Scott Bruce, a Fox School of Business PhD candidate in the Statistical Science department, recently had his paper, “A Scalable Framework for NBA Player and Team Comparisons Using Player Tracking Data,” accepted for publication in the Journal of Sports Analytics.
In this paper, Bruce discusses the endless possibilities yielded by creating new statistics that can quantify aspects of player tracking and ball movements during games through Principal Components Analysis. “This method is very scalable in the sense that as new statistics emerge in the future, this approach can again be applied using the new existing data to reconstruct,” said Bruce. With numerous applications already existing in personnel management, Bruce presented two case studies to further investigate statistical profiles amongst players and teams of interest.
Traditional statistics primarily focus on reporting players’ shot attempts, makes, and points per game. However, as analysis advances, shots and points can be further broken down in order to calculate players’ offensive preferences and the effect this has on the team as a whole. “When comparing players, this allows for much better and more intuitive comparisons as seen in our case study, and for team comparisons, we saw that the player tracking statistics also helped us better understand how teams approach winning and how that impacted their success,” Bruce said.
With the release of player tracking data and statistics motivating Bruce to work on this type of research, he is also eager to see what discoveries its implementation will lead to. “I hope this can also be seen as a good example of how statistical methods can be applied to increasingly complex data to efficiently extract useful and meaningful information,” Bruce said. Hoping that his work will encourage broader use of player comparison metrics and evaluation, Bruce sees this as a good starting point for personnel management decision-making as well.
This paper won Bruce an award from the 2015 Fox Research Competition, after which he was greatly encouraged to get it published. “The department and faculty are extremely supportive of student research. The research competition, young scholars forum, conference travel awards provide students with great opportunities to share and improve their research,” Said Bruce.
Bruce is currently working on his dissertation with Dr. Cheng Yong Tang (Temple University) and Dr. Robert Krafty (University of Pittsburgh), focusing on time-frequency analysis of replicated nonstationary time series, looking for applications in modern biomedical experiments.
One of the first-established academic departments at Temple University’s Fox School of Business is getting a new name, and is set to introduce a new undergraduate degree program.
The Fox School’s Department of Statistics will soon be rebranded as the Department of Statistical Science. Additionally, the department will unveil a Bachelor of Science degree program in Statistical Science and Data Analytics. Both changes are effective for the 2016-17 academic year, following the approval in March by Temple’s Board of Trustees.
The department had been known as the Department of Statistics since its establishment in 1929, 11 years after the founding of the Fox School.
“Rebranding our department as the Department of Statistical Science reflects the breadth of our department’s academic research, the discipline’s changing landscape, and our department’s renewed focus on engaging in quality research that reshapes the field of statistics and to train new generations of statistically skilled graduates,” said Dr. Sanat K. Sarkar, Chair of the Department of Statistical Science.
The new department name, Sarkar added, is reflective of the discipline’s evolution into one that “develops newer subfields and its interdisciplinary research with scientists in modern scientific investigations involving complex data.”
In Fall 2016, the department will launch its Bachelor of Science undergraduate degree program in Statistical Science and Data Analytics. The demand for the program, said program director Dr. Alexandra Carides, has been driven by the proliferation of computing technology, software, and statistical tools for capturing and interpreting the substantial volume of data now available at the enterprise, government, and personal levels.
The program will qualify students for professions in some of the fastest-growing job sectors, according to Carides.
“The program will provide undergraduate students with the ability to select, utilize, and apply quantitative reasoning and data analytic skills to their future field of study,” said Carides, an Assistant Professor of Statistical Science. “Knowledge of statistical theory and methods has become increasingly important to students in many disciplines. As more data are collected, stored, and analyzed, students are finding it increasingly beneficial to gain expertise in statistical science to strengthen their skills and enhance their career opportunities.”
For Cassandra Reffner, winning the Temple Analytics Challenge for a second straight year was about honing her visual storytelling skills one data set at a time.
“Graphic design isn’t just about making these things look nice, but also telling a story,” Reffner said.
A senior graphic design student from the Tyler School of Art, Reffner took home the $2,500 grand prize at the third annual Temple Analytics Challenge, held Nov. 16 in the MBA Commons at the Fox School of Business.
Organized by the Institute for Business and Information Technology (IBIT), the competition awards prizes totaling $10,000, from corporate members of IBIT and the Office of the Senior Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies at Temmple University. The Temple Analytics Challenge focuses on making sense of big data through visualization — a key component of data analytics cited by experts as a promising path to job opportunities.
This year, the Temple Analytics Challenge awarded 10 prizes totaling $10,000. The competition saw participation increase by 300 percent over the previous year, with 395 entries. Participating teams included 719 students from eight of Temple’s 17 schools and colleges, as well as students from the State University of New York and Cornell University. The finalists came from programs in the Tyler School of Art, the College of Liberal Arts, the College of Engineering, the School of Media and Communications, the College of Public Health, and the Fox School of Business.
“The Temple Analytics Challenge emphasizes the Fox School’s commitment to teaching and research in the various fields connected to big data,” said Dr. M. Moshe Porat, Dean of the Fox School of Business and the School of Tourism and Hospitality Management. “But big data and data visualization are academic components in which students across Temple University regularly engage. This truly was a university-wide competition.”
Corporate partners provided competitors with large sets of data that they must analyze and visualize in a way that is both innovative and accessible. This year’s partners included Merck Pharmaceuticals, QVC, and The Pennsylvania Ballet.
Reffner, who won the Temple Analytics Challenge in 2014, chose to work with the data from The Pennsylvania Ballet, saying she could see the visuals presented within the data set. In the Pennsylvania Ballet challenge, students had to conceptualize the best way for the company to attract new audience members.
“With our limited resources, we just don’t have the time or the staff to do this kind of imagining,” said David Gray, executive director of The Pennsylvania Ballet. “Having so many smart and creative people trying to help us address challenges is a godsend.”
To expand on the project’s proposal, Reffner scrolled through various mentions the company received on social media — from Tweets and hashtags to status updates — to see what about the company got people talking. She said was intrigued by the company’s position as a “19th-century product for a 21st-century audience,” and drafted a plan that took this value and social media’s talk-back feature to improve customer interaction. She suggested a redesign of The Pennsylvania Ballet’s website to respond on all devices, including desktops, smartphones, and tablets, so customers could interact with the ballet by any means necessary.
“The main thing I look for (in the Temple Analytics Challenge) is to see if I can solve the problem, to really step into their shoes to see what they want,” Reffner said.
Reffner and 19 other finalists went before a panel of judges comprised of industry leaders, including representatives from Lockheed Martin, Campbell’s Soup Company, Deloitte Consulting and AmerisourceBergen. The judges were impressed with the overall dedication the students brought to the challenge.
Reffner, who received employment interest from two companies based upon her presentation, reflected positively on how the challenge opened up opportunities to students from all majors and schools.
“This competition is not focused toward any specific major,” Reffner said. “It’s people from all over the place that entered the competition. That’s why I love the Temple Analytics Challenge.”
Beyond The Pennsylvania Ballet challenge, student participants had the choice of two others. The Merck challenge tasked students with synthesizing data to show how a vaccine will best benefit world health. QVC provided data relating to product placement in various markets and asked students to show how this data could predict where it should next focus its attention.
“Data alone is just information. It’s usage to inspire change or action and turning it into competitive intelligence is where the value lies, and the Temple Analytics Challenge did just that,” said Maurice Whetstone, QVC’s Director of Enterprise Data Management.
“Analytics in business, and especially in healthcare, is an amazing lever toward gaining unique insight to improve business performance,” said Bill Stolte, the Executive Director of Merck’s IT Business Performance Analytics. “It is an honor to be actively engaged in the Temple Analytics Challenge, and it is remarkable to watch Temple University students rapidly self-organize and use data and visualizations in innovative ways to solve complex problems.”
The inspiration for his co-authored research paper, Brad Greenwood said, materialized rather organically.
“I was in the backseat of an UberX vehicle,” Greenwood said, “and I wrote myself a cell phone note: ‘Call Sunil about writing an Uber paper.’”
According to research by Greenwood and Sunil Wattal, professors at Temple University’s Fox School of Business, the introduction of UberX, a low-cost, ride-sharing service, has led to the reduction of alcohol-related vehicular fatalities in California.
Their research findings have been featured widely in mainstream national and international media outlets, including Newsweek, Fox News, Forbes, Canada’s Globe and Mail, Britain’s Daily Mail, Quebec’s La Presse, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Tech Times, and others. Their working paper, titled, “Show Me The Way To Go Home: An Empirical Investigation of Ride Sharing and Alcohol Related Motor Vehicle Homicide,” is under review for publication in an academic journal.
Uber is a mobile-app-based service through which consumers can call for transportation to and from any destination. The system requires credit card registration prior to usage, which means no physical money changes hands in the transaction. Available in more than 50 countries, Uber’s popularity has soared recently, and an August 2015 report from Reuters suggests that Uber’s bookings in 2016 could exceed $26 billion.
Greenwood and Wattal are believed to have written the first academic paper investigating the effects of Uber on reducing alcohol-related vehicular homicides.
“The issue is timely and fresh. Everyone is talking about Uber,” said Wattal, an Associate Professor of Management Information Systems (MIS) at Fox.
“There was evidence that Uber could be linked to such decreases in fatalities, but the question as to whether it could be tied together rigorously, and under certain circumstances, wasn’t yet known,” said Greenwood, an Assistant Professor of MIS.
Using publicly available data obtained from the California Highway Patrol’s Statewide Integrated Traffic Report System, for a period between January 2009 and September 2014, Greenwood and Wattal analyzed reports that included the blood-alcohol content of the driver, contributing factors like weather, speed, and environmental factors, and the number of parties involved in the accidents. Greenwood and Wattal said they chose to review California’s data because Uber is headquartered in San Francisco, and the ride-sharing service has been available in that state longer than in any other.
In their research, they found that alcohol-related deaths decreased by an average of 3.6-5.6 percent in cities where UberX service, the least-expensive service offered by Uber, is available. They also found limited evidence of change in conjunction with the use of Uber Black, the most-expensive service, which requires a luxury vehicle.
Other findings from the co-authored research paper include:
- The effects of UberX on the number of alcohol-related fatalities took hold, on average, from nine to 15 months following Uber’s introduction to a particular city, “after Uber has built up a network of customers and drivers in that marketplace,” Greenwood said.
- There was little to no effect in periods of likely surge pricing, a system that allows Uber to increase the cost of the services rendered dependent upon the consumer demand.
- There was no effect between Uber and overall deaths, indicating that the entry of Uber is not making roads more dangerous for sober people.
For Greenwood, who has previously studied the societal benefits of technologies, and Wattal, who has researched online crowdfunding and peer-to-peer economies, their research interests overlapped, which made this project a natural choice on which they could collaborate. Unsurprisingly, their Uber research, which was independently funded, has generated requests for follow-up studies.
“We could try to replicate this study in the context of other states to see if the data is robust,” Wattal said, “but that could take considerable time, given that Uber is not available everywhere and that data is not as readily available in other states.”
“The options are endless for this type of work,” Greenwood said.
Temple University’s Institute for Business and Information Technology (IBIT) and Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) are joining forces to help solve the cyber talent crisis that faces the country. This fall they will host a National Cyber Analyst Challenge designed to encourage and support the best students currently pursuing cyber related degrees in the top cyber programs in the nation.
Between seven and 10 schools with appropriate programs will select and field a team of top students (undergraduate or master’s studying information systems, computer science or engineering) to participate in the three-phase competition. First, each team will analyze and propose solutions to a cyber case. The second phase is a full day of virtual training. The finals, a real-time practical challenge, will be held in Washington, D.C. in October.
Each school that joins the contest will receive $15,000 to support students, faculty and travel. The winning team will be awarded up to $25,000.
The Cyber Analyst Challenge was created to respond to strong needs in the industry.
According to SimplyHired.com, in April 2015 there were 26,980 open cyber-security related positions. The need in these positions is less for operators and more for analysts. As threats multiply and diversify, intelligence analysis and identification is becoming critical, rather than secondary to the ability to configure or code secure servers. Yet, the job seekers in the talent pipeline find it difficult to integrate operational skills with strategic threat and cyber analysis.
“Our programs and our customers have a significant need for students to enter the workforce with not only the technical cyber skills but the analysis mindset that a competition like this will foster,” explained Chris Kearns, Lockheed Martin vice president of Enterprise IT Solutions. “We are thrilled to partner with our nation’s top universities to invest in the future workforce.”
The competition will not only enhance the skills of the future workforce and inspire students to pursue careers in cyber-security. Students will receive fast-paced, real world practical experience, scholarships, recognition and the opportunity to engage with others who share their interests, nationwide.
“This competition is unique because it focuses on student development from the start and will serve as a role model for how to develop talent by engaging with industry in systematic and sustained manner,” said Dr. Munir Mandviwalla, Associate Professor and Chair of the Fox School of Business’ Management Information Systems department, and IBIT Executive Director.
Fox School’s Institute for Business and Information Technology (IBIT), at Temple University, provides cutting-edge knowledge and valuable connections to sustain excellence in information technology. IBIT integrates industry perspectives with academic research expertise to create forums for generating and exchanging best practices.
IBIT is affiliated with the Fox School’s nationally ranked Department of Management Information Systems. IBIT draws participating faculty and students from MIS as well as the expertise of the entire Fox and Temple University community.
For more information please visit http://cyberanalystchallenge.org
About Lockheed Martin
Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs approximately 112,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The Corporation’s net sales for 2014 were $45.6 billion.
Two Philadelphia high school students temporarily put their summer plans on hold for a unique afternoon activity: The students, from Temple University’s Urban Apps & Maps Studios, delivered a technology prototype presentation to a leading executive from Samsung.
Sharing conference-room space with Young-jun Kim, Senior Vice President of Design of Samsung Electronics and President of Samsung’s Art and Design Institute, the students unveiled Samsung Self, a platform they developed to incentivize youth to have an active lifestyle and reduce the health risks associated with obesity. Using an avatar that reflects the user’s current condition and activity level, a user’s every movement is tracked, including staircase climbing, walking, watching movies in front of a TV and listening to music. Self connects various aspects of a busy youth’s life that can affect their health through digital rewards that could be applied to music downloads, for example.
The students’ mission was to create a digital platform that would appeal to fitness junkies and novice exercisers, alike.
“A student’s life is very well-structured, and doesn’t leave much time for activities like exercise,” said Dr. Youngjin Yoo, the Harry A. Cochran Professor of Management Information Systems and the founder of Temple’s Apps & Maps Studio. “Self was designed with the student in mind. It’s a fully synchronous application that would cater to their busy schedules in order to maintain healthy lifestyles.”
Samsung, a project sponsor, had supplied Urban Apps & Maps students with the company’s smart phones and existing fitness wearables, so that they might provide research findings and feedback from one of the world’s most-coveted marketing demographics – teenagers. What the students found, in a thorough five-tiered research methodology, was that while high-school-age students were prone to using wearables, these devices had the most impact “on people who didn’t need them,” said Sylvia Lin, a senior at Philadelphia’s Central High School.
The group’s research rendered startling statistics, as well. More than 61 percent of the students they polled do not consider portion size, and fewer than 42 percent packed their lunches each school day. According to the Center for Disease Control’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey, released in 2013, more than 14 million American high school students are classified as obese.
