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Visionaries in Technology Speaker Series

Brenda Dietrich, The Geoffrion Family Professor of Practice, Cornell's School of Operations Research

Friday, October 25, 2019, 3:30–4:30pm

Rm. 100 (Spanos Auditorium), Cummings Hall

Riding Data Waves: from ripples to tsunamis

The 2010s have arguably been the decade of data, with “big data“ becoming bigger, data driven decision making becoming a corporate imperative, data analytics becoming the hot new degree, data being called a natural resource, and data scientist being awarded the dubious title of “sexiest job of the 21st century.”  In many ways, the focus on data is just the next logical and inevitable stage in the evolution of information technology; it required the previous stages and it will provide the foundation for future evolution. 

In this talk, a quick history of the past six decades of IT will be reviewed with a focus on the digitization of data and the creation of new data by-products. A brief detour will be a discussion of technology projections made in 1995, including what happened, what happened much later than projected, what was projected that didn’t happen, and what happened that was largely unforeseen. The talk will resume with examples of current and emerging use and creation of data and will conclude with a view of future possibilities, technical and non-technical issues that may accelerate or delay the possibilities, and some musings on methods to defend first-principals driven methods from displacement by purely data-driven approaches. 

Reception follows in GlycoFi Atrium. Everyone welcome.

About the Speaker

Brenda Dietrich, this year's Visionaries in Technology series speaker, joined Cornell University in 2017 as the Arthur and Helen Geoffrion Professor of Practice in the School of Operations Research after a 33-year career at IBM in the area now called analytics and/or data science. After studying abstract mathematics at the University of North Carolina, Dietrich drifted into operations research and earned a PhD in the field at Cornell. At IBM she was appointed Fellow and held several vice president roles. She was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2014 and currently serves on the board for Science, Technology, and Economic Policy.

For more information, contact Holly Buker at