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Statistics, Big Data Analytics Being Featured at Rose-Hulman Undergraduate Conference

April 24, 2015

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Student Problem Solvers: Rose-Hulman’s Undergraduate Mathematics Conference has a proud tradition of highlighting scholarly work by undergraduate students in class projects and research experiences. (Photo by Shawn Spence)

Statistics and big data analytics—two growing problem-solving career fields—are being featured in special guest, faculty, and student presentations at Rose-Hulman’s distinguished undergraduate mathematics conference on Friday and Saturday, April 24-25.

Now in its 32nd year, the conference has a tradition of highlighting scholarly work being accomplished by undergraduate mathematics students in class projects and research experiences.

“Our conference has always been by undergraduate students, for undergraduate students,” says Conference Co-Chair Eric Reyes, assistant professor of mathematics. “This year, we wanted to capitalize on the growing interest and excitement in statistics.”

Approximately 140 people from 21 colleges and universities as far away as California and Florida will participate in two invited presentations, 35 student talks, and three short courses on significant math topics on this year’s theme “Statistics: From Big Data to Big Decisions.”

Marketing Analytics, Data Visualization Featured in Invited Talks

The conference will highlight how mathematics is being used in marketing and data visualization with invited guest sessions by Nick Lockwood, senior director of brand marketing analytics for Catalina Marketing, and Amanda Cox, graphics editor at The New York Times.

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Nick Lockwood

Lockwood’s presentation, Marketing with Big Data: The Power of Analytics, will discuss how mathematicians and marketers are leveraging data analytic tools to study purchasing behavior in hopes of providing value to retailers, manufacturers, and consumers. He earned a doctorate in information systems from Indiana University after receiving a bachelor’s degree in computer science and mathematics from the University of Illinois.

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Amanda Cox

Cox will discuss lessons learned about data visualization, and the challenges of creating charts and graphics that represent uncertainty and word-based messages. She has a master’s degree in statistics, received the American Statistical Association’s Excellence in Statistics Reporting Award in 2012, and was part of The Times’ team that won a national design award in 2009.

Rose-Hulman Students Making Variety of Presentations

Several Rose-Hulman students will be featured among the 31 conference presentations. These talks will include:

  • Brian Bowmaster, senior mathematics major, on “Blocking Sets in Finite Projective Planes”
  • Aaron Brown, sophomore mathematics major, on “Skin Deep Choices”
  • Angela Hanson, sophomore mathematics major, and Andrew Kipp, senior mathematics major, on “Modeling the Relationship between Employment Levels and Gross Domestic Product Growth
  • Edna Jones, senior mathematics major, on “Representatives by Ternary Quadratic Forms”
  • Andrew Kipp, senior mathematics major, on “Distance Covariance as an Omnibus Test Against Trends from Stationarity”
  • Connor Kispert, senior mathematics major, on “The Effect of Regulation on Bitcoin”
  • Will Klausler, sophomore civil engineering major, on “Paper Folding Fractals”
  • Wenjun Kong, junior biology major, on “Analysis of Power Output of a Laser using a Bayesian Approach”
  • Lorena Maxwell, senior mathematics major, on “Evaluating Gender Bias in Jury Selection”
  • Ethan Petersen, freshman mathematics major, on “The Stock Price Effect of Apple Keynotes”
  • Abby Schendt, senior physics major, on “PSM and ODEs”
  • Alex Zellner, senior mathematics major, on “Stochastic Protein Alignment and Data Compression”

Ralph Grimaldi, professor of mathematics, will be presenting a short course on one of the most ubiquitous number sequences in mathematics, the Catalan numbers.

Winning Teams Announced For First Analytics Competition

A new feature of this year’s conference was a predictive analytic competition, organized by Allstate Insurance Company. Twelve teams predicted bodily injury liability insurance likelihood, based on the characteristics of the insured person's vehicle.

A key part of insurance is charging each customer the appropriate price for the risk represented. Risk varies widely from customer to customer, and a deep understanding of different risk factors helps predict the likelihood and cost of insurance claims.

Winning the $500 first-place prize was the team of Rose-Hulman students Tayler Burns, a senior electrical engineering major, and Daniel (Dax) Earl, a junior computer science major. Second place ($300) went to Rose-Hulman student Fang Huang, a senior computer science major, while University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign student Jiarui Xu was third ($200).

Diane Evans, professor of mathematics, has joined Reyes in organizing this year’s conference, with assistance from department secretary Michelle Prather.

The conference is sponsored by the Mathematical Association of America, American Statistical Association, Sandia National Laboratories, Minitab, Metron Scientific Solutions, Allstate Insurance, and Maplesoft.