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Center for Data Science Established - Launch on April 9

UMass Amherst is creating a new Center for Data Science to coordinate and significantly expand its capacity for research, training and industrial collaboration in support of the exploding demand for the acquisition and analysis of "big data."

"It is not hyperbole to claim that we have entered the 'age of data,' in which the most important advances in the international economy will be driven by the technical and analytic possibilities inherent in this new field," said UMass Amherst Provost Katherine Newman. "We are building on our strong international reputation in machine learning and other areas of data science, and investing heavily."

Augmenting the more than 20 new faculty hired over the past five years in various data-science-related fields, the Provost is providing funding for researchers, infrastructure and six new faculty positions, while seeking additional funding for 30 more faculty to be hired over the coming ten years.

Data Science develops and applies methods to collect, curate, and analyze large-scale data, and to make discoveries and decisions using those analyses. It addresses challenges from how to design accurate wearable health sensors, to the interpretation of images and text, to the design of efficient parallel-distributed algorithms for streaming data at massive scale.

Data Science is an important driver of economic development in Massachusetts. Nearly 500 companies in Massachusetts are working in data science. Venture investors have pumped more than $2.5B into Massachusetts-based data science companies fueling at least 80 startups in the last four years. Massachusetts colleges and universities produce nearly 6,000 data science graduates annually, but the demand for well-trained workers continues to outstrip supply. The Mass Tech Leadership Council estimates there will be up to 120,000 data science jobs in Massachusetts by 2018 as more organizations continue to expand and integrate data science systems and capabilities.

"Industry demand for our data science graduates has been insatiable--our students are snapped up, often receiving multiple job offers long before they graduate," said Lori Clarke, chair of the School of Computer Science. The new center will coordinate the creation of a new MS concentration in data science--where the School expects to dramatically increase its student population--as well as new degree tracks in both the computer science BS program and experimental Information Technology (IT) program.

The Center for Data Science will be directed by Professor Andrew McCallum, an international leader in the fields of machine learning, information extraction, and social network analysis. He is the current President of the International Machine Learning Society, which governs the flagship conference in the field. He is among the most highly cited authors internationally in the fields of natural language processing and social network analysis, with over 250 papers and almost 40,000 citations. He has former business experience as Vice President of Research & Development at a 170-person company and has collaborated with more than 20 companies during his tenure as professor at UMass Amherst.

"I am tremendously excited to help UMass grow in this important field that combines such interesting intellectual research and has such broad impact," said McCallum. "I am looking forward to stimulating collaborations spanning the many data-science-related fields across the Five Colleges and with industry, as we shape our research and education programs." The new education programs will include opportunities for mentorships and internships with industrial partners.

The UMass Amherst Center for Data Science (http://ds.cs.umass.edu) will be formally launched April 9, 2015 in an all-day event that will bring together faculty from across the Five Colleges, Massachusetts government officials, and more than 50 industry participants, including representatives of Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Yahoo, Microsoft, IBM, MassMutual, Oracle, Thomson Reuters, BAE, venture capitalists, as well as the head of Computer and Information Science and Engineering at the National Science Foundation.

See video: Campus Launches Center for Data Science in Major Expansion of 'Big Data'