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UW launches Institute for Foundations of Data Science

Submitted by Rose Choi on September 3, 2020 - 11:25am
  • The UW team, clockwise from top left: Maryam Fazel, Zaid Harchaoui, Kevin Jamieson, Yin Tat Lee, Abel Rodriguez and Dmitriy Drusvyatskiy (University of Washington)
    The UW team, clockwise from top left: Maryam Fazel, Zaid Harchaoui, Kevin Jamieson, Yin Tat Lee, Abel Rodriguez and Dmitriy Drusvyatskiy (University of Washington)
  • The UW will host the Institute for Foundations of Data Science to develop the theoretical foundations of a fast-growing field: data science. Maryam Fazel, shown here in a 2015 photo, will lead the institute. (Patrick Bennett/University of Washington)
    The UW will host the Institute for Foundations of Data Science to develop the theoretical foundations of a fast-growing field: data science. Maryam Fazel, shown here in a 2015 photo, will lead the institute. (Patrick Bennett/University of Washington)
  • IFDS logo
Excerpt from UW News by Jackson Holt

The department of Electrical & Computer Engineering's Moorthy Family professor Maryam Fazel will be the UW's lead principal investigator for the newly formed NSF-TRIPODS Institute for Foundations of Data Science (IFDS), a collaboration between the University of Washington, University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of California-Santa Cruz and University of Chicago. UW co-PIs are Statistics associate professor Zaid Harchaoui and Math's Dmitriy Drusvyatskiy. The team includes Kevin Jamieson and Yin Tat Lee, assistant professors in the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering, along with their newest member, Abel Rodriguez, professor and chair of the Statistics department, who comes to the UW from UC-Santa Cruz and serves as the diversity liaison for the Institute.

The UW team of investigators has been laying the groundwork for IFDS during the past three years. UW’s Phase I TRIPODS Institute was established in 2017 with a $1.5 million award from the NSF. Since then, the team has collaborated across disciplinary boundaries to address reliability and scalability of data science algorithms, and has also forged new partnerships.

“The strategic partnership between Washington and Wisconsin was crucial to the success of IFDS in the Phase II competition, and we are excited to build on this relationship over the next five years, ” said Stephen Wright, a professor of computer science who headed the TRIPODS Phase I effort at the University of Wisconsin.

“IFDS is an exciting culmination of these Phase I efforts,” said Fazel, “It opens the door to further collaborations across our partner institutions and with practitioners in academia and industry, and helps place the UW and Seattle prominently in the national data science research effort.”

Drusvyatskiy adds “A central goal of IFDS is to develop algorithms with best-in-class performance for data scientific tasks. Recent breakthroughs in this area (in part by UW investigators) have benefited from combining techniques across computer science, mathematics and statistics. An interdisciplinary approach to data science will be a key ingredient of the future work at IFDS.”

IFDS will cultivate existing ties with the UW eScience Institute, as well as work with the newly-announced NSF AI Institute, in which UW also participates.

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