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David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science launches new lab devoted to data science research

Friday, September 29, 2017

The David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science unveiled a new lab on Thursday, September 28, 2017. Located on the third floor of the Davis Centre, the recently completed 5,000 square foot data systems lab is an open-concept space for more than 70 undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, faculty, and other researchers to conduct innovative, high-impact research in big data and data science.

picture of students in new data systems labGraduate students celebrate the opening of the data systems lab at the David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science

“Data — be it web data, social data, financial data, transaction data or sensor data — comprise the ‘secret sauce’ that powers innovations today, from search engines to self-driving cars to intelligent agents,” said Professor Jimmy Lin, the David R. Cheriton Chair in Software Systems.

Data scientists depend on systems that can effectively capture, clean and process data to extract meaningful insights. Beyond the sheer scale at which these systems need to operate, a common shortcoming is the inability to synthesize heterogeneous data, thus organizations often miss critical insights that can be discovered only by merging disparate silos. This isolation is also reflected in how research areas are organized at many universities.

“To tackle this problem, we literally needed to get everyone into the same room, so I proposed creating a new data systems research group with a common lab,” Lin said. By bringing together existing strengths in information retrieval and data management, the new data systems group bridges the gap between structured and unstructured data, tackling all aspects of the data lifecycle, from ingestion and cleaning to machine learning and decision support.

“The data systems group’s research brings together some of the world’s best researchers in databases and information retrieval, and the new lab will be an international centre for really groundbreaking work,” said Mark Giesbrecht, Director of the David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science.

“This intense research focus is complemented by our new data science graduate and undergraduate degrees, where we aim to educate and train the next generation of technical leaders in data science,” he added.

The data systems lab was constructed with support from Waterloo’s Cheriton Endowment and the David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science. The lab was inaugurated as part of the 2017 Cheriton Research Symposium.

David R. Cheriton, for whom the School was named, was present for the opening celebration. He remarked, "An open space and collaboration between groups is one of the best ways to innovate. Congratulations to the data systems lab for making this happen."

picture of David R. Cheriton at Data Systems Lab launchDavid R. Cheriton inaugurates the data systems lab