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Department of Mathematics and Statistics Launches Its First Data Mining Program

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Written by Christie Mulligan ’18 and Raelin Morris ’17

The UNCW Department of Mathematics and Statistics received funding from the National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates to launch its first data mining program this summer.

Associate professor of Mathematics and Statistics, Dr. Tracy Chen, and professor of Mathematics and Statistics, Dr. Yishi Wang, are directing the 10-week program, titled "Statistical Data Mining and Machine Programming in Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition." National recruitment will be implemented and applications will be processed through Chen and Wang. Thus far, the summer program has accepted its top 76 applicants. The students admitted into the program will receive 5,000 dollars and work under Chen and Wang 40 hours a week. Wang states, “Data mining is becoming a growing field because of the booming application it has.” Data mining is the study of examining large databases and breaking them down to analyze consumer behavior.

Chen and Wang make it clear that data mining is starting to be used nearly everywhere around us. For example, through data mining one can predict buying habits. Chen states, “It makes a more customized product for clients.” After you purchase a product online, a frequent recommendation will come up based off that purchase; this is known as association learning. Throughout the summer program, students will study various aspects of data mining, such as association learning and regression data mining. An example of regression data mining is social media. Social media sites are predicting future habits based on the user’s past interactions. For instance, Facebook will often determine who you are tagging in your photo before you can even type out the name. This is achieved through data mining and tracking the behavior of the online user.

Students in the program will create applications that detect age classification and regression and gender/ethnicity classification, image processing, and statistical programming and computation. The program also will give participants experience developing their teamwork and effective communication skills.

Specifically, the summer program students will work towards creating a machine that will sell you cigarettes or alcohol by mere face recognition and characteristics. Chen and Wang emphasize the importance of students participating in this program. The demand for individuals that can interpret different databases is at an all-time high. Wang stated that a recent statistic found at Georgia Tech, “Showed a student’s salary of $150,000 and master students of $180,000 in the field.” As technology continues to advance, the field will continue to grow.