News featuring Chandan Reddy

DAC Student Spotlight: Ming Zhu

Ming Zhu, DAC Ph.D. student in computer science

Ming Zhu learned about machine reading comprehension — making computers understand sophisticated natural language and be able to answer questions about what was read — while taking a graduate course at Carnegie Mellon University.

“After building a state-of-the-art Neural Question Answering (QA) model from scratch based on a research paper, my confidence grew in believing I could be a part of this future technology and pushed me further to focus my Ph.D. research in this area,” said Zhu.

Her interest in QA led Zhu, who holds a bachelor of engineering degree from the University of Science and Technology of China, to Chandan Reddy who is now her advisor at the Discovery Analytics Center’s National Capital Region location.

“Currently I am working on QA models with clinical notes as context. Clinical notes are a huge treasure of information if you make good use of them. They can help doctors make better medical decisions for their patients and help patients better understand their healthcare conditions,” Zhu said.

For example, she said, when deciding how to treat a new patient, a doctor might ask “How does rheumatic fever affect the heart when the patient is pregnant?” But, reviewing all the clinical notes in the database is impossible and a search engine cannot deal with this kind of query very well.

The AI-based Question Answering system that Zhu is working on can help by reading and comprehending the whole corpus, retrieving the most relevant articles or notes when given a human question, and selecting the most precise answers from them.

“My DAC advisor gives me a lot of freedom to explore while providing a lot of support to further my research,” said Zhu. “My lab mates are good partners with whom I can start heated discussions with at any time and the staff is nice and helpful.”

Zhu said she also likes the “city life” afforded by DAC’s northern Virginia location. In her free time she also enjoys cooking Chinese food, baking, and taking car trips with friends to visit places like Luray Caverns, Atlantic City, and New York City.

In May, Zhu will be traveling to The Web Conference 2019 in San Francisco to present a first-author paper, “A Hierarchical Attention Retrieval Model for Healthcare Question Answering.”

She is projected to earn her Ph.D. in computer science in May 2022 and plans to seek a position in academia.






Professor will use new machine learning techniques to decrease deaths resulting from traumatic brain injury

Chandan Reddy (left) is an associate professor in the Department of Computer Science and faculty at the Discovery Analytics Center.

To help physicians decrease the number of deaths resulting from traumatic brain injuries, Chandan Reddy, associate professor in the Department of Computer Science and faculty at the Discovery Analytics Center,  will use new machine learning techniques for computational models to predict short- and long-term outcomes, categorize traumatic brain injury patients, and provide interventions tailored to a specific patient and his or her injury. This four-year study is funded by a National Science Foundation grant in excess of $1 million. Click here too read more about the grant.

DAC Student Spotlight: Khoa Doan

Khoa Doan, DAC Ph.D. student in computer science

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Webster University, Khoa Doan entered the workforce. For the next few years, he held positions as a software developer and data engineer in the advertising industry and at NASA and gained experience processing large datasets.

“I came to appreciate both the theoretical and practical contributions,” said Doan. “Working with large datasets is tricky because solutions become much more constrained. The challenge is what interests me and it makes me really happy if I am able to solve a problem.”

Doan decided to pursue a master’s degree in computer science at the University of Maryland. When looking for a Ph.D. program, he was attracted to Virginia Tech and the Discovery Analytics Center “because of a good mix of strong theoretical foundation and practical research objectives. There is a diversity and plethora of research opportunities, especially in things that matter.”

And since being at DAC, he said, “I have learned a lot from the DAC community. I have good friends with both similar and diverse research interests.”

Doan’s main research interest is in scalable machine learning and data mining. His current focus is on deep hashing for similarity search, using neural networks as a basis for efficiently “searching” for similar items in very large databases. For example, he searches for similar documents in news articles, books or papers, and images.

“This problem is very hard because we have to pay attention to both efficiency — how to retrieve the items fast, and sometimes in real-time — and effectiveness,” said Doan. “Items can be similar because of similar words, but also because of similar authors, or similar topics, thus it is very difficult to choose the right concept to describe similarity and convert these informal concepts into mathematical equations.” Doan is also working with his advisor, Chandan Reddy, on research with Criteo, a leading advertising company that has made a significant investment in machine learning.

“Having worked in the advertising industry, solving computational problems in this field is of interest to me, as well, and is a great opportunity,” Doan said.

DAC has strong presence at ICDM 2017

DAC Ph.D. student, Zhiqian Chen, presenting his paper at ICDM 2017.

The Discovery Analytics Center was strongly represented at the IEEE International Conference on Data Mining (ICDM) in New Orleans, Nov. 18-21, with a number of accepted research papers by DAC faculty and students and DAC faculty serving on committees and panels.

Research papers accepted for the conference include:

DAC faculty participation in the ICDM Conference included Chang-Tien Lu serving on the program committee and Naren Ramakrishnan serving as an area chair. Ramakrishnan also co-chaired a panel focusing on ethical and professional issues when dealing with social data with Tanushree (Tanu) Mitra, assistant professor of computer science, as one of the panelists. B. Aditya Prakash was invited to participate as a mentor in the ICDM Ph.D. Forum.

The ICDM has established itself as the world’s premier research conference in data mining. It provides an international forum for presentation of original research results, as well as exchange and dissemination of innovative, practical development experiences. The conference covers all aspects of data mining, including algorithms, software and systems, and applications. ICDM draws researchers and application developers from a wide range of data mining related areas such as statistics, machine learning, pattern recognition, databases and data warehousing, data visualization, knowledge-based systems, and high-performance computing. By promoting novel, high quality research findings, and innovative solutions to challenging data mining problems, the conference seeks to continuously advance the state-of-the-art in data mining. Besides the technical program, the conference features workshops, tutorials, panels.





Chandan Reddy receives grant from NSF

user_interest_model[1]Congratulations to Chandan Reddy, our new DAC faculty member and associate professor of computer science for receiving an award from the National Science Foundation for his project EAGER: An Integrated Predictive Modeling Framework for Crowdfunding Environments.  

EAGER aims to study data analytics tools for improving crowdfunding project success rate. Crowdfunding provides seed capital for start-up companies, creating job opportunities and reviving lost business ventures. In spite of the widespread popularity and innovativeness in the concept of crowdfunding, however, many projects are still not able to succeed. A deeper understanding of the factors affecting investment decisions will not only give better success rate to the future projects but will also provide appropriate guidelines for project creators who will be seeking funding.  Click here to read more about Chandan’s project.