Turing Lecture: Fifty years of learning from data

Speaker: Robert Calderbank (Duke University, USA)

Date: 18 October 2017

Time: 17:00 – 19:00

Venue: The Alan Turing Institute

Registration for this event is now closed but you can watch live online.

In this talk I will explore how data science is changing the way we practice education and research.

I will describe Data+ which is a ten-week summer research experience offered by the Information Institute at Duke (iiD) in which undergraduates join small project teams, working alongside other teams in a communal environment. They learn how to marshal, analyze, and visualize data, as well as how to communicate with the client sponsoring the project. I will describe projects that illuminate different ways in which student centered enquiry can transform university institutions.

Our ambition for research is that it impacts society. We used to think of impact as starting with an idea, then developing that idea into a prototype, then turning the prototype into a product, then marketing the product, and so on – it is a long march and the problem with long marches is that most ideas don’t make it. I will provide
examples of a different model, one where society is part of the research process.


Robert Calderbank is Director of the Information Initiative at Duke University, where he is Professor of Mathematics and Electrical Engineering. Prior to joining Duke as Dean of Natural Sciences in 2010, he directed the Program in Applied and Computational Mathematics at Princeton University. Prior to joining
Princeton in 2004 he was Vice President for Research at AT&T, in charge of what may have been the first industrial research lab where the primary focus was Big Data.

Professor Calderbank is well known for contributions to voiceband modem technology, to quantum information theory, and for co-invention of space-time codes for wireless communication. His research papers have been extensively cited and his inventions are found in billions of consumer devices. Professor Calderbank was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2005 and has received a number of awards, including the 2013 IEEE Hamming Medal for his contributions to information transmission, and the 2015 Claude E. Shannon Award.