PCAST Smart Cities

President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology discusses Big Data as it relates to Smart Cities

CUSP is a public-private research center that uses New York City as both its laboratory and classroom.  CUSP is leading the emerging field of “Urban Informatics.”  Koonin spoke about the rationale for this new field and provided suggestions for a national program:

  • The encouragement of data sharing across government functions and with the private sector;
  • Data standards need to be defined;
  • Privacy research and regulation must be furthered;
  • Funding;
  • Cross disciplinary training in undergraduate and graduate programs must occur;
  • Partnerships must be formed;
  • Urban Informatics Research needs to have a “home.”

Sir Alan Wilson spoke about the Future of Cities Project and Science of Cities and Regions in the United Kingdom.  For the Future of Cities Project, Sir Wilson will be looking at the system of United Kingdom cities and some demonstrator cities to answer some Big Questions, such as: What makes a successful city? His work aims to build theories to help all cities in the future.


Cancer Infographics and Multimedia

When I work on my son’s speech contest, I run into the following interesting infographics about cancer at the American Institute for Cancer Research. They are quite useful and interesting!

20 Places to Educate Yourself Online for Free

20 Places to Educate Yourself Online for Free

It seems like these days you can learn just about anything online for free, but of course some of that information is better than others. The good news is there are plenty of reputable places to educate yourself online for free, and here’s a good 20 of them to get you started.

iPhone/iPad Business Intelligence Mobile Apps

The Best iPhone/iPad Business Intelligence Mobile Apps

By utilizing mobile business intelligence solutions, entrepreneurs can keep a close eye on their companies from anywhere with an Internet connection. Based on GetApp’s research, they have developed a list of business intelligence mobile apps for iPad and iPhone users. The apps they have selected are aimed at small to mid-size companies, however most offer features that can be used by larger enterprises, as well.

9% failure rate, if MOOC is combined with on-campus education

Free online MIT courses are an education revolution

“If you combine online with in-person, you get the best of both worlds. You don’t have to drag students to a lecture at 8 am, they can learn at their own pace. Yet they can still get in-person help from the professor when they come to class. This type of model can be very successful. When our blended circuits and electronics course was taught at San José State University in California, outcomes were staggeringly good. Traditionally, about 40 per cent of the students fail the class; this time, the failure rate fell to 9 per cent.”

This caught my eyes. I attended a few MOOC classes in the past but quit doing it for a few months. It was due to poor quality of some classes, which I discussed in my previous posting. It appears combining MOOC with on-campus classes could help some of the problems, if we look at the 9% failure rate. On the other hand, it could be a marketing boost to those ivy-league universities. MOOC classes are not really free, if on-campus classes becomes a requirement for a degree!

Free e-Book: Hadoop for Dummies

TDWI is offering a free book at this link, sponsored by IBM. You would need a free on-line account in order to download the free e-book.

McDonald’s optimizes drive-thru with analytics

McDonald’s optimizes drive-thru with analytics

These days, it has become less clear between “data analytics” and “optimization.” There are many stories about Big Data that are talking about reducing cost, increasing revenue, or enhancing marketing. On the other hand, optimization is more about how to model your system or process of interest with mathematical or statistical models with an objective function; the function can be a revenue, profile, or number of consumers. By minimizing or maximizing the objective function over the (solution) space of the models, Operations Research professionals seek the best solution (among the feasible ones) to achieve the optimal value of the objective function. So, data analytics is different from optimization. Data analytics is more about control or monitoring. Data analytics gives you insight of a system/process of interest but is seldom associated with an objective function. It usually has many indicators or benchmarks of a few dashboards. It gives you “intelligence” so you know your system/process better in order to have a better control of where you would like it to go to. Optimization, on the other hand, tells people the best way to achieve the specified objective with the least effort. When the objective changes or the solution space changes, the optimal solution changes.

The referred article at the top of this blog has both keywords in its heading, “optimizes” and “analytics”. If you read the article, you would realize that it is an optimization problem, less about data analytics. Such confusion will become more common, as Big Data people want to bring more value to improve its acceptance and Operations Research professionals want to be part of the Big Data wave. No matter where the trend will take us, it is quite important for us to understand the differences of these two disciplines so we would be able to focus on what problems we are solving and what techniques we should use.