Organising IDEA @ KDD 2017

Jefrey Lijffijt – Yesterday I organised the Workshop on Interactive Data Exploration and Analysis (IDEA) in Halifax, Canada, as a side-event of the ACM SIGKDD Conference, the world-premier conference in data mining and knowledge discovery. The workshop was a great success, with three keynote speakers and twelve presentations and posters about new research that we selected after peer-review. The topic of the workshop aligns perfectly with the topic of my FWO Pegasus project, which is “Personalised, interactive, and visual exploratory mining of patterns in complex data”. This niche of data science sits at the interface of data mining, machine learning, human-computer interaction, and data visualisation, and is currently rapidly attracting more attention from the scientific community.

The major premise of this line of work is to transform the job of data scientists and data-intensive science, not by automating away analysis completely, but by building more intuitive, efficient, and effective tools to explore and analyse data. Ultimately, the possibility to analyse data should also become accessible to laypersons, e.g., for journalists or experts of other scientific domains that do not have years of training in programming and statistics. An aim also referred to as the democratisation of data and analytics. To achieve this requires scientists from different fields to collaborate, because the open problems range from cognition and interface design to statistics and computational complexity. My own background is in the latter two.

I am really happy to have received a Pegasus grant. I intentionally applied with a high-risk proposal, to work on a topic that is completely new and still in the margin of my field. Now, I have three years will almost no other obligations to grow both my expertise into the related domains, as well as to build prototypes of tools to show the potential of the ideas. I chose Ghent University as a host for the project, because Prof. Tijl De Bie from the IDLab is a world-wide expert on the computational aspects of data exploration and analysis. His group is also well-funded (ERC Consolidator and FWO Odysseus grants) so there are PhD students and other post-docs that can help me achieve these goals. I am deeply grateful for their support.

More news will follow in due time!

Webpage of yesterday’s workshop: