Scott Bruce - Sports Analytics
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.

Photo of Alter HallOne 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.”

A professor from Temple University’s Fox School of Business has been named a Microsoft MVP.

Dr. Isaac Gottlieb Professor of Statistics Dr. Isaac Gottlieb, whose passion for teaching students the ins and outs of Microsoft Excel, earned distinction as one of Microsoft’s 2015 Most Valuable Professionals. This marks the second straight year Gottlieb has been so recognized.

Microsoft’s MVP Award is presented to exceptional community leaders who are committed to sharing their technical expertise and real world knowledge of Microsoft products within their community and with Microsoft.

It all started with a simplified idea, Gottlieb said. After teaching separate software methods to students studying varying subjects, he said he sought out to find a “one-stop shop” to make learning easier for students. Microsoft Excel was his portal, and he’s come to perfect the system.

“I discovered that every subject that you teach, whether it’s statistics, operations management or analytics, has different software,” Gottlieb said. “It takes almost half a semester to master that software and, by the time you know the software, you don’t have time to practice the subject.”

Gottlieb said he started to apply statistics, operations management and analytics into Excel and began teaching his method.

“So that’s how I became an expert. It took me two years to perfect it,” he said.

According to Gottlieb, Excel has not changed much within the last 12 years, except perhaps the interface. Microsoft did recently add Business Intelligence in the last two years, he said.

“Once you master it, it’s like playing the piano,” Gottlieb said. “After a while, you just learn new music.”

Gottlieb was presented with Microsoft’s MVP Award in January. As a recipient, he has had the opportunity to meet with other Microsoft professionals from around the world. In November 2014, he attended the MVP Summit at Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, Wash.

Although there are more than 1,800 MVPs, very few are masters in Excel, Gottlieb said. Because of his expertise, Microsoft’s professionals have asked Gottlieb to hold a workshop at one of its Excel centers in Singapore.

While in Singapore, he said, “(Microsoft’s) development team contacted me and asked for my analytic ideas for its upcoming version of Excel.”

There’s no denying that Excel is Gottlieb’s forte. He has published a book on the subject, titled, Next Generation Excel: Modeling In Excel For Analysts and MBAs (For MS Windows and Mac OS), (Wiley 2013). He also has an Excel-Tip-Of-The–Month newsletter that is distributed to more than 50,000 subscribers.

Gottlieb teaches more than 1,500 students annually at the Fox School, and all incoming Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD), Master’s of Business Administration (MBA), Master’s of Science (MS) and Bachelor’s of Business Administration (BBA) students are required to complete his online Excel workshop during their respective programs.

“After you teach so many people for so many years, (Excel) becomes natural,” he said.

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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.”

Former Fox School of Business PhD student Nicolle Clements has received an assistant professor position on a tenure track at St. Joseph’s University (SJU). Clements served as a visiting professor at SJU until graduating in May 2013, when she received her PhD in statistics.

While at Temple, Clements, under the advisement of Cyrus H. K. Curtis Professor and Department of Statistics Chair Sanat Sarkar, focused her research on multiple testing procedures that control the False Discovery Rate (FDR) and mixed directional FDR in applications where the data has a spatial structure, such as changes in vegetation.

Two papers from her PhD dissertation, Multiple Testing in Grouped Dependent Data, have been published or accepted for publication. In 2012, Astronomical transient detection controlling the false discovery rate was published in Statistical Challenges in Modern Astronomy, and Applying Multiple Testing Procedures to Detect Changes in East African Vegetation has been accepted for publication in the Annals of Applied Statistics.

Clements is an Omega Rho Honor Society Faculty Member, SJU Chapter. She also currently teaches three courses at St. Joseph’s: Business Statistics, Business Analytics and Data Mining. Before joining the Fox School’s PhD in statistics program, Clements obtained a master’s in statistics from Virginia Tech and a bachelor’s in mathematics from Millersville University.

—Alexis Wright-Whitley


Why do you think you stood out from other candidates when you applied to St. Joseph’s?

I work in the business intelligence department of the school, which is a combination of statistics and information science, and the department was hiring someone who understood the statistics side of it. I had research experience from my work at Temple, and I also had teaching experience from being a graduate TA at Temple and Virginia Tech. 

What are you most looking forward to?

I’m looking forward to getting advisees, working closely with students, and becoming more of a mentor. I’m also looking forward to teaching a variety of classes, specifically more upper-level classes in the department. I’m ready to get my feet wet.

What attracted you to the Fox School?

Part of the reason I was attracted to the Fox School was because the statistics department was located within the school of business. Usually, it’s within the mathematics department or the school of arts and sciences, but at Temple, the department was affiliated with the Fox School, which I really liked. I also liked the Philadelphia location, since I’m originally from the area. I got my master’s from Virginia Tech, so it was nice to come back to this area for my PhD.

What drew you to focus on multiple testing?

During my dissertation research, I worked closely with Dr. Sarkar. Multiple testing is Dr. Sarkar’s specialty, and I was lucky to learn a lot from him.  In addition, I have an interest in environmental research, so I enjoyed when we applied multiple testing research to astronomical data and vegetation data.

What is your role at St. Joseph’s?

I started out as a visiting professor. When I graduated in May, my position converted into a tenure track. Now I teach three courses a semester along with continuing my statistical research. Also, I was nominated to be course coordinator of the required business statistics class, which is an added responsibility.

What research are you currently pursuing?

Currently, I’m wrapping up some research I did with Dr. Sarkar and my other committee members. In addition, I do some statistical consulting at the Treatment Research Institute, which is a nonprofit organization that does research on substance use.

What do you miss about Temple?

I miss several things about Temple University, including the department, fellow students, and faculty members. I miss the great atmosphere and camaraderie.

How would you describe the Fox PhD program to a prospective student?

I would describe the Statistics degree in the Fox PhD program as rigorous and challenging – but in a good way. The Fox School is a great supporter of the statistics department and its students. I would definitely recommend the program to students, especially those looking to study and/or stay within the Philadelphia region.

The Fox School of Business presented Dr. Jagbir Singh with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 15th Annual Research Roundtable and Research Awards on October 25, 2013.  Dr. Singh, a Professor of Statistics, has taught across disciplines for more than three decades at Temple University.  He has authored or co-authored over 50 research papers; co-authored books on Statistical Methods in Food and Consumer Research; co-edited one on Recent Advances in Experimental Designs; and co-edited special issues of the Journal of Risk Finance and the Journal of Applied Statistical Science.  He is an elected Fellow of the American Statistical Association, and an elected member of the International Statistical Institute.  Dr. Singh has been honored with the highest awards from Temple University and Temple University Alumni Association in recognition of his teaching and research contributions to the profession.   Fox’s Lifetime Achievement Award is designed to recognize a full-time, tenured faculty member at the Fox School of Business who has exhibited a lifetime of achievement in teaching, research, and service.