That’s how the student group arrived at Self. Lin and Jeff Cook, a senior at George Washington Carver High School for Engineering & Science, detailed its features, primarily SSENERGY, which issues points for users’ healthy eating and exercise habits. SSENERGY points act as a currency in the system, for online purchases or downloads.
“We propose that motivation for fitness and exercise can be achieved through unorthodox methods,” Lin said during the presentation. “Teenagers are already using their phones to complete so many functions. An interface like Self is one way technology can curb the trend of teenage obesity.”
“Samsung is a global company and our products are available everywhere,” Kim said. “However, our products and services must reflect local culture and context. Working with high school students through Temple University gives us great insights that we cannot buy even if we hire the top design agencies”.
Added Yoo: “We see our area’s high school students as cultural researchers who are experts in tomorrow’s high tech culture.”
Lin and Cook developed Samsung Self with the assistance of a half-dozen high-school-age peers, as well as student and professor mentors from Temple, including: Yoo; Dr. Karl Morris, Professor of Computer Science at the College of Science and Technology; Tyler School of Art graduate Bill Pierce; Fox School of Business MBA student Vivienne Dobbs; and more.
Urban Apps & Maps Studio is Temple’s university-wide, interdisciplinary program geared toward the encouragement, development, and founding of start-ups to transform urban challenges into products and services.
Apps & Maps, which receives funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, offers hundreds of high school students from Philadelphia access to a six-week program, through which they learn digital design and business skills from Temple student and professor mentors. From that larger group, a few are handpicked to remain as year-round fellows.
A researcher from Temple University’s Fox School of Business found that investments in information technology (IT) can reduce overall spending by state governments.
According to Dr. Min-Seok Pang, Assistant Professor of Management Information Systems, American state governments could stand to save $3.49 from their budgets for every $1 that’s invested in IT.
Pang’s paper, titled, “Do CIO IT budgets explain bigger or smaller governments? Theory and evidence from U.S. state governments,” was co-authored by Dr. Ali Tafti, of the University of Illinois at Chicago and Dr. M.S. Krishnan, of the University of Michigan. Their paper has been accepted for publication in top academic journal, Management Science. A related study by Pang has been published by MIS Quarterly.
Pang and his fellow researchers analyzed the IT budgets of chief information officers from each of the 50 states, during a five-year period from 2001 to 2005. Pang said he and his team chose to analyze the spending patterns of state governments, as opposed to those of federal governments, because state governments spend on similar services, like education, police, recreation, finance, human resources, and facility management.
“One could argue that because government has no comparative motive, meaning state governments are not competing with one another, there’s no imperative need for survival and, therefore, no value in making IT investments,” Pang said. “But my research shows that is not the case. In fact, IT has demonstrated that it can generate value.”
IT has the potential to make a state government’s processes more efficient and transparent, thus leading to a reduction in spending, Pang said. The digitizing of traditionally paper-based processes, for example, could help a state government trim its manpower and waste production, he theorized. A state government also could elect to disseminate data or publish its annual budget through digital mediums, he said, creating a level of transparency that would prevent a government from spending too much.
Overall, Pang said, the implementation of IT by a state government would free up additional resources that can be best applied to areas like police, education, human resource and more.
“In the government sector, the use of IT would lead to improved transparency and, in the long run, would help governments refrain from wasteful spending,” Pang said.
Pang’s research study is believed to be one of the first of its kind, in examining the benefits of IT spending by state governments.
Google “big data,” and the first search result returns the word, “dangerous.”
The irony of using a big data factory to discover the risks of its own data was not lost on researchers and experts attending the Privacy in an Era of Big Data workshop, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and hosted by the Fox School of Business and Temple University’s Big Data Institute.
“Big data” is loosely defined as the collection and analysis of large data sets of complex information. As the scope of collected data increases, there is a significant need for advanced analytic techniques and the development of new methods of investigation. Temple’s Big Data Institute was established to harness the full potential of big data and enable further research on the subject with an interdisciplinary approach by bringing together seven related research centers across the university and the Fox Chase Cancer Center.
Co-founder of the Institute Dr. Paul A. Pavlou, Chief Research Officer and Associate Dean of Research, Doctoral Programs, and Strategic Initiatives, along with Dr. Sunil Wattal, Director of the Center on Web and Social Media Analytics and Associate Professor of Management Information Systems, were awarded a grant from the NSF to further their investigation into unexplored links between big data and privacy.
“This is a topic that’s on everyone’s minds, and we’re here to get some useful insight on it,” Wattal said.
The workshop, held April 22-23, was a part of a weeklong event to encourage big data research from industry, government, and academia on the future of big data and privacy. The goal of the workshop, Pavlou said, was “to create a forward-looking research agenda into the future of big data.”
A priority for attendees was establishing the balance of big data with privacy rights, in order to improve national security and further develop consumer marketing. Dr. Thomas Page, Technical Director for Core Infrastructure & Cloud Repositories at the National Security Agency, represented the government perspective on big data, with a keynote presentation.
“There’s a moral responsibility in this space. We’re doing this on behalf of the American people,” Page said.
Page called for a new focus when discussing big data. “Big Smart Data,” he said, avoids unnecessary or intrusive information from reaching analysts, and allows new public policy to be enacted that balances personal privacy and national security concerns.
Page’s keynote address raised concerns of a “zero sum game,” wherein consumers trade privacy for national security. Christina Peters, Chief Privacy Officer at IBM, noted that she believes the two are not equivalent. Citing instances of security breaches at Target and Home Depot, she indicated how a history of misuse or neglect has risked consumer information.
Hal Varian, Chief Economist at Google, discussed the trust contract held between consumers and big data collectors. He argued that big data factories have the most to lose. “Search engines have a lot more to lose than a human. When computers screw up they screw up big,” Varian said.
Google’s top search results for “how do I know” are: “if I’m pregnant,” “if I’m gay,” and “if I have AIDS,” all of which, Varian said, demonstrate Google’s desire to not only share a vast amount of information, but to also take seriously its responsibility as an online confidante.
“Search engines are the biggest privacy enhancers in the world. People won’t ask these questions to their lawyer, doctor, parents, or priest. This is the first time you can get this type of answer from a non-human,” said Varian, who also served as the featured keynote speaker at the Frederic Fox Lecture Series April 23, another event during Big Data Week.
Varian explained that the intended use of big data is to educate consumers on the difference between privacy and security. Since privacy is the restricted use of personal information, a responsibility of big data should be to protect the security of the data and manage the risks associated with personal data analytics.
A closing comment from the first day of the workshop was the idea that “big data is the new bacon,” as presented by Lael Bellamy, Chief Privacy Officer at The Weather Channel. Her support of improved data collection and consumer intelligence reinforced the notion that although big data is trending, it’s been around for a long time.
“It’s possible everyone can benefit from the Big Data revolution,” said Carnegie Mellon University professor Dr. Rahul Telang.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a research team from Temple University a three-year grant totaling nearly $900,000 to fund a social-science project into the tracking of human behaviors through big data.
This marks the fourth NSF-awarded grant in the last five years that an interdisciplinary team of Temple faculty members has received to study the evolution of digital artifacts using large-scale digital trace data. The collaboration joins researchers from Temple University’s Fox School of Business and College of Science and Technology (CST).
“When humans interact with digital systems, we leave a trace. Every call we make, every website we visit, it’s stamped with time and space information,” said Dr. Youngjin Yoo, the Harry A. Cochran Professor of Management Information Systems at the Fox School, and the research grant’s primary investigator. “What we do is constantly changing, and the trace data can act as DNA. What we focus on through this research is the repeat behaviors in humans that can be captured through digital trace data.
“Using those evolutionary patterns, we believe we can predict future behaviors of individuals and organizations. For example, by detecting the changes of commute patterns of individuals, we can predict overall public-transit systems’ performance in the future. Similarly, we want to be able to predict the changes in individual behaviors based on environmental changes.
Yoo said he and the grant’s co-principal investigators will study digitally enabled processes in complex digital systems, which “are like a living ecosystem, in that they constantly evolve,” he said. If patterns in the trace data represent what they call “behavioral genes,” Yoo said, alterations to those behavioral routines are “gene mutations.” Eventually, he said, the research team envisions developing software that will better predict the changes to those behavioral genes.
The benefits in doing so, according to Yoo, “are endless.” In a healthcare application, trace data could develop a pattern by which a patient sees a doctor or produce an average cost of care per patient. In an industry sense, such “gene mutations” could impact performance and cost.
“On the surface,” Yoo said, “all smart phones, for example, look the same. But everybody’s phone is different because of apps. It used to be that the product’s designer would make the product, and that was the end of the story. Now, it’s only the beginning. Millions of apps are downloaded. They’re changing constantly.
“Our argument is that, particularly in digital space, innovation never remains the same. It constantly changes and takes different forms.”
The research team includes: Yoo; Dr. Sunil Wattal, Associate Professor of Management Information Systems at the Fox School; Dr. Zoran Obradovic, Laura H. Carnell Professor of Data Analytics at CST; and Dr. Rob Kulathinal, Assistant Professor of Biology at the College of Science and Technology.
The NSF-awarded research grant runs through Jan. 31, 2018.
Admittedly, Cassandra Reffner said she does not have as great of an understanding of mathematical analytics as business-school students. And she said she only understands the most basic functions of Microsoft Excel.
What Reffner does know, however, is how to analyze data and display it in a creative, understandable manner. A junior graphic design student from the Tyler School of Art, Reffner won the $2,500 grand prize at the second annual Temple Analytics Challenge.
The month-long competition, organized by the Institute for Business and Information Technology (IBIT) at the Fox School of Business, culminated Nov. 17 in finalist presentations at Alter Hall. The challenge tasks students from all of Temple University’s schools and colleges with making sense of data through visualizations and infographics.
The Temple Analytics Challenge awarded 10 prizes totaling $10,000, from corporate members of IBIT and the Office of the Senior Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies at Temple University.
In its second year, the Temple Analytics Challenge received 130 submissions from more than 300 participants. The finalists came from both undergraduate and graduate programs across the University, including the College of Engineering, the Tyler School of Art, and the Fox School of Business.
Reffner used a test tube illustration to demonstrate the residual impact felt by employees following the proposed relocation of Merck’s corporate headquarters. Judges reflected favorably upon Reffner’s infographic, which displayed the raw number of employees whose commutes would be negatively affected by 30 or more minutes. (Other Merck Challenge finalists opted to use percentages.) To circumvent the issue, Reffner offered what she called “prescriptions,” using a medicine-bottle design to provide Merck with alternatives like incentivizing carpools or public transit usage, or implementing break time for employees who make longer commutes.
“I think the judges liked how I gave solutions, or as I called them ‘prescriptions,’ to help benefit those employees and to look at this in a less-negative term,” Reffner said. “
Corporate partners of the Temple Analytics Challenge provided data sets and specific problems from which the students had to create an original visualization that also provided clear and meaningful insight. The NBCUniversal Challenge pertained to the allocation of advertising dollars for midterm elections; the Lockheed Martin Challenge focused on employee behaviors predicting security threats; and the aforementioned Merck Challenge centered around the overall impact of a corporate site’s relocation. The 20 finalists presented their work before a panel of professional judges, including representatives from QVC, Campbell Soup Company, and RJMetrics.
“The breadth of majors and students that excelled in the competition was really impressive. Analytics and the ability to interpret and visualize complex data is such an important skill, it’s exciting to so many students get involved and the final presentations were outstanding,” said Nicholas Piergallini, Program Manager at Lockheed Martin and a judge for the competition.
“We’re proud to once again see such a great set of entries from students across the University,” said Dr. David Schuff, Associate Professor of Management Information Systems and organizer of the challenge, “A key goal of the challenge is to encourage students from different disciplines to build their data analysis and communication skills, and to see how these skills apply to their careers.”
Reffner and five fellow Tyler students were among the competition’s 20 finalists, and she was one of three from Tyler to win one of the Temple Analytics Challenge’s 10 cash prizes. Encouraged to enter the competition by Tyler professor Abby Guido, Reffner said she hopes her grand-prize win helps push other students at Temple University to compete next year.
“Being a graphic design student, it was difficult to figure out what the data was and what we had to look at, what we had to analyze, and how to design it in a way people would understand,” Reffner said. “Most of my class doesn’t know Excel.
“But the Temple Analytics Challenge was an innovative way to bring students from around campus together and show we can translate what we do know to a broader spectrum. It was that multidisciplinary aspect of the competition that, I think, was the most fun.”
Doug Seiwert echoed Reffner’s point. Seiwert, the Vice President of Information Technology and Enterprise Applications Development at QVC, said the popular home-shopping network produces one terabyte of data every month.
“For those of you who don’t know, that’s a lot of data,” said Seiwert, the event’s keynote speaker, “and it can be daunting when you’re processing this much data. Our challenge, and (the students’) challenge in this competition, was finding ways to make the data widely consumable, and I think you all did an outstanding job.”
For one researcher at the Fox School of Business, time is literally of the essence.
Dr. Robert T. Krafty, who will supervise research into biomedical time-series data collecting, has received a grant exceeding $843,000, awarded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Institutes of Health (NIH).
“The grant and all of my work looks at how we analyze data that’s collected over time,” said Krafty, Assistant Professor of Statistics. “The specific patterns of the data could tell us important information.”
The grant applications which Krafty will study pay particular attention to body signals, such as heartbeat electrocardiograms (EKGs) and brain-wave electroencephalogram (EEGs), and how these patterns are associated with different things such as measures of the quality of life or how well someone will respond to treatment.
“What I am doing is creating ways in which we can find out how these patterns are associated with certain outcomes,” Krafty said. “The main products are methods and tools that anyone can use to analyze big-time series data. The secondary goal is to apply those methods to our data on electrophysiology to see if we can help find a better way to understand how to treat sleep disorders.”
Krafty, the primary investigator for the grant, has two collaborators with whom he will work – Martica Hall, PhD, and Daniel Buysse, MD who are located at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Hall and Buysse are sleep-study researchers responsible for studying older adults who have trouble sleeping. Some of the patients they treat have sleeping issues due to the loss of a spouse, and others are primary caregivers for a spouse who has Parkinson’s disease. The data applied to their current research was collected from a previous study at the University of Pittsburgh, Krafty said, adding that the results produced by this grant will be used to create new statistical methods and programs to analyze collected statistical data more efficiently.
“What we want to know is what sort of patterns of physiology during sleep help indicate a better quality of life or if a patient will respond favorably to a treatment,” said Krafty.
So far in their preliminary research, Krafty and his team have found a connection between patterns of sleep and quality of life that suggests limiting the amount of sleep per night could be helpful in older adults. Krafty explained some global experts advocate that older adults should restrict their sleep. However, there was no actual evidence to back up that assumption until now, he said.
The awarded grant will also fully support one graduate student’s PhD education, Krafty said. Fox doctoral students, Scott Bruce and Zeda Li, are majoring in Statistics and have been selected by Krafty to work on the project.
The extensive time-series research Krafty is conducting will be completed by June 30, 2017.
Krafty has also been invited to speak at the NBER/NSF Time Series Conference , the leading international conference for time series data, which attracts top statisticians from around the world. At the conference, held Sept. 26-27 at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, in Missouri, Krafty will discuss the discoveries compiled in his research paper entitled, “Penalized Multivariate Whittle Likelihood for Power Spectrum Estimation.”