Statistics researcher developing new ways to analyze ‘big data’

Yiyuan Shè, assistant professor of statistics

A Florida State University faculty member who is working to develop a theory and computational methods for “big data” analysis has received major recognition — and support — for his work.

Yiyuan Shè, an assistant professor of statistics in the College of Arts and Sciences, has won a prestigious Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award from the National Science Foundation. Such awards are designated for young scientists who are still in the early stages of their academic careers and are intended to help them build upon previous accomplishments in their respective areas of research.

“Big data” describes a collection of computerized data sets so large and complex that it becomes difficult to process using common database-management tools or traditional data-processing applications. The challenges include capture, storage, search, sharing, transfer, analysis and visualization.

“The data explosion in the modern era creates an urgent need for methodologies for analyzing high-dimensional, multivariate data,” Shè said.

“The need to recover low-dimensional signals from high-dimensional, multivariate ‘noisy’ data permeates all fields of science and engineering. Hence, my project, designed to develop a transformative theory and methods for simultaneous variable selection and rank reduction, may find applications in a wide range of disciplines and areas such as machine learning, signal processing and biostatistics.”

Shè’s CAREER Award will provide him with $400,000 in funding over the next five years. With it, he will seek to develop a methodology to pave the way for new advances in high-dimensional statistics and information theory, as well as fast and scalable algorithms to ensure the practicality of the proposed approaches in big-data applications.

An abstract of Shè’s NSF project proposal, “Theory and Methods for Simultaneous Variable Selection and Rank Reduction,” can be viewed here.

“I am deeply honored to receive this prestigious award,” he said. “Winning an NSF CAREER Award definitely encourages me in my future research and teaching in high-dimensional statistics and big-data analysis.”

Shè earned praise from Xufeng Niu, chairman of the Department of Statistics, for his potentially groundbreaking research

“The NSF CAREER Award is probably the most prestigious award for young faculty in the science fields,” Niu said. “This year, only five young statisticians in the nation received the award. I am very proud of Yiyuan’s extraordinary accomplishments in his research, and I believe that he will bring more honors to this department and to the university in the near future.”