises, and a networking cocktail reception.” [registration required]

Pittsburgh useR Group – Exploring NFL Data with nflscrapR

Meetup, Pittsburgh useR Group


Pittsburgh, PA September 20, starting at 6 p.m., Carnegie Mellon University. [rsvp required]

The 2018 @Scale Conference



San Jose, CA September 13, starting at 8:30 a.m., San Jose Convention Center. “The 2018 @Scale Conference is an invitation-only technical event for engineers who work on large-scale platforms and technologies. Building applications and services that scale to millions or even billions of people presents a complex set of engineering challenges, many of them unprecedented.” [invitation only]

Nor’eastR Conference – A one day #rstats conference

Nor’eastR Committee


Providence, RI October 26, starting at 8 a.m., Shepard Building, University of Rhode Island Feinstein Providence Campus. [registration required]


Call For Proposals: Hackaday Superconference

Pasadena, CA Superconference is November 2-4. “don’t miss out on your chance to present at the Ultimate Hardware Conference.”

Analytics Accelerator – Wharton CAI

“The Wharton Customer Analytics Initiative is looking to provide implementable solutions to companies who are ready to bring their most pressing marketing and analytics problems, and a committed point person, ‘to the table.'” Deadline for company submissions is September 10.

AI for Social Good – NIPS 2018 Workshop

Montreal, QC, Canada Workshop will be held on December 7 or 8. Deadline for submissions is October 2.

Tenured and tenure track faculty positions

Assistant Professor, Computational Biophysics

University of Delaware, Department of Physics and Astronomy; Newark, DE

Assistant Professor in Computer Science

Bard College; Annandale-on-Hudson, NY
Full-time positions outside academia

Research Scientist, Machine Learning Fairness & Bias

Google, DeepMind; London, England

Senior Cloud Developer Advocate

Microsoft; Redmond, WA

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