Just weeks after a successful thesis defense, Brown University Computer Science (BrownCS) graduate Matteo Riondato PhD ’14 has just won the Best Student Poster award at the 2014 SIAM (Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics) International Conference on Data Mining (SDM).
“I was amazed,” he comments. “It’s a wonderful conclusion to my past five years of work.” The conference, which provides a peer-reviewed venue for cutting-edge research in the field, recognized Matteo for a poster on his doctoral dissertation (“Sampling-based randomized algorithms for big data analytics”), which stood out among forty-four other competing entries.
Matteo places his research in the context of what he calls one of the biggest challenges in contemporary computer science: effective usage of extremely large amounts of data. In other words, what portion of a dataset do we need to analyze in order to draw worthwhile conclusions? “Through sampling of random small portions of the data,” he explains, “we can detect what’s interesting about the dataset as a whole by only analyzing a much smaller subset. My research uses very recently-developed probabilistic tools that were considered to be highly theoretical, but I proved that they can be applied successfully in practice.”
Professor Eli Upfal, Riondato’s advisor, sees this practical application of sophisticated theory as one of his student’s hallmarks. “Matteo has a very strong background in math but is also an excellent systems programmer. He has a unique ability to apply theory and find practical uses that are almost limitless.” Matteo’s other work on frequent item set mining and association rules, Eli explains, has implications for computational biology, and his research into betweenness centrality allows analysis that can help determine important actors in massive social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.
“I love that there are so many possibilities for my research,” Riondato concludes. “It made me really happy to have people come up to me at the conference and ask questions, to realize that they might find some inspiration in my work. It makes me feel like part of a community.” As database management and data analysis continue to grow in worldwide importance in the years ahead, that community is surely looking forward to Matteo’s next contributions to the field.