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The power of crowdsourcing data science ideas

I work with some brilliant people – there’s no doubt about that. Just around the corner and down the hall, you’ll find one of the most brilliant of them: Russ Wolfinger.

Russ is the JMP Director of Scientific Discovery and Genomics here at SAS, leading an R&D team for genomics and clinical research. He’s also a thought leader in linear and nonlinear mixed models, multiple testing and density automation.

Over the past year, I’ve heard rumblings of Russ’ involvement with various data science competitions like Kaggle and DREAM. These competitions are an excellent way to crowdsource ideas to solve some of the most complicated and pressing problems. They are open to data scientists around the world who want to lend their expertise and develop their skills in the process.

A couple of weeks ago, I had the chance to hear Russ talk about his obsession with the competition. He is passionate about his work in this arena and in awe of the sharp, innovative minds in the data science and predictive modeling community, minds that are investing hundreds of hours developing effective models to more usefully deal with complex problems posed by big corporations and nonprofits alike.

Just ask him about it, and you’ll feel his enthusiasm right away. Even if you’re like me and don’t completely understand everything he’s throwing out there, you’ll be inspired by the excitement and implications of harnessing the cognitive talents of the top data scientists.

Russ came in fourth place in Kaggle’s Rossmann Store Sales challenge and was co-winner in the Prostate Cancer DREAM Challenge. He says the bag of tricks you need to solve problems of this nature is getting bigger, and he credits his participation for keeping him on top of the latest methods.

Of course, Russ is using JMP, SAS, Python and R to work on these challenges. He finds JMP software especially well-suited for the discovery and exploration phase of model building, saving him loads of time.

If you’re intrigued, I hope you’ll watch Analytically Speaking on Wednesday, May 11 at 1 p.m. ET. Russ is our guest, and data science competition is the topic of discussion.

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