24 January 2019 – Assistant Professor Arnab Bhattacharyya received the prestigious Amazon Research Award (ARA) on 16 January 2019. The ARA programme funds projects to faculty members at academic institutions worldwide for research in data science and machine learning.
Recipients of the award will receive a grant of US$80,000 to support their research, as well as an invitation to speak at Amazon offices worldwide about their work and to meet the organisation’s research groups. Dr Bhattacharyya received the award for his proposal to develop efficient algorithms for causal inference.
“Most methods in data analytics focus on finding associations between different features in a dataset, like how interest rates correlates with the exchange rate, global oil prices, and current GDP,” said Dr Bhattacharyya. “However, such studies may not be able to predict the results of new policies. For example, how would a country’s GDP be affected if the government decides to increase interest rates today?”
Dr Bhattacharyya hopes to discover such causal relationships from data, with proven guarantees, using efficient algorithms. He aims to predict the effect of interventions and to understand how variables are related to each other causally. One of potential question Dr Bhattacharyya may investigate is whether changes in GDP would affect interest rates, if interest rates affect GDP change, or if other factors determine the fluctuations in GDP and interest rates.
“Traditionally, causal inference is studied through a more philosophical lens rather than through statistical and algorithmic efficiency. We will be using quantitative and algorithmic ideas to investigate causal inference, which we believe will help make data analysis techniques more intelligent,” said Dr Bhattacharyya.
“I am very happy and excited to know that Amazon recognizes the importance of our work and is interested to fund it. This award would not have been possible without the help of my collaborators, Dr Jayadev Acharya, Dr Constantinos Daskalakis, Dr Vasant Honavar, and Dr Saravanan Kandasamy, for helping me develop my research ideas,” Dr Bhattacharyya added.
Dr Bhattacharyya joined NUS Computing as a faculty member on 5 September 2018. Prior to joining the Department of Computer Science, Dr Bhattacharyya was an Assistant Professor with the Department of Computer Science and Automation at the Indian Institute of Science. His research interests include algorithms for big data, probability, statistics, property testing, complexity theory, and interaction between computation and physical systems